To an extent, it isn't really, because Hurwitz's contentions have little to do with historical accuracy (which he's argued about on occasion, vis vibrato) and more that if this is how music sounded when played in the Archduke's living room, then music in the Archduke's living room sounded like crap.But, I'm willing to give Schoonderwoerd a pass because so much else is technically right about these performances-and because he's not a concert-grade pianist but more of a musicologist with solid, though not virtuosic, technique.
And that is my amateur-hour review of Schoonderwoerd, which is loads better than Hurwitz's (and I write that objectively).
to an extent, yes. i think he does generally try to qualify this musically - e.g. by stating his suspicion that in a certain recording, the desire to make something "authentic" overrode the desire to make it musically compelling - but his fundamental philosophy on classical listening has always been "pleasure-based" (that sounds naughty, doesn't it?) - i.e. he's going to recommend what compels him the most musically.Right, which is the problem, because he's not reviewing the performance, he's simply stating his preferences.
The title is needlessly provocative, but his contention was something of the opposite- that so much of the stuff he read on it praise it for reasons that are fundamentally extra-musical in nature, or excessively informed by the context of it being recorded in WWII Germany. i.e. the idea that you can "hear the anguish' of Furtwangler's spirit of being German during the Nazi era, or "hear the tension" of Hitler in the audience, etc.Maybe the title is revealing too. Seems like he dislikes it for political reasons.
i think this is another reason he is somewhat knee-jerk reactionary against historical recordings, which is ironic because to an extent he's guilty of the same thing- valorizing the stars of the Golden Age of Stereo - Reiner, Klemperer (late), Bernstein, Munch, Szell. with that being said- and to a large extent I agree with him, even with his double-standards- there are fewer greater buzzkills than those who grumpily express that conductors, or soloists can simply never match the majesty of the conductors of the early days of recording - the Furtwanglers, Mengelbergs, Erich Kleibers, Talichs, et al of the world. there are issues with orchestral homogeneity and interpretive homogeneity, but the standard of play has now become so good that I can get a world class recording of a piece as infamously difficult to do as Ives 4 from a local, "second-tier" orchestra in Seattle - something which would have been impossible in the early 20th century.This would be great, because the mono-era had conductors that surpass most modern conductors imo.
There was a discussion about this on another venue I was in the other day- I think this is less about conductor's lack of technique than a greater emphasis these days on score fidelity. You even see it in small ways like repeats - where it's almost default to take repeats now even if they aren't musically advisable (see: almost every repeat in Schubert 9).The technique has improved, but my concerns are more about the style. There seems to be less courage to interpret pieces nowadays. Objectivity seems more important than expression today. See also:
When Furtwängler ends the Ninth with such variable tempo, it has just a overwhemling effect imo:
Another amazing recording is that of Rimsky-Korsakov's Tsars Bride ouverture conducted by Nikolai Golovanov in 1944. I don't think modern conductors would dare such great tempo changes:
Seems like the old conductors had more of a romantic spirit.
It depends quite a bit on how one defines romanticism. Klemperer, Furtwangler, Mengelberg et al are sometimes considered "romantic" conductors specifically for their liberties and freedom of expression, but one of the tenets of romanticism was the elevation of artist to a sort of authoritative creative figure. Modernism has sometimes been called the ultimate expression of this, in the sense that it prioritized the creative impulses of artist above all, including, in some cases, the tastes of the mass public.I think when romantic composers wrote their music they did not expect this kind of fidelity. There is an recording of Brahms playing one of his own compositions, and it is even hard to understand today what he was doing at all. But it seems like he just naturally dislocated many notes and played it rhythmically very loosly.
So what is the point of sterile score fidelity?
Another thing is that we don't play music as some kind of scientific exercise. We play it for ourselfs after all. So we should finally care about how we like the music. It is not necessarily true that the way a composer liked his music the most is also the way we like it the most. So caring for the composers should not be an end in itself. Knowing the composers thoughts would give us some interesting and maybe enlightening ideas, but finally it is again about us. To suppress ourselfs in order to aim for objectivity is not the point of art imo.
What the word romanticism means in this context os not really the point, but I guess in the sense of the romantic era it is a lot about the actual performing musicians as important individual factor.
Yeah, they're called promos. Pretty standard for reviewers with a good platform, I imagine the likes of Fanfare and ARG get those as well.Probably most of them were sent to him from the companies looking for a review. Besides, I don't think second hand CDs fetch much nowadays.
I was once present at a concert where Mahler 6 was played, a slightly raw-edged but dedicated performance by a youth orchestra, surprisingly well played. I applauded till my hands started to hurt.
And then... as an encore they played some bland pop song that was on the charts back then. The percussionist even abused the "hammer" to give it some extra effect.
So I walked out, disgusted and feeling miserable. How can one be able to perform a compelling version of one of the deepest, most serious and intense works in the symphonic repertoire - then within a minute switch a button and become a brainless party animal? Even disgracing your performance by mocking it?
So yeah, I was the only one in the audience who stormed out. Everyone loved it, and I was told afterwards by my company to not take it so serious. Lighten up, dude. They're young, let 'em have fun.
I guess this is the true Hurwitz spirit. Everything is entertainment. There is no deep or shallow, there's only fun and no-fun. Your one-day wonder pop song is worth to stand aside Mahler 6. Let's spice up Beethoven's 9th with rappers!
Postmodern shallowness and lack of taste and intelligence - it sickens me.