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Topics - DeathDealer

Metal / Schubert String Quartet #14 - let's compare two interpretations
« on: February 23, 2011, 02:29:57 PM »
I've posted two interpretations of Schubert's Death and the Maiden Quartet (#14) in audiofile.

I'll focus on quartet #14 to narrow the discussion. I hope you will listen to both versions, and join in with your own thoughts on the matter.

I got the Takács recording first, a couple of weeks ago. My initial impression was that they played very energetically, even forcefully at times. However, I felt that they glossed over some elements by favouring  a "long line" approach to interpretation, where the musical figures (short patterns of notes) are not given individual importance but are instead strung together in a more legato fashion to put into focus the overarching musical phrase.

In contrast, I first heard the Melos recording today. While the sound is not as clear and distinct, and the energy level is not as intense, I like how they give each musical figure its own emphasis. In the first movement in particular, the slower tempo and the distinctiveness of each figure let the music breathe more, and give the intense moments more gravity. And the emphasis on individual figures doesn't seem to weaken the sense of the overarching musical phrase, which leads me to conclude that there is indeed something lost in the Takács interpretation.

Since the Melos Quartett recording is very new to me, I'll listen to the two some more in the next few days to see how my thoughts evolve.

Any thoughts?

Metal / Scarlatti and Interpretation
« on: April 30, 2010, 04:21:20 PM »
THIS SEARCH brought up plenty.

On the first few listens: these pieces sound very dense and busy, and persist with an irritating air of tedium (this comes next, and now I've got to play it, and so on).  The execution almost belies the structure, or at least the latter stifles the former.

The harpsichord's relative lack of emotivity may be partially to blame.  I also get the impression that musicians will generally appreciate the mechanical side of these pieces while shrugging off the lack of sincerity - a perception I've known many to express in summary of Liszt and Paganini.

These pieces are interesting but lack direction, sincerity, and that certain "oomph" the right combination of the two result in.

EDIT: With regards to the above,  I'd be interested to consider the thoughts of a few seasoned classical enthusiasts since I (and I'm guessing others) are wading in shallow waters but haven't yet dove in, so to speak.  If there's nothing more to say then obviously don't.

Arctic Sun:

For Scarlatti, I recommend this user's playlists: http://www.youtube.com/user/Trinitrotolaissance

You'll find albums by Pierre Hantai, Enrico Baiano, and Pieter-Jan Belder.

I suspect your impression of tedium comes from the tediousness of the interpretation rather than the notes on the page, the same way identical words can be dull or moving depending on the orator.

To prove my point on the importance of interpretation, here's Telemann's Fantasie #3 played by:

Frank Brüggen, who understands what he's playing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQatlvFvGdM
Nina Perlove, who doesn't: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n25mDmcBC6E

With this in mind, here are different interpretations of K 248:

Belder: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKwwRJslLfE
Baiano: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eOUFpG07c5w
Hantai: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4m089Z06EU

and let's not forget another important player of Scarlatti, Scott Ross: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PlzPRzEaREc

There's also much to say on the changes in overall stylistic assumptions between then and today, but enough for now.

Metal / Guillaume de Machaut - Messe de Nostre Dame
« on: September 28, 2009, 06:42:04 PM »
Some quick thoughts on Diabolus in Musica's recording of this classic work.

The care in crafting long, intricate melodies is common to all early music, and this Mass is a great example.

Plainchant is of much less interest to me than the polyphonic ordinary and motets, but unlike most other complete mass settings where I usually skip these tracks, here I rather enjoy Diabolus in Musica's intense and compelling interpretation. I especially love the lower range of the ensemble.

I appreciate their medieval French pronounciation of Latin: French U (like german ü), silent consonants at the end of words, silent S following a vowel. It matches the historical records stating that Romance language speakers spoke Latin very similarly to their respective vernaculars.

All in all, this is reverent and contemplative music, and polyphony only reveals its full glory after several attentive listenings. This style is demanding, but very rewarding once the taste has been acquired.

Metal / Secular early music
« on: September 26, 2009, 10:54:45 PM »
Good find. To those interested in secular early music, don't miss this : http://musikalischeopfer.blogspot.com/2009/09/troubadors-et-trouveres-richard.html

Metal / Early Music: Medieval & Early Renaissance
« on: May 13, 2009, 11:58:26 AM »
Prompted by the discussion about good classical music, here are some of my favourite medieval and early renaissance recordings, and some thoughts, as a general introduction. Comments, discussion, opinions, and questions are very welcome.

I have been listening to early music for a few months only, and have no advanced music training, so there is still much for me to discover. The writings at www.medieval.org have been invaluable; featured there are a much more complete overview and articles about the repertory, composers, discographies, etc.


Perotinus & Notre Dame School
(not the absolute earliest polyphony, but an excellent starting point)
Recordings by Ensemble Gilles Binchois, their latest being Pérotin & L'École de Notre Dame, 1160-1245.
The 2cd set Music of the Gothic Era by Munrow shows its age, but the program itself is worthwhile, providing a clear overview of the evolution of medieval polyphony: Notre Dame -> Ars Antiqua -> Ars Nova -> Machaut.

Troubadours & Trouvères
(secular aristocrat-songwriters from 1100-1300; monophonic, interesting for exploring the possibilities of a long melodic line.)
Richard Coeur de lion; Tristan & Yseut by Alla Francesca
Lescurel: Fontaine de Grace by Ensemble Gilles Binchois

Guillaume de Machaut
(a monumental figure; his mass is the most well known of his output now because we have this thing for large works that we can relate to symphonies, but his secular polyphonic songs were his greatest achievement based on their innovation & influence)
Secular: Recordings by Ensemble Gilles Binchois, my favourite being Le vray remède d’amour.
Sacred: Messe de Nostre Dame by Diabolus in Musica.

Italian medieval secular
(here the Italians were following the French’s lead)
Recordings by Micrologus. I have not heard their entire output, but can vouch for D'Amor cantando and Landini E I Suoi Contemporanei.

Ars Subtilior
(took Machaut’s lead and brought songwriting to new levels of complexity; was once considered unplayable)
I have yet to hear anything from this period, but I intend to start with Alla Francesca based on the quality of their other recordings.

(doing their own old-fashioned thing, but based on the interval of the third instead of the fourth or fifth--if you don't know what this means, the third is the interval found in Iron Maiden's double leads; this new sonority will be adopted by the composers of Burgundy due to the closeness of rulership, and then by the rest of the continent):
Cathedral Sounds - Dunstable by Clemencic Consort
Honi soit qui mal y pense! by Diabolus in Musica

*Early Renaissance*

French Secular Songs:

Guillaume Dufay (Burgundy)
Dufay: Mille bonjours ! by Diabolus in Musica

Gilles Binchois (Burgundy)
Binchois: Mon souverain désir by Ensemble Gilles Binchois. (The Virgin Veritas 2x re-release with Lescurel: Fontaine de grace is a great value)

Sacred Music:

Dufay: I haven't heard much yet. I have high expectations for Missa Ecce ancilla Domini by Ensemble Gilles Binchois when I'll find it.

Franco-Flemish composers:
I’m only familiar with their masses, and look forward to discovering their secular works.

Requiem by Ensemble Organum and Clemencic’s Cathedral Sounds (includes missa sine nomine) are satisfactory. I yearn for more; the very lengthy, independent melodies are fascinating, especially the way he can hint at a cadence, but hold off on the expected closure to start a new development of the multiple melodies.

The only cd I’ve heard is Missa Si dedero / Missa Pfauenschwanz by Ars Nova Secunda Chorus. Strongly recommended, this is intricate large-scale musical architecture. ANS Chorus is convincing; I’ll seek out their other recordings of Obrecht as well as Agricola. Many of their cds are the first recordings.

Pierre de la Rue
Missa L'homme armé / Missa Pro Defunctis by Ensemble Clément Janequin.

Josquin des Prez
Missa Sine nomine / Missa Ad fugam by The Tallis Scholars

Josquin sounds much closer to us than all the others. This makes me see the end of the medieval era as transitioning into the Renaissance during the years 1400-1500, and Josquin (and the printing press) herald a new beginning in music, more familiar to our ears. He’s certainly the most influential of his era, but I disagree that his music is objectively “better” because of that, and I actually prefer his more old-fashioned contemporaries and the preceding generation. (analogy: Suffocation & their clones)

…and then follows the printing press and humanist concerns, and thus a massive body of music with a very different outlook…