Roger Hecht wrote in reply to Don Satz:
>My only issue here is choice. I would never decree that you should
>listen to recordings you don't like. The problem is that present practices
>force me to hear performances I don't particularly like. Okay, that's
>an exaggeration. I listen to and enjoy HIP recordings all the time.
>But there are so many moments when listening to a Handel opera I yearn
>to be free of that string sound, if just for an aria or two.
>I have no idea whether God uses vibrato, but I'd have thought so in my
>youth when I attended Temple services, to name one example.
For me, the issue with operas and other accompanied Baroque vocal music
in general is that the string (or instrumental) "sound" has to be tied
into the vocal "sound". Then you might also have to deal with whether
lots (or at least a more mid-20th century conception) of string vibrato
is going to be compatible with a vocal sound approaching Handel or his
contemporaries with something different from the traditional full-throttled
"can belto" wobble.
I'll admit there is a bit of conditioning that I've undergone, having
listened to HIP performances (in most of their evolutions) since the
early 70s. While I still very much enjoy something like Leppard's
instrumental Handel and Bach and I Musici's Vivaldi, it would be more
of a challenge to conceive listening to a rendition say, of Monteverdi's
"Duo Seraphim" from the Vespers as might be done by the Three Tenors.
In any case, I don't disagree with Roger's points--only that I wish to
reemphasize in the context of opera/oratorio etc. the vocal treatment
should be aware of the instrumental one and vice versa.
>Of course, not all these performers were "right" all the time, and I do
>think the trend to big and dark went way too far in the case of Baroque
>music. For that I certainly thank the HIP movement for taking us away
>from Messiah Humungous.
Just last weekend I attended a wonderful performance put on by the Folger
Consort in Washington of Purcell's "The Fairy Queen," with readings from
Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" by the likes of Lynn Redgrave,
Sir Derek Jacobi and Richard Clifford. What a dream cast! It was a
special treat because in the small HIP orchestra's violin section was
my sons' teacher.
There also reknowned soloists such as Drew Minter and a one-voice-per-part
"choir". It would be a bit difficult to think of this same work being
done in the same gossamer Faerie spirit with a Can-Belto quartet, the
Mormon Tabernacle and the Vienna Philharmonic, no matter how awesome
their musical talents. Conditioning perhaps, but context also matters.
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