Discussion:
Karajan Ring on Blu Ray
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Hyperborean
2017-07-13 03:23:15 UTC
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Anyone heard it?
m***@gmail.com
2017-07-13 10:27:22 UTC
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Post by Hyperborean
Anyone heard it?
I am not expecting any great revelations in sound. That Ring was rather conservatively produced and engineered - nothing in the way that Decca for better or worse produced their version. On the other hand Karajan was always very particular about the sound he wanted and the blu ray may bring us closer to that. I have no idea what sources they are using for the remastering (original tapes???)
Hyperborean
2017-07-23 12:51:38 UTC
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The gimmicks in the DECCA version can become tiresome on repitition.
Bert Coules
2017-07-23 13:38:10 UTC
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The gimmicks in the DECCA version can become tiresome on repetition.
They're not gimmicks, but an honest attempt to bring the drama to life and
avoid the recording being merely a concert version. I don't dispute that
they're not all successful, but to dismiss a desire and a willingness to
push the recording of opera on a little as "gimmicks" is patently unfair.

Bert
Hyperborean
2017-07-23 14:25:21 UTC
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And yet the result is often of a series of jarring "effects" edited onto the recording in an inorganic way.They rarely sound like an integral part of a performance. I find the whole SonicStage idea the most dated aspect of the Decca recording.
Bert Coules
2017-07-23 14:29:29 UTC
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As I said, it's not all successful. Instead of trying to reinvent the
wheel, Culshaw should have consulted the people who had been producing
dramatic works with seamlessly integrated sound effects and evocative aural
ambiences for decades: the BBC's radio drama department.
m***@gmail.com
2017-07-23 14:49:25 UTC
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Post by Bert Coules
As I said, it's not all successful. Instead of trying to reinvent the
wheel, Culshaw should have consulted the people who had been producing
dramatic works with seamlessly integrated sound effects and evocative aural
ambiences for decades: the BBC's radio drama department.
Some of it is very successful - the voice of Alberich drifting in and out of Hagens mind at the beginning of Gott Act2 really works as are the actual number of anvils in Rheingold and real steerhorns in Gott Act 2. The other "gimmicks"which are so awful don't add up to much time in a fourteen hour recording so I for one can trade them for the rest of that Rings solid attributes
Mike Scott Rohan
2017-07-26 17:29:19 UTC
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Post by Bert Coules
As I said, it's not all successful. Instead of trying to reinvent the
wheel, Culshaw should have consulted the people who had been producing
dramatic works with seamlessly integrated sound effects and evocative aural
ambiences for decades: the BBC's radio drama department.
I know what you mean -- as well as their more mundane dramas, bells ringing and trains departing and so on, they had to come up with the incredible range of weird effects needed for things like the Goon Shows (one of the first Radiophonic Workshop triumphs was "Bloodnok's Stomach"). That sort of thing did indeed rach its peak in the 1960s, under producers like John Powell, with his adaptation of The Hobbit and much else. He actually built sets and dressed actors in costume, I believe, as well as the imaginative radio effects. He'd hve coped with the Ring admirably.

But in the 1950s, when Culshaw set the pattern, I'm not sure they would have been quite so much help. For one thing, the Beeb could be rather snotty about helping commercial interests, and for another, they weren't used to working in stereo, until very much later. Plus, of course, Culshaw's sessions were in Vienna, and a lot of the work had to be done on the spot. But it's an intriguing thought!

Cheers,

Mike
Mike Scott Rohan
2017-07-24 17:52:35 UTC
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Post by Hyperborean
And yet the result is often of a series of jarring "effects" edited onto the recording in an inorganic way.They rarely sound like an integral part of a performance. I find the whole SonicStage idea the most dated aspect of the Decca recording.
As Bert says, the effects were not merely for their own sake but to recreate effects that would naturally occur in a live performance -- an idealized one, certainly, such as Wagner imagined. The lack of "organic" integration you complain of is at least partly the effect of the age of the recording. They were intended to suit the much more limited reproduction of the 1950s and 60s, and I can testify that they still sounded thrilling on my student systems a decade later. Digital remastering tends to expose the joins in places, such as the dual-mono collapse of the Gibichung hall, but I don't find this too disturbing.

The disdain for these effects has, I'm afraid, a lot to do with received opinion, and the anti-Solti reaction, sparked off largely by his much-resented appointment to Covent Garden. That was driven by a mixture of anobbery and tacit anti-semitism, coded by criticizing Solti's "vulgarity", and regrettably encouraged by some influential critics. This reached appalling extremes, including the vandalizing of Solti's car; and of course the entire Decca/Culshaw approach became tarred with that particular brush. In fact it was widely admired at the time, and generally imitated -- often rather ineptly, as by the loudly anti-Soltian Victor Olof at EMI. These badly handled imitations of course contributed to giving the technique a bad name, as for example Olof's Kempe Lohengrin. This originally featured a whole range of effects, including Culshaw-like perspectives and acoustics, and Telramund's armoured body hitting the ground in act III -- unintentionally hilarious, like a sack of potatoes wrapped in chainmail. It's understandable that these were mostly edited out of later releases, but in the same reaction his much more atmospheric effects for the Klemperer Dutchman were also removed or minimized, including a really stunning anchor-chain in Act I, which was both musically apposite and a sound that would have been heard on stage. The Karajan team's much touted decision not to use effects was deliberate cashing-in on this reaction; Karajan himself normally enjoyed effects of all kinds and made free use of them in his stage productions, such as splashing water and wind machines in Otello. And for all that outward purism they still found it necessary to do things like back up their anvils with a drum, which both sounds silly and subtly distorts the rhythm. There's little doubt that Culshaw's anvils represent what Wagner intended, and no other recording has come anywhere near that. If not every effect succeeds quite as well, nor do they get in the way of the music, or contradict it. They round out the drama, and drama, not a worthy symphony concert, is what Wagner is all about.

Cheers,

Mike





As reaction prevailed these were mostly edited out of later releases; so



This reached appalling extremes here's one Solti documentary on DVD in which an English horn-player loftily declares that he naturally wanted to play a "beautiful English sound", whereas Solti wanted him to play a nasty Germanic horn sound.
Mike Scott Rohan
2017-07-25 16:43:09 UTC
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On Monday, July 24, 2017 at 6:52:36 PM UTC+1, Mike Scott Rohan wrote:

Apologies for the random lines that got left in my last post. I'd found myself going into less relevant detail about the anti-Solti brigade, and cut them out -- I thought.

But while on the subject of effects, I was just listening to the Decca-recorded Keilberth Ring, and the bootleg Japanese Bayreuth Walkure, and was struck by just how frequently effects are used in these live performances, including whistling wind machines and, in Nibelheim, the roaring of Bayreuth's fire projectors, which must have been left audible for atmospheric effect. In fact, almost every performance I've ever seen has used some kind of effect for moments like Donner's hammer strike, Alberich's invisibility, Wotan summoning Loge, Waltraute's thunder, and so on. This isn't new. Just as the magic-lantern was used for early visual effects, so acoustic effects have always been incorporated. I've an engraving from a Paris Opera staging in the 1900s which shows the singer (in top hat!) delivering Fafner's lines through a gigantic speaking-tube, with a huge bass drum under the dragon as a resonator -- very sophisticated. Are we then to confine ourselves, out of misplaced puritanism, to hearing Fafner through the tin speaking-trumpet that was the best Wagner could specify? In the Furtwangler RAI recording he sounds pretty feeble.

And special acoustic perspectives occur naturally in the staging, anyway. All that in addition to the noise that stage activity such as forging creates. A performance without all this would be unusual and unnatural, sounding more like an old-fashioned concert performance. So what's so wrong with recreating it in a studio recording? When I compare Culshaw recordings to the worthy but penny-plain Furtwangler Walkure, unimaginatively mono-recorded only a year or two earlier, it's the Culshaw that sounds more like what one hears in the theatre.

Cheers,

Mike
Bert Coules
2017-07-25 19:14:09 UTC
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Post by Mike Scott Rohan
it's the Culshaw that sounds more like what one hears in the theatre.
Which prompts the interesting (to me at least) question: why should a
recording sound like what we hear in a theatre? Audio drama evolved away
from its earliest practice of simply presenting stage plays and stage
performances minus the visuals and became a unique form in own right, so
why hasn't opera recording made the same move? Not to the exclusion of
what's become the norm but as an adjunct to it?

I could imagine different orchestra/singer balances, radically different
singing techniques, much more use of ambient as well as specific spot
effects, a good many other possibilities. I suppose the cost militates
against it, but since we're thinking of experimentation why not do away with
the orchestra? That would save a pound or two, I imagine. And who (apart
from the marketing department) needs big star names?

I don't suppose it will ever happen, but it would be pleasant if it did.

Bert
REP
2017-07-25 23:03:10 UTC
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Post by Bert Coules
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
it's the Culshaw that sounds more like what one hears in the theatre.
Which prompts the interesting (to me at least) question: why should a
recording sound like what we hear in a theatre? Audio drama evolved away
from its earliest practice of simply presenting stage plays and stage
performances minus the visuals and became a unique form in own right, so
why hasn't opera recording made the same move? Not to the exclusion of
what's become the norm but as an adjunct to it?
I could imagine different orchestra/singer balances, radically different
singing techniques, much more use of ambient as well as specific spot
effects, a good many other possibilities. I suppose the cost militates
against it, but since we're thinking of experimentation why not do away with
the orchestra? That would save a pound or two, I imagine. And who (apart
from the marketing department) needs big star names?
I don't suppose it will ever happen, but it would be pleasant if it did.
Bert
Didn't it, though? Tommy and Jesus Christ Superstar are pretty much what you describe. Strictly in the realm of opera, I think most of the experimentation you suggest happened during the early recording era, when the technology was new and no one knew exactly what a recording could or should be. Those experiments must have been mostly failures, though, otherwise we'd hear more about them today.

I know the Solti Tannhauser had some experimental recording elements. I remember my copy touting its unique engineering or aural technology. You could definitely hear the difference. There was a sort of strange, ethereal quality to the voices. I think the idea was to make them sound nearer, like the voices of a radio drama maybe -- I'm not completely sure. I just remember it was very controversial at the time, and I think some of the re-releases tried to undo the effect.

REP
Bert Coules
2017-07-26 08:11:54 UTC
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Post by REP
Didn't it, though? Tommy and Jesus Christ
Superstar are pretty much what you describe.
That's true to a certain extent but I was thinking more of the mainstream
operatic repertoire.

You make a good point about earlier recordings though (thinking of acoustics
and sound effects and the like) even then the supposed sanctity of the
operatic form tended to be observed, I think. When stereo came in there
were similar experiments, which Culshaw built on of course. I don't know
the Solti Tannhäuser but it sounds interesting. It must have been pretty
strongly disliked for attempts to be made to nullify whatever had been done:
depending on what raw elements had been preserved and in exactly what aural
state, that could have been a formidable task: if whatever they did to the
sound happened at the same time as it was put on tape, that would have been
pretty much irreversible.

The conventional reaction to the sort of thing I'm thinking of was neatly
illustrated when Karajan's studio Götterdämmerung came out and one critic
sniffily wrote that the Siegfried (was it Helge Brilioth?) was all very
well but it was obvious that he could never take the part on stage. So
what? Though in fact later he did do exactly that, to some acclaim.

Bert
m***@gmail.com
2017-07-26 10:39:21 UTC
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Post by Bert Coules
Post by REP
Didn't it, though? Tommy and Jesus Christ
Superstar are pretty much what you describe.
That's true to a certain extent but I was thinking more of the mainstream
operatic repertoire.
You make a good point about earlier recordings though (thinking of acoustics
and sound effects and the like) even then the supposed sanctity of the
operatic form tended to be observed, I think. When stereo came in there
were similar experiments, which Culshaw built on of course. I don't know
the Solti Tannhäuser but it sounds interesting. It must have been pretty
depending on what raw elements had been preserved and in exactly what aural
state, that could have been a formidable task: if whatever they did to the
sound happened at the same time as it was put on tape, that would have been
pretty much irreversible.
The conventional reaction to the sort of thing I'm thinking of was neatly
illustrated when Karajan's studio Götterdämmerung came out and one critic
sniffily wrote that the Siegfried (was it Helge Brilioth?) was all very
well but it was obvious that he could never take the part on stage. So
what? Though in fact later he did do exactly that, to some acclaim.
Bert
Actually the critic was Conrad L Osborne and he didn't say that Brilitroh would never take the part on stage; what he said was that some people will say that both Dernesch and Brilioth, though undercast, have beautiful voices and the recording wizards will do the rest. He said that was nonsense - recording wizards can compensate for volume but they cannot substitute an open throat for a closed one or a free tone for a squeezed one. Listeners who are vocally knowledgeable can spot the difference in two bars; other experience it only in general discomfort and unease in listening; a vague dissatisfaction. Voices out of whack are voices out of whack. He then explains in detail his issues with both Dernesch and Brilioth on that recording
Bert Coules
2017-07-26 10:45:42 UTC
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Thanks for that. But though Osborne might have said that, his isn't the
review I was recalling; that one was far briefer and more pointed.

Bert
m***@gmail.com
2017-07-26 10:41:44 UTC
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Post by Bert Coules
Post by REP
Didn't it, though? Tommy and Jesus Christ
Superstar are pretty much what you describe.
That's true to a certain extent but I was thinking more of the mainstream
operatic repertoire.
You make a good point about earlier recordings though (thinking of acoustics
and sound effects and the like) even then the supposed sanctity of the
operatic form tended to be observed, I think. When stereo came in there
were similar experiments, which Culshaw built on of course. I don't know
the Solti Tannhäuser but it sounds interesting. It must have been pretty
depending on what raw elements had been preserved and in exactly what aural
state, that could have been a formidable task: if whatever they did to the
sound happened at the same time as it was put on tape, that would have been
pretty much irreversible.
The conventional reaction to the sort of thing I'm thinking of was neatly
illustrated when Karajan's studio Götterdämmerung came out and one critic
sniffily wrote that the Siegfried (was it Helge Brilioth?) was all very
well but it was obvious that he could never take the part on stage. So
what? Though in fact later he did do exactly that, to some acclaim.
Bert
The Solti Tannhauser was pretty much acclaimed when it was issued the only issues with some were with Kollo. But the sound was wonderful and it still is for many the choice Tannhauser one reason among many being that it is the Paris version
Bert Coules
2017-07-26 10:44:22 UTC
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...it still is for many the choice Tannhauser one reason
among many being that it is the Paris version
That's interesting. Merely a personal view of course, but I've always found
the Paris version, especially the opening scene of act one, an interminable
bore.
m***@gmail.com
2017-07-26 10:49:21 UTC
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Post by Bert Coules
...it still is for many the choice Tannhauser one reason
among many being that it is the Paris version
That's interesting. Merely a personal view of course, but I've always found
the Paris version, especially the opening scene of act one, an interminable
bore.
Maybe you'll change your mind if you hear Ludwig sing it - she is really wonderful on that set as is Dernesch as Elisabeth
Bert Coules
2017-07-26 11:23:03 UTC
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Maybe you'll change your mind if you hear Ludwig sing it...
Maybe, but I doubt it since my objections are principally dramatic: I just
want them to get on with the damn story.

Bert
m***@gmail.com
2017-07-26 10:46:28 UTC
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Post by Bert Coules
Post by REP
Didn't it, though? Tommy and Jesus Christ
Superstar are pretty much what you describe.
That's true to a certain extent but I was thinking more of the mainstream
operatic repertoire.
You make a good point about earlier recordings though (thinking of acoustics
and sound effects and the like) even then the supposed sanctity of the
operatic form tended to be observed, I think. When stereo came in there
were similar experiments, which Culshaw built on of course. I don't know
the Solti Tannhäuser but it sounds interesting. It must have been pretty
depending on what raw elements had been preserved and in exactly what aural
state, that could have been a formidable task: if whatever they did to the
sound happened at the same time as it was put on tape, that would have been
pretty much irreversible.
The conventional reaction to the sort of thing I'm thinking of was neatly
illustrated when Karajan's studio Götterdämmerung came out and one critic
sniffily wrote that the Siegfried (was it Helge Brilioth?) was all very
well but it was obvious that he could never take the part on stage. So
what? Though in fact later he did do exactly that, to some acclaim.
Bert
I think Culshaws big misfire was the 1960 Tristan (which he really didn't want to do but Nilsson insisted - I know that Solti really wanted to redo it) The recording has the voices so submerged in the orchestra that you can't hear them half the time (and with the terribly miscast Uhl why would you). But the love duet is a half hour hole in the music and Nilsson is so much better six years later for DGG
Hyperborean
2017-07-26 13:53:02 UTC
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I think Culshaws big misfire was the 1960 Tristan (which he really didn't want to do but Nilsson insisted - I know that Solti really wanted to redo it) The recording has the voices so submerged in the orchestra that you can't hear them half the time (and with the terribly miscast Uhl why would you). But the love duet is a half hour hole in the music and Nilsson is so much better six years later for DGG<
Thats curious,one thing I find Culshaw alaways got right is the balance between voices and the orchestra.Listening to live recordings from bayreuth in the fifties can be chore on account of overly prominent voices and a recessed orchestra.
m***@gmail.com
2017-07-26 15:05:49 UTC
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Post by Hyperborean
I think Culshaws big misfire was the 1960 Tristan (which he really didn't want to do but Nilsson insisted - I know that Solti really wanted to redo it) The recording has the voices so submerged in the orchestra that you can't hear them half the time (and with the terribly miscast Uhl why would you). But the love duet is a half hour hole in the music and Nilsson is so much better six years later for DGG<
Thats curious,one thing I find Culshaw alaways got right is the balance between voices and the orchestra.Listening to live recordings from bayreuth in the fifties can be chore on account of overly prominent voices and a recessed orchestra.
He got it right by the time he got to Gotterdammerung and Siegfried I just chalk the Tristan up to an experiment that failed
Mike Scott Rohan
2017-07-26 18:03:13 UTC
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Post by Hyperborean
Thats curious,one thing I find Culshaw alaways got right is the balance between voices and the orchestra.Listening to live recordings from bayreuth in the fifties can be chore on account of overly prominent voices and a recessed orchestra.
Excepting Tristan, I agree. But that wasn't always the consensus. I remember talking to a reputedly intellectual Brit TV actress (at a 1970s ENO performance) who described something as being "as vulgarly loud as the voices in a Solti Wagner recording." She was of course parroting the received wisdom among circle-bar critics at the time.

Bayreuth, I think, is a special case because of the highly individual acoustic and the techniques imposed by the Schalldeckel, which directs the sound across the stage instead of directly out into the auditorium. Singers have to sing slightly behind the perceived beat to allow for this, and it generally tends to homogenize the instruments and highlight the voice..
Mike Scott Rohan
2017-07-26 17:53:52 UTC
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Post by Bert Coules
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
it's the Culshaw that sounds more like what one hears in the theatre.
Which prompts the interesting (to me at least) question: why should a
recording sound like what we hear in a theatre? Audio drama evolved away
from its earliest practice of simply presenting stage plays and stage
performances minus the visuals and became a unique form in own right, so
why hasn't opera recording made the same move? Not to the exclusion of
what's become the norm but as an adjunct to it?
One reason it hasn't is precisely the ill-considered puritanism over this issue. It's always dangerous to give a critic grounds to appear holier-than-thou, and for a while the opinion-formers duly rubbished anything that smacked of dramatic life. But there's also the distrust of recording techniques used to boost inferior or ageing singers, or bring together singers who never in fact performed together in the flesh -- the huge row over Elizabeth Schwarzkopf dubbing in a couple of Flagstad's high notes in the Furtwangler Tristan, for example, or the scorn Kleiber's Tristan attracted for using voices that wouldn't have coped well on stage. The insertion of Norman Bailey into the first Solti Meistersinger didn't show him at his best. Like special effects in the early days of cinema, all this was seen as some kind of cheating. I myself don't necessarily think recordings should reproduce the stage slavishly, but making them exist entirely independent of it is rather a dangerous precedent, a slippery slope down into the kind of swooning artificiality you get on middle-of-the-road discs -- even good ones, like Lesley Garrett's and Bryn Terfel's. I think you'd lose a lot of the vitality and spontaneity of the stage environment.
Post by Bert Coules
I could imagine different orchestra/singer balances, radically different
singing techniques, much more use of ambient as well as specific spot
effects, a good many other possibilities. I suppose the cost militates
against it, but since we're thinking of experimentation why not do away with
the orchestra? That would save a pound or two, I imagine. And who (apart
from the marketing department) needs big star names?
I don't suppose it will ever happen, but it would be pleasant if it did.
Bert
Hmm. There was an Australian MP who demanded that all the accompaniments in Aussie opera companies be recorded once-off, to save public money!

But while I can see where you're coming from, I feel that opera has a physical, vital presence. I used when I was young to prefer studio recordings, relatively unblemished, well balanced etc; not so much now. They have, as you say, become even more expensive, but it's not only that; the results one can get from live recording are so much better, cutting out most of the audience intrusion and other noises that used to become irritating on repeated listening. There's a tension between perfection and vitality, and Culshaw went a long way to achieving it. Wagner in particular, whose big-budget imagination far exceeded what could be done in his day, benefits from such a treatment -- but look at Culshaw's Tristan under Solti, which sounds overblown and overdone. As to star names, there's very often a reason they become stars. Seeing Domingo's Siegmund was a great pleasure, not just for the voice but for the sheer presence. There was a communication that some kind of electronic barrier wouldn't have made possible.

Cheers,

Mike
Bert Coules
2017-07-27 17:43:25 UTC
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Post by Mike Scott Rohan
But there's also the distrust of recording
techniques used to boost inferior or ageing
singers...
I don't understand that argument. A lot depends on what's meant by
"inferior" of course, but to my mind if a bit of audio enhancement enables
a performer to have a crack at a role she or he couldn't sustain on a stage,
why not? And there are more possibilities than that: yes, technical
jiggery-pokey can give a tenor, say, a lot more heft and staying power than
he really has, and even make him sound like a second Melchior, but it would
be fascinating to try to find an entirely different sonic world for the
works: the voices quieter and more conversational, perhaps, less - well,
less operatic - even in the loudest and most frequently belted passages.
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
I myself don't necessarily think recordings should reproduce the stage
slavishly,
but making them exist entirely independent of it is rather a dangerous
precedent...
Why is it? But I'm not suggesting that *all* recordings should go down that
route; far from it.

Last year I saw a sort of extreme-intimate performance of La Boheme (or
rather The Bohemians, given that it was in English). Young performers in a
tiny space accompanied by an electric keyboard. They made no attempt to
sound like traditional opera singers and the result was that I heard the
work completely fresh, as though it was newly conceived. The experience was
immensely rewarding, but it didn't make me think "Wow, I never want to hear
big soaring voices in a big theatre ever again" - quite the contrary. As
live, so with recordings: there's no reason why both approaches shouldn't
exist side by side (except of course for the ever-present forces of cost and
marketing).

Bert
Mike Scott Rohan
2017-07-28 13:32:32 UTC
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Post by Bert Coules
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
But there's also the distrust of recording
techniques used to boost inferior or ageing
singers...
I don't understand that argument. A lot depends on what's meant by
"inferior" of course, but to my mind if a bit of audio enhancement enables
a performer to have a crack at a role she or he couldn't sustain on a stage,
why not? And there are more possibilities than that: yes, technical
jiggery-pokey can give a tenor, say, a lot more heft and staying power than
he really has, and even make him sound like a second Melchior, but it would
be fascinating to try to find an entirely different sonic world for the
works: the voices quieter and more conversational, perhaps, less - well,
less operatic - even in the loudest and most frequently belted passages.
I'm entirely open to that, especially when the product is as good as the Kleiber Tristan; but I can also understand the disquiet about it -- that those techniques might be used to boost the careers of inferior singers favoured by management or other powers that be, or for their box-office value -- like the truly terrible Slater Walker TV version of Gianni Schicchi featuring Zero Mostel. Or Citizen Kane, and Kane's attempt to have his mistress sing grand opera. Which needn't be too harmful, except that they would thus be elbowing out more genuine, more capable singers; Derek Hammond-Stroud was in that Schicchi, and he deserved to be singing it. That's why incidents of discreet electronic "assistance" in some opera houses have been so controversial. Some singers have got roles via the casting couch, or family pull, but that will only take them so far before their ability becomes tested; but what if that can be artificially stretched? And unfortunately the creative techniques you imagine could all be turned to that end.
Post by Bert Coules
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
I myself don't necessarily think recordings should reproduce the stage
slavishly,
but making them exist entirely independent of it is rather a dangerous
precedent...
Why is it? But I'm not suggesting that *all* recordings should go down that
route; far from it.
Because result might be a decline in operatic and singing technique generally. It evolved in the first place, after all, because we didn't have amplification; you might say that is an argument for abandoning it, but I would counter that the music was written to integrate with it. I don't want to hear Russell Watson sing Siegfried, courtesy of B & W Loudspeakers.
Post by Bert Coules
Last year I saw a sort of extreme-intimate performance of La Boheme (or
rather The Bohemians, given that it was in English). Young performers in a
tiny space accompanied by an electric keyboard. They made no attempt to
sound like traditional opera singers and the result was that I heard the
work completely fresh, as though it was newly conceived. The experience was
immensely rewarding, but it didn't make me think "Wow, I never want to hear
big soaring voices in a big theatre ever again" - quite the contrary. As
live, so with recordings: there's no reason why both approaches shouldn't
exist side by side (except of course for the ever-present forces of cost and
marketing).
Bert
I expect I would have enjoyed it too -- although Boheme lends itself better to that than most operas. (Rudolf Bing found his TV version of Boheme was most attractive to young audiences when he had the singers simply *speak* the dialogue over the orchestra....) It sounds very like performances I've enjoyed by the Swedish Folkoperan company, but they don't go quite as far. They use a very light orchestra with a synthesizer to give background weight -- you don't normally notice it -- but proper opera singers -- just relatively young ones who would not normally be up to such a heavy role over full orchestra in a large auditorium. This produced two of the most riveting, youngest (and nudest) Salomes I've ever seen -- one of them Patricia O'Neill, one of Dennis's younger sisters -- amazing performances generally, once you adjusted. They could do a very viable Turandot and Aida, too -- yes, and Wagner, though I've only seen snippets. Longborough's Ring started out that way, too. But it's still a reduced experience, even if one gains in some respects from that reduction. But yes, let the various approaches co-exist -- provided one can't edge out the other. With La Fille du Regiment, say, it wouldn't make so much difference; but Wagner would be the loser.

Cheers,

Mike
Bert Coules
2017-07-28 16:56:32 UTC
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Mike, all excellent points, as ever.
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
TV version of Gianni Schicchi featuring Zero Mostel.
Of which - if I remember correctly - Harold Rosenthal said that Mostel's
voice was a perfect match for his name. I'd forgotten that Derek Hammond
Stroud was in it. How he must have suffered.
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Rudolf Bing found his TV version of Boheme
was most attractive to young audiences
when he had the singers simply *speak*
the dialogue over the orchestra.
Now that is an idea bordering on genius. How did they get over the problem
of elongated vowels and the like? Or was there a distinction made between
speech-like passages and sung ones? Hmm... a style could surely be found
where the spoken word encompassed both. I'd love to see a Ring done that
way.

Bert

Hyperborean
2017-07-28 03:34:40 UTC
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On the subject of Solti/Culshaw;Has anyone heard the Blu Ray audio releases of Salome and Elektra? Some recent reissues on Blu have been controversial, with some listeners hearing little improvement beyond the latest CD remastering.
m***@gmail.com
2017-07-28 09:32:14 UTC
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Post by Hyperborean
On the subject of Solti/Culshaw;Has anyone heard the Blu Ray audio releases of Salome and Elektra? Some recent reissues on Blu have been controversial, with some listeners hearing little improvement beyond the latest CD remastering.
I have heard the Salome and its the best sound of this performance I have heard
Mike Scott Rohan
2017-07-28 12:52:13 UTC
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Post by Hyperborean
On the subject of Solti/Culshaw;Has anyone heard the Blu Ray audio releases of Salome and Elektra? Some recent reissues on Blu have been controversial, with some listeners hearing little improvement beyond the latest CD remastering.
Not yet. I've dropped some heavy hints on the BBC's toes in the hope of getting them for review, but not yet. If I do, I'll report. My experiences of the Ring BluRay are very encouraging.

Cheers,

Mike
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