Harnoncourt Conducts Porgy and Bess???!!

Your 'hot spot' for all classical music subjects. Non-classical music subjects are to be posted in the Corner Pub.

Moderators: Lance, Corlyss_D

Post Reply
Modernistfan
Posts: 1809
Joined: Fri Sep 10, 2004 5:23 pm

Harnoncourt Conducts Porgy and Bess???!!

Post by Modernistfan » Mon Nov 02, 2009 5:52 pm

Yes, this is not a misprint and it is not an April Fool joke. This is coming out on RCA shortly. If anything, it shows that the days of major labels blithely indulging conductors by allowing them to record repertoire for which they are completely unsuited have not ended. This recording is based on live performances conducted by Harnoncourt at the Styriarte Festival in Austria this summer. Although reports have described Harnoncourt as using an "all-black cast," as is the norm for P & B, the Porgy is Jonathan Lemalu, who is from New Zealand and is of Samoan descent. Other than being somewhat darker in pigmentation than the average Austrian Jörg Haider voter, black he isn't. The Bess is Isabelle Kabatu, replacing an indisposed Measha Brueggergosman. Kabatu is Belgian of African descent.

We hardly need another P & B anyway.

Tiger
Posts: 453
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2009 9:03 pm
Location: Albuquerque

Re: Harnoncourt Conducts Porgy and Bess???!!

Post by Tiger » Mon Nov 02, 2009 6:02 pm

Modernistfan wrote:Yes, this is not a misprint and it is not an April Fool joke. This is coming out on RCA shortly. If anything, it shows that the days of major labels blithely indulging conductors by allowing them to record repertoire for which they are completely unsuited have not ended. This recording is based on live performances conducted by Harnoncourt at the Styriarte Festival in Austria this summer. Although reports have described Harnoncourt as using an "all-black cast," as is the norm for P & B, the Porgy is Jonathan Lemalu, who is from New Zealand and is of Samoan descent. Other than being somewhat darker in pigmentation than the average Austrian Jörg Haider voter, black he isn't. The Bess is Isabelle Kabatu, replacing an indisposed Measha Brueggergosman. Kabatu is Belgian of African descent.

We hardly need another P & B anyway.
I think it's best not to criticize a recording until you've heard it a few times. Maybe Harnoncourt will do a great job.

JackC
Posts: 2987
Joined: Tue May 20, 2003 10:57 am

Re: Harnoncourt Conducts Porgy and Bess???!!

Post by JackC » Mon Nov 02, 2009 6:03 pm

Yikes - it's so sad. I remember the days when I treasured the Harnoncourt/VCM first recordings of the Brandenburgs, the orchestral suites, the b minor mass, the Matthew and St John Passions and eagerly awaited the release each new volume of the Bach Cantatas.

Then something went wrong, terribly, tragically wrong. :lol: At the time he started to branch out into Mozart and Schubert, his Bach got weird and idiosyncratic, just like the other stuff.

And now we've come to this. I can't imagine having to listen to him do P&B. :lol:

THEHORN
Posts: 2609
Joined: Sat Jun 14, 2008 8:57 am

Re: Harnoncourt Conducts Porgy and Bess???!!

Post by THEHORN » Mon Nov 02, 2009 7:17 pm

I put up a post about this some time ago , shortly before the performances took place, and found information about the performances on Harnoncourt's website.
I'd be very curious to hear this recording, and possibly a DVD will come out.
Anything Nicke does today will be interesting, whether you like his approach to the music or not.
He has also written some really interesting books on interpretation and composers such as Mozart and Bach.
I've just heard his Teldec Aida , with the VPO , and it's anything but your run of the mill Verdi performance. Try it. The cast includes Christina Gallardo Domas, Vincenzo La Scuola, Olga Borodina, Thomas Hampson and Matti Salminen.
I'd like to hear Harnoncourt tackle Wagner, either excerpts or complete.
But it may be too late, because he turns 80 next month.

jbuck919
Military Band Specialist
Posts: 26867
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Stony Creek, New York

Re: Harnoncourt Conducts Porgy and Bess???!!

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Nov 02, 2009 7:20 pm

He started small with the St. John and St. Matthew Passions and worked his way up to this.

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

Modernistfan
Posts: 1809
Joined: Fri Sep 10, 2004 5:23 pm

Re: Harnoncourt Conducts Porgy and Bess???!!

Post by Modernistfan » Mon Nov 02, 2009 7:43 pm

Yes, it is probably right not to criticize a recording until it comes out. However, when that particular conductor has a track record that suggests that he or she is ill-suited to the repertoire (again, in my opinion), it is a reasonable conclusion that the recording will not suit me. An example would be Roger Norrington in Bruckner. (If I am at the horse races, and the past performances show that a particular horse has run poorly five or six times under a particular set of conditions, such as a long race of more than 1 mile on a turf course (rather than dirt), and that horse is entered in a race of 1 1/8 miles on the turf course, I will throw that horse out immediately.)

Wallingford
Posts: 4552
Joined: Tue Jul 22, 2003 3:31 pm
Location: Brush, Colorado

Re: Harnoncourt Conducts Porgy and Bess???!!

Post by Wallingford » Mon Nov 02, 2009 10:27 pm

Hey, after seeing CDs of Marriner doing Bolero or An American In Paris or Strauss' Don Juan, I'm prepared for anything.
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
--Paul Simon

Corlyss_D
Site Administrator
Posts: 27663
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 2:25 am
Location: The Great State of Utah
Contact:

Re: Harnoncourt Conducts Porgy and Bess???!!

Post by Corlyss_D » Tue Nov 03, 2009 5:38 am

God save us . . . !
Corlyss
Contessa d'EM, a carbon-based life form

stenka razin
CMG's Chief Decorator
Posts: 4005
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2008 7:59 am
Location: In The Steppes Of Central Asia

Re: Harnoncourt Conducts Porgy and Bess???!!

Post by stenka razin » Tue Nov 03, 2009 7:11 am

As much as I admire Harnoncourt in Baroque and Classical period music, I think that his conducting of Gershwin is something I can look away from. Why, because it definitely cannot be 'idiomatic' and seems to be a perverse choice of conductor and music. Well, let's hope that I am wrong. To each his own. :(
Image

Harold Tucker
Posts: 510
Joined: Mon May 19, 2003 4:36 pm
Location: Ludlow, Kentucky

Re: Harnoncourt Conducts Porgy and Bess???!!

Post by Harold Tucker » Tue Nov 03, 2009 10:58 am

From the seven minutes are so posted on Youtube, I would judge that the performance was far from a disaster and I would be happy to add it to my Porgy and Bess collection. The assumptions you are liable to read in the Classical Music Guide ain't necessarily so.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rikNPht-1UY

Harold Tucker
Posts: 510
Joined: Mon May 19, 2003 4:36 pm
Location: Ludlow, Kentucky

Re: Harnoncourt Conducts Porgy and Bess???!!

Post by Harold Tucker » Fri Nov 27, 2009 9:47 am

I see that MDT has the RCA release of this production listed for the month of December.

hangos
Posts: 983
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2007 6:44 pm
Location: England

Re: Harnoncourt Conducts Porgy and Bess???!!

Post by hangos » Sat Nov 28, 2009 1:08 pm

Wallingford wrote:Hey, after seeing CDs of Marriner doing Bolero or An American In Paris or Strauss' Don Juan, I'm prepared for anything.
What next? Boulez conducts Tchaikovsky's Greatest Hits? :twisted: :roll:
Martin

stenka razin
CMG's Chief Decorator
Posts: 4005
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2008 7:59 am
Location: In The Steppes Of Central Asia

Re: Harnoncourt Conducts Porgy and Bess???!!

Post by stenka razin » Sat Nov 28, 2009 4:17 pm

hangos wrote:
Wallingford wrote:Hey, after seeing CDs of Marriner doing Bolero or An American In Paris or Strauss' Don Juan, I'm prepared for anything.
What next? Boulez conducts Tchaikovsky's Greatest Hits? :twisted: :roll:
Martin
Martin and my fellow CMGers, here is Tom Service's article from the Guardian, excerpted, in 2007 on Tchaikovsky and Boulez:


Poor Tchaikovsky

This is the great composer who defined a new vision of Russianness in his music in the late 19th century, who created an entirely new form of music for dance in his revolutionary ballets (Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty), and composed arguably the most radical symphony of the 19th century: his Sixth, the Pathétique. His funeral in St Petersburg in 1893 inspired one of the great public outpourings of grief for any musician. Now he is most familiar as a composer of music for adverts. The 1812 Overture - or that music off those peanut butter ads in the 1980s - is still his most popular and performed work, and forms the thundering climax to Classical Spectaculars all over the world. The Sugar Plum Fairy Waltz has become another of the world's most successful jingles, ever since it was used as the accompaniment to the dancing mushrooms of Disney's Fantasia.

It's not just in the ad-man's imagination that Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky has been used and abused. The combination of the bombastic and the saccharine embodied by the 1812 Overture and the Sugar Plum Fairy informs the way generations of 20th-century composers and critics have thought of the man and his music.

Pierre Boulez, high priest of postwar musical modernism, has never conducted a single note of Tchaikovsky, and describes the composer's life's work as "abominable"; he has even opined that every Tchaikovsky-lover at a Tchaikovsky concert is celebrating the cult of himself. Ouch. The composer of some of the greatest melodies of all time is, for many arbiters of musical taste, a disposable and even dangerous sentimentalist, as relevant to the modern world as the tsarist decadence of a Fabergé egg.

Thankfully, Boulez's protestations haven't stopped anyone enjoying Tchaikovsky's musical masterpieces. His ballets, his last three symphonies, the Violin Concerto and the First Piano Concerto are all regular fixtures on concert programmes, and no opera house worth its salt can afford to be without Eugene Onegin and The Queen of Spades in its repertoire. But that very popularity threatens to overwhelm the subtlety of these pieces and the breadth of Tchaikovsky's achievement. Perhaps more than with any other composer, we need to get back to Tchaikovsky's music without the trappings of its myths and legends, to rediscover just what it is that makes his work so special.
Image

hangos
Posts: 983
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2007 6:44 pm
Location: England

Re: Harnoncourt Conducts Porgy and Bess???!!

Post by hangos » Sat Nov 28, 2009 4:36 pm

stenka razin wrote:
hangos wrote:
Wallingford wrote:Hey, after seeing CDs of Marriner doing Bolero or An American In Paris or Strauss' Don Juan, I'm prepared for anything.
What next? Boulez conducts Tchaikovsky's Greatest Hits? :twisted: :roll:
Martin
Martin and my fellow CMGers, here is Tom Service's article from the Guardian, excerpted, in 2007 on Tchaikovsky and Boulez:


Poor Tchaikovsky

This is the great composer who defined a new vision of Russianness in his music in the late 19th century, who created an entirely new form of music for dance in his revolutionary ballets (Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty), and composed arguably the most radical symphony of the 19th century: his Sixth, the Pathétique. His funeral in St Petersburg in 1893 inspired one of the great public outpourings of grief for any musician. Now he is most familiar as a composer of music for adverts. The 1812 Overture - or that music off those peanut butter ads in the 1980s - is still his most popular and performed work, and forms the thundering climax to Classical Spectaculars all over the world. The Sugar Plum Fairy Waltz has become another of the world's most successful jingles, ever since it was used as the accompaniment to the dancing mushrooms of Disney's Fantasia.

It's not just in the ad-man's imagination that Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky has been used and abused. The combination of the bombastic and the saccharine embodied by the 1812 Overture and the Sugar Plum Fairy informs the way generations of 20th-century composers and critics have thought of the man and his music.

Pierre Boulez, high priest of postwar musical modernism, has never conducted a single note of Tchaikovsky, and describes the composer's life's work as "abominable"; he has even opined that every Tchaikovsky-lover at a Tchaikovsky concert is celebrating the cult of himself. Ouch. The composer of some of the greatest melodies of all time is, for many arbiters of musical taste, a disposable and even dangerous sentimentalist, as relevant to the modern world as the tsarist decadence of a Fabergé egg.

Thankfully, Boulez's protestations haven't stopped anyone enjoying Tchaikovsky's musical masterpieces. His ballets, his last three symphonies, the Violin Concerto and the First Piano Concerto are all regular fixtures on concert programmes, and no opera house worth its salt can afford to be without Eugene Onegin and The Queen of Spades in its repertoire. But that very popularity threatens to overwhelm the subtlety of these pieces and the breadth of Tchaikovsky's achievement. Perhaps more than with any other composer, we need to get back to Tchaikovsky's music without the trappings of its myths and legends, to rediscover just what it is that makes his work so special.
Thanks for posting that interesting article,stenka!
I recently read somewhere that Boulez "enjoys listening to Tchaikovsky and Sibelius on the radio but feels no affinity with their music" He has definitely mellowed with the onset of old age!
Martin

RebLem
Posts: 9117
Joined: Tue May 17, 2005 1:06 pm
Location: Albuquerque, NM, USA 87112, 2 blocks west of the Breaking Bad carwash.
Contact:

Re: Harnoncourt Conducts Porgy and Bess???!!

Post by RebLem » Sat Nov 28, 2009 5:47 pm

Back in the 90's, I saw a film called Holiday Inn by Marcel Ophuls at the Chicago International Film Festival. Marcel Ophuls, whose magnum opus was The Sorrow and the Pity, about the French Nazi collaborationists of the WWII years, had made another documentary film about the Bosnian War. He called it Holiday Inn because the Holiday Inn in Sarajevo was the hotel where most of the journalists covering the war stayed, and as an homage to the 1942 film of the same name, a frothy Hollywood musical which had introduced the song White Christmas.

At the very end of the film, Ophuls interviews a very civilized and compassionate Bosnian doctor who is bone tired after a tragically busy 14 hour day in the emergency room of a local hospital. The room has little light except from the cameraman's battery pack because the hospital's electricity has been knocked out. The doctor mentions that he is also a member of a national choral ensemble, and that what he has experienced that day and many before it reminds him of the spiritual Nobody knows the trouble I've seen. Ophuls asks him if he would sing a bit of it, and I thought, "Oh, no, I'll bet this is going to be really embarrassing." But I was surprised. The performance was surprisingly idiomatic without being slavishly minstrelly, and after a few verses, Ophuls fades it into a Mahalia Jackson recording of the piece to end the film.

The negative reaction to the very idea of Harnoncourt trying his hand at P & B strikes me as the mirror image of those black nationalists who say that the writings of DWMs (dead white men), even Shakespeare, or Beethoven, or Gershwin, for that matter, are irrelevant to the lives of black people. They seem to be relevant to many who are not English-speakers, in the case of Shakespeare, or German-speakers in the case of Beethoven. Tone poems have been composed on the themes of Shakespeare plays by composers of many nationalities. Shostakovich wrote two different pieces of incidental music for two different productions of Hamlet, one in 1931, and the other in 1964. Kurosawa's 1985 film Ran was inspired by King Lear. An African-Polish violinist, George Bridgetower, performed the world premiere of Beethoven's Violin Sonata 9 with the composer himself. All sorts of evidence exists that great art is universal, that it belongs to the whole world and all mankind. Porgy and Bess is great art. It is no exception. And perhaps Harnoncourt wanted to record it at least partly as his own monumental reproach to the Haiderites. This sort of impulse should be encouraged, not put down.

Give the man a chance. And while you're at it, order a copy of a science fiction novella by Suzy McKee Charnas called Listening to Brahms. Its about a spaceship full of Earthlings who escape Earth and travel to another star system just before people on Earth destroy the whole planet and all life on it in a nuclear holocaust. This small band of humans finds a planet where sentients quite different from us have been listening in to broadcast transmissions from Earth, and most of the population has become entranced with our civilization. In a word, they like us, for some damn fool reason, and the new arrivals are welcomed and feted. Many of the locals even get plastic surgery to look more like humans, they are so enamoured of us.

Then the story breaks down into two parallel tracks. One is that four of the new arrivals, although they have never been musicians before, start learning to play instruments replicated by the locals, and they form a string quartet. Their skill increases and they become quite accomplished performers, and public concerts are held which are well attended by the locals.

The other thread is that a dissident group of locals dedicated to preserving the local culture and ending this slavish devotion to Earth culture establishes itself and turns, in some cases, to acts of terrorism. One of the new arrivals, through whose eyes the story is told, in fact, comes to agree with them, and to join forces with them against some of his own people as well as the Earth-worshipping majority.

I will not tell you the denoument, but suffice it to say the central figure is changed by a small encounter, and has a epiphanous conversion to the idea that great art is universal.
Don't drink and drive. You might spill it.--J. Eugene Baker, aka my late father
"We're not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term."--Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S. Carolina.
"Racism is America's Original Sin."--Francis Cardinal George, former Roman Catholic Archbishop of Chicago.

RebLem
Posts: 9117
Joined: Tue May 17, 2005 1:06 pm
Location: Albuquerque, NM, USA 87112, 2 blocks west of the Breaking Bad carwash.
Contact:

Re: Harnoncourt Conducts Porgy and Bess???!!

Post by RebLem » Sat Nov 28, 2009 6:02 pm

hangos wrote:
Wallingford wrote:Hey, after seeing CDs of Marriner doing Bolero or An American In Paris or Strauss' Don Juan, I'm prepared for anything.
What next? Boulez conducts Tchaikovsky's Greatest Hits? :twisted: :roll: Martin
Perhaps not, but Boulez did conduct an excellent cycle of the Schubert symphonies with the Cleveland Orchestra. The tapes still exist, and I wish some enterprising record company would find a way to issue them on CD.
Don't drink and drive. You might spill it.--J. Eugene Baker, aka my late father
"We're not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term."--Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S. Carolina.
"Racism is America's Original Sin."--Francis Cardinal George, former Roman Catholic Archbishop of Chicago.

stenka razin
CMG's Chief Decorator
Posts: 4005
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2008 7:59 am
Location: In The Steppes Of Central Asia

Re: Harnoncourt Conducts Porgy and Bess???!!

Post by stenka razin » Sat Nov 28, 2009 7:01 pm

Boulez conducted the New York Philharmonic many years ago in a fine performance of Schumann's Das Paradies und die Peri.:wink: 8)

P.S. By the way there is a 2 CD set of Schumann's Scenes From Goethe's Faust on Opera D'Oro, conducted by Boulez. 8)
Image

RebLem
Posts: 9117
Joined: Tue May 17, 2005 1:06 pm
Location: Albuquerque, NM, USA 87112, 2 blocks west of the Breaking Bad carwash.
Contact:

Re: Harnoncourt Conducts Porgy and Bess???!!

Post by RebLem » Sun Nov 29, 2009 12:44 am

stenka razin wrote:Boulez conducted the New York Philharmonic many years ago in a fine performance of Schumann's Das Paradies und die Peri.:wink: 8)
I went to a CSO concert of it conducted by Giulini, too. I'm pretty sure it was taped.
Don't drink and drive. You might spill it.--J. Eugene Baker, aka my late father
"We're not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term."--Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S. Carolina.
"Racism is America's Original Sin."--Francis Cardinal George, former Roman Catholic Archbishop of Chicago.

Marc
Posts: 312
Joined: Tue Jan 23, 2007 4:45 pm

Re: Harnoncourt Conducts Porgy and Bess???!!

Post by Marc » Tue Dec 01, 2009 5:02 pm

JackC wrote:Yikes - it's so sad. I remember the days when I treasured the Harnoncourt/VCM first recordings of the Brandenburgs, the orchestral suites, the b minor mass, the Matthew and St John Passions and eagerly awaited the release each new volume of the Bach Cantatas.

Then something went wrong, terribly, tragically wrong. :lol: At the time he started to branch out into Mozart and Schubert, his Bach got weird and idiosyncratic, just like the other stuff.

And now we've come to this. I can't imagine having to listen to him do P&B. :lol:
Harnoncourt didn't start with historical music.

He was cellist in a large symphony orchestra (Wiener Symphoniker), played and enjoyed all kinds of music, but wasn't happy with the way 18th century music had to be performed there.

He wanted other effects and expressiveness, and found out that historical instruments worked better in achieving that goal.

He became friends with Dutch cembalist/organist Gustav Leonhardt, who thought the same way, and then the 'ball' started rollin', and in a decade or so he was baptized some kind of a baroque pope. Which, in fact, he never really was.

In the seventies Harnoncourt got invited more and more in the Netherlands, to conduct non-historic ensembles in Bach's vocal works. At his first rehearsal of the Matthäus-Passion with the Concertgebouw Orchestra, he wasn't happy with the Jochum-influenced way they played the opening chorus, especially the lack of rhytm annoyed him. So he asked do you know the Radetzky-Marsch? Yes, sure they did. Well, play this one just like that! The orchestra was rather shocked, but eventually he got his way with them, and they were convinced.

Harnoncourt has always been a man who loved all kinds of music from all kinds of periods. Monteverdi, Bach, Beethoven, Schubert, Bruckner, Dvorak, Johan Strauss .... you name it.
He loved to do the New Year's Concert in Vienna, for instance. He himself has never been happy with his 'holy' HIP-image, and has been saying already for decades in interviews or at press conferences that so-called authenticity does not exist.

So performing Porgy and Bess isn't a sad thing at all. He's only doing things he likes to do. And I think he's right in doing so.

stenka razin
CMG's Chief Decorator
Posts: 4005
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2008 7:59 am
Location: In The Steppes Of Central Asia

Re: Harnoncourt Conducts Porgy and Bess???!!

Post by stenka razin » Sun Feb 07, 2010 8:10 pm

Gramophone selects Harnoncourt's 'Porgy and Bess' as one of the best of the month, yet slams the Arnold Schoenbereg Choir for its lack of 'soul' in their very important choral contributions....Some member of our CMG group hopefully will obtain this new 3 CD RCA set and put us straight........Does Harnoncourt get it or not? Does Nik swing or not?....Enquiring minds want to know..... :wink: 8)
Image

Chalkperson
Disposable Income Specialist
Posts: 17667
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 1:19 pm
Location: New York City
Contact:

Re: Harnoncourt Conducts Porgy and Bess???!!

Post by Chalkperson » Sun Feb 07, 2010 8:48 pm

stenka razin wrote:Gramophone selects Harnoncourt's 'Porgy and Bess' as one of the best of the month, yet slams the Arnold Schoenbereg Choir for its lack of 'soul' in their very important choral contributions....Some member of our CMG group hopefully will obtain this new 3 CD RCA set and put us straight........Does Harnoncourt get it or not? Does Nik swing or not?....Enquiring minds want to know..... :wink: 8)
I am proud to tell you that I will not be buying or listening to this CD... :mrgreen:
Sent via Twitter by @chalkperson

diegobueno
Winds Specialist
Posts: 2466
Joined: Thu Apr 07, 2005 2:26 pm
Contact:

Re: Harnoncourt Conducts Porgy and Bess???!!

Post by diegobueno » Tue Feb 09, 2010 7:51 pm

In Bach's Cantata BWV 41, Dazu ist erschienen der Sohn Gottes, there is a recitative in which suddenly the full chorus breaks in for two measures and then disappears. On Harnoncourt's recording, part of the Telefunken "Kantatenwerk" set, the boy sopranos are so jolted by their sudden entrance that they jump a half step too high, which happens to make for a definitely bluesy cadence. I came to like it that way, and if I ever heard it performed correctly I'd probably be disappointed. I don't know how many takes they had to go through before they got one even as close as that one, but either the others were total disasters, or Harnoncourt just happened to like the blues effect and kept it in.

Maybe Harnoncourt has another side we just don't know about.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 18 guests