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Herman West

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  1. There are countless of these stories. Haitink revisits an orchestra he's conducted many times before, and with in one minute of rehearsal the orchestra sounds like Haitink's orchestra again, just by force of his presence. (The funny thing is, no one can explain what that sound exactly is.) There may be something to these stories, even the Fürtwängler in the doorway story, but there is just no way of telling; these aren't things that can be measured. To a large extent they depend on how much you are willing to believe in the magic powers of the conductor's charisma. Both in the audience and in the orchestra, people need this belief. But that doesn't make it 100% true.
  2. How can one tell the story is "absolutely true" when one wasn't there? There are a lot of myths about conductors.
  3. The performers (who are each and everyone world class) have obviously chosen for energy and urgency, rather than gemutlichkeit in this passage. Earlier you had cast doubt on the totally legit grace note for the 2nd, so maybe your sense what Dvorak wants is not quite in sync with Dvorak, who knows?
  4. You could have looked at the score. The 2nd violin has an upbeat to give it that improvisatory Dvorak feeling.
  5. Emma S-W's arguments are rather stale, if I may say so. Yes, more people listen to pop music than to Beethoven. It has always been that way. Even when Beethoven was alive and working, even though popular music wasn't yet reproduced in the way it is now. It's only natural more people pass the lower bar of sophistication (and yes, there is some rock that is very sophisticated). Obviously that doesn't mean classical musicians should cross over or even, play standing up so as to look more 'with it' (though, if they want to, I'n fine with that). There is a solid audience for hard core classical music, the only thing is that pie ain't getting bigger. You can win over an audience by the strength of your enthusiasm, and the other thing is too many people graduate from music schools.
  6. To a degree this is just a bucket list myth. I live fairly close to the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and yet most of my unforgettable concert memories (as a listener, obviously) were in other places. And those are a combination of program, musicians and last but not least, anticipation and just plain receptiveness on my part.
  7. I believe it is about international travel. The other day, watching one of those superb Wigmore Hall livestreams I noticed people from Asia and the US in the comments bar saying they could not wait to travel to London to hear a Wigmore Hall recital. If we keep on living that way it'll be a couple of years and there is a new pandemic. Intercontinental travel for leisure purpose (i.e. to fight boredom and spend excess money) should be a thing of the past. There should be other ways to keep some sizzle in one's marriage. This will mean bragging about one's travels (one of the main topics in upper middle class conversation) is going to be phased out, too. Needless to say, air travel is one the main things that's causing global warming, so it would be a win-win thing, but something's telling me people will choose lose-lose. 'Let other people curtail their travel, we just need to do this now because of YOLO and FOMO.'
  8. Yes, and are you aware where this is coming from? Used to be music people regarded Tchaikovsky and his compatriots as lesser composers because they were of "the Slavic race" (a construct since abandoned, but living on in these value judgements about the culture). Brahms and Elgar were better as was shown by their superior contrapuntal skills. And primarily they were of the "German race", thus more "objective," manly, and less prone to "wallowing". We all know where this type of thinking ended. And then there's also the issue of Tchaikovksy's sexual orientation... I both like Tchaikovksy and Shostakovich and see many similarities. They are both composers with an intensily theatrical bent. So if people are experiencing this much greater "depth" in DSCH that is largely because DSCH is manipulating the audience with theatrical means, just like Tchaikovsky did, among other things by creating vast dynamic changes.
  9. I wasn't saying a performer should not have strong feelings about what the music he or she is playing is "about" for him. I'm just not sure that a teacher or mentor should tell a student what to picture while playing the music. I'd think this is a part of artistic freedom and imagination.
  10. I cannot help but notice Vengerov is giving some kind of running commentary as to "what's happening in the music" - stuff about Fate and the Soul being liberated... Really? How desirable is it that a young performer is fed that kind of stuff?
  11. Are you aware that HIP, and musicians like Harnoncourt, Brüggen and Leonhardt have been around (they're all dead now) for more than fifty years? This is not some new-fangled thing...
  12. Because it's obviously a scam and somebody's getting robbed?
  13. Probably the Brahms e-minor (the opening) is just a very good way to assess the abilities and weaknesses of an instrument one's unfamiliar with. GBS was a writer who could write entertainingly about music, and pose as a 'personality' by indulging his prejudices. That doesn't really make him a music critic (unless one has a very low bar). He played into the British prejudices rather massively, and had a big impact on the appreciation of Brahms and a couple other German style composers in the English speaking world. This notion that Brahms is just mathematically sorting out themes or motivs and never writes pleasing lilting music (as if that's what one's required to do) is largely coming from that place. The funny thing of course is that this description would fit Beethoven to a T, but somehow Beethoven was okay with the British. The other funny thing is Brahms is one of the most prolific song / Lieder writers and wrote tons of lilting melodies, including the opening of the e-minor cello sonata. Apart from professional writers writing concert reviews (or records reviews) just to get free records / tickets, there is the aforementioned "music reviewer" who likes to go to ballet performances for free and thus becomes a ballet critic. Both these types have been a blight on the business, just by writing a lot of stupid stuff and being very influential by virtue of writing well. Music criticism in popular media has progressed enormously since GBS's time, though obviously those days are gone now, with good music critics (who have gone to Music School and can sightread scores etc) having been fired to accomodate the owners of the newspapers and magazines. All that doesn't mean that GBS's music pieces aren't fun to read, as a window into a time long gone. PS Brahms wrote just three (3) string quartets, so it's not like it's a Herculean effort to tell them apart - and they are each quite different. What you were doing here is a time-honored British "gentleman critic" thing: acting as if ignorance is a virtue. Most quartets by any composer feature contrapuntal activity, it's part of the genre. Mozart's Prussians do it all the time, too.
  14. obviously the solution is putting an obscure piece you happen to like on youtube (preferably prefaced by making some "hilarious" faces like the twopiece guys). In concert hall performance the repertoire has been shrinking for, like, two generations now, down to four violin concertos, six piano concertos and of course the Alla Turca encore. Can't leave without playing that one. People won't even listen before this.
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