Beethoven is the $#!+

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Pyrrho
 
Reply Fri 26 Feb, 2010 04:18 pm
@TickTockMan,
TickTockMan;132569 wrote:
Thanks for the information. How do you feel about Claudio Abbado as a conductor? I have him conducting (with the Berlin Philharmonic) Mozart's 28th, 29th, and 35th which I like tremendously. I don't own a ton of classical music, but this is definitely one of my favorites.
...



I don't have any strong feelings about Claudio Abbado. From quickly looking at my CDs, I could only find one with him conducting, so I put it on to remind me of him. It did not strike me as being anything special (it was not Mozart). However, I don't think you should make much of this, for several reasons. First, what some random person online thinks of a conductor is not terribly important. Additionally, I probably have not heard the CDs you have, so my opinion of him is formed based on other things (I have heard him on the radio, and felt much the same as I do about the CD I have with him); some conductors are better with some music than with other music. And also for a reason best told by telling you a story involving a different musician. Quite a few years ago, due to some review or other, I bought a CD of Mieczysław Horszowski playing the piano. I played it, and thought it was okay, but nothing special. I relegated it to use as background music. After using it this way on several occasions, I happened to be dining while it was playing in the background, without me paying much attention to it. Suddenly, I became aware of the music, and I thought it was incredibly beautiful, and was surprised that I had not noticed this before. Ever since that moment, he has been my favorite pianist.

Now, in Horszowski's case, part of the reason for this is that he is not flashy or showy in his playing. (He reportedly said to one of his students who was not following his example, "Please remember, this is a sonata for piano, not pianist.")

I suppose I should also add, I have never had such an experience with any other performer of any kind. Normally, if I change my mind about some performer, I decide they are worse than I originally thought.

Anyway, if you enjoy a particular performer, don't worry about what others have to say. He is a respected conductor, and if he appeals to you, then enjoy the CDs he conducted.
 
TickTockMan
 
Reply Fri 26 Feb, 2010 04:28 pm
@Ding an Sich,
Ding_an_Sich;132815 wrote:
I remember listening to Beethoven's 9th Symphony and crying at the choral part of it. So beautiful....


In the movie Equilibrium, Christian Bale's character is also moved to tears by Beethoven's 9th Symphony, First Movement.

An excellent movie, by the way.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equilibrium_(film) (contains spoilers)
 
melonkali
 
Reply Fri 26 Feb, 2010 04:31 pm
@jack phil,
For those who've never heard the First Movement of the Fifth Symphony conducted by Heilege Dankgesang, I've provided a link below.

please forgive me,
rebecca

YouTube - P.D.Q. Bach (Peter Schickele) - "New horizons in music appreciation" (Beethoven)
 
jgweed
 
Reply Sat 27 Feb, 2010 09:40 am
@jack phil,
There are works that continue to be special to each of us, and many of us have quite a few versions by different conductors and different symphonies. I wonder, though, how much of our preference for one or the other is influenced by the first recording we heard and listened to repeatedly as we learned the piece? I also wonder whether some conductors/orchestras have particularly close relationships with a composer or a work that set their recordings apart?
 
Pyrrho
 
Reply Sat 27 Feb, 2010 01:30 pm
@jgweed,
jgweed;133200 wrote:
There are works that continue to be special to each of us, and many of us have quite a few versions by different conductors and different symphonies. I wonder, though, how much of our preference for one or the other is influenced by the first recording we heard and listened to repeatedly as we learned the piece? I also wonder whether some conductors/orchestras have particularly close relationships with a composer or a work that set their recordings apart?



There is a tendency to prefer the first version with which one becomes familiar, as that is the "standard" one typically uses to judge what sounds "right". (That also explains why so many "audiophiles" like the distortion of LPs, because that is what they used to decide what they liked in their formative years.) But it is not always the case that the first one is the one that is most liked, and hearing a variety of things by different people over time can bring one to a better way of selecting the best.

Also, sometimes differences are exaggerated by people describing different performances, where two performances are really very close in style and quality. With many performances by professionals of standard repertoire, I think it is often the case that the similarities are much greater than the differences. But there are also cases where the differences are dramatic, making it almost seem like a different piece of music.

In the case of the Brandenburgs, the version I mention above was not even close to the first version I have heard (it was also not the first version I owned), but I liked it from the first time I heard it, and it is my favorite of the ones I have heard. I think it is good to try to listen to as many different versions as one can stand to listen to, which can be aided by visiting a good local library, which often have CDs that can be checked out and listened to at home. The radio is another source of different versions, though there one does not have the same way of choosing, which is both good and bad. Bad in that you do not get to listen to what you are thinking about, but good in that it can expose you to music that you had never considered before, but that you might like.

One can also use reviews to help, as often reviewers are people who have heard a great many recordings, and are in a better position to say which is best. However, even if your taste coincides with theirs, it is still unlikely that they have heard every recording of a popular piece (like any of Beethoven's symphonies, or Bach's Brandenburgs), so it still may be that there is some hidden gem that will be missed.

---------- Post added 02-27-2010 at 02:32 PM ----------

TickTockMan;132991 wrote:
Ding_an_Sich;132815 wrote:
I remember listening to Beethoven's 9th Symphony and crying at the choral part of it. So beautiful....



In the movie Equilibrium, Christian Bale's character is also moved to tears by Beethoven's 9th Symphony, First Movement.

An excellent movie, by the way.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equilibrium_(film) (contains spoilers)


It is also famously a favorite of Alex in A Clockwork Orange.
 
melonkali
 
Reply Sun 28 Feb, 2010 11:50 am
@jgweed,
jgweed;133200 wrote:
There are works that continue to be special to each of us, and many of us have quite a few versions by different conductors and different symphonies. I wonder, though, how much of our preference for one or the other is influenced by the first recording we heard and listened to repeatedly as we learned the piece? I also wonder whether some conductors/orchestras have particularly close relationships with a composer or a work that set their recordings apart?


Have you ever heard one of your favorites performed so poorly that you had to "make it stop" or leave the room? Or, perhaps you've heard a performance so exquisite that you just can't listen to "lesser" versions.

I don't have a broad knowledge of classical music; I know mostly only popular pieces. However, where these are concerned, I find I'm very picky and overly sensitive to "bad" performances ("bad" perhaps only IMO -- others may find them exquisite).

One performance that unexpectedly sent me running for the "mute" button: Karajan (conductor) and Richter (piano) performing Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto in B-flat minor, 1st movement.

OMG -- Victor Borge's old comedy routine of the movement was not as laughable as this performance. If anyone here has access to this recording, I'd be interested in your opinion. Item #1 on my list of "what's wrong with this performance": it sounded to me like Richter and Karajan were fighting over tempo?

And one performance so unexpectedly exquisite I can't find another to match: Jeno Jando playing the Adagio Cantable from Beethoven's Pathetique Sonata. Somehow Jando manages to pick it up to a "moving, flowing" tempo (I can't stand to hear this one draaaaaaaag) while still maintaining its lyrical beauty (other pianists I've heard at this same tempo sound too rushed). Opinions?

I'd be interested in hearing about others' "hit the mute button NOW" list -- as well as "definitively exquisite" un-matchable performances.

rebecca
 
Pyrrho
 
Reply Mon 1 Mar, 2010 08:51 am
@melonkali,
melonkali;133584 wrote:
Have you ever heard one of your favorites performed so poorly that you had to "make it stop" or leave the room? Or, perhaps you've heard a performance so exquisite that you just can't listen to "lesser" versions.

I don't have a broad knowledge of classical music; I know mostly only popular pieces. However, where these are concerned, I find I'm very picky and overly sensitive to "bad" performances ("bad" perhaps only IMO -- others may find them exquisite).

One performance that unexpectedly sent me running for the "mute" button: Karajan (conductor) and Richter (piano) performing Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto in B-flat minor, 1st movement.

OMG -- Victor Borge's old comedy routine of the movement was not as laughable as this performance. If anyone here has access to this recording, I'd be interested in your opinion. Item #1 on my list of "what's wrong with this performance": it sounded to me like Richter and Karajan were fighting over tempo?

And one performance so unexpectedly exquisite I can't find another to match: Jeno Jando playing the Adagio Cantable from Beethoven's Pathetique Sonata. Somehow Jando manages to pick it up to a "moving, flowing" tempo (I can't stand to hear this one draaaaaaaag) while still maintaining its lyrical beauty (other pianists I've heard at this same tempo sound too rushed). Opinions?

I'd be interested in hearing about others' "hit the mute button NOW" list -- as well as "definitively exquisite" un-matchable performances.

rebecca



I wish I had the recordings you mention in order to comment more effectively, but I notice that a couple of people who wrote reviews on Amazon do not agree with you about Karajan & Richter performing Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto in B-flat minor (from reviews of a set of CDs that include Karajan & Richter performing Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto in B-flat minor):

"All that said, this set does include Richter's aristocratic First Concerto with the Vienna SO..."

"Richter and Rostropovich give great performances..."

The first goes on to say that there is a better performance of that concerto conducted by Karajan with a different soloist, but calling it "aristocratic" is far from describing it as unlistenable.

All of this makes me rather curious about the performance, but not enough to actually buy it.
 
melonkali
 
Reply Mon 1 Mar, 2010 01:04 pm
@Pyrrho,
Pyrrho;134064 wrote:
I wish I had the recordings you mention in order to comment more effectively, but I notice that a couple of people who wrote reviews on Amazon do not agree with you about Karajan & Richter performing Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto in B-flat minor (from reviews of a set of CDs that include Karajan & Richter performing Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto in B-flat minor):

"All that said, this set does include Richter's aristocratic First Concerto with the Vienna SO..."

"Richter and Rostropovich give great performances..."

The first goes on to say that there is a better performance of that concerto conducted by Karajan with a different soloist, but calling it "aristocratic" is far from describing it as unlistenable.

All of this makes me rather curious about the performance, but not enough to actually buy it.


Pyrrho,

First, an apology to all. I am not qualified to be a classical music critic -- I don't have the broad base of knowledge necessary for fair comparison. I should not have made my post "in the heat of the moment" -- I'd listened to my recording again, to be certain of my impressions, before I made the post. I apologize for my arrogant tone. Perhaps I was acting on the general principle jgweed had proposed -- perhaps I was basing my judgements on a "standard" I had in my mind from earlier hearing(s) of a piece. That being said, I still don't personally care for this version of the Tchaikovsky concerto.

Pyrrho, at the Amazon site I just visited (link below) for the recording I have, nearly everyone likes the Rachmaninoff, but the Tchaikovsky... I remain befuddled about the one positive comment on the sound engineering. Perhaps one has to have a fairly sophisticated sound system? There were sections when all I heard was my husband asking, "Are they still there?"

At the link given below, if you read all 25 user reviews and the Amazon critic's review, negative reviewers detail the problems they heard, and positive reviewers just as eloquently defend the recording. Perhaps reading their more learned opinions will give you a clearer idea. Plus I've provided links for you to hear it yourself, at the end of this post.

Amazon.com: Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 2; Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1: Sergey Rachmaninov, Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky, Herbert von Karajan, Stanislaw Wislocki, Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, Sviatoslav Richter

As for the Beethoven Adagio, I actually played that (badly) when I was young. But this gives me no special insight -- I was clearly NOT a child prodigy. My teacher put me on a selective Beethoven-only regimen (probably because I was heavy handed, arrogant and temperamental) after I butchered Mendelssohn's "Spring Song" so badly she had to leave the room, muttering something about an elephant on ice skates.

In considering jgweed's theory, I must confess that the tempo I prefer for the Adagio just happens to be the same tempo one would use when borrowing this piece for the popular song "Somewhere Out There", from "An American Tale". Hmmm... Coincidence? I still do, personally, commend journeyman Jeno Jando's playing of it -- I have yet to hear it played "up tempo" with the same lyrical beauty. However, I'm sure such performances exist; I'm not all that familiar with the field (of classical pianists).

If you know where other reviews are found, I'd like to consider all perspectives, and learn from them. I'd very much value your opinion, and the opinion of anyone else in this thread. See the Youtube links below for the performance of the Tchaikovsky movement. I haven't read the Youtube "comments" section below these vids yet, but plan to do so.

This is DEFINITELY the sound I have on my recording -- when the first Youtube video began, I nearly had a cataleptic fit (one does not need to be learned, wise, nor discerning to be temperamental, arrogant and overly sensitive). I concede that the performance, at least IMO, seems to improve at the end (if you can endure that long...) This 1st movement takes up all of the 1st two vids and 2 minutes on Vid #3.

rebecca

YouTube - S. Richter Plays Tchaikovsky Concerto No. 1 (1/4)

YouTube - S. Richter Plays Tchaikovsky Concerto No. 1 (2/4)

YouTube - S. Richter Plays Tchaikovsky Concerto No. 1 (3/4)
 
jgweed
 
Reply Mon 1 Mar, 2010 01:31 pm
@jack phil,
Rather than try to remember really horrible performances of works I love (those CDs have been turned into ashtrays or worse) I do want to mention two performances that I admire greatly although they were far from the first interpretations I had heard:

Jesse Norman singing Strauss' Four Last Songs.
Emil Gilels playing Brahms' First Piano Concerto.
 
Pyrrho
 
Reply Mon 1 Mar, 2010 05:44 pm
@melonkali,
melonkali;134159 wrote:
Pyrrho,

First, an apology to all. I am not qualified to be a classical music critic -- I don't have the broad base of knowledge necessary for fair comparison. I should not have made my post "in the heat of the moment" -- I'd listened to my recording again, to be certain of my impressions, before I made the post. I apologize for my arrogant tone. Perhaps I was acting on the general principle jgweed had proposed -- perhaps I was basing my judgements on a "standard" I had in my mind from earlier hearing(s) of a piece. That being said, I still don't personally care for this version of the Tchaikovsky concerto.
...


I don't quite understand why you are apologizing. You are entitled to your opinion about such things. (And if you reread my post, I did not state that you were wrong; only that some people evidently disagreed with you, and I was curious to hear it.) As for the reviews by people at Amazon, other than the occasional pro reviews that they quote, the reviews are from anyone who cares to write a review, so I would not attribute any special knowledge to them.

Just so you know, the quotes I got were from:



For some reason, when I searched for the CD at Amazon before, I did not notice the one to which you have now provided a link.

Anyway, thanks for the links to both the CD and to the youtube recordings. I can understand your dislike of it, but from listening to a bit of it, I don't think it is unlistenable. But I think that the recording I have is better:

Amazon.com: Tchaikovsky: Concerto No. 1/Rachmaninoff: Concerto No. 2: Sergey Rachmaninov, Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky, Fritz Reiner, Kiril Kondrashin, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, RCA Victor Orchestra, RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra, Van Cliburn: Mus

But if I were going to buy it now, I would go with the hybrid SACD:

Amazon.com: Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1; Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 2 [Hybrid SACD]: Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky, Sergey Rachmaninov, Kiril Kondrashin, Fritz Reiner, Van Cliburn: Music
 
melonkali
 
Reply Tue 2 Mar, 2010 01:22 am
@Pyrrho,
Pyrrho;134229 wrote:
I don't quite understand why you are apologizing. You are entitled to your opinion about such things. (And if you reread my post, I did not state that you were wrong; only that some people evidently disagreed with you, and I was curious to hear it.) As for the reviews by people at Amazon, other than the occasional pro reviews that they quote, the reviews are from anyone who cares to write a review, so I would not attribute any special knowledge to them.

Just so you know, the quotes I got were from:



For some reason, when I searched for the CD at Amazon before, I did not notice the one to which you have now provided a link.

Anyway, thanks for the links to both the CD and to the youtube recordings. I can understand your dislike of it, but from listening to a bit of it, I don't think it is unlistenable. But I think that the recording I have is better:

Amazon.com: Tchaikovsky: Concerto No. 1/Rachmaninoff: Concerto No. 2: Sergey Rachmaninov, Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky, Fritz Reiner, Kiril Kondrashin, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, RCA Victor Orchestra, RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra, Van Cliburn: Mus

But if I were going to buy it now, I would go with the hybrid SACD:

Amazon.com: Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1; Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 2 [Hybrid SACD]: Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky, Sergey Rachmaninov, Kiril Kondrashin, Fritz Reiner, Van Cliburn: Music


Thanks. I've been studying mostly ethnic folk music (The Republic of Georgia, Finland, Kuban Cossack and Russian) the past few years, but I'd like to start listening to classical music again. I can use all the "heads ups" I can get; I've made a "to hunt for" list from this thread, and will check out your links as soon as I post this.

I'm OK keeping the Karajan/Richter version of the Tchaikovsky concerto (as long as I never have to listen to it again). I learned from the comments at Youtube that apparently this has become a "classical cult classic" as "The Conflicting Recording". Soooo, guess who's going to be the "new kid" in my media player's special "curiosity shop" section?

rebecca
 
 

 
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