The ones that got away ....

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hangos
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The ones that got away ....

Post by hangos » Sun Sep 16, 2007 2:59 pm

It's always intrigued me that several conductors never made recordings of certain symphonies by composers whose other works they did record; for instance, HvK had no Sibelius 3rd, Klemperer no Mahler 5th or 6th.

Conversely,HvK was quite wide-ranging but very selective - Prokofiev 1 and 5, Shostakovich 10, Mahler 5,6 and 9.Why? Was it a dislike of the rest of the oeuvre, or (lack of) pressure from the recording moguls?

I once read Peter Heyworth's "Conversations with Klemperer" in which the old maestro explained that he "didn't understand Mahler's 6th".I remember thinking "What chance have we lesser mortals got?" :( :wink:
He also thought very highly of "the young Wagner", contrary to most critical opinion! His sole comment on HvK was a cracker - something like "he has a very nice wife" :)

Back to my original point - have you any explanations for this phenomenon of "the ones that got away"?

Martin

jbuck919
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Post by jbuck919 » Sun Sep 16, 2007 3:11 pm

Perhaps Karajan just did not like Sibelius. That would show that he had some taste after all.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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Re: The ones that got away ....

Post by Corlyss_D » Sun Sep 16, 2007 3:16 pm

hangos wrote:the old maestro explained that he "didn't understand Mahler's 6th".
I wouldn't give you a tuppence for what he "understood" about Handel either. When Davis' Messiah came out in 1966, I threw away (yes, literally threw out in the trash) my newly-acquired Klemperer set).
He also thought very highly of "the young Wagner", contrary to most critical opinion!
One of my prize lp recordings is Klemperer conducting Wagner's arrangement of Gluck's Overture to Iphigenie in Tauride.
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hangos
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Post by hangos » Sun Sep 16, 2007 3:18 pm

jbuck919 wrote:Perhaps Karajan just did not like Sibelius. That would show that he had some taste after all.
Your wit is always appreciated, John, but as you know, he recorded all the other symphonies and especially championed #4 when Sibelius was virtually unplayed in Germany.

I know that you only really like/tolerate Mahler's 9th, but I am shocked that you have such a dislike for his polar (no pun intended) opposite! :? :shock: What is it about Sibelius' music you don't like?

Martin

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Post by jbuck919 » Sun Sep 16, 2007 3:18 pm

To go to the opposite extreme, there are huge holes in the recording reportory of most American conductors who died after, say, 1960. There is no Bernstein Ring, to take but one example. This is largely a matter of the unions making recording by American orchestras a near impossibility, even though they could theoretically earn more in the kickback than they could up-front.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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Post by jbuck919 » Sun Sep 16, 2007 3:26 pm

hangos wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:Perhaps Karajan just did not like Sibelius. That would show that he had some taste after all.
Your wit is always appreciated, John, but as you know, he recorded all the other symphonies and especially championed #4 when Sibelius was virtually unplayed in Germany.
Er, money?

As for Corlyss's comment, Gluck is a severely neglected composer. I do not understand why if not the Met then the City Opera does not routinely program him.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Post by Corlyss_D » Sun Sep 16, 2007 3:27 pm

hangos wrote:he recorded all the other symphonies and especially championed #4 when Sibelius was virtually unplayed in Germany.
What had they got against the 4th?
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Jack Kelso
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Re: The ones that got away ....

Post by Jack Kelso » Tue Sep 18, 2007 12:16 am

Corlyss_D wrote:One of my prize lp recordings is Klemperer conducting Wagner's arrangement of Gluck's Overture to Iphigenie in Tauride.
I found it on CD with Bruckner's 6th (also Klemperer). Yes, it's a marvelous arrangement and makes the music sound SO important.

Tschüß!
Jack
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Post by Jack Kelso » Tue Sep 18, 2007 12:29 am

Regarding Karajan and Sibelius----just this weekend German t.v. brought a wonderful biographical tribute to Sibelius with lots of film clips and personal tidbits.

It was pointed out in an interview with Karajan that the Sibelius 4th is totally unlike any of his others---and the composer himself had said, "With the previous symphonies I gave them white wine. Now (with the 4th) I give them pure cold water."

I believe that if Karajan refused to record a work it was probably because he had measured the competition and felt that the public might not "need" his contribution.

Sibelius often used what I like to call "reverse development", wherein he would introduce a melodic snippet or two, build the tension and then release the full theme after the variations. This technique is very effective (e.g., in the 1st mvt of the First Symphony).

And where might Sibelius have gotten the idea for this? Why, from the inventor himself----Joseph Joachim Raff. He did it so often that he could easily have applied for a patent on it!

Jack
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Re: The ones that got away ....

Post by Corlyss_D » Tue Sep 18, 2007 2:54 am

Jack Kelso wrote:I found it on CD with Bruckner's 6th (also Klemperer). Yes, it's a marvelous arrangement and makes the music sound SO important.
You hit it on the head exactly. I couldn't imagine what the opera had to say that wasn't already bottled in that arrangement of the overture. I think on the lp it was paired with Leonore Overtures 1-3 and Fidelio Overture. Same problem as the first drafts of the Fidelio suffered. I have toyed with getting the opera, which wasn't available when I was in college, but I'm always brought up short by my inability to answer the question, "why would I want it?"
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val
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Post by val » Wed Sep 19, 2007 6:48 am

Jack Kelso


I believe that if Karajan refused to record a work it was probably because he had measured the competition and felt that the public might not "need" his contribution.

I don't think so. He recorded the 2nd and 7th, and both had several and fabulous versions (Beecham in the 2nd, Bernstein and also Beecham in the 7th).

This said, his version of the 4th is extraordinary, one of his best recordings.

hangos
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Post by hangos » Wed Sep 19, 2007 9:56 am

val wrote:
Jack Kelso


I believe that if Karajan refused to record a work it was probably because he had measured the competition and felt that the public might not "need" his contribution.

I don't think so. He recorded the 2nd and 7th, and both had several and fabulous versions (Beecham in the 2nd, Bernstein and also Beecham in the 7th).
I agree, val! Karajan recorded lots of works which already had great recordings by others. Why he didn't record the Sibelius 3rd symphony, we shall probably never know!
Martin

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Post by some guy » Wed Sep 19, 2007 1:06 pm

Just heard an anecdote about Klemperer. Apparently he attended a rehearsal of Stockhausen's Gruppen and commented that if he were younger and still sharp enough, he would have liked to conduct this.

I haven't found any corroboration of this anecdote, except a note here and there that he did attend a rehearsal of Gruppen and did enjoy it. And of course, he was always "sharp enough" until maybe five or six seconds before he died!
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Jack Kelso
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Post by Jack Kelso » Thu Sep 20, 2007 12:05 am

hangos wrote:
val wrote:
Jack Kelso


I believe that if Karajan refused to record a work it was probably because he had measured the competition and felt that the public might not "need" his contribution.

I don't think so. He recorded the 2nd and 7th, and both had several and fabulous versions (Beecham in the 2nd, Bernstein and also Beecham in the 7th).
I agree, val! Karajan recorded lots of works which already had great recordings by others. Why he didn't record the Sibelius 3rd symphony, we shall probably never know!
Martin
Karajan DID seem to have recorded most every symphonic composer between Beethoven and Mahler, but why didn't he even touch on Raff?!

I have all his symphonic works (incl. the four Shakespeare overtures) and it must be said that Raff's orchestration is top-flight without being flashy. He could have found his 20th-century public just as he did in his late 19th-century. Raff had a pronounced influence on Tschaikowsky, Dvorâk, Richard Strauss and Sibelius.

Karajan could have put to rest all of those awful prejudices which have accompanied Raff's reputation. And even if he hadn't chosen to do ALL of the eleven symphonies, nos. 3, 5, 8 and 9 alone would have been sufficient to spark a Raff-Renaissance, which came anyway---but not with the desired world-famous orchestras and conductors.

So----why did he avoid Raff? Since Karajan was a status-quo man, he probably didn't want to "stick his neck out" with composers who were unproven in their popularity.

Tschüß!
Jack
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Post by karlhenning » Thu Sep 20, 2007 7:55 am

Jack Kelso wrote:It was pointed out in an interview with Karajan that the Sibelius 4th is totally unlike any of his others---and the composer himself had said, "With the previous symphonies I gave them white wine. Now (with the 4th) I give them pure cold water."
Actually, Jack, the symphony of "pure spring water" ("while other composers were mixing cocktails of various hues") was of course the Sixth.

Considering the character of the Fourth, that would have been a bizarre mischaracterization, and suggestive that the composer himself does not know his own music :-)

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Post by Jack Kelso » Fri Sep 21, 2007 12:10 am

karlhenning wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote:It was pointed out in an interview with Karajan that the Sibelius 4th is totally unlike any of his others---and the composer himself had said, "With the previous symphonies I gave them white wine. Now (with the 4th) I give them pure cold water."
Actually, Jack, the symphony of "pure spring water" ("while other composers were mixing cocktails of various hues") was of course the Sixth.

Considering the character of the Fourth, that would have been a bizarre mischaracterization, and suggestive that the composer himself does not know his own music :-)

Cheers,
~Karl
If that is so Karl, then the author of the book I read it in doesn't know what he's writing about! :) He said the Fourth. Apparently Sibelius was reacting to negative criticism of his Fourth---that's why he referred to public disappointment regarding expectation of fine wine. Was the Sixth also received poorly?

Could there have been TWO references to wet symphonies? :D

Tschüß!
Jack
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Post by Yi-Peng » Sat Sep 29, 2007 11:58 pm

I wish that Solti had had a chance to record Elgar's Introduction and Allegro, and the Serenade for Strings. Normally Solti would conduct big orchestras, but I guess he was not really ready to conduct works that demanded smaller forces. I also wish Marriner and the Academy had had the chance to record Mendelssohn's Hebrides. And I also wish Dorati had had the chance to record Rimsky-Korsakov's Skazka for his Mercury Living Presence series of recordings, but I guess that was a rare work in the 1950s and nobody had ever heard of it.

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Post by jbuck919 » Sun Sep 30, 2007 12:22 am

Yi-Peng wrote:I wish that Solti had had a chance to record Elgar's Introduction and Allegro, and the Serenade for Strings. Normally Solti would conduct big orchestras, but I guess he was not really ready to conduct works that demanded smaller forces. I also wish Marriner and the Academy had had the chance to record Mendelssohn's Hebrides. And I also wish Dorati had had the chance to record Rimsky-Korsakov's Skazka for his Mercury Living Presence series of recordings, but I guess that was a rare work in the 1950s and nobody had ever heard of it.
This makes sense up to a point, but the one time I heard Solti conduct, he skipped the repeat in the Eroica. One does not skip repeats in Beethoven, which are always profoundly important (again, not an original opinion with me). It is one thing to have world-class performing forces and conduct them adequately, and another to have musical common sense as a conductor.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Post by Heck148 » Sun Sep 30, 2007 12:35 pm

Yi-Peng wrote: Normally Solti would conduct big orchestras, but I guess he was not really ready to conduct works that demanded smaller forces.
?? Solti's Haydn and Mozart is very excellent..he used smaller orchestras for the symphonies - I heard several of them live...vey fine.

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Post by RebLem » Sun Sep 30, 2007 11:57 pm

Solti was hired as CSO MD partly on the basis of a Ravinia concert which included a superb performance of the Dvorak Cello Concerto, which he never recorded. It might be objected that Decca may not have had a top notch cello soloist available, but he had Frank Miller just sitting there a few feet away from him every time he conducted. Frank Miller was good enough for Toscanini; why not Solti?
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Post by Jack Kelso » Tue Oct 02, 2007 1:07 am

jbuck919 wrote:This makes sense up to a point, but the one time I heard Solti conduct, he skipped the repeat in the Eroica. One does not skip repeats in Beethoven, which are always profoundly important (again, not an original opinion with me). It is one thing to have world-class performing forces and conduct them adequately, and another to have musical common sense as a conductor.
How odd. In all the decades I've been reading about music, this is the first time I've heard this. There is no greater necessity for a conductor to take the repeats of the expositions in "Eroica" or the Fifth or Seventh than in, say Schumann's 2nd or Brahms' 3rd.

While I do prefer the repeats taken in those works mentioned above, it by no means makes a performance without the repeat any less important an interpretation. Beethoven's works were not dipped in holy water.

Some conductors prefer repeats---others don't. Muti/Vienna Phil on Brilliant-Classics takes every single repeat possible in this set of the complete Schubert symphonies. It's all about preference and taste.

The only important symphony I know of where the repeat is almost always taken today is in Schumann's 4th (but Szell didn't, Furtwängler did).

Tschüß!
Jack
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