Results 1 to 11 of 11

Thread: Period versus modern? Please can you help me

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Posts
    20
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Period versus modern? Please can you help me

    Hello

    Thank you for opening up this thread. I need to briefly explain my circumstances. Not looking for sympathy, just understanding of my situation and why I need to pick your brains. I am in a caring role, lockdown meant the carers group I was in was suspended, my limited part time job had to go. Mum has Dementia with underlying health conditions which Covid 19 would eat for breakfast. We are socially isolating, though Dementia ensured we were not getting out much prior to the lock down. My day consists of cleaning, meal preparation, trying to keep my mum mentally stimulated, gentle walks in the alley, talking about relatives long dead and answering questions like why do I think they no longer contact us. Could say well Great uncle Ern would now be 143yo, but instead blame the weather, we lost touch mum, etc. Dementia does not do logic very well, or appreciate the passage of time.

    Okay I have spare time in the evenings with mum sleeping over 12 hours a day. I have a fairly large classical music collection, which over the years I have binged on at times, then ignored for months. Well last few years I have got back into the music. I understand the basic discussion about period versus modern instruments, my ears can tell me the difference. That said I would appreciate views on two points.

    1) I mostly listen to chamber music. I have copies of both types for Schumann’s piano trios. Is the difference so apparent if you move into concerto and symphony music? As the number of instruments and volume grows does the difference magnify or merge? Can anyone please suggest a piece which really does sound markedly different on period instruments? Perhaps two recordings I could listen to which best show any differences.
    2) Just as interestingly are there certain composers where the use of period instruments is more marked than others? As a general rule is it mostly unimportant on more modern composers who wrote specifically for the modern instruments of their time. So period instruments would be more marked on say Mozart and Beethoven than say Rachmaninov’s piano trio op50? Or by chance does the same apply to later composers in ways they perhaps never intended. I hope that makes sense.

    People here very kindly answered my thread about piano quintets. I had many hours fun trying out links provided and recommendations made. I would very likely never have stumbled on Hahn or Verne without that help. Please can I ask for some help here. My budget is not great presently, so I need guidance and directing. Any way thank you for reading my thread and I hope you will feel able to respond. I enjoy coming here and reading the threads every so often. It reminds me life goes on.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Shosty's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2020
    Location
    the middle east
    Posts
    781
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    I can only imagine how difficult your situation must be, so thank you for what you're doing.
    Regarding your two questions I am in no way qualified to answer them, and there are people here who are and hopefully will provide thorough answers. However I think you may find these interesting:

    An episode of Sticky Notes podcast about historic performances.

    A performance of Beethoven's 5th by Frans Brüggen and the Orchestra of the 18 Century.


    And here's Kleiber with the Vienna Philharmonic:


    I find the difference between HIP and modern performances more clear in say Baroque music, but you can hear the difference in Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn as well. In the two Beethoven videos you can tell the first one is a far smaller orchestra and that definitely has an effect on the sound. There are, of course, more differences others will explain far better than I ever can.
    Last edited by Shosty; May-24-2020 at 11:03.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Caryatid's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2020
    Posts
    108
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by whispering View Post
    1) I mostly listen to chamber music. I have copies of both types for Schumann’s piano trios. Is the difference so apparent if you move into concerto and symphony music? As the number of instruments and volume grows does the difference magnify or merge? Can anyone please suggest a piece which really does sound markedly different on period instruments? Perhaps two recordings I could listen to which best show any differences.
    2) Just as interestingly are there certain composers where the use of period instruments is more marked than others? As a general rule is it mostly unimportant on more modern composers who wrote specifically for the modern instruments of their time. So period instruments would be more marked on say Mozart and Beethoven than say Rachmaninov’s piano trio op50? Or by chance does the same apply to later composers in ways they perhaps never intended. I hope that makes sense.
    You can get period instrument recordings of late 19th-century music, such as Brahms. Some instruments have changed since then, notably the piano, which has a more even tone now than in, say, the 1880s. Performance practice has also changed - vibrato is used more consistently now, for example. But in general, period instruments are more important in earlier music. If you ask for recordings of Brahms, most of the recommendations you receive will be played on modern instruments. If you have ask for recordings of Haydn, period instruments will likely predominate.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Location
    Scotland
    Posts
    4,729
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Nicked this from elsewhere online. Hope it helps.


    "Some major differences between period string instruments and their modern descendents include:

    Modern instruments construction increased the angle of the neck to the main body of the violin, thereby increasing the tension of the strings. This in turn added power and projection to the sound. The perriod instruments have less string tension, which creates a more subtle, less projected sound.
    Period strings were made of gut, as opposed to modern steel, which produces a warmer sound.
    Period bows are lighter and more tapered, which allows more delicate, nuanced articulations.
    Period instruments are tuned to a lower pitch (A = 396 to 431, depending on the repertoire, as opposed to the modern A = 440), and this lower pitch produces a warmer sound.

    Among performance approaches used in "old" historical styles, a few include:

    Fairly consistent use of straight tone; vibrato was used only selectively as an ornament to decorate or "warm up" certain notes;
    Increased use of rhythmic hierarchy leading to greater differentiation of strong and weak beats within a given time signature; an imperative to ornament and improvise more generously."


    There's more here: https://www.ludwig-van.com/toronto/2...strument-mean/

    Ans some interesting reading here: https://aconyc.org/educate-enlighten...d-instruments/

  5. Likes wkasimer liked this post
  6. #5
    Senior Member Simplicissimus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2020
    Location
    Glenview, Illinois
    Posts
    439
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    I’m a HIP (historically informed performance) and period instrument enthusiast, but not a fanatic. Veterans of the fora will understand why I need to make that statement at the outset.

    For me, there are three quite distinct categories of music with respect to HIP and period instruments: Baroque, Classical, and everything later. Earlier than Baroque, the music cannot reasonably be played on non-period instruments, IMO.

    For Baroque, I absolutely prefer HIP and period instruments. For example, I only intentionally listen to Bach’s Goldberg Variations and Well Tempered Clavier on harpsichord. I know the Gould, Richter, Perahia et al. performances on piano are good and I can enjoy them, but the composers wrote the music for various kinds of harpsichords, and I like it played on those instruments. Some people don’t like the sound of harpsichords, but the music is for harpsichord, always has been and always will be. Similarly, Telemann wrote for harpsichord continuo, viola da gamba, recorders, and flauto traverso, not piano, modern violin and violincello, and Böhm flute. Enjoy the modern instrument versions all you want (though Telemann and many other Baroque composers aren’t popular enough to attract modern instrument performances), but I will always prefer period instruments. My long association with early music ensembles certainly reinforces this preference.

    For Classical, it’s another story for me. As a CD collector, I always have one HIP/period instrument and one modern instrument version of Haydn, Mozart, et al. I was first exposed to Classical music on modern instruments in modern ensembles, and that sound imprinted on me. The HIP/period versions are interesting and enjoyable, but even though the composers wrote for a variety of rapidly evolving instruments, I find it easy to accept wholly modern instrumentation and orchestral organization. I cannot reasonably perform Classical music on the instruments I play, so that doesn’t figure into my preference.

    For everything after Classical, I am really not interested in HIP/period. I do have Beethoven symphony cycles and Romantic works in both HIP/period and modern versions, but in general I prefer the modern versions because I react well to “lush” orchestration and especially string sound with vibrato and loud projection resulting from taut strings.

    BTW, I am never going to criticize anyone for preferring the WTC, Brandenburgs, St. Matthew Passion, and so on performed on modern instruments or in modern ensemble organizations. I view these as perfectly valid and worthwhile ways to perform the music. Modern instruments tend to have more expressive capability than earlier ones, and there is a lot to be said for using them to achieve the greatest possible artistic effect.

    FWIW, there’s my personal stance on this issue.

  7. Likes Bulldog, ORigel, Andrew Kenneth liked this post
  8. #6
    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    Location
    Minnesota
    Posts
    2,155
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    I view HIP only on the basis of the type of instruments they are using. There is no one universal “HIP style” - for example, listen to the Brandenburg Concerti by Pinnock/English Concert, Freiburg Baroque, and Academie for Altemusik Berlin. They’re all using historical instruments, but their approach to performance is totally different. Pinnock is relatively straightforward and even subdued, while Freiburg is highly spicy and rambunctious and the Academie is warmer and more spontaneous. Sure, there are some things you will generally see in common like shorter, crisper phrasing and generally quicker tempi, but I like the variety afforded. That being said I would still stick with modern performances (like Casals, Britten, and Busch) for my desert island because I tend to respond to their music-making more readily. It’s rarer for me to find Beethoven, Haydn, and Mozart symphonies on period instruments that I genuinely enjoy.
    "If we understood the world, we would realize that there is a logic of harmony underlying its manifold apparent dissonances." - Jean Sibelius

    "Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere." - G.K. Chesterton

    "Beethoven tells you what it’s like to be Beethoven and Mozart tells you what it’s like to be human. Bach tells you what it’s like to be the universe." - Douglas Adams

  9. Likes Enthusiast liked this post
  10. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2020
    Posts
    307
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    I do not see chamber music as a good genre to try period instruments on. Keyboard works from the baroque and classical eras? Yes, record them on harpsichord or fortepiano. Haydn symphonies? Give me Bruggen. Bach's B Minor Mass? Gardiner and Herreweche are my go-to guys. But not chamber works.

    Additionally, HIP is a requirement for early music, essential for the Baroque, less important for Classicism, and of miniscule importance for Romantic works. HIP is not important for your preferred genre.

    Period orchestras tune lower than modern ones, typically play at faster tempos, and have smaller ensembles.

  11. #8
    Senior Member Bulldog's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Posts
    26,584
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ORigel View Post
    I do not see chamber music as a good genre to try period instruments on. Keyboard works from the baroque and classical eras? Yes, record them on harpsichord or fortepiano. Haydn symphonies? Give me Bruggen. Bach's B Minor Mass? Gardiner and Herreweche are my go-to guys. But not chamber works.
    For me, period instruments are essential for baroque music and highly recommended for the classical era.

  12. Likes Josquin13, ORigel, wkasimer liked this post
  13. #9
    Senior Member BlackAdderLXX's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
    Location
    North Carolina, USA
    Posts
    523
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    I really enjoy both. I first heard the difference on The Four Seasons. I've had the I Musici 1969 recording for decades and recently bought the oft-recommended Pinnock/Standage for period instruments. Both are fantastic. I couldn't tell you which one I liked better or even thought sounded better. They each have their charms.

    You had mentioned budget constraints. I have to plug Amazon Music. I've currently got a 3 month free trial (I think that's being offered to everyone?) but I think I'm going to stick with it for $10 a month after because I have been able to listen to just about anything I want or see recommended here. I've maybe been unable to find 5-10% of what I've looked for.
    "Snobbery of any flavor...tastes terrible."

  14. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2020
    Posts
    307
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    I find period instruments important for appreciating Mozart, but optional for most of Haydn and with Beethoven.

  15. #11
    Senior Member Enthusiast's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Posts
    8,475
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Except for the operas, I am not sure that the HIP movement has added that much to our appreciation of Mozart. Pinnock's Mozart symphonies are among my favourites but aside from the sound I am not sure that the interpretive approach differs much from earlier recordings like those by Krips. I don't think distinctive HIP insights into Mozart have emerged. What I look for in Mozart is something other than HIP-ness. I like and dislike some HIP Mozart and I like and dislike some non-HIP Mozart. But I do feel that the HIP movement has done more for Haydn. But it is only with Baroque music that I feel there has been a HIP-inspired revolution.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •