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CLASSICAL  March 2000

CLASSICAL March 2000

Subject:

Re: Repeats

From:

William Hong <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 6 Mar 2000 10:13:31 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (47 lines)

Andrys Basten wrote:

>This bit that 'we' don't have the ears or mindset or environment of those
>listening in the earlier centuries:.....
>
>It doesn't matter that we're in the 20th C vs the earlier audiences,
>it's that IN SPITE of the fact that we are used to symphonic sounds, so
>many of us find ourselves preferring early music played with the earlier
>instruments and in less long-line undifferentiated style than that
>exemplified by earlier players who played music of all eras as if they
>were all written yesterday in the same sound environment.

Andrys says much better than I the point I had made earlier, that in fact
this (HIP) style IS new, at least if you're going to define it as a way of
performing the music that's different from the way it would have been done
50 years ago, IF AT ALL.

>So, the EARS thing with respect to different centuries just doesn't mean
>much when the curious thing is that so many of us living in this century
>are more comfortable with and are more drawn to the sound of the earlier
>instruments in music of their time.  I'm more interested in why that is.

I don't know the answer to that question, but I do know this, from
listening to HIP ensembles for nearly 30 years--the use of old instruments
and the rediscovery of how they were played never sprung fully formed from
the head of Zeus, as it were, and as sometimes people seem to forget.  It
has been a long, gradual, evolving process, not always without some aural
pain:-).  Like any form of scholarship, the discoveries are gradually
incorporated into the practice, and as performers became more skilled and
comfortable in the medium, things have really taken off in recent years as
far as new and exciting(!) ways to perform that "boring ol' B'roque music",
both vocally and instrumentally.

Take the operas, for instance.  20-25 years ago I would try to sit through
a recording of a Baroque opera and just couldn't do it.  Most of the time
the instrumental colors (whether HIP or traditional) didn't come through,
and the singing and sense of drama was too static for me (I also was a much
different person, I'll admit).  Nowadays this repertoire features new works
discovered and resurrected; more coloristic, even aggressive instrumental
playing; and virtuoso, committed singing by performers who know the words
and what they mean in the context of the time from which they came.  Which
of these two styles would I say "honors" the composer better? And do I
commit List heresy by saying that I find this to be much more exciting and
exotic to listen to than this year's umpteenth yawn-through by the
proverbial Big Stars of the same ol' Puccini?

Bill H.

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