Sunday, May 07, 2006

Vivaldi's new seasons are 'unimportant'

'It is probably a "first". It is unimportant, but may - or may not - give a lot of pleasure. I think Vivaldi was amateurish as a poet, and that he would have been bewildered by the new recording - as well as by the technology of recording per se.' Vivaldi authority Professor Michael Talbot in today's Observer on Juliette Pochin's recording (with cellist Julian Lloyd Webber) of the Four Seasons with the original sonnets sung in place of the solo violin.

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If you enjoyed this post take An Overgrown Path to Another Elgar 'discovery' - will it never end?

5 comments:

Pliable said...

Oh dear, oh dear, ...now they are doing it to poor old Beethoven

Garth Trinkl said...

It isn't the same as setting verses to Vivaldi (I vaguely recall hearing about these texts some years back), but I noticed last night that Vivaldi 'and guests' are being trotted out for two upcoming chamber programs next season, hereabouts.

First, I noticed the rather as to be expected pairing of Vivaldi's the 'Seasons' with Astor Piazzolla'a 'The Seasons in Beunos Aires'. (I can't recall whether this concept is available commercially, and whether you have already mentioned it.)

And then, last night, I noticed that Vivaldi was going to be enlisted (I believe at the University of Maryland) for a multi-cultural 'event' in which the Vivaldi 'Seasons' strings collaborate with a pipa player from China, a saranga player from India, and an Innuit throat singer....

Next decade, the Missa Solemnis or Mahler's 9 with guests?... (Actually, I suddenly recall that someone is already doing Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde with guest non-Western musicians...)

Pliable said...

I can only agree Garth. It seems to me that experimentation is fine when there is a serious musical intent. But when the experiment is nothing more than a device to fill the concert hall, or sell records, the whole thing becomes very questionable.

As examples of what I judge to be serious musical intent (and I know that is a real judgement call) I have recently derived great pleasure, and musical insight, from two 'experimental' approaches to core repertoire.

The Bach Cello Suites played by Jean-Marc Apap on a viola (Zig-Zag Territoires T051103) are excellent, and even better are the three Leipzig Chorales which separate the suites, played by a string quintet. And staying with Bach chorales Fretwork's CD (Harmonia Mundi 907395) of his keyboard works transcribed for viols is highly recommended, particularly for their transcription of the great five voice Fugue in E-flat major, BWV 552.2 from the Clavier Ubung lll, a fugue which is becoming something of an obsession for me personally.

Garth Trinkl said...

A few thoughts ... I just sent off to my mother a version of the Bach cello suites performed on a 5 string baroque cello. I will listen to it my next visit out West. (I unfortunately can't recall the woman cellist's name... as the CD set had been sitting in my gift stack for some time).

I also can't remember where you came down on Christoph Poppen and the Hilliard Ensemble's analytical version on ECM New of the Bach 2nd Violin Partita and the chorale tunes (on the theme of death) that apparently were behind it. I remember that I found it tremendously exciting and worthwhile.

I'll keep my eyes out for the Fretwork Bach transcriptions for viol concert that you mention -- on
Harmonia Mundi. (I used to love an old Archiv LP recording of Purcell's viol concert works...
Fantasias which were quite chromatically complex.)

*

As to transcriptions, I had an unfortunate experience on Sunday of attending a National Gallery free evening recital, at the last minute, because it featured, as a closing work, a cello and piano transcription of Bartok's uncompleted Viola Concerto (1945). The fine soloist was having problems, and I didn't really enjoy the transcription --- nor the transcriptions earlier on the program of Marais's La Folio and the Franck Sonata in A major. I was less bothered by the violoncello and piano fragment from Messiaen's Quartet for the end of time -- but it was not a thrilling evening, especially as the garden court's acoustics are quite poor.

Pliable said...

Garth, this is what On An Overgrown Path is all about - sharing discoveries.

I loved the Christoph Poppen/Hilliard Ensemble Bach both because it has serious musical intent, and because it is simply beautiful music.

But something else I must share with you - the Dutch cellist Anner Bylsma playing Bach's E major violin Partita and two of the violin sonatas on an 1825 'cello piccolo. Serious musical intent combined with wonderfully passionate playing give a really fresh take on these works. You simply can't miss it, particularly as it on Harmonia Mundi 778432 at budget price.