Monday, September 22, 2008

Classical music virus spreads to Edinburgh


Many of this year's BBC Proms were marred by meaningless dribbles of applause between movements. I know there is no rule saying no applause between movements. But, by the same token, there is no rule saying wind should not be broken by members of the audience during the performance.

The only consolation was that the applause virus was confined to the Proms, meaning that it appeared in just one location for a couple of months a year. But now comes very bad news. Tonights' BBC Radio 3 recording from the Edinburgh Festival with Ivan Fischer conducting the Budapest Festival Orchestra in the Usher Hall featured the dreaded applause between the movements of the Brahms/Schoenberg Piano Quartet in G minor.

Something needs to be done quickly to stop this potentially fatal virus spreading world-wide. The only links between the Proms and the Edinburgh Festival concert were that both were relayed on BBC Radio 3 and both were introduced by Petroc Trelawny. That must mean a lengthy quarantine period for both presenter and radio station.

You can now vote on whether applause between movements is a bad thing in the poll at the top of the right-hand side bar. After which this thread can only lead Into Great Silence.
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6 comments:

Pliable said...

The Schoenberg orchestration of the Brahms Piano Quartet has an interesting history in my collection.

My first record of it was the 1980 Deutsche Grammophon LP with Hans Zender conducting the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie. The vinyl disc still sounds terrific, but I notice that the recording has been licensed to Berlin Classics - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Schoenberg-Webern-Mahler-Orchestral-Works/dp/B00002DFFO

Among my CDs is a recording of the Brahms/Schoenberg with the Baltimore Symphony conducted by Sergiu Comissiona. That very early (1984) CD has a playing time of 41 minutes.

Neither recording features applause between the movements.

1217169086s9638 said...

I noticed a similar viral spread within one Proms concert: Proms 73 featuring Vaughan Williams, Xenakis, and Holst. There was no applause between movements during the Sinfonia Antarctica. There was some noise during the Xenakis, which sounded like someone roaring approval as in a rock concert, but might have been the guy who screamed in anger as he walked out. There was tiny hint of that after one section, but that was it. Then it started in the Holst. The applause got worse and worse after every movement, as if people suddenly realized they wanted to clap at everything but were afraid to before. They stepped all over the last note of Uranus. It was so bad that the applause after the piece was over seemed almost like a let down. A simple speech beforehand, and perhaps a suggestion of an alternative method of showing appreciation for the moment, would do wonders.

alan said...

This is becoming a problem that Prommers must address. The only Prom I attended this year was not affected (St Francois)
Unfortunately the virus is spreading to Edinburgh. Alfred Brendel, during the second piece of his last recital, had to remind some cretinous members of the audience that the sonata he was performing has three movements and that applause was only appropriate after the final movement.

Pliable said...

It was interesting to see the Budapest Festival Orchestra reading this post this morning -

91.82.XXX.YYY (Budapesti Fesztivalzenekar Alapitvany) [Label IP Address]
Budapest, Budapest, Hungary, 0 returning visit
Date Time WebPage
23rd September 2008 06:57:01 www.google.hu/search?hl=hu&q=budapest festival orchestra fischer&as_qdr=d&btnG=Keres%C3%A9s&meta=
www.overgrownpath.com/2008/09/classical-music-virus-spreads-to.html


The myth of the Proms as having 'the best audience in the world' continues, perpetuated mainly by the BBC's PR department in between plugging Maestro. But the truth is that visiting orchestras are increasingly puzzled and embarrassed by the audience's wayward behaviour. And it's not just the applause between movements. It's also the unrestrained coughing and other intrusive noises.

In an article in French elsewhere, written after attending Dudamel's Prom, Antoine Leboyer makes an eloquent case for moving the Proms to another venue - http://www.concertonet.com/scripts/review.php?ID_review=4894

It's a view I increasingly subscribe to. There were some wonderful things at the 2008 Proms, particularly Messian's Saint Francis. But, despite this, the Proms are rapidly becoming an embarrassing parody of themselves in their present form. Sadly the BBC's re-invention of the series as 'The world's greatest classical music festival' and the associated remorseless chasing of audiences has come at quite a price.

That great Proms performer Pierre Boulez proposed to "burn down the opera houses". How about the Albert Hall instead?

Anonymous Soprano said...

I guess I'm a philistine, but it doesn't particularly bother me unless it's a very intimate piece where the connection between movements is integral to the piece.

It's not optimal, of course, but I wouldn't personally, as they say, generally get my panties in a twist about it.

And really, how much more distracting is it than the audience noise/commotion would have been back in the day?

Garth Trinkl said...

"Many of this year's BBC Proms were marred by meaningless dribbles of applause between movements."

Well, over here in once culturally proud Washington, D.C., this season's National Symphony concerts threaten to be marred by the continuing lack of a permanent music director. As you may recall, Iván Fischer turned down the NSO's request to him to assume the musical directorship of the orchestra, and Mr Fischer could not find time in his schedule to open the Nation's Capital's cultural season last Saturday at the John F. Kennedy Center in his role as 'Principal Conductor'.

Word out of Washington today is that the opening gala last Saturday netted the National Symphony Orchestra $200,000 less than the gala one year ago (while $500,000 mysteriously appears to have ended up in Alex Ross's Berlin bank account.)