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Astonishing Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto


Stephen  Fine
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14 minutes ago, GeorgeH said:

Music is completely subjective.

To think that music is objectively "good" or "bad" is simply a display of a narrow closed mind.

If I was to blast a jet engine and call it music, would you say it was bad music (it's gonna take an example that extreme).

14 minutes ago, GeorgeH said:

It is to ignore history which has repeatedly shown that art and music that was regarded as "bad" by its contemporaries was later regarded as genius-level "good" by later generations.

If it actually happened, I don't know of any examples, it just means some hack was mistaken, not that good and bad don't exist.

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8 minutes ago, GeorgeH said:

Music is completely subjective.

To think that music is objectively "good" or "bad" is simply a display of a narrow closed mind.

Completely ? No.

Was Wagner closed minded ? Beethoven ? Berlioz ?  One could come up with a long list of famous musicians who at one time or another believed music to be objectively good or bad.

Of course, the fact some piece of music is "bad" does not mean the public necessarily hates it. 

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14 minutes ago, matesic said:

I really don't want to get involved in this debate again but I recently heard that sonata in Raphael Wallfisch's recording and was pleasantly surprised. 

I appreciate that comment, and as soon as I made the comment myself, I went through my stack of CDs to try and find the recording because I wanted to listen to it again. But I still think it’s bad. Not just “not to my taste“ but “bad“ and yes, that is a Quite different discussion which I’m happy to have, but it probably be better to start fresh.

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Here is an interesting performance, for your consideration. It features divinely beautiful music, two unparalleled singers, and (curious for Salzburg) an imported band. Obviously the direction is....unusual. Yet the performers all seem to be enjoying themselves immensely, and the idea that Cleopatra seduces Caesar here not by her physical beauty but by the music of her words is, I think, wonderful. The production is at once both fresh and modern (if not to everyone's taste) and decidedly HIP in its musical renditions. Yet those "historical" elements--the countertenor, the vocal and instrumental ornamentation--actually contribute to the freshness of the performance, I think-- as though we are hearing Handel for the first time. Just curious how it is received (& it's entertaining to read the comments). 

 

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9 minutes ago, crazy jane said:

Here is an interesting performance, for your consideration. It features divinely beautiful music, two unparalleled singers, and (curious for Salzburg) an imported band. Obviously the direction is....unusual. Yet the performers all seem to be enjoying themselves immensely, and the idea that Cleopatra seduces Caesar here not by her physical beauty but by the music of her words is, I think, wonderful. The production is at once both fresh and modern (if not to everyone's taste) and decidedly HIP in its musical renditions. Yet those "historical" elements--the countertenor, the vocal and instrumental ornamentation--actually contribute to the freshness of the performance, I think-- as though we are hearing Handel for the first time. Just curious how it is received (& it's entertaining to read the comments). 

Wonderful !!!!  Simply wonderful !!!

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The role in the 20th century has been (until recently)  a bass-baritone (along the lines of Ramy). There's a wonderful recording with Walter Berry, Christa Ludwig, Fritz Wunderlich and Lucia Popp (Ferdinand Leitner). But it's rather a hoot to listen to two countertenors dueling in the political roles of Caesar and Ptolemy (different production)--gotta love it (and the amazing horn playing--natural?):

 

 

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2 hours ago, crazy jane said:

Here is an interesting performance, for your consideration. It features divinely beautiful music, two unparalleled singers, and (curious for Salzburg) an imported band. Obviously the direction is....unusual. Yet the performers all seem to be enjoying themselves immensely, and the idea that Cleopatra seduces Caesar here not by her physical beauty but by the music of her words is, I think, wonderful. The production is at once both fresh and modern (if not to everyone's taste) and decidedly HIP in its musical renditions. Yet those "historical" elements--the countertenor, the vocal and instrumental ornamentation--actually contribute to the freshness of the performance, I think-- as though we are hearing Handel for the first time. Just curious how it is received (& it's entertaining to read the comments). 

 

Great example of HIPP. And, as you say, it's made fresh again (hip again?) by the dedication to HIPP elements.

Although Handel... so good.  It's hard to make it bad, and let me tell you about some Messiah's I've played... I prefer my operas with modern stagings.  But, and here's where I weigh in on that other discussion, I think good is good and bad is bad.

Context is always relevant.  My "good" Bach is different from my student's "good" Bach.  One student's bad effort might sound better than another student's good effort.

I like some period pieces on television with very fancy costumes and design, but I also like bare bones shoe-string budget local theater.

Sometimes, you put people like Bartoli and Scholl and Jaroussky and Antonini together and it doesn't matter much what the set design and direction is.  But sometimes, it really adds a lot.  You can enjoy individual elements while criticizing other elements.

And sometimes you can lack expertise or experience to criticize.  That's what happens a lot when you're passionate and knowledgable about one thing or another, it's easy to write-off the passions and knowledge of other people and cultures.  The more music I've learned from other cultures, the more I've learned that Mozart, Beethoven, and Wagner are outstanding, truly great artists, but they're no greater than the greatest musical artists who have come since.

I think people have a hard time distinguishing between "this is good" and "I like this."  Even experts have a hard time.

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It's a curious business.  I was just in the car for an hour and a half, and managed to catch, among other things, the 2nd Symphony by Mehul, followed by the horn/string quartet Serenade by LvB.  If found in a library with no other information, the latter would almost certainly be found less interesting than the former.  And yet, Mehul is completely forgotten today.

One project I am picking away at is music of Florence Price.  I really love the sound of her second string quartet.  It's one of the best things of hers I have heard, and the sort of thing that Dvorak might happily have written if he were a black American.  His own Op 96 actually offers something of a model for it.  But as to how GOOD it is?  Still working on that.

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On the question of good music and bad music:

Human creations, just like any other thing in reality, have natures.  A field of creation like music is different in nature from other types of creation.  Like other fields of human creation, music exists because it serves a purpose.  Any creation within a field that has a nature and serves a purpose can be evaluated as to how well it fulfills the nature and achieves the purpose. 

There's only one requirement:  that one have a fundamental understanding of the nature and the purpose of the field.  This is where the real difficulty lies in being able to objectively evaluate music as more or less good.  Although a certain amount of knowledge has developed about how music affects the mind, and of the mechanics of various idioms of music, there is not yet a widespread fundamental understanding of how musical esthetics arise from the nature of the brain and mind.  Oh we have clues, so many clues, but we're not there yet as far as I know.  Many are tempted to resort to convention to fill the gap, others more or less delightedly throw up their hands and say it's all subjective, thus allowing things into the field which someday will have to be cast right back out again.

Due to our cultural distrust for claims of objectivity, especially with regard to abstract generalizations, we are not likely to develop objective standards of musical quality in the foreseeable future.  So while I disagree vehemently with anyone who says there's no such thing as good and bad in music, I also view anyone who claims to have the 10 Commandments on the issue with a great deal of skepticism.

So what?  So I think that one ought to strive to be explicit about the standards one is applying, i.e. a performance can certainly be evaluated in terms of performance practice and adherence to the composer's intent, and one can specifically admire a composition for its complexity, its integration and unity, its originality or emotional affect.  One can even try to describe the aspects which appeal to one's personal taste.  Just beware the substitution of personal taste for an objective standard of quality.

Oh, and uh Stephen:  jinx.

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3 hours ago, crazy jane said:

Here is an interesting performance, for your consideration. It features divinely beautiful music, two unparalleled singers, and (curious for Salzburg) an imported band. Obviously the direction is....unusual. Yet the performers all seem to be enjoying themselves immensely, and the idea that Cleopatra seduces Caesar here not by her physical beauty but by the music of her words is, I think, wonderful. The production is at once both fresh and modern (if not to everyone's taste) and decidedly HIP in its musical renditions. Yet those "historical" elements--the countertenor, the vocal and instrumental ornamentation--actually contribute to the freshness of the performance, I think-- as though we are hearing Handel for the first time. Just curious how it is received (& it's entertaining to read the comments). 

 

I enjoyed this very much, I played in an opera orchestra, so I am keenly aware of the staging, and how it can help or hinder a performance. But the music remains the same, and it is, I think, irrelevant to judge music visually.

Handel’s operas weren’t very good as operas, for various reasons, but they were splendid music. When various factors rendered opera in England untenable, he switched to oratorio, which was basically opera with a Biblical setting. and the music remained splendid.

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38 minutes ago, Andres Sender said:

On the question of good music and bad music:

Human creations, just like any other thing in reality, have natures.  A field of creation like music is different in nature from other types of creation.  Like other fields of human creation, music exists because it serves a purpose.  Any creation within a field that has a nature and serves a purpose can be evaluated as to how well it fulfills the nature and achieves the purpose. 

There's only one requirement:  that one have a fundamental understanding of the nature and the purpose of the field.  This is where the real difficulty lies in being able to objectively evaluate music as more or less good.  Although a certain amount of knowledge has developed about how music affects the mind, and of the mechanics of various idioms of music, there is not yet a widespread fundamental understanding of how musical esthetics arise from the nature of the brain and mind.  Oh we have clues, so many clues, but we're not there yet as far as I know.  Many are tempted to resort to convention to fill the gap, others more or less delightedly throw up their hands and say it's all subjective, thus allowing things into the field which someday will have to be cast right back out again.

Due to our cultural distrust for claims of objectivity, especially with regard to abstract generalizations, we are not likely to develop objective standards of musical quality in the foreseeable future.  So while I disagree vehemently with anyone who says there's no such thing as good and bad in music, I also view anyone who claims to have the 10 Commandments on the issue with a great deal of skepticism.

So what?  So I think that one ought to strive to be explicit about the standards one is applying, i.e. a performance can certainly be evaluated in terms of performance practice and adherence to the composer's intent, and one can specifically admire a composition for its complexity, its integration and unity, its originality or emotional affect.  One can even try to describe the aspects which appeal to one's personal taste.  Just beware the substitution of personal taste for an objective standard of quality.

Oh, and uh Stephen:  jinx.

I Agree with everything you have written, but I think you’re answering two different questions: Whether the absolutes of good and bad exist, And whether they can be applied to music.

The answer to both questions is undeniably “yes,” although there may be some debate possible as to which pieces fall into which category.

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Those who insist that music is objectively "good" or "bad" should surely be able to provide a verifiable definition of "good" music that encompasses all cultures and musical forms, past, present, and future, and can thus be used to provide a binary determination of whether a particular composition, performance, or recording of music is "good" or "bad" using purely objective criteria.

Of course, any exception to this definition immediately invalidates it.

I'm waiting...

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6 hours ago, GeorgeH said:

Those who insist that music is objectively "good" or "bad" should surely be able to provide a verifiable definition of "good" music that encompasses all cultures and musical forms, past, present, and future, and can thus be used to provide a binary determination of whether a particular composition, performance, or recording of music is "good" or "bad" using purely objective criteria.

Of course, any exception to this definition immediately invalidates it.

No, they do not and you have no obligation to believe them either. You may arrive at your conclusions.

"Objectively good" here is not a universal. When it comes to music the definition of "objective" needs adjustment or it's not applicable. And of course, between good and bad there is always a possibility for "I can't tell." 

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When it comes to whether there is "good" and "bad" music I decided a long time ago that, like Laplace, "I had no need of that hypothesis".  As an example of "bad" music that I think is wonderful, how about The Fall? Half the world thinks rap is wonderful but not me.

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There is nothing wrong with a musical experience being personally judged subjectively "good" or "bad" according to an individual's experience.

But people who claim that a musical experience has intrinsic objective qualities that define it as either "good" or "bad" (or "not good," if you prefer) ought to be able to tell us what those intrinsic objective qualities are. Otherwise, it is poppycock.

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3 hours ago, GeorgeH said:

There is nothing wrong with a musical experience being personally judged subjectively "good" or "bad" according to an individual's experience.

But people who claim that a musical experience has intrinsic objective qualities that define it as either "good" or "bad" (or "not good," if you prefer) ought to be able to tell us what those intrinsic objective qualities are. Otherwise, it is poppycock.

We were discussing music not musical experience. Any harmony or counterpoint treatise will supply you with an endless variety of "bad music" based on ("objective") rules. This is just one example !  And if we talk musical experience then, for some, accuracy can be an objective measure of good/bad. Again, just one example. 

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28 minutes ago, Carl Stross said:

We were discussing music not musical experience. Any harmony or counterpoint treatise will supply you with an endless variety of "bad music" based on ("objective") rules. This is just one example !  And if we talk musical experience then, for some, accuracy can be an objective measure of good/bad. Again, just one example. 

Analyzing music, i.e. "any harmony or counterpoint treatise," counts as a musical experience, and violation of a pre-defined set of rules can objectively considered "not good," in regards to obeying the rules, but it does not make the music itself intrinsically and objectively "not good:" 

"Music is more than notes on a page."

A popular example is that using the tritone ("the Devil's Chord") was rejected in some musical treatises as "wrong", but that reason did not make music using the chord objectively "bad."

It has been posited here by some that music is objectively "good" or "not good." One of the people espousing this position wrote repeatedly that a very fine violinist is a "fraud" and a "charlatan" because of her performances, so I am waiting to find out how it can be objectively discerned if any given piece of music from any culture at any time (past, present, or future) is "good" or "not good." 

 

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