Monday, December 22, 2008

New York Philharmonic takes a stand


Joe has left a new comment on your post 'Standing on tradition':- When the New York Philharmonic played Messiah last week under the direction of Ton Koopman, there was a program note similar to the Boston Baroque one noted above, discussing the origins of the standing tradition and inviting audience members to do as they wished. On the night I attended, nearly everyone stood - some shot up right away, while others followed a half-minute or so later, some with bemused or sheepish looks on their faces that suggested that they weren't really sure what was going on and felt they should follow the crowd.
Thanks for that Joe. I assume that Ton Koopman used Handel's original scoring and the trombone shall not sound. Another Ton Koopman Christmas path here.

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7 comments:

le Gallois said...

Messiah predates the trombone ?

What are all those Praetorius drawings of, then ? What about Monteverdi ?

Unless you mean THEOLOGICALLY, in which case I salute your exalted Christology.

Pliable said...

Le Gallois, you are, of course, quite right. My wording fell victim to my attempt to keep the post punchy.

The intention was to mean that Messiah predates the trombone becoming one of the standard instruments of the orchestra.

Monteverdi, Praetorius, Bach and others used the trombone. Handel himself used it in Saul, Samson, and Israel in Egypt.

The score for Messiah calls for two trumpets and no trombones. But Mozart's arrangement added three trombones. As the NYP conductor was Ton Koopman I had assumed the original scoring was used. But I may be wrong on that as well.

As Vincent van Gogh asked: 'How difficult is it to be simple'?

I've changed the wording. The post is now slightly longer, but, hopefully, it's musicologically more accurate.

Thanks for the correction.

Pliable said...

It is probably worth adding that the edition of Messiah prepared by Eugène Goossens and used by Sir Thomas Beecham and many others is scored for three flutes (one doubling on piccolo), four oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, contrabassoon, four horns, two trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion, harp, and strings.

Pliable said...

Excellent - Ton Koopman did use Handel's original scoring.

There is an excellent review by the reader, Joe Koczera, who prompted my post here -

http://jesuitjoe.blogspot.com/2008/12/koopmans-messiah.html

Joe said...

Thanks for mentioning my post - yes, Koopman used Handel's scoring. What impressed me the most about the performance was how well Koopman and the NYP managed to achieve something like an 'early music' sound with modern instruments. By contrast, when Kurt Masur led the NYP in Bach's St. Matthew Passion in March, hardly any concession was made to HIP practice. Koopman very rarely comes to New York, and last week's concerts represented his NYP debut. I hope that he'll be invited again.

Pliable said...

Joe, it is very interesting that you write 'What impressed me the most about the performance was how well Koopman and the NYP managed to achieve something like an 'early music' sound with modern instruments.'

My post that started this whole fascinating path was about a Britten Sinfonia performance of Messiah under Stephen Layton which used Handel's original scoring with modern instruments. The result was precisely the same as you reported from New York.

At the Britten Sinfonia concert one of the orchestra management said the ensemble would be trying to 'reclaim' Handel for modern instruments in his anniversary year.

Could this be the start of a new trend?

Joe said...

I don't know if it's a trend or not, but I look forward to hearing the Britten Sinfonia version when the recording is released next year!