Discussion:
Boulez
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g***@gmail.com
2016-01-18 21:35:11 UTC
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According to the following recent article:

- ...Boulez...conducted...Tristan only once...was in Osaka in 1967 on tour with Bayreuth forces (but a local orchestra). It is available on tape and CD...

http://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/01/spare-us-this-unanimous-chorus-of-praise-for-pierre-boulez/
Dogbert Dilbert
2016-01-20 15:27:43 UTC
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Post by g***@gmail.com
- ...Boulez...conducted...Tristan only once...was in Osaka in 1967 on
tour with Bayreuth forces (but a local orchestra). It is available on
tape and CD...
http://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/01/spare-us-this-unanimous-chorus-of-praise-for-pierre-boulez/
"all his Wagner is not only mediocrely cast, but often the singers are
either indifferent to or ignorant of the meaning of what they’re
singing, and of the pitch at which they are singing it" (Michael Tanner)

Hmmm, and there I thought McIntyre was one of the best Wotans I'd
heard. Tough shit Siegfried Jerusalem, Gwyneth Jones, Franz Mazura,
Hofmann, Altmeyer et al. Not only don't you know what you're singing,
but you're singing it off-key!

Dogbertd
Bert Coules
2016-01-20 15:56:19 UTC
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Post by Dogbert Dilbert
"all his Wagner is not only mediocrely cast, but often the singers are
either indifferent to or ignorant of the meaning of what they’re singing,
and of the pitch at which they are singing it" (Michael Tanner)
Hmmm... you're singing it off-key!
Actually, he doesn't say that (though perhaps he meant to). What he says,
whether deliberately or otherwise, is that the singers *don't understand the
meaning* of the keys in which they're singing. It's an interesting point
but surely a questionable one: do different keys *have* meanings?

Bert
Mike Scott Rohan
2016-01-21 13:54:24 UTC
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Post by Bert Coules
Post by Dogbert Dilbert
"all his Wagner is not only mediocrely cast, but often the singers are
either indifferent to or ignorant of the meaning of what they're singing,
and of the pitch at which they are singing it" (Michael Tanner)
Hmmm... you're singing it off-key!
Actually, he doesn't say that (though perhaps he meant to). What he says,
whether deliberately or otherwise, is that the singers *don't understand the
meaning* of the keys in which they're singing. It's an interesting point
but surely a questionable one: do different keys *have* meanings?
Bert
It can be read that way, but I'm not sure it's what he actually meant.

Certainly musical keys can have certain connotations, but these are to a large extent subjective. A Cmaj chord very often has an open, assured sound -- but sometimes, at the end of La Boheme for example, it can be used very differently. However, Dm tends to generate a mysterious atmosphere, for example in the opening of the Don Giovanni overture; but it does this just as much in a totally different music and medium, on the guitar in a folksong for example. So it does seem there must be something universal about the effect.

Cheers,

Mike
REP
2016-01-21 16:51:22 UTC
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Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by Bert Coules
Post by Dogbert Dilbert
"all his Wagner is not only mediocrely cast, but often the singers are
either indifferent to or ignorant of the meaning of what they're singing,
and of the pitch at which they are singing it" (Michael Tanner)
Hmmm... you're singing it off-key!
Actually, he doesn't say that (though perhaps he meant to). What he says,
whether deliberately or otherwise, is that the singers *don't understand the
meaning* of the keys in which they're singing. It's an interesting point
but surely a questionable one: do different keys *have* meanings?
Bert
It can be read that way, but I'm not sure it's what he actually meant.
Certainly musical keys can have certain connotations, but these are to a large extent subjective. A Cmaj chord very often has an open, assured sound -- but sometimes, at the end of La Boheme for example, it can be used very differently. However, Dm tends to generate a mysterious atmosphere, for example in the opening of the Don Giovanni overture; but it does this just as much in a totally different music and medium, on the guitar in a folksong for example. So it does seem there must be something universal about the effect.
Cheers,
Mike
I suspect that our sense of unique key characteristics has a lot to do with musical association as well. We think of D-minor as a mysterious key because it was used in Don Giovanni, and not necessarily the other way around, for example. I don't doubt that some people are sensitive to the unique characteristics of keys, but for most of us, it's a matter of drawing from the literature. Ab-major is a key of solemn beauty because of its use in Parsifal and Beethoven's Pathetique, C-major is a key of triumph because of Der Freischutz and Beethoven's Fifth, etc.

REP
Mike Scott Rohan
2016-02-26 16:31:13 UTC
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Post by REP
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by Bert Coules
Post by Dogbert Dilbert
"all his Wagner is not only mediocrely cast, but often the singers are
either indifferent to or ignorant of the meaning of what they're singing,
and of the pitch at which they are singing it" (Michael Tanner)
Hmmm... you're singing it off-key!
Actually, he doesn't say that (though perhaps he meant to). What he says,
whether deliberately or otherwise, is that the singers *don't understand the
meaning* of the keys in which they're singing. It's an interesting point
but surely a questionable one: do different keys *have* meanings?
Bert
It can be read that way, but I'm not sure it's what he actually meant.
Certainly musical keys can have certain connotations, but these are to a large extent subjective. A Cmaj chord very often has an open, assured sound -- but sometimes, at the end of La Boheme for example, it can be used very differently. However, Dm tends to generate a mysterious atmosphere, for example in the opening of the Don Giovanni overture; but it does this just as much in a totally different music and medium, on the guitar in a folksong for example. So it does seem there must be something universal about the effect.
Cheers,
Mike
I suspect that our sense of unique key characteristics has a lot to do with musical association as well. We think of D-minor as a mysterious key because it was used in Don Giovanni, and not necessarily the other way around, for example. I don't doubt that some people are sensitive to the unique characteristics of keys, but for most of us, it's a matter of drawing from the literature. Ab-major is a key of solemn beauty because of its use in Parsifal and Beethoven's Pathetique, C-major is a key of triumph because of Der Freischutz and Beethoven's Fifth, etc.
REP
Yes, I agree that most such connotations are subjective, but there does ssem to be something beyond the mere association. People who've never heard, say, Don G still find something mysterious about Dm. Something of this may be explained by synaesthesia, which you may know, and I've mentioned before. It's a mental characteristic which many great composers seem to have had, a linking or confusion of the senses that creates associations -- sound with colour and vice versa is the commonest form. Sibelius, for example, certainly had it; he chose the tiles on his living-room stove in a particular shade of green because it meant a particular D-chord to him -- not recalled it or suggested it, actually embodied it. Another composer, conducting his own work, yelled at the orchestra to make it "more yellow! More yellow!" and was astonished that they couldn't see what he meant. A musical sound seems, in some people, to spark off a fundamental mental image, not through association, like Proust's madeleine, but inbuilt. Synaesthetes don't always hear sounds as the same colours, of course, but sometimes they do. So perhaps Dm might awaken some feeling of twilight and shadow. But the link might also be with some other sense, or with the emotions. If one's possible, then so is the other.

Cheers,

Mike
A. X. Douglas
2016-02-28 05:12:40 UTC
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The sonorities of the various instruments have much to do with the personalities of the keys. The simplest and most natural notes of any instrument are assigned to the key of C Major, because it has no sharps and flats. This means for instance that when a violin plays in C major a trumpet must play in D major to match its key, because the "concert" key of C is a full tone lower than the trumpet's natural C. This leads to various sections in the orchestra having different tonal qualities in various keys, according to the differing expressive timbres that the instruments have when playing in those keys. Composers have often associated different emotional qualities with these varying tonal qualities, as produced by the different keys, among the verious sections of the orchestra.
Mike Scott Rohan
2016-01-21 13:45:13 UTC
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Post by Dogbert Dilbert
Post by g***@gmail.com
- ...Boulez...conducted...Tristan only once...was in Osaka in 1967 on
tour with Bayreuth forces (but a local orchestra). It is available on
tape and CD...
http://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/01/spare-us-this-unanimous-chorus-of-praise-for-pierre-boulez/
"all his Wagner is not only mediocrely cast, but often the singers are
either indifferent to or ignorant of the meaning of what they're
singing, and of the pitch at which they are singing it" (Michael Tanner)
Hmmm, and there I thought McIntyre was one of the best Wotans I'd
heard. Tough shit Siegfried Jerusalem, Gwyneth Jones, Franz Mazura,
Hofmann, Altmeyer et al. Not only don't you know what you're singing,
but you're singing it off-key!
Dogbertd
You can go off-pitch briefly, whereas off-key perhaps suggests something more consistently wrong, a whole phrase or passage. It's worth noting that in the full quote Tanner's specific example is the closing scene of Gotterdammerung, in other words Gwyneth Jones -- and her tendency to waver in pitch is no secret.

As for the other singers you mention, I find McIntyre's performance for Boulez much less impressive than when I heard him at Covent Garden, probably due to Chereau's insistence on playing Wotan as a brutal hypocrite. He sounds rough and vocally monochrome compared to Hotter or Schorr, which he did not elsewhere. Hofmann and Altmeyer are good, certainly, but not the absolute best, especially Altmeyer's way with words; and do they outweigh so many other turkeys in central roles, notably Manfred Jung's utterly miserable, inadequate Siegfried? And I'm afraid that though I've heard Franz Mazura many times, both live and on disc, he always sounded hoarse and leathery -- bearable in Lulu, but not Wagner. So while I'm always ready to disagree with Tanner, and have done so in print many times, here I feel he has something, even if he perhaps overstates his case.

Cheers,

Mike
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