Wagner, anyone?

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Wagner, anyone?

Postby Luis » Thu May 02, 2002 6:11 am

These last moths i've been listening for the first time, but intensely lots and lots of Wagner and i loved it!<P>Fortunetly I have cable now!! hehehe...<P>Anyway, if there are some interested in listening this composer and don't know where to strat with, these are a few recommendations i could give you after consulting with some knowledgeable people in the matter:<P>Lohengrin: Solti or Abbado<BR>Gotterdammerung: Levine<BR>The rest of the Ring Cycle (Das Rheingold, Die Walkure, Siegfried): also, Solti<BR>Tirstan and Isolde: Karajan<BR>Tannhauser: Barenboim<P>Perhaps the best operas to start with Wagner could be Lohengrin (gorgeous!) or Die Walkure. If you want to take just a peak for now, and not buying a whole opera you can get a really nice CD containing some orchestral extracts from the ring cycle called <A HREF="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000003CUJ/qid=1020337143/sr=1-2/ref=sr_1_2/102-1576501-8828162" TARGET=_blank>The Ring without Words</A> As one of the cd reviewers says, "It's the Reader's Digest Version of the Ring", but its nice.
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Re: Wagner, anyone?

Postby thornhill » Thu May 02, 2002 8:34 am

In my humble opinion, Solti's Ring Cycle is one of the most overrated recordings in the history of the LP era (Solti himself is an overrated conductor, but that's another issue). Besides the Solti's conducting, the biggest problem with the cycle is producer John Culshaw (why Culshaw hired Solti to conduct the first studio recording of the ring is a mystery). Because of Culshaw, the balance is way off in the recording, the editing is iffy in places, and worst of all, he added tacky theatrical sound effects.<P>If you're looking to buy your first recording of the Ring Cycle, Bohm's and Sawallisch's are both great (and are both live recordings, they way it should be). Boulez's video recording has just come out on DVD - highly recommended.
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Re: Wagner, anyone?

Postby BenMurphy6 » Thu May 02, 2002 9:29 am

i can't speak for solti's wagner, but i really like some of his other recordings. he's definitely aggressive, and i can see how that would turn some people off. his recording of tchaikovsky's 4th is spectacular.<P>wagner is one composer i've never really been able to get into. i not a huge opera buff anyway, but every once in a while i listen to some of the stuff my dad owns, and it just never grabs me.
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Re: Wagner, anyone?

Postby thornhill » Thu May 02, 2002 5:47 pm

<I>...and it just never grabs me.</I><P>That's because with Wanger, the visual element is much more a part of the overall experience than something like 18th century opera. So, your reaction is natural and expected. With all these great productions of the ring cycle popping up on DVD, I think that it's definitely worth exploring some of them.<P>In my opinion, Solti's Chicago years were all about being "big and loud". There's absolutely no emotion, just a focus on the sonics. If you think that Szell was cold, check out Solit's digital Figaro. His tempi choices were also as questionable, if not more so than many of Lenny's.<P>As for Tchaikovsky: Symphony No.4, I've heard his, as well as many recordings, but I have yet to hear anything which tops Szell's 1960 LSO recording. Of course, that's just my opinion...WHICH MEANS THE WOLRD!!!! ;)<p>[ 05-02-2002: Message edited by: thornhill ]
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Re: Wagner, anyone?

Postby shostakovich » Thu May 02, 2002 7:49 pm

Hi Thornhill. When God called people to get a dose of humility, you must have been wearing earphones. :) :) ;) <P>Actually, there are lots of conductors who missed their humility portions. I just picked your favorite among them.<BR>Shos
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Re: Wagner, anyone?

Postby thornhill » Thu May 02, 2002 8:13 pm

LOL - that got me laughing out loud.<P><I>Actually, there are lots of conductors who missed their humility portions</I><P>Conducting is one of the biggest ego trips. You have a hundred musicians at your finger tips who are basically your willing slaves. It's like being a dictator.
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Re: Wagner, anyone?

Postby BenMurphy6 » Thu May 02, 2002 8:19 pm

well i'll admit that solti's mozart is definitively not good. i've never found szell to be cold, nor have i found solti to be emotionless. solti will probably not be known as one of the great conductors of the 20th century (like szell undoubtedly will), because his style only really goes with certain types of music. but i still love his tchaik 4 :)
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Re: Wagner, anyone?

Postby thornhill » Thu May 02, 2002 10:24 pm

In Szell's time, his recordings were often accused of being cold and calculated. When a critic once asked him why he doesn't romanticize Mozart like all other conductors, he simply replied, "I cannot pour chocolate sauce on asparagus." <P>Thirty some years after his death, critics still don't cut him any slack. Here is an excerpt from Gramophone Magazine's review of Szell's recording of Mahler: Symphony No.4<P><I>If I'm absolutely honest, though, it's been some time since I sat down and listened to the performance and this time round I must say it struck me as far more dispassionate and calculated in effect than I had remembered. I'd willingly sacrifice some of the precision for a greater sense of spontaneity at the moment of performance (Szell was always at his best in the concert hall).</I><P>9 out of 10 Mahlerians agree that Szell's 4th is the definitive recording.<p>[ 05-02-2002: Message edited by: thornhill ]
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Re: Wagner, anyone?

Postby BenMurphy6 » Fri May 03, 2002 8:12 am

szell's mahler 4? definitely! awesome.
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Re: Wagner, anyone?

Postby welden » Fri May 03, 2002 1:13 pm

If you want to hear some really good Wagner, listen to his Prelude to Die Meistersinger. My high school band in Miami played this as our volunteer selection in the State Competition, so I have a real close tie to it. Listen for the three (3) active themes being played concurrently, expecially in the closing part. I played a Tuba, the bass part, and just loved it. What a great piece of music. :)
Walter L. Elden, P.E. (Ret)
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Re: Wagner, anyone?

Postby Shapley » Mon Feb 04, 2008 3:11 pm

Here, Piq, is a Wagner thread.

Kvetch away!
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Re: Wagner, anyone?

Postby Trumpetmaster » Mon Feb 04, 2008 3:17 pm

I don't know one brass player that does not love Wagner's Music!!

Tannhauser.... What GREAT Trombone parts!!!

:mrgreen:
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Re: Wagner, anyone?

Postby piqaboo » Mon Feb 04, 2008 4:21 pm

Based on Tannhauser, Wagner took himself a bit too seriously.
Wagner, like Dickens, needed an editor.

What was he thinking in the first overture, running that 'crying cat/broken electronic toy' sound from the violins on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and even after adding in some of the wind instruments, the poor strings are still running that six-or-so note whine over and over.
It must last for more than 3 minutes.
Then the music (finally) moves away from it entirely, so it doesnt even serve a purpose of tensing the audience to prepare them for the next scene.
Its the kind of sound that if your kid's toy made it, you'd remove and break said toy within 90 seconds of hearing it first.

If minnesinger contests had music that boring, no wonder they died out. Not a decent song until the last one by Tannhauser, wherein he admits he's "been with" Venus. Blech.

The chorale music was beautiful consistently. And brief :(.
Altoid - curiously strong.
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Re: Wagner, anyone?

Postby dai bread » Mon Feb 04, 2008 4:29 pm

The plot of Tannhauser annoys me intensely, which is why I don't listen to it often. I do enjoy the music, though. I have the Paris version, conducted by Georg Solti. I don't know how it differs from the Dresden version. Which one do you have, Piq?
We have no money; we must use our brains. -Ernest Rutherford.
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Re: Wagner, anyone?

Postby piqaboo » Mon Feb 04, 2008 4:36 pm

Hi Dai.
OT was in the chorus for the Dresden version. I went Friday night.
There is some beautiful music in there, no question. But there's a lot that could have been trimmed, and that first overture.... erk.

The plot bothers me no more than most operas, tho under the category of taking things seriously:
consorting with Venus will damn you forever, but suicide seems to be rewarded with angel status.
I got a bit confused about that.

I may listen to the CD a few times this summer, but probably not.
Now, its all Maria Stuarde, all the time, at our house. Donizetti provides quite the contrast to Wagner. I may find myself longing for Tannhauser during this one!
Altoid - curiously strong.
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Re: Wagner, anyone?

Postby barfle » Tue Feb 05, 2008 12:20 pm

piqaboo wrote:The plot bothers me no more than most operas, tho under the category of taking things seriously:
consorting with Venus will damn you forever, but suicide seems to be rewarded with angel status.
I got a bit confused about that.

As I have noted, you don't go to the opera for the story, but for the way the story is told.
--I know what I like--
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Re: Wagner, anyone?

Postby dai bread » Tue Feb 05, 2008 4:58 pm

True enough, barfle, but the really great operas almost all have storylines that relate to what might generally be called the human condition. In other words, they concern things one might come across in life. Unrequited obsessive love (Carmen), tuberculosis (La Traviata etc. But less commonly these days) jealousy (Il Trovotore) and, in Wagner's case, North European legends which have their own inner truths (for North Europeans anyway) and have therefore survived for centuries. Parsifal & the Knights looking for the Holy Grail; Tannhauser with his absolution & redemption by the love of a good woman; the Flying Dutchman.

The thing that annoys me about Tannhauser is that such redemption was considered necessary. Yes, that does mean that I'm annoyed with the North Europeans who thought that way.

The operas with unrealistic storylines are mostly Mozart's flights of fancy, but his librettists often commented on social conditions . The Marriage of Figaro, for instance. It is likely that I find Mozart's libretti unrealistic because of the passage of time and the very different society I live in.

Granted opera libretti are never going to win Oscars for script-writing, but the stories they tell are important.
We have no money; we must use our brains. -Ernest Rutherford.
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Re: Wagner, anyone?

Postby Shapley » Tue Feb 05, 2008 5:09 pm

I suspect that Mozart's Libretti suffered the same constraints as his music - he was in the employ of the aristocracy, and they would dictate what was and what was not acceptable. Amadeus shows this, although I don't know how realistic the portrayal of events there. I think it reasonable that his employers would have exerted a considerable level of 'artistic restraint' on his subject matter.

As Schonberg points out, it was not until Beethoven and the Romanticists that followed him that musicians were truly able to experience artistic freedom. Bach had fun with his secular cantatas and Mozart with his divertimenti, but large-scale works required a sponsor, and a sponsor demanded some control over content.
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Re: Wagner, anyone?

Postby barfle » Wed Feb 06, 2008 1:13 pm

dai bread wrote:Granted opera libretti are never going to win Oscars for script-writing, but the stories they tell are important.

Is there a sympathetic character in Turandot that survives the first act? It's about two pretty good singers who are guided by their genitalia, leaving death and destruction in their wake, but it's OK because they end up "in love." It's worth seeing, because of the staging and singing. But do you really give a hoot about either of the main characters after you realize how terribly shallow they both are?

In La Boheme, a pretty good singer is sick in the opening act, gets sicker, and dies.

in Pagliacci a pretty good singer kills his wife in a jealous rage - more silliness.

If these stories were prose, they would be right alongside most of my attempts at fiction - composting the azaleas. Since they are formally staged and sung, they serve as vehicles for the presentation. The closest thing to a decent story line I've seen in an opera is Prince Igor, but even that's predictable.
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Re: Wagner, anyone?

Postby Shapley » Wed Feb 06, 2008 2:39 pm

Nixon In China?
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