Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Avoiding the hoar frost of routine


Just this morning I was reminded of how few performances these days avoid what Wilhelm Furtwängler described as "the hoar frost of routine". Driving back from a game of tennis I switched on the car radio in the middle of a BBC Radio 3 broadcast of Elgar's Cockaigne. Within a few bars it was obvious that something special had happened in the recording studio. The orchestra were playing with passion, the sound was magnificent, and the white-hot interpretation had comprehensively thawed any hoar frost.

The conductor was Georg Solti, the orchestra was the London Philharmonic, and the recording dated from the 1970s. That Cockaigne is magnificent; but I must confess to being more ambivalent about some of Solti's other heart-on-sleeve Elgar, including his 1972 LP of the First Symphony seen above. It might not be my desert island disc of that particular work. But I am quite happy to return to it again and again as it passes the "hoar frost free" test effortlessly.

An American view on Elgar here.
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4 comments:

Pliable said...

Email received:

I felt the same way about the much overplayed Tchaikovksy 1st Piano Concerto—even when I was 16! And then I heard the recording with Horacio Guiterrez and Andr√© Previn and thought, “how come they are the only ones who get it?”

Cheers

David Cavlovic

JMW said...

I too had a similar experience with Tchaikovsky's too familiar Violin Concerto. Then I heard Elmar Oliveira play it in concert last year, and it was if the ink was wet!

Pliable said...

Oh, the elegant synchronicity.

Both comments mention Tchaikovsky.

And tomorrow's post is about ... Tchaikovsky.

But that is not the only synchronicity. Here is a post from back in 2005 -

http://www.overgrownpath.com/2005/06/guest-blog-year-at-symphony.html

Pliable said...

Email received:

Ah Synchronicity. A great album by The Police.

Cheers

David Cavlovic