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Performance of Bach’s Vocal Works

General Discussions - Part 8

 

 

Continue from Part 7

Reception history, and modern cultural norms of "correctness"

Continue of discussion from: Mass in B minor BWV 232 – performed by Konrad Junghänel & Cantus Cölln

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 8, 2004):
Thomas Braatz wrote: < (...) What really interests me beyond attempting to find truly satisfying recordings that, as you say, make me feel ‘uplifted, energized, illuminated’ is why certain changes initiated on the basis of >musicological research have supplanted some of the traditional, more >conservative performance practices. Some of these more recent changes are ‘shortened accompaniment’ of Bach’s secco recitatives, OVPP/OPPP, extreme ‘gesturing’ to the extent of fragmenting musical lines, overemphasis/exaggeration of certain accented beats in a measure with the very obvious reduction in length/duration of the unaccented notes as given in the score, obviously faster than normal tempi, extensive use of sotto voce in the voices and staccato effects in the instruments All of these changes, IMHO, have not necessarily improved the quality of the recorded performances of Bach’s music in recent years. I am seeking to document, if this is possible, how the current state of affairs has come about and whether there is any validity or strong basis on which these claims for changes can firmly stand. Listeners should be entitled to know, if they are interested, why things sound the way they do in these new recordings, particularly when they begin to compare current performances with those of an earlier period (and also because these recordings are not cheap at all.) In my case it does not suffice to have a musician tell me that this comes primarily from experience based upon education This only raises other questions in my mind: “What has changed in the education of musicians in the past 10 or 20 years? Why did some other very renowned musicians who lived and worked 30, 40, 50 years ago perform these compositions very differently? What has caused these incisive changes in performance practices? Who is closer to being right in these matters? Are these changes being inaugurated mainly to attract customer-listeners for a fleeting moment so that these recordings (as Harnoncourt put it: with a deliberate objective of sounding ‘ugly’) can become a part of a collection of recordings rarely ever to be listened to again? Should not the emphasis rather be directed toward creating lasting monuments of sound, recordings with enduring, uplifting qualities because only these can serve as true evidence of the musicians’ dedication and reverence for Bach’s great music?” >
Let me try to say this clearly and without rancor.

Tom, your quest as outlined by you (below) is quite understandable. Your sentence sums it up well: "I am seeking to document, if this is possible, how the current state of affairs has come about and whether there is any validity or strong basis on which these claims for changes can firmly stand."

If such documentation is done with a scholarly objectivity, it is a terrific thing to accomplish, and indeed a valuable service.

Unfortunately, your objectivity in this is zero. You have clear preferences. In the spin you put into everything you write, and your selectivity with reference materials (choosing the ones that support your views while excluding others) it's obvious: you automatically assume that everything that was known or typically done in c1965 (or whenever: sometime 1950-1970) was correct, and that anything that has changed since then is highly suspect as a corruption. You don't seriously entertain exactly the opposite possibility: that the recent practices (both in scholarly findings and in performance-practice choices, artistic/aesthetic decisions) may be correcting earlier ignorance and corruption.

You have already decided what high quality is, an aesthetic choice, and you said below, "All of these changes, IMHO, have not necessarily improved the quality of the recorded performances of Bach's music in recent years." But you've arrogated to yourself that immutable standard of defining quality, disregarding what other people today might define as high quality; and disregarding what Bach and the people of his time might define as high quality. On the face of your statement here, you're correct: the changes have not necessarily improved aesthetic quality. But in your presentations, you don't leave it at that; instead, you set out to "prove" that the changes have diminished aesthetic quality, in ways you believe you can demonstrate objectively.

Consequently, in your tone and your strategy vis-a-vis scholarship, you try to discredit anything that disturbs that c1965 status quo. Not merely document the changes, but discredit them (and bash as many expert practitioners as possible, along the way), trying to show that it could not possibly be true by any reasonable process that appeals to you. In that, you also assume (axiomatically) that any reasonable process of argumentation that appeals to you, and sways you, is the only possible one that could be valid. You not only get to define the outcome (the "correctness" of your own preferences), but also the methods allowed to get there (no formal logic allowed, and no other straightforward form of reasoning either that leads to an outcome different from yours!).

As for aesthetics, 18th century reception history is a field you're not willing to deal with; you just dismiss it. Case in point: whenever anyone mentions Quantz, you simply poof it away claiming (mistakenly) that his writings apply only to degenerate galant music and have nothing to do with the seriousness of Bach's music...therefore you don't need to take seriously any of the reports in that book about the way people enjoyed or criticized music. [Have you even read that book by Quantz? His chapter "How a Musician and a Musical Composition are to be Judged" especially is one that I feel every serious connoisseur of 18th century music should know, as a window into the way those people (Bach and his associates) felt about it.]

As has been seen more times than anyone can count, you are not swayed by any process of inquiry or any aesthetic choice that disagrees with your initial assumption, which is that everything that was known or typically done in c1965 (or whenever: sometime 1950-1970) was correct. Even the 17th and 18th century written instructions about performance practice have to be forced to conform to the way you want the music to sound, your own aesthetic choice, regardless of what they actually said. Your outcome, an aesthetic preference, is the one you're interested in. You are simply not willing to change your mind on that, or (it appears) even open up the possibility of changing your mind; therefore, you have no objectivity in this endeavor.

Everything you type here comes across, therefore, as an endless bash of recent (and academically-sound) work, an attempt to undermine the credibility of anything you wish had not come up. It is simply an attempt to vindicate your personal preferences, formed long ago, as the "correct" ones and dismiss other people's preferences as wrong or invalid. Not just the dismissal of people's preferences, but the dismissal of serious academic findings as wrong or invalid!

It comes across (to me, at least) as an idolatry of the written score (when read in your own manner, of course, a vital part of that idolatry) against all evidence that is presented to the contrary, that your manner of reading those scores and history books and interpreting "composer's intentions" might be mistaken.

It also comes across as a regularly vicious attack on real scholars and their methods of inquiry: trying to show that they are grossly ignorant or dishonest or completely unable to think reasonably at all, whenever they come out with something you'd already decided is not true. The way you present it, the field of musicology (and, more broadly, university education itself) is a vast conspiracy oignorance and inbreeding and indoctrination, not to be taken seriously by any clear thinker. That's your polemic, and it calls for (and gets) a defensive reaction.

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So, you want to document the changes in performance practice and scholarly thinking anyway, to lay out a nice checklist of the right and wrong ideas so people can make informed choices in the recordings they buy?

The following observation is not intended as an insult, but as a direct statement of fact: you simply do not have the scholarly training/background to perform this huge task in a scholarly, objective manner...the research tools (needing to go far beyond the set of objects and techniques that can be purchased and delivered to your house), the willingness to take "newer" ideas seriously instead of approaching them antagonistically, and the hands-on experience in the field (both in academic discourse, and in direct performance of the music, to know how it works and know what the notation could have meant to the people who wrote it down). Without that scholarly and practical background, you will not be objective about any of this, even if you try to be, even if you (and some of your fans) think you are.

And without the proper scholarly objectivity, it's not a survey of right and wrong ideas, it's typing.

=====

A more balanced and scholarly report of the research/performance trends has been done, and is still being done, by experts who do have that objectivity and resources, and who stick to valid methods of argumentation. Reception history and performance practice history (tracing the changing aesthetic trends themselves) are serious fields of inquiry, subject to the same rules of discourse as any other science.

As I mentioned a few months ago, here are six books about it that I've found especially helpful during and after my graduate-study in this field: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BachRecordings/message/11592

- Text and Act: Essays on Music and Performance by Richard Taruskin

- Playing With History: The Historical Approach to Musical Performance by John Butt

- Contemplating Music: Challenges to Musicology by Joseph Kerman

- The Early Music Revival: A History by Harry Haskell

- Authenticity and Early Music edited by Nicholas Kenyon

- Foundations of Music History and Esthetics of Music by Carl Dahlhaus

- The Recording Angel by Evan Eisenberg (about the way phonograph records themselves, as a medium, affected 20th century society)

Uri Golomb (whose academic dissertation is in this field of reception history and performance practice trends; this is his certified expertise!) added at least four more to that list; here is what he said: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BachRecordings/message/11662

"One very good -- and highly accessible -- introduction to the impact recordings have had on performance and listening alike, and to research into these issues, is Timothy Day's A Century of Recorded Music: Listening to Musical History: http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0300094019/ref=rm_item

"Another good resource:
John Rink (editor), Musical Performance: A Guide to Understanding (http://books.cambridge.org/0521788625.htm) -- especially essays by Colin Lawson, Peter Walls, John Rink, Eric Clarke and Peter Johnson.

"A good survey of philosophical approaches to the topics of performance, authenticity and listening can be found in Stephen Davies, Musical Works & Performances: A Philosophical Exploration (http://www.oup.co.uk/isbn/0-19-924158-9, including link to a sample chapter). Whereas Kivy presents a philosophical argument which is largley critical of historical performance, Davies's arguments are more supportive of this enterprise.

"Finally, really off the beaten track yet still relevant to some of the discussions that are raised on this list: The Modern Invention of Medieval Music by Daniel Leech-Wilkinson (http://books.cambridge.org/0521818702.htm, including link to a sample chapter). The subject is the modern reception of medieval music, not of Bach; but there are some general lessons to be learnt there, about the strengths and weaknesses of historical musicology (and several of the musicologists involved contributed to Bach studies as well). The book also includes interesting discussions on hisotrical listening, and on the role of personality and authority in scholarship and performance."

And another one he added soon after that: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BachRecordings/message/11665

"Dorottya Fabian's Bach Performance Practice, 1945-1975: A Comprehensive Review of Sound Recordings and Literature."

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That is: resources to read about changing trends in performance practice (of old music by dead composers) are available.

Tom, you are certainly welcome to add to those resources; you may do anything you want, writing for anyone who is willing to read your stuff. But it is important for your readers to realize that your views are polemic (supporting your own preferences, as a collector and music-lover) rather than representing a scholarly and objective balance. As an expression of your own preferences, your extensive presentations here on these e-mail lists say a lot about Thomas Braatz and what Thomas Braatz likes; and that's fine.

Why do I disagree with you so regularly, and present an opposing view? Three obvious reasons:

- (1) I enjoy and respect the music just as much as you do but end up with different preferences, and my preferences are just as valid as yours are. Any listener is entitles to his/her own preferences!

- (2) The tone and language in which you write make it appear as if you're objective and scholarly--just from citing lots of reference works and technical terms about the music--which is a deceptive front. I don't know if you're trying to deceive readers intentionally or not--your intentions are your own business--but despite their appearances your presentations do NOT have objectivity on this topic. So, I speak up to urge caution in accepting them as anything beyond the explanation of your own preferences...which is what they are, polemic.

- (3) Your representations of the expert opinions you're trying to discredit are regularly so misleading, even downright dishonest: telling your audience what the expert said in your selective interpretation to discourage the audience from checking out the expert's work directly, on its own terms. It's not valid argumentation to put up a published expert view as a straw man and then knock it down and claim triumph; but that's what you do all the time, and so I speak up against it.

=====

And before you go spinning off to bash me back, directly and reflexively, claiming that I also supposedly have no objectivity (because I'm a performer of this repertoire, and because I'm younger than you, and because I've been trained recently, and because I specialize in "period" instruments and their techniques): such a bash right back is irrelevant, and it's just an invalid tu quoque argument anyway, a fallacy. We're talking here about your quest to "document" the changes in performance practice. Your quest.

Any role I have in it is a defensive one, against your salvo of attacks: pointing out your lack of objectivity, and explaining why we performers do some of the things we do, and explaining what the recent scholarly findings are, calling for a balanced view to counteract your extreme and polemic one. Your attacks on the field of musicology and performance practice are so vehement, and so one-sided against any and all recent findings, it forces me (and anyone else willing to venture a defense) to point out any opposite extreme, just to balance you out and demonstrate that you have not cornered any market on validity.

Brad Le
(who's probably gonna get clobbered yet again, as the bearer of this bad news, or for saying it in so many words)

Uri Golomb wrote (January 8, 2004):
[To Bradley Lehman] A few points to be added to Brad's e-mail:

The books he cites, plus those that I mentioned (and those that I reviewed on http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Books/Book-Authentic[Golomb].htm), cover different areas which partially converge; and when they discuss the same topic, they don't necessarily approach it from the same angle, or reach the same conclusions. To cite just one example: Taruskin's Text and Act is indeed a valuable contribution to understanding the HIP phenomenon -- a fact acknowledged by John Butt in Playing with History as he proceeds to argue against many (though by no means all!) of Taruskin's specific conclusions. That is: any notion that there is a musicological bandwagon/conspiracy, that all musical scholars are out to defend themselves against outsiders by towing the same party line, is really ridiculous: there are lively debates going on within musicological circles. This doesn't mean that anything goes, or that (say) Butt's criticism automatically means that Taruskin's book should be disregarded. It simply means that reality is complex, and one scholar's insights -- no matter how knowledgeable, perceptive and brilliant that scholar is -- are never sufficient to reveal everything.

Same with performers: there is not a single, unified HIP aesthetics. Listen to Harnonourt, Leonhardt, Herreweghe, Rifkin, Parrott and Koopman in Bach; you will discern certain commonalities, but also crucial differences. Same thing would happen if you compare their verbally-expressed views.

A survey of developments in performance -- why do musicians perform the way they do -- requires a certain amount of open-mindedness, a willingness to acknowledge that the same music can be done in many different ways, and that even performances you do not like might still reflect the effort of musicians with genuine integrity and understanding to come to grips with the music. This doesn't mean you should be completely un-critical, but criticms shoudl be circumspect and respectful; don't refer to musicians as charlatans, frauds or amateurs unless you can prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. (BTW: even if I disagree with what a performer says, I wouldn't conclude that his performances are no good. These are two separate considerations).


Ugliness in performances of Bach

Thomas Braatz wrote (March 11, 2004):
I would certainly lend my support to the idea that we have made only modest inroads into beginning to understand the techniques that Bach may have consciously or unconsciously applied in the musical interpretation of the texts that he had before them. This seems to be area of discussion still rather widely open to various investigative methods. Out of such investigations many interesting insights into the ‘inner workings’ of Bach’s music will be revealed.

There is, however, a caveat that needs to be expressed at this point:

Just how deliberate was Bach’s intended ugliness? Allowing musicians in a 1st-class performance to ‘struggle’ with a part, one that they find noticeably difficult to sing or play so that the effort becomes apparent to the listeners and even becomes distracting, should not ever be condoned by any conductor under any circumstances, least of all supported by the erroneous notion propounded by many experts who argue that “Bach wanted it to sound that way” and that “this is Bach’s way of rendering the text.” An example of this which I have related before is the tromba part to mvt. 5 of BWV 77 which is the aria that begins: ”Ach, es bleibt in meiner Liebe lauter Unvollkommenheit” [“O, there is still so much imperfection in my love” or “O, my love is still so full of imperfections.”] Finding musicians who could play this part cleanly (in tune, equal volume/strength on all notes) on a natural tromba without a slide, seemed to be practically impossible for those conductors in charge of HIP groups. Thus an ‘acceptable’ reason was created to excuse the poor performance of the instrumentalist: “Bach wanted it played this way because the text called for it.” This is often the type of reasoning that was put forth by the experts and performers in the HIP groups during the past few decades. The unwary listeners who were fed this type of explanation were led to believe that experts knew what they were saying and doing.

I would prefer to believe that a statement, as that expressed by the Csibas in their book on brass instruments, is much closer to the truth of the matter:
J. S. Bachs musikalische Rhetorik war viel zu kunstvoll, als daß sie je solch einen barbarischen Realismus zugelassen hätte.“ [„The musical rhetoric that Bach used was much too artistic {artistically refined} so that he would not have had to resort to {would not have allowed} such a barbaric realism {to realize his musical objectives.}to take place”]

Bach would have been well-acquainted with Walther’s definition of musical ‘barbarism’ which among other things abhors including ‘inappropriate’ means of composing and/or performing: “etwas Unrechtes mit anzubringen” [‘attempting to utilize or include that which is musically inappropriate.’] An older meaning of ‘anbringen’ which Walter/Bach would have been familiar with is ‘incite’ or ‘anger,’ thus, possibly: it is musically barbaric ‘to incite/anger the listener (perhaps the performers as well) with something that is not considered truly musical, that is, “Unrechtes” = ‘full of musical mistakes.’]

Fallacious arguments [i.e., Bach deliberately composed and performed (or instructed his musicians to perform) his music in such a way to achieve ugly sounds when the text called for it] should be quickly noted, corrected, and eradicated. This extreme should be avoided just as much as that extreme which completely disregards the significant role that text plays in Bach’s music. Overemphasizing specific aspects of Bach’s music in order to underline the ‘ugliness’ in it is just as bad as doing the same with the sentimental-‘sweetness’ approach that some listeners might prefer.

While it seems reasonable to assume that Bach deliberately chose certain keys, chords, or progressions to underline aspects of the text he was musically interpreting [see Eric Chafe’s extensive investigation of these matters,] the question still remains whether modern-day performances should have an organ or other instruments tuned to mean-tone rather than simply assume that Bach may have been ahead of his time in approaching very closely the use of equal temperament in his performances. Perhaps Bach even felt a certain degree of satisfaction in knowing that he had overcome the limits of ‘unequal’ temperament without having the effect of truly jarring sounds which would distract the listeners from the text he was trying to convey. Subtle, rather than extreme, measures would indicate the consummate composer/musician, Bach, who had conquered these otherwise troublesome features of music-making that had bothered his predecessors in this regard. Bach would not have been interested in a Mel-Gibson type of approach to his subject matter; just a hint of the myriad possibilities available to his mid-range, non-extremist palette would have been more than sufficient to engage his audience which was perhaps much more open to the subtleties which he presented than the present-day audience which, having had its senses dulled by attention-getting ‘noise’ offered by media and the environment, seems to require extremist measures to stimulate the senses, mind, and emotions. It is incumbent upon performers and listeners today to make the effort to develop the sensitivities that they have lost so that performances of Bach can be both engaging, meaningful and moving as far as text and music are concerned without having to resort to extreme measures. This means that within this moderate, appropriate mid-range of possibilities, performers can not and should not sing/play blandly, boringly, unthinkingly,or unemotionally while listeners, at the same time, must learn how to listen more carefully for the subtle differences which Bach wrote into the scores, differences which are conveyed by performers who need not resort to extremes in order to obtain the attention of a listener.

Gisela & Jozsef Csiba “Die Blechblasinstrumente in J. S. Bachs Werken” (Merseburger, 1994) p. 23.
Johann Gottfried Walther “Musicalisches Lexicon oder Musicalische Bibliothec” (Leipzig, 1732) p. 66 ‘Barbarismus.’

Johan van Veen wrote (March 11, 2004):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Just how deliberate was Bach’s intended ugliness? Allowing musicians in a 1st-class performance to ‘struggle’ with a part, one that they find noticeably difficult to sing or play so that the effort becomes apparent to the listeners and even becomes distracting, should not ever be condoned by any conductor under any circumstances, least of all supported by the erroneous notion propounded by many experts who argue that “Bach wanted it to sound that way” and that “this is Bach’s way of rendering the text.” An example of this which I have related before is the tromba part to mvt. 5 of
BWV 77 which is the aria that begins: ”Ach, es bleibt in meiner Liebe lauter Unvollkommenheit” [“O, there is still so much imperfection in my love” or “O, my love is still so full of imperfections.”] Finding musicians who could play this part cleanly (in tune, equal volume/strength on all notes) >
Can you quote a historical source to prove that all notes should be played with "equal volume/strength"? Otherwise this is nothing more than your personal preference, which is of no interest to performers.

< on a natural tromba without a slide, seemed to be practically impossible for those conductors in charge of HIP groups. Thus an ‘acceptable’ reason was created to excuse the poor performance of the instrumentalist: “Bach wanted it played this way because the text called for it.” This is often the type of reasoning that was put forth by the experts and >performers in the HIP groups during the past few decades. The unwary listeners who were fed this type of explanation were led to believe that experts knew what they were saying and doing. >
Can you give a quotation of a HIP musician or conductor who actually tried to sell technically imperfect playing by referring to Bach's intentions? Otherwise this is nothing else than defamation.

< Bach would have been well-acquainted with Walther’s definition of musical ‘barbarism’ which among other things abhors including ‘inappropriate’ means of composing and/or performing: “etwas Unrechtes mit anzubringen” [‘attempting to utilize or include that which is musically >inappropriate.’] An older meaning of ‘anbringen’ which Walter/Bach would have been familiar with is ‘incite’ or ‘anger,’ thus, possibly: it is musically barbaric ‘to incite/anger the listener (perhaps the performers as well) with something that is not considered truly musical, that is, “Unrechtes” = ‘full of musical mistakes.’] >
Can you prove that your interpretation of what 'barbarism' and 'inappropriate means of composing and/or performing' is exactly what Walther meant to say? Otherwise this is nothing more than your personal preference, which is of no interest to performers.

Bradley Lehman wrote (March 12, 2004):
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachRecordings/message/13347

Regarding the anti-"Barbarismus" appeals to Walther seen here regularly, as a restrictive line which performers (supposedly) must not cross...it's just a rationalization here. From a personal preference to have everything sound moderate and not especially disturbing, one can read into Walther's definition anything one wants to find there. Anything one doesn't fancy is assigned the "Barbarismus" label so it can be dismissed as wrong. How convenient.

"Fallacious arguments [i.e., Bach deliberately composed and performed (or instructed his musicians to perform) his music in such a way to achieve ugly sounds when the text called for it] should be quickly noted, corrected, and eradicated." Again, just a rationalization by someone who doesn't relish the ugly sounds, and who doesn't appreciate the truth and exquisite beauty (yes, beauty) that can be found within them.

It hasn't been demonstrated that a deliberate ugliness is a fallacy at all, but only asserted that it crosses some people's preferences. That word "eradicated" makes me especially wary: what is this, some sort of Final Solution against all unwanted musical techniques and practitioners? Might as well start building the concentration camps now.

The real fallacy here is the grabbing of quotes from dictionary definitions, and the use of them selectively and out of context as norms for all times and places, to restrict the musicality of performers.

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"Perhaps Bach even felt a certain degree of satisfaction in knowing that he had overcome the limits of 'unequal' temperament without having the effect of truly jarring sounds which would distract the listeners from the text he was trying to convey." Or perhaps he didn't. Perhaps Bach was quite happy with the ranges of expression afforded to him by unequal temperaments, and relished the resources.

It's clear that the writer doesn't understand unequal temperaments, or doesn't enjoy what he has heard of them, but that's not the same as saying Bach didn't. There are people around today (including myself) who have spent 10, 20, or more years working in unequal temperaments and who relish the expressivity these systems reveal right there in the music, if given a chance to do so. (22 years here for me; and I assume that Bach in his career of 50+ years knew it better than I do.)

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"It is incumbent upon performers and listeners today to make the effort to develop the sensitivities that they have lost so that performances of Bach can be both engaging, meaningful and moving as far as text and music are concerned without having to resort to extreme measures." No, it is incumbent upon performers to communicate the music, and incumbent upon listeners to get whatever they can out of it, as far as their listening abilities allow. If they don't like what they hear, they can go listen to or buy something else; or they can go to music school to learn how to appreciate more fully the things that zoomed right over their heads.

"Just how deliberate was Bach's intended ugliness? Allowing musicians in a 1st-class performance to 'struggle' with a part, one that they find noticeably difficult to sing or play so that the effort becomes apparent to the listeners and even becomes distracting, should not ever be condoned by any conductor under any circumstances, least of all supported by the erroneous notion propounded by many experts who argue that 'Bach wanted it to sound that way' and that 'this is Bach's way of rendering the text'." That is just a convoluted way of saying that the writer doesn't fancy the results, doesn't like being distracted by hardships, and that thinks he knows better than performers do how they should handle their appointed tasks. In what strange world is expertise the bogeyman it's made out to be in this paragraph?

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To those who would prefer to restrict the resources performers are allowed to use:

Have you ever, personally, been onstage (or in a church service) in charge of a performance of Bach's music, either solo or ensemble?

Answer the question.

If not, how do you have any notion of the range of expressive devices necessary to connect with a live audience/congregation? Guesswork? Wishful thinking?

It's quite fine to PREFER a moderate range as a listener, a restricted set of emotions, but not every listener is the same as that. Performers have to try to make the music as clear as possible, even for (and maybe especially for) listeners who are not sitting there following along with scores. There are always more details that could be brought out, at so many different levels of the music simultaneously. Good performers recognize what's in there, at some level, and give their best shot at communicating they have found, to share this enthusiasm and respect for the music. If ugliness is found there as part of it, the way to respect the music is to bring out that ugliness, just as valid a part of the range as anything else. How can there be beauty and grace, without also knowing what their opposites might be as a contrast?

It's quite clear that some listeners prefer to hear contrasts minimized. As I've said before, I wonder why they have chosen Baroque music as the target of this expectation.

Thomas Braatz wrote (March 12, 2004):
Johan van Veen requested proof for:
>>Can you quote a historical source to prove that all notes should be played with equal volume/strength"? Otherwise this is nothing more than your personal preference, which is of no interest to performers.<<
No proof necessary here, just a bit of commonsense musicality. If a tromba player has difficulty producing equal volume or strength on certain notes in a scale but not others so that the same note whenever played in a scale-like passage always sounds too soft (and possibly slightly out of tune) every time this note is played, but other/different notes preceding or following it are noticeably louder (and more in tune), what does this tell you? Imagine a piano with maladjusted hammers or a harpsichord with certain quills entirely out of adjustment.

>>Can you give a quotation of a HIP musician or conductor who actually tried to sell technically imperfect playing by referring to Bach's intentions? Otherwise this is nothing else than defamation.<<
‘Selling’ here means allowing inferior playing to take place in performance or be recorded without stating in the program/cd notes: “We are terribly sorry about the imperfections in our performance due to the inexperience of our players/singers. We humbly ask your apology and hope that you will overlook the difficulties we are experiencing in attempting to create an original, authentic sound. Please bear with us in this matter.”

The interpretation of the inferior performance of BWV 77/5 on a tromba reconstruction, although I can not cite the exact instance without spending extra time researching this, is a common one which may even have preceded the HIP mvt. itself. This mvt. is difficult for the tromba to play because of the choice of key and Bach’s use of ‘imperfect’ intervals (prominent high b-flats and c-sharps.) That is the extent of Bach’s musical interpretation, but a conductor who allows an technically ‘imperfect’ performance by the tromba player to pass without comment is only adding fuel to what the Csibas have called a rather common interpretation that allows for sloppy brass playing.

JvV:>>Can you prove that your interpretation of what 'barbarism' and 'inappropriate means of composing and/or performing' is exactly what Walther meant to say?<<
Since we seem to have difficulty agreeing on what is meant by “all notes should be played with equal volume/strength,” what chance is there that Walther would have explained anything thoroughly enough to satisfy you? This could even lead back to the arguments on this list a few years ago about ‘cantabile’ = ‘non-legato’ (not my view.) In cases such as this, no reasonable discussion can take place.

There is no way to persuade anyone who believes that, in Bach’s phrasing, the unaccented last notes of a phrase are generally shortened (often by at least half of the full value of the note) from what is indicated in Bach’s score. Quoting Tosi/Agricola “Anleitung zur Singkunst” (Berlin, 1757) p. 148 will be of no help to anyone who has already made up his mind:
Der Meister erinnere sich, daß derjenige, welcher nicht in der strengsten Richtigkeit des Tactes singt, unmöglich die Hochachtung verständiger Leute verdienen könne. Deswegen gebe er beym Unterrichten wohl Achtung, nicht allein daß jede Note ihre gehörige Geltung bekomme, sondern auch daß die Tactbewegung überhaupt ja nicht verändert oder verrücket werde; will er anders recht unterweisen, und einen guten Scholaren erziehen.“ This is Tosi’s opinion with Agricola’s imprimatur, not simply ‚my opinion.’

You can interpret this any way that you wish (and you probably will), that is your freedom of opinion to do so. What is stated here, in essence, is that the singer must learn to sing correctly according to the beat and established time (no rubato) and every note must be given its full value. Is this what we get to hear in the modern HIP recordings? Bach’s scores tell us otherwise.

Bradley Lehman wrote (March 12, 2004):
< There is no way to persuade anyone who believes that, in Bach’s phrasing, the unaccented last notes of a phrase are generally shortened (often by at least half of the full value of the note) from what is indicated in Bach’s score. Quoting Tosi/Agricola “Anleitung zur Singkunst” (Berlin, 1757) p. 148 will be of no help to anyone who has already made up his mind:
Der Meister erinnere sich, daß derjenige, welcher nicht in der strengsten Richtigkeit des Tactes singt, unmöglich die Hochachtung verständiger Leute verdienen könne. Deswegen gebe er beym Unterrichten wohl Achtung, nicht allein daß jede Note ihre gehörige Geltung bekomme, sondern auch daß die Tactbewegung überhaupt ja nicht verändert oder verrücket werde; will er anders recht unterweisen, und einen guten Scholaren erziehen.“ This is Tosi’s opinion with Agricola’s imprimatur, not simply‚ my opinion.’
You can interpret this any way that you wish (and you probably will), that is your freedom of opinion to do so. What is stated here, in essence, is that the singer must learn to sing correctly according to the beat and established time (no rubato) and every note must be given its full value. Is this what we get to hear in the modern HIP recordings? Bach’s scores tell us otherwise. >
What, beyond performance inexperience and wishful thinking, would cause anyone to believe that such remarks by Tosi/Agricola were intended as absolute limitations on artists, and not just rudimentary instructions for beginners (einen guten Scholaren erziehen)?

Everyone has to learn how to count accurately and to hold notes according to strict instructions, before being able to do anything more intelligent and flexible than that, and before learning how and when it is appropriate to depart from notation, and before learning the applications of unwritten style. Why forbid musicians from progressing beyond such infancy as interpreters?

Thomas Braatz wrote (March 12, 2004):
An excellent comment made by someone on this list is:
>>There are always more details that could be brought out, at so many different levels of the music simultaneously.<<
Yes, and some of these details can not even be registered audibly by any method created by man, so it makes no sense to deliberately attempt to bring out as many as possible by emphasizing some of them and not others. Let the performers sing/perform with true understanding and well-founded musicality devoid of any effort to draw special attention only to a few of them at the cost of covering up or losing altogether other audible levels that should be of equal importance.

>>The real fallacy here is the grabbing of quotes from dictionary definitions, and the use of them selectively and out of context as norms for all times and places, to restrict the musicality of performers.<<
Quotations from the key, original sources from Bach’s time are not out of context for Bach’s performance practices, but only for those 21st-century performers who have another agenda for present-day audiences which they fear will not be able to experience Bach’s music profoundly enough without the aid of Mel-Gibson-like strategies to engage these audiences.

>>(22 years here for me; and I assume that Bach in his career of 50+ years knew it better than I do.)<<
A modest admission of this sort seems to be an improvement over a blanket statement that this writer’s hearing is as good as Bach’s.

>>If they don't like what they hear, they can go listen to or buy something else; or they can go to music school to learn how to appreciate more fully the things that zoomed right over their heads.<<
So now they are even teaching these extremviews in the music schools??? Heaven help us!

>>It's quite fine to PREFER a moderate range as a listener, a restricted set of emotions, but not every listener is the same as that.<<
It is naïve to assume that human emotions are necessarily restricted because the extreme ranges have been omitted. Very powerful emotions can be evoked from simple means whereas a surfeit of emotions on a very wide scale (and particularly those from the extreme ends of such a scale) can serve to desensitize (make immune by dulling through excess) the listener.

>>How can there be beauty and grace, without also knowing what their opposites might be as a contrast?<<
Imagine for a minute Bach’s Passions as the equivalent to the description of the events as contained in the Gospels. Would it be necessary to use a Mel-Gibson-movie-type approach with its purported interest in complete accuracy and authenticity (the same goal as set by most of the HIP groups) in order to have the audience experience directly and realistically what other audiences/congregations have experienced in their imaginations in times and places other than our own? Is the extreme emphasis upon ugliness in music (even if it appears only occasionally) necessarily uplifting in any particular way? [This brings up the OT subject surrounding the depiction of Laokoön, a marble group by Hagesander, Athanodorus, and Polydorus.]

>>It's quite clear that some listeners prefer to hear contrasts minimized As I've said before, I wonder why they have chosen Baroque music as the target of this expectation.<<
Perhaps the writer of these lines should wonder why Bach, in his mature period, focused so much on the concentration of his material and constantly sought to eliminate excessive effusion which only wishes to call attention to itself.

Thomas Braatz wrote (March 12, 2004):
A reader questioned my remarks as follows:
>>What, beyond performance inexperience and wishful thinking, would cause anyone to believe that such remarks by Tosi/Agricola were intended as absolute limitations on artists, and not just rudimentary instructions for beginners (einen guten Scholaren erziehen)?<<
And yet John Butt in “Bach Interpretation: Articulation Marks in Primary Sources of J. S. Bach” (Cambridge University Press, 1990) pp. 13, 14, 29, uses this source to bolster his arguments. Perhaps he should be informed that such source material as offered by Tosi/Agricola, characterized above simply as a handbook only for beginners, is ‘off-limits’ in really helping musicians who read Butt’s book understand just how Bach wanted his music performed. In any case, Butt gives the definite impression that he is relying on Agricola for much more than simply ‘rudimentary instructions for beginners.’ Agricola’s book is much more a book for the master performer and teacher, in fact the passage I quoted even refers specifically to and addresses specifically the “Meister,” [‘master performer and teacher.’]

Donald Satz wrote (March 12, 2004):
[To Thomas Braatz] As I read it, Thomas has not made a case for his view that Bach would never write "ugly" music. As an example, he states that Bach would have been familiar with Walther's writings of musical barbarsim. I'm familiar with Neo-Nazis, doesn't mean that I embrace the group or go their meetings.

What's all the fuss about? Some of you feel that Bach couldn't possibly write ugly music, others think he did it. There's no harm in either position, right? And I still think that using "ugly" is a bad way to go.

Johan van Veen wrote (March 12, 2004):
[To Thomas Braatz] This message proves what I suspected. I asked evidence on three issues. None is given. So far everything Mr Braatz has stated is nothing more than a reflection of his own personal opinions. He is entitled to these opinions, but he should stop making other people believe they are more than that and reflect in any way the esthetic preferences of Bach or his time.

More serious are the accusations against musicians. Mr Braatz has failed again to give any evidence that performers have said or written what he claims they have said or written. That means his remarks are defamation. Nobody can be be surprised about that. We have seen it all before. All is fair in the war against the performers and the performance practice Mr Braatz detests, it seems.

Bradley Lehman wrote (March 12, 2004):
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachRecordings/message/13354
>>What, beyond performance inexperience and wishful thinking, would cause anyone to believe that such remarks by Tosi/Agricola were intended as absolute limitations on artists, and not just rudimentary instructions for beginners (einen guten Scholaren erziehen)?<<
< And yet John Butt in “Bach Interpretation: Articulation Marks in Primary Sources of J. S. Bach” (Cambridge University Press, 1990) pp. 13, 14, 29, uses this source to bolster his arguments. >
And yet I have that book by John Butt right here, and on those three pages Dr Butt does not use the source as it is being used here: namely, to restrict experienced performers from doing anything beyond the rudiments known to beginners. Butt cites Tosi/Galliard (the English version of Tosi, 1742/3) here with regard to several issues of vocal articulation. Butt uses the source to bolster positive arguments in comparison with other contemporary sources, not to restrict anyone's performance acumen to his own musical preferences or abilities.

In fact, he writes (on the aforementioned page 13): "The overwhelming evidence from seventeenth- and early-eighteenth-century sources is that a detached performance of runs had priority over a 'legato' style. Tosi, the writer of the most influential singing treatise of the early eighteenth century, gave clear advice for the standard articulation of passages or divisions...." (which Butt then cites directly from Tosi/Galliard).

On the next page, he goes on: "Interestingly, the footnotes added in Galliard's translation link vocal articulation to instrumental and not vice versa: 'The mark'd Divisions should be something like the Staccato on the Violin, but not too much...' (p52); 'The Gliding Notes are like several Notes in one Stroke of the Bow on the Violin' (p53). J F Agricola's footnotes to his translation of Tosi into German (1757 p124) are even more informative: in connection with the marked division, he states that the vowels on which such passages are made should be repeated gently with as many repercussions as there are notes (in the manner of tonguing for wind instruments and bowing for strings). With smooth passages, only the vowel of the first note is articulated (p126). Agricola also warns against singing all runs in the same way, suggesting that several grades of articulation are necessary...."

This in Butt's book, calling for vocal articulation to give notes less than their notated value, is the OPPOSITE of the claims made here on this list by the person who wishes everything to be legato and held out to full notated value! Butt's citations from Tosi/Galliard/Agricola here show that a constant legato in phrasing was not a desired norm!

Granted, these portions of Butt's book are about singing runs, and not about holding out the final syllable of a phrase; but I'm simply responding here to the writer who brought up these two particular pages, as if Butt's citation of Tosi on them proves the list member's own point (which it doesn't). Rather, it appears he simply appeals to John Butt's book out of desperation, to show that a real musicologist takes Tosi's source as a whole seriously in advice for singers of all abilities; which Butt certainly does. So do I. It's still important to see things in context.

=====

In that regard, I have another book here that has a more extensive set of excerpts from Tosi/Galliard, including the passage that was cited here yesterday (in German, from Agricola's translation). "Let the Master remember, that whosoever does not sing to the utmost Rigour of Time, deserves not the Esteem of the Judicious; therefore let him take Care, when teaching, that there be no Alteration or in it, if he pretends to teach well, and to make an excellent Scholar." This passage, clearly, is in a section about teaching beginners (as I said yesterday), if one may judge from the eight preceding paragraphs and the two that follow. Indeed, in the next paragraph, it exhorts the teacher to "mortify him" [the Scholar] "if he is persistently obtuse" but without resorting to "Beating" him. [This book: Music in the Western World: A History in Documents edited by Weiss and Taruskin.]

I fail to see how such a passage can be interpreted in the way it was done here yesterday by somebody quoting it from Agricola's translation: as if it were advice for restricting advanced artists, not teaching rudiments to beginners. Perhaps the list member fancies himself a Master of singing (but without demonstrating any performance qualifications of any sort) who is trying to correct the persistently obtuse. Or perhaps he does not recognize any pedagogical difference between teaching beginners and teaching advanced students, in music. One wonders if he has ever taught a music lesson in his life, if he indeed has ay ideas how to teach beginners in music, let alone teaching any advanced students? It would be interesting to see an honest answer to that question.

=====

I am reminded also of a ludicrous line of reasoning that was presented here yesterday, in lieu of any historical evidence about singing/playing notes evenly. The writer made a "commonsense" appeal to the tromba (which sound he does not care for, since it plays unevenly), and then to the way pianos and harpsichords are regulated so that individual notes do not stick out uncontrollably. Unfortunately, the "common sense" presented there contradicts common sense.

The writer obviously has a severe misconception of evenness, in the way he extrapolates it as a norm (which conveniently serves his own preference as a listener!). Yes, pianos and harpsichords are set up and maintained so that the player MAY play evenly if the music calls for it. But, to take the evenness of the instrument's action as a command that the player MUST play evenly to interpret music properly...get a grip. The evenness of the instrument's action merely gives the player the widest possible range of choices, because it puts him or her into control of the instrument, not at the mercy of it.

This is something known to even the most elementary students of piano and harpsichord. Teachers, early in the pedagogical process, work on the student's ability to BE ABLE TO play evenly, i.e. to be in good control of the instrument and one's own physique. And then, when working on interpretation, the somewhat more advanced student is taught that such evenness is not a goal to be applied to all situations; that musical considerations take precedence over that merely technical concern.

One wonders why the list member persists in equating basic technique for beginners, whether in the voice or on an instrument, as a restriction to be placed on all interpreters of music, limiting their flexibility.

Effusiveness in Bach's most mature works

Bradley Lehman wrote (March 12, 2004):
>> Perhaps the writer of these lines should wonder why Bach, in his mature period, focused so much on the concentration of his material and constantly sought to eliminate excessive effusion which only wishes to call attention to itself. <<
Perhaps we should consider that the last thing Bach worked on, the B Minor Mass (BWV 232), is one of the most excessive and effusive pieces he ever penned. With the possible exception of the two big Passion settings, is there any composition by him that makes grander effects than the B Minor Mass does, or calls attention to itself (or to its creator's skill) more readily?

Another of his most mature works, the Art of Fugue, is the most effusively difficult keyboard piece he ever wrote, which is clear to those of us who are able to play it. That extreme concentration in the music is what makes it so difficult, and the main reason why the piece calls so much attention to itself as a masterwork.

Not to neglect the Goldberg Variations, which are also over the top in effusiveness (going into just about every keyboard technique available), and which call considerable attention to themselves. Just think how many performers have chosen to launch or enrich distinguished careers by playing this piece, and who have received accolades for doing so.

Ba-da-bing.

Charles Francis wrote (March 13, 2004):
[To Johan van Veen] Actually, there's a longstanding tradition of HIPsters confusing incompetence with historical practice. See for example: http://slate.msn.com/id/2087887

Donald Satz wrote (March 13, 2004):
[To Charles Francis] I'll assume that Charles agrees with Swafford, and I know that I disagree with both of them - sweeping assumptions without a foundation.

Charles Francis wrote (March 13, 2004):
[To Donald Satz] Did you actually listen to the HIP Handel sample, then ;-)
http://img.slate.msn.com/media/92/ClipA_OldHandelRoyalF.asf

Thomas Braatz wrote (March 13, 2004):
A list member commented:
>>And yet I have that book by John Butt right here, and on those three pages Dr Butt does not* use the source as it is being used here: namely, to restrict experienced performers from doing anything beyond the rudiments known to beginners.<<
No, that may be why he [Butt] carefully avoids choosing any material from the book that might undermine his arguments or not fit his current mode of thinking. What he has failed to do is to include as a necessary warning the explanation that whatever he quotes or uses from Agricola’s book should be labeled as applying only to beginners since that is the characterization the list member originally wished to force upon it as he used terms such as ‘infancy’ or ‘rudimentary instruction for beginners’ to describe this book.

>>This in Butt's book, calling for vocal articulation to give notes less than their notated value, is the OPPOSITE of the claims made here on this list by the person who wishes everything to be legato and held out to full notated value!<<
That is the very reason why Butt conveniently overlooked the quotation that I gave. To take Tosi/Agricola seriously elsewhere without warning the reader that what is stated in this book, as the list member would have it, should be understood as pertaining to instructions to complete beginners who, eventually, will have to forget/unlearn much of what they had been instructed to do here. Why should some parts of this book (personal, biased selection) be allowed to provide evidence for expert performers, but other parts be doomed as being completely infantile in nature and not to be taken seriously?

>>Rather, it appears he simply appeals to John Butt's book out of desperation, to show that a real musicologist takes Tosi's source as a whole seriously in advice for singers of all abilities; which Butt certainly does. So do I. It's still important to see things in context.<<
I get it now! The ‘context’ is the prejudiced notion which approaches sources seriously, but conveniently overlooks anything that might run contrary to it. The latter is then quickly dubbed ‘out of context’ because it does not fit the prevailing musicological trend.

Another problem with Butt’s use of Tosi/Galliard (an English translation devoid of Agricola’s commentary) or later editions of Tosi/Agricola with addenda by Agricola is that these editions are chronologically even further removed from being able to supply reliable evidence of what might have been Bach’s actual performance preferences in regard to the voice. With every later edition (later than the first Berlin, 1757, edition), Agricola’s viewpoints reflect less and less of Bach’s wishes and more and more of those of the audience of ‘galant’-style practitioners and would-be practitioners. Why does Butt have to resort to these tactics? Because he doesn’t find in the Tosi/Agricola first edition the evidence that he is looking for to support his theories. The list mewho appears to extol these methods that remove the musicologist to a greater degree than necessary in order to ‘read Bach’s intentions’ fails to understand the simple dictum: whatever is closer to Bach’s time and place with a more direct connection (Agricola, a student who studied and performed under Bach’s direction) provides more reliable evidence of Bach’s intentions. Using Tosi/Galliard (foreign translation without Agricola's insights) or later editions (addenda) of Tosi/Agricola serves no other purpose than to distort the historical record when they are used as evidence sources which purportedly apply directly to Bach’s performance practices.

I ‘love’ the translation supplied by the list member:
>>"Let the Master remember, that whosoever does not sing to the utmost Rigour of Time, deserves not the Esteem of the Judicious; therefore let him take Care, when teaching, that there be no Alteration or Diminution in it, if he pretends to teach well, and to make an excellent Scholar."<<
No wonder musicologists are led to the erroneous conclusions they arrive at through translations such as this! Now I can understand why the list member has difficulty understanding the concept of the ‘demi-voix’ which is carefully described in this book.

>>One wonders why the list member persists in equating basic technique for beginners, whether in the voice or on an instrument, as a restriction to be placed on all interpreters of music, limiting their flexibility.<<
…because the excesses emanating from many HIP recordings call for a correction which does not limit flexibility, but imposes more common sense, a factor which is decidedly lacking at a time when there has been too much emphasis upon the freedom of expression. This emphasis should be more upon the wide range of subtleties within a meaningful framework as provided in Bach’s scores. Truncating note values for any reason makes no sense unless Bach articulated them that way. Too often the use of extremes generates an ugly sound (or meaningless sound when endings are ‘swallowed up’) which IMHO is more of a self-serving, attention-getting behavior than one which truly respects Bach’s music.

Donald Satz wrote (March 13, 2004):
[To Charles Francis] Why Charles thinks that listening to this one performance proves something is beyond me. As it happens, I don't need to listen to the sample, because I am very familiar with the recording. It was early HIP with all the warts included, but still on the right track.

What does any of this have to do with the superb music-making from HIP performers over the past 15 years or so? If you don't like HIP, don't listen to it. If you find the tempos disagreeable, don't listen. I don't listen to modern orchestra recordings of Bach's music, and I keep my mouth shut except when I feel that HIP is being verbally bashed by the insecure.

Donald Satz wrote (March 13, 2004):
[To Thomas Braatz] Thomas is a 'pistol' - now he's telling me what motivated Butt when he couldn't possibly have any idea. I'll go by Butt's recordings of Bach, and I must say that I don't think much of his performances.

Johan van Veen wrote (March 13, 2004):
[To Charles Francis] That was to be expected. Incompetent is every performer whose performances Mr Braatz and his Swiss understudy don't like.

Uri Golomb wrote (March 13, 2004):
Charles Francis wrote: < Actually, there's a longstanding tradition of HIPsters confusing incompetence with historical practice. See for example: http://slate.msn.com/id/2087887 >
This artlce has already been discussed last year on BCML; members of this list who are also on that list can check the discussion there
(http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/6268;
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/6279;
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/6285).

For what it's worth, my own view is that this article is rather shallow and inaccurate. Among other things -- and this is by no means the only reservation I have -- is takes for granted that "fast speed = lack of expression". As in the following:

"Six years ago in Boston I heard a Bach "B Minor Mass" from which slow tempos had been essentially banished. No more grandeur, no more sublimity, no more sweetness, no more tragedy-all qualities in which the "B Minor" is incomparably rich. Or used to be. In this performance the speeds were brisk, brisker, breakneck. In the "Crucifixus" movement, Christ trotted all the way to Golgotha, pumping his cross."

Well, quite apart from the fact that some of the fastest "Crucifixus" recordings have nothing to do with HIP -- check out Karajan -- the notion that fast tempi automatically and always translate into a "banishment of grandeur, sublimity, sweetness and tragedy" is simply wrong. I wasn't at the concert the author alludes to, and maybe, if I had been there, I would have responded the same way s/he did. But if so, I would certainly be careful about attributing my response solely to the fast tempo. What was the performers' approach to tempo modifications -- were they strict or flexible? What was their articulation like? Their accentuation? Their dynamics? All these factors (and more) are no less important than tempo in determining the character. Which is why I do not agree with him that Gardiner's SMP (BWV 244) opening movement is cheerful and ignores the drama. Yes, it's quick -- but it's also incredibly dramatic: Gardiner is very much concerned with building up tension and resolution in this movement, shaping it towards an inexorable climax (which is, incidentally, easier to achieve in a fast tempo). If you want to hear a truly over-cheerful, dance-like, inconseqneutial "kommt, ihr Töchter" (or a similarly-spirited First Kyrie), check out Peter Schreier's recording. But since Schreier recorded with modern instruments, mentioning him would rather spoil Jan Swafford's thesis...

Gabriel Jackson wrote (March 13, 2004):
Johan van Veen writes: < Actually, there's a longstanding tradition of HIPsters confusing incompetence with historical practice. See for example: http://slate.msn.com/id/2087887 >
Hardly a 'long tradition' - this article cites one such (possible) instance.

Gabriel Jackson wrote (March 13, 2004):
Donald Satz writes: < What does any of this have to do with the superb music-making from HIP performers over the past 15 years or so? If you don't like HIP, don't listen to it. If you find the tempos disagreeable, don't listen. I don't listen to modern orchestra recordings of Bach's music, and I keep my mouth shut except when I feel that HIP is being verbally bashed by the insecure. >
Like you, Don, performances of Bach on modern instruments don't interest me, so I don't listen to them. But I don't object to their existence! I wonder why the virulent anti-HIP faction on this list feel so threatened?

Charles Francis wrote (March 13, 2004):
[To Gabriel Jackson] I, for one, regularly listen to so-called "HIP" recordings, indeed they predominate in my collection of Bach. Moreover, the numerous reviews of Mr. Braatz indicate his detailed familiarity with two complete HIP-cantata cycles; indeed I rather suspect he has studied all the HIP performances of Bach's chorale works. So the intolerance, I'm afraid, lies with those who are not interested in recordings of Bach on modern instruments and therefore do not bother to listen to them! Why these people feel so threatened by objective comparison of their favoured idiom with one they disdain is a question I leave to psychologists.

Neil Halliday wrote (March 14, 2004):
Donald Satz wrote: "I don't recall ever seeing a review from Mr. Braatz of any recordings - just his typical brand of rigid complaints and admonishments"
Charles is referring to Mr. Braatz' numerous reviews of the cantatas, which can be read at the B.

Indeed, his contribution to that site in the form of multi-recording reviews of the cantatas is second only to Aryeh's in quantity. (The quality of the reviews of both men is outstanding, as is the case with several other contributors).



Continue on Part 9


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