Page 5 of 10 FirstFirst 123456789 ... LastLast
Results 61 to 75 of 149

Thread: Is George Szell one of your favorite conductors?

  1. #61
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Location
    New England
    Posts
    3,880
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Josquin13 View Post
    Heck148 writes of Furtwangler's conducting: "The excessive taffy-pulling, distortions are hardly natural sounding....I often find myself asking "WTH is he doing?, why did he do that??"

    Because he was a devotee of Schenkerian musical analysis. Furtwängler was always looking to find deeper psychological and emotional truths within the score, and willing to pull the tempo around, in order to achieve a greater expressiveness. All of the musicians that I've heard who were devotees to Schenkerian analysis do this--including Samuel Feinberg, Elizabeth Rich, Edward Aldwell, etc.. None of them keep a steady tempo, but instead pull it around. It's deliberate, and all to bring out and discover a greater expressiveness & meaning within the music. In other words, it's not due to sloppiness, as is sometimes claimed.
    Of, course, sloppy execution is not the intent, but often it comes off that way.....poor, imprecise execution, to me, and to where and how I was taught, does not further increased musical expression.

    "deeper psychological and emotional truths" - the positing of such is indeed extremely subjective - it begs the question - is the conductor performer just making it up??

    But Schenker also once declared that no conductor understood Beethoven better than Furtwängler.
    Whoopee!! so what?? one man's opinion....
    Last edited by Heck148; Jul-22-2021 at 13:54.

  2. Likes Josquin13 liked this post
  3. #62
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Location
    New England
    Posts
    3,880
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Alinde View Post
    It's so long since I've listened to any of Szell's recordings (back when I was first getting to know classical music) that I shouldn't really respond to this thread. But maybe you've come across a reaction by another famous conductor of his early experience of playing under Szell's baton:

    "He should be happy that I didn't kill him... "
    It's true that Szell was a real control freak, and a difficult person....like many podium giants of his day, Szell could be a real tyrant.

  4. #63
    Senior Member wkasimer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    Sharon, Massachusetts
    Posts
    3,411
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    George Szell was capable of conducting well, at times, yet I often find his conducting too stiff, such as in his Haydn Symphonies (& particularly his set of "Paris" Symphonies), for example. & it both surprises and perplexes me that others, who are bigger Szell fans than I am, either don't hear this stiffness, or don't seem to mind it.
    Don't you mean the *London* symphonies? AFAIK, Szell only recorded a couple of the Paris group.

    But I agree about Szell's Haydn. I wouldn't necessarily call it "stiff", but to my ears, it's utterly lacking in charm - Haydn played through clenched teeth.

  5. Likes Josquin13 liked this post
  6. #64
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2021
    Posts
    1,103
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    The earliest Haydn included in that Sony box is #88. Unless there are some live/rare recordings around, Szell recorded 88, 92-99, 104. I don't think these recordings are as good as some claim but they are mostly pretty good and some of their reputation might be due to the fact that there was very little Haydn around ca. 1960 when they came out that was obviously superior. Beecham might have more charm but used horrible edition that are sometimes missing half of the woodwind parts. Scherchen was extremely uneven and so on.
    It's been a while I heard the Szell recordings but I think I liked his 95 and 97 quite a bit.

  7. Likes wkasimer liked this post
  8. #65
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
    Location
    United States of America
    Posts
    1,088
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    A lot of people here have identified Szell as "surgical" and "stiff". I don't think of Szell as a surgeon, but more as a master chef; and Szell himself was a gourmet cook. Like master chef, Gordon Ramsey who is known for blowing his top on Master Chef and Hell's Kitchen, Szell was a stern taskmaster and led the orchestra with a firm hand. Szell deserves much credit for transforming the Cleveland Orchestra from second or even third rate to world class. In the Mozart Clarinet Concerto and Sinfonia Concertante, Szell relies upon in-house musicians who satisfy as well, or even better, as any big name that could have been brought in from the outside. But as a master chef, Szell's approach is one of balance: too much seasoning and you can't taste the food; not enough seasoning and the food taste like nothing.

    George Szell; Gordon Ramsey; at work:

    download - 2021-07-22T091322.878.jpeg download - 2021-07-22T091904.864.jpeg

  9. #66
    Senior Member Brahmsianhorn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    2,723
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Heck148 View Post
    "deeper psychological and emotional truths" - the positing of such is indeed extremely subjective - it begs the question - is the conductor performer just making it up??
    You have expressed several subjective opinions on this thread. Are you just making them up? Of course not. These are your honest impressions. I am a performer as well. Getting deeper into the heart of a piece is a process of discovery. And when you succeed, and the audience is with you, the result is often magical. It’s most definitely not made up. I have never understood technicians who eschew heart and emotion. It is almost as if they are afraid of “mistakes” and so take the more reliable, less dangerous path in order to not be embarrassed in front of their audience. That may be the crux of the difference in philosophy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Heck148 View Post
    Whoopee!! so what?? one man's opinion....
    From John Ardoin’s book, The Furtwängler Record:

    It was my good fortune to know and spend time with Maria Callas, about whom I have previously written three books. She often amazed me with previously unsuspected areas of interest, but never more so than one day in August 1968. She was in Dallas recovering from a fall in which she had cracked several ribs. I picked her up one day for a doctor’s appointment, and as I started the car, the radio came on. A symphony was being played. When I reached over to turn it off, she said, “No, leave it. The Beethoven Eighth is a favorite of mine.

    That was a surprise - a soprano, even a Callas, who loved and recognized Beethoven’s Eighth! As I drove and she listened, Callas became more and more impatient. “That phrase is wrong. Where’s the line going? No! What’s he doing there? It doesn’t breathe. Oh, this is nonsense.” We reached the doctor’s office before the record had finished, and she insisted on sitting in the parking lot until the end to find out who the conductor was. After the final chord, the announcer said, “You have just heard a performance of the Eighth Symphony of Beethoven with the Cleveland Orchestra conducted by George Szell.”

    “Well, she sighed, “you see what we have been reduced to. We are now in a time when a Szell is considered a master. How small he was next to Furtwängler.” Reeling in disbelief - not at her verdict, with which I agreed, but from the unvarnished acuteness of it - I stammered, “But how do you know Furtwängler? You never sang with him.”

    “How do you think?” She stared at me with equal disbelief. “He started his career after the war in Italy. I heard dozens of his concerts there. To me, he was Beethoven.”


    .
    Last edited by Brahmsianhorn; Jul-22-2021 at 14:35.

  10. Likes Alinde, Josquin13 liked this post
  11. #67
    Senior Member Phil loves classical's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Ford Nation
    Posts
    5,711
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    ^ No disrespect to Callas. I think she's a very unique and great singer, but that is only one way of listening. I think the art of interpretation (and breathing) is quite subjective. I remember when I would listen to Murray Perahia, the phrasing sounded wrong to me, but listening at times later, it would make sense, sometimes even found it great, then aftern I listen to other interpretations of the same work, I would find Perahia gimmicky again. Sometimes I find S Richter's playing great, and empty at the same time.
    Last edited by Phil loves classical; Jul-22-2021 at 14:55.
    "Forgive me, Majesty. I'm a vulgar man. But I assure you, my music is not.“ Mozart

  12. #68
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Location
    New England
    Posts
    3,880
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Brahmsianhorn View Post
    ......I have never understood technicians who eschew heart and emotion. It is almost as if they are afraid of “mistakes” and so take the more reliable, less dangerous path in order to not be embarrassed in front of their audience. That may be the crux of the difference in philosophy.
    ??? Why do you assume that those conductor/performers who do not take the Furtwangler approach are "technicians" who eschew "heart and emotion"??
    Again - precision, accurate execution in no way equates with stiff, unexpressive, stiff or dull performance.

    I just find it tough to accept the portentous premise that every harmonic half-note in Beethoven, Brahms or Bruckner is necessarily imbued with some sort of cosmic significance.
    Last edited by Heck148; Jul-22-2021 at 22:01.

  13. Likes wkasimer, Josquin13, brunumb liked this post
  14. #69
    Senior Member Brahmsianhorn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    2,723
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Heck148 View Post
    ??? Why do you assume that those conductor/performers who do not take the Furtwangler approach are "technicians" who eschews "heart and emotion"??
    If you quote the entire post, I was specifically describing my experience as a performer.

  15. #70
    Senior Member wkasimer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    Sharon, Massachusetts
    Posts
    3,411
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Heck148 View Post
    ??? Why do you assume that those conductor/performers who do not take the Furtwangler approach are "technicians" who eschews "heart and emotion"??
    Again - precision, accurate execution in no way equates with stiff, unexpressive, stiff or dull performance.
    It's a strawman that deserves to be ignored. Lesser performers (and I am certainly among them) have to concentrate on the technical aspects of playing and performing, because the first responsibility of any performer is to execute the notes that are written on the page. If you can't play the right notes, in tune, with the proper rhythm, and at a coherent tempo, there's little point to looking past the notes to find "heart and emotion", because the audience isn't going to notice - they're going to hear only the technical flaws.

  16. Likes Heck148, Josquin13 liked this post
  17. #71
    Senior Member amfortas's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Illinois
    Posts
    2,880
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by wkasimer View Post
    It's a strawman that deserves to be ignored. Lesser performers (and I am certainly among them) have to concentrate on the technical aspects of playing and performing, because the first responsibility of any performer is to execute the notes that are written on the page. If you can't play the right notes, in tune, with the proper rhythm, and at a coherent tempo, there's little point to looking past the notes to find "heart and emotion", because the audience isn't going to notice - they're going to hear only the technical flaws.
    ALGERNON: Did you hear what I was playing, Lane?

    LANE: I didn’t think it polite to listen, sir.

    ALGERNON: I’m sorry for that, for your sake. I don’t play accurately—any one can play accurately—but I play with wonderful expression.

    --Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
    Alan

  18. Likes Alinde liked this post
  19. #72
    Senior Member Brahmsianhorn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    2,723
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by wkasimer View Post
    It's a strawman that deserves to be ignored. Lesser performers (and I am certainly among them) have to concentrate on the technical aspects of playing and performing, because the first responsibility of any performer is to execute the notes that are written on the page. If you can't play the right notes, in tune, with the proper rhythm, and at a coherent tempo, there's little point to looking past the notes to find "heart and emotion", because the audience isn't going to notice - they're going to hear only the technical flaws.
    From Alex Ross, The New Yorker:

    “ In an age of note-perfect digital renditions, what’s most striking is Furtwängler’s willingness—and his musicians’ willingness—to sacrifice precision for the sake of passion. The conductor had a famously wobbly, hard-to-read beat, which inspired many jokes. A member of the London Philharmonic quipped that one should wait until the “thirteenth preliminary wiggle” of the baton before beginning to play. Furtwängler’s renditions of Beethoven’s Fifth tend to begin not with “bum-bum-bum-BUM” but with “b-bumbumbumBUM.” The inexactitude was by design. It’s the roughness of the attacks at the beginning of the “Coriolan” that provides a sense of catastrophic power. As Taruskin points out, Furtwängler was entirely capable of eliciting unanimity when he wanted to, as rip-roaring accounts of Strauss’s “Don Juan” and “Till Eulenspiegel” attest. One never knows quite what to expect: spontaneity is the rule.”

  20. Likes Josquin13 liked this post
  21. #73
    Senior Member SONNET CLV's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Paradise, Montana ... on
    Posts
    3,394
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Coach G View Post
    A lot of people here have identified Szell as "surgical" and "stiff". I don't think of Szell as a surgeon, but more as a master chef; and Szell himself was a gourmet cook. ... But as a master chef, Szell's approach is one of balance: too much seasoning and you can't taste the food; not enough seasoning and the food taste like nothing.

    George Szell; Gordon Ramsey; at work:

    download - 2021-07-22T091322.878.jpeg download - 2021-07-22T091904.864.jpeg
    "Now Gordon, a little decrescendo
    on the salt. Ah! That's perfect. Just
    right."

  22. Likes Coach G liked this post
  23. #74
    Senior Member wkasimer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    Sharon, Massachusetts
    Posts
    3,411
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Brahmsianhorn View Post
    “ In an age of note-perfect digital renditions, what’s most striking is Furtwängler’s willingness—and his musicians’ willingness—to sacrifice precision for the sake of passion.
    One can't sacrifice what one does not possess. It's one thing to make a conscious choice to "let 'er rip"; it's quite another to mask one's technical deficiencies by laying on emotion with a trowel.

  24. Likes Heck148 liked this post
  25. #75
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2021
    Posts
    1,119
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    How much technical imperfection impacts your enjoyment is really entirely subjective to your tastes as a listener.

  26. Likes AClockworkOrange liked this post
Page 5 of 10 FirstFirst 123456789 ... LastLast

Posting Permissions

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