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Thread: Is George Szell one of your favorite conductors?

  1. #91
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brahmsianhorn View Post
    No one said anything here about “subjective truth.” That was your contribution to the discussion.
    "Subjective truth" was not my label...I just happen to think it quite fitting...

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    Senior Member Brahmsianhorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by premont View Post
    You have talked about the truth Furty seeks in the music. If this doesn't denote a subjective truth, I don't know what the word truth means, but of course the question: "What is truth" was put already by Pilatus.
    That is false. I have never stated it that way. I have stated that his interpretations are not “embellishments” or “adding” to the music, but they are what rings true as a natural expression of the music for him. Reread my posts instead of misquoting me.

    .
    Last edited by Brahmsianhorn; Jul-23-2021 at 13:18.

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    Senior Member Brahmsianhorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heck148 View Post
    "Subjective truth" was not my label...I just happen to think it quite fitting...
    Nope. It absolutely is your label. You are claiming that I am arguing that musical interpretation is a road to some larger “subjective truth.” I have never said that. Do you know what a strawman is? It’s when you mischaracterize someone’s argument in order to pretend you are “winning.”

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brahmsianhorn View Post
    Nope. It absolutely is your label.
    No, it is Merl's...i find it quite fitting...

    You are claiming that I am arguing that musical interpretation is a road to some larger “subjective truth.”
    Isn't that exactly what you claim that WF pursues??
    Some metaphysical, extra-musical "truth"??
    Last edited by Heck148; Jul-23-2021 at 15:23.

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    Senior Member Brahmsianhorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heck148 View Post
    Isn't that exactly what you claim that WF pursues??
    Some metaphysical, extra-musical "truth"??
    No, I have never said that, and neither would he.

    What he says is that the perfect realization of a classical work exists only in the abstract, and as performers were are attempting as best we can to approximate it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brahmsianhorn View Post
    That is false. I have never stated it that way. I have stated that his interpretations are not “embellishments” or “adding” to the music, but they are what rings true as a natural expression of the music for him. Reread my posts instead of misquoting me.

    .
    There were lenghty discussions of this in the "Fascination with Furtwängler" thread and also in the "Fascination with Toscanini" thread. Here is a quote from the former:

    Quote Originally Posted by Brahmsianhorn View Post
    .... Furtwangler's greatness was not in possessing the truth, it was in continually seeking the truth. His conception of a work was never "finished." It was never "perfect." Sometimes it could change wildly from one day to the next.

    Furtwangler himself once said that we can never achieve in performance the essence of a work. We can only hope to approximate it.

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  9. #97
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    I'm sorry I mentioned it. We're gonna get 25 pages of arguing about that now. Any chance of a return to discussing Szell anytime soon rather than the usual Furty thread hijacking ? Personally I'd put Szell's mechanical, surgical, soulless, shallow Dvorak symphonies 7-9 above nearly anyone's.

    Initially, part of the problem I had with some of Szell's recordings was the sound. He was allegedly notorious for interfering in the mixing of albums (constant dissatisfaction with the sound) and didn't have a good ear for stereo listening. A reporter called round to his house once and Szell was complaining about the sound of his stereo broadcasts. The reporter pointed out that part of the problem could be that Mrs S. had placed the speakers behind the settee because they looked ugly. He hadn't even noticed. For a man that often complained about the acoustics at Severance Hall he had little understanding of what would sound good on disc. Thus his VPO Beethoven 5th from Salzburg sounds way better than his studio recording as he had no hand in what it sounded like. Fortunately much of his tinkering has been fixed with subsequent remasterings. I used to have his Beethoven cycle on LPs and it sounded horrid. With the advent of SBM remastering these recordings sounded much better.
    Last edited by Merl; Jul-23-2021 at 16:30.

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  11. #98
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brahmsianhorn View Post
    ....What he says is that the perfect realization of a classical work exists only in the abstract, and as performers were are attempting as best we can to approximate it.
    you make my point exactly, thank you....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Merl View Post
    ....Any chance of a return to discussing Szell anytime soon ....? Personally I'd put Szell's mechanical, surgical, soulless, shallow Dvorak symphonies 7-9 above nearly anyone's.
    Szell was a great conductor; for me, he sometimes keeps things "buttoned down" too tightly...and the assertions that he could be stiff or rigid have some validity....however, this is not always the case...at times, he'd really let the orchestra rip - and this was to great effect - Cleveland was a terrific ensemble with great players - I'm thinking Beethoven #7, Leonore #3[!!], Walton Sym #2, just ottomh....
    I also enjoy his Mozart and Haydn....the exquisite phrasing and precision are most attractive, and again, he enjoyed input from his outstanding orchestra....
    The guy was a total control freak, tho - any lengthy solo meant special coaching sessions with the Maestro, so that it was presented according to his wishes. Szell controlled each musician's salary. If a musician wanted a raise, it had to go thru him...he even tried to dictate musicians' personal habits to a degree - what instrument they played, what they ate, drank, did with free time, etc...

    A highly enjoyable book <<Tales from the Locker Room - An Anecdotal Portrait of George Szell and his Cleveland Orchestra>> by Lawrence Angell and Bernette Jaffe sheds some light on his relationships with his musicians....very entertaining...
    Last edited by Heck148; Jul-23-2021 at 16:59.

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  14. #100
    Senior Member Malx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heck148 View Post
    Szell was a great conductor; for me, he sometimes keeps things "buttoned down" too tightly...and the assertions that he could be stiff or rigid have some validity....however, this is not always the case...at times, he'd really let the orchestra rip - and this was to great effect - Cleveland was a terrific ensemble with great players - I'm thinking Beethoven #7, Leonore #3[!!], Walton Sym #2, just ottomh....
    I also enjoy his Mozart and Haydn....the exquisite phrasing and precision are most attractive, and again, he enjoyed input from his outstanding orchestra....
    The guy was a total control freak, tho - any lengthy solo meant special coaching sessions with the Maestro, so that it was presented according to his wishes. Szell controlled each musician's salary. If a musician wanted a raise, it had to go thru him...he even tried to dictate musicians' personal habits to a degree - what instrument they played, what they ate, drank, did with free time, etc...

    A highly enjoyable book Tales from the Locker Room - An Anecdotal Portrait of George Szell and his Cleveland Orchestra by Lawrence Angell and Bernette Jaffe sheds some light on his relationships with his musicians....very entertaining...
    Sounds like he was really the Head Coach of the Cleveland Browns
    Last edited by Malx; Jul-23-2021 at 18:00.

  15. #101
    Senior Member Brahmsianhorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by premont View Post
    There were lenghty discussions of this in the "Fascination with Furtwängler" thread and also in the "Fascination with Toscanini" thread. Here is a quote from the former:
    I clarified exactly what I am saying in my previous response:

    Quote Originally Posted by Brahmsianhorn View Post
    What he says is that the perfect realization of a classical work exists only in the abstract, and as performers were are attempting as best we can to approximate it.
    My previous response you quote here is no different...

    Quote Originally Posted by Brahmsianhorn View Post
    .... Furtwangler's greatness was not in possessing the truth, it was in continually seeking the truth. His conception of a work was never "finished." It was never "perfect." Sometimes it could change wildly from one day to the next.

    Furtwangler himself once said that we can never achieve in performance the essence of a work. We can only hope to approximate it.
    ...except the context was that another poster was claiming that I was saying that only WF "possessed" the truth. I was clarifying that he as a performer, just like all of us, cannot possess the truth but he can only seek it.

    "Truth" in this context refers to the perfect, "true" rendering of a musical work. It can only exist in the abstract.

    I NEVER SAID that music is itself a vehicle through which we discover philosophical truth, and neither did WF.

  16. #102
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malx View Post
    Sounds like he was really the Head Coach of the Cleveland Browns
    Szell was really into micro-managing...there are some funny stories about it.....

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  18. #103
    Senior Member AClockworkOrange's Avatar
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    Whilst Szell isn’t in my top 10, I do regard him highly. In particular I admire the sound he created with the Cleveland Orchestra, resulting in a phenomenal ensemble which always gives me the impression of having the qualities of a chamber ensemble. The standards within the Orchestra are well maintained to this day albeit under more agreeable conditions I’m sure.

    Regarding Szell specifically, I can appreciate the way he can cut through to the core of the music and deliver a performance/an interpretation of of a work with clarity and without a feeling exaggeration or artificiality. Nothing feels done for the sake of being done.
    Last edited by AClockworkOrange; Jul-23-2021 at 22:10. Reason: Typo
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  20. #104
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    I was reading some stuff about Szell a few months back and Eschenbach was actually singing his praises. The elderly Szell took him under his wing and Eschenbach painted a very different picture of him to others.
    "I was never frightened of him or intimidated by him. He could be intimidating to others but to me he was warmer. Music was everything to him. As teacher, as conductor, he was supremely articulate. Clarity, transparency, diction, crisp articulation - these were his musical priorities. He was a great delineator of scores. He would say, 'Why is a note written if it's not heard?' For him every note was to be heard. We had wonderful sessions together.... We had endless conversations and two-piano sessions. He was a brilliant pianist, even at his age. I studied all the Beethoven concertos with him. It was an unbelievable experience."
    And...
    ". .. He always gave me his time. He worked through my entire piano repertoire with me at two pianos. This went on for two years, in various locations. He always played the orchestra parts – from memory, by the way, and brilliantly! At least twelve Mozart concertos I performed for him, all five Beethoven, Schumann, the two Brahms, and the second of Bartók..... Szell was a sculptor, a renderer, a formulator of phrases, and with the word formulator I already imply: a master of musical diction. What Harnoncourt formulated very aptly in his book, Music as Speech, I'd already heard ten years earlier from Szell."
    Interesting perspectives. He and Karajan got on fabulously too yet you wouldn't have thought they would. When an interviewer said to Karajan that Klemperer once said Szell was" a machine but a very good machine", Karajan firmly retorted,

    "No, you cannot really say that. He was a man with a full heart. When you had a chance to meet him in his house with all his guests, he was a most charming and intelligent man. No, I can’t understand that remark."
    Last edited by Merl; Jul-23-2021 at 20:39.

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  22. #105
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heck148 View Post
    you make my point exactly, thank you....
    And he still does

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