>Roger Hecht writes:
>>Thinking about it now, I don't really know why Handel operas are being
>>recorded in such numbers.
Christopher Webber responded:
>With the exception of those few which by reason of their fame boast more
>than a couple or so recordings, Handel's operas have all got recorded
>because of their quality, sure - but more because of the need for novelty.
>And in an age saturated with old and marvellous Bohemes, Barbers and
>Butterflies, there is very little demand (or dare I say need?) to throw
>good money into the recording wishing-well for those pieces once again.
As good an explanation as any. They are certainly cheaper to produce.
Not that I'm objecting, mind you.
>Without getting into the HIP versus "modern" argument again, isn't it
>right to say that this particular battle has been fought and finished,
>at least until the next revolution comes round?
>At any rate, whatever the instrumental pitch, the actual *sound* of
>these truly "modern" performances is lighter, tempi are faster, repeats
>more slavishly observed, balance more woodwind-oriented ... the list
>goes on. When today's Berlin Philharmonic strings play Beethoven or
>Mozart under Rattle or whoever else, they employ a modified, relatively
>vibrato-free sound, cleaner, less rich and weighty of tone.
I've acknowledged this and have credited HIP for this trend. I certainly
don't yearn for a 100 piece orchestra in Mozart, complete with doubling
>So when we talk about really "modern" (i.e. 21st century) playing, isn't
>it true to say that the gap to HIP has narrowed to a mere sliver of what
>it was - or seemed to be - in the 1960's? And this "modern" style is not
>just influenced by HIP playing, but by contemporary social mores and
>changing aural tastes in the wider world. ...
Agreed on most of this. When I say I wish for modern isntruments on
Handel operas--or the choice of having them on a recording or two--I'm
not talking about a cast of thousands. I would just like a change from
the sound of HIP strings especially.
The oddest thing goes along with this. I've heard a lot of HIP groups
and conductors. Yet, so often do I return to Harnoncourt for much of
this music, especially Bach--despite all the imperfections, occasions
of under-rehearsal and all that. Maybe it's because they're the first
I knew and they've imprinted. But they have a spirit, even an attractive
crudeness at times, that I find more engrossing than the more perfect
playing of the groups, say, under Suzuki and Koopman, who sound so
homogenized--even more so than some modern orchestras in the Cantatas
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