Thanks Alex. I don't listen to enough Classical period music to know what I
like necessarily, but I know I don't like portentous. That's what came to
mind from LB's #88 on DG, until the finale, which seems more engaged than
the rest of the performance. On the flipside, #92 fairs better, but not
anything to treasure, IMO. Inner movements don't go anywhere; they're played
the same at the end as at the beginning. I first encountered his Haydn
records in the mid-80s and thought: great, hopefully they play him like they
play Gershwin. But I was disappointed. Three are in a give-away pile, along
with the DG.
LB wasn't generally a stickler for textual fidelity and he wasn't always
well prepared. Orchestra's know this when they see it. According to one
biographer, he could be quite casual about some of his recordings. Sessions
for short, war-horse pieces were sometimes noted on his calendar as "shit."
They were said to be quick, barely-rehearsed sessions. When it worked, the
spontaneity could be delightful. When it didn't, ...
They shouldn't have had any technical problems with Haydn, but the NYP could
also be rather inconsistent. [<-Understatement.]
Who would you say does nail FJH in recent years?
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Alex McGehee
Sent: Thursday, May 08, 2014 7:37 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Mitrop[olous was Dora Labbette, Soprano with string
Sorry for the delay, was working on deadline for another project. The
Bernstein performances have been widely praised, held up as models, etc.,
but I can't board that train. The string playing is sloppy, intonation
questionable at times, especially in the "Paris" cycle. Now please don't ask
me for specifics because I gave my sets away years ago. Unable to make the
connection many others have made with the late Haydn symphonies conducted by
Bernstein, I jotted down a few notes and was glad to have the empty shelf
space open up. Sections in the outer movements were on occasion especially
egregious for poor ensemble.
My favorite Bernstein/Haydn performance is on YouTube (don't have the link
but it's easy to find) where Bernstein uses only his facial gestures to
conduct the VPO in the final movement of no. 88 in G major. It's a "look Ma
no hands" moment of priceless peacock-ary, and of course the orchestra can
play the piece superbly even with blindfolds on. Bernstein was truly a great
man and he would have been the first to tell you so. I apologize in advance
to his many fans for being a little harsh here, and on checking see that I
still have his DG performances of 88 and 92.
On May 6, 2014, at 5:33 PM, Carl Pultz <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Alex, I'm curious how you feel about Bernstein's Haydn performances.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
> [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Alex McGehee
> Sent: Tuesday, May 06, 2014 9:45 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Mitrop[olous was Dora Labbette, Soprano with
> Hi guys,
> The Haydn literature is replete with spurious timpani parts and over
> the years they've gained a large group of devotees, never mind that
> Haydn never wrote them and had the resources available to do so. Maybe
> Haydn played the drums and that would cool off this simmering musical
> brew of yes-he-did, no-he-didn't continuo crowd led by James Webster of
> The German authorities (who must be obeyed): at the Joseph Haydn
> Institute in Köln, responsible for the complete edition of Haydn's
> work that got underway in the late 1950's. Why it's taken so long I
> can't go into detail here, but it's almost done, give or take another
> seven years. A scholar there has laid down a serious argument for
> several symphonies that don't really have high alt horns. I kind of
> like the symphonies that way and so did H. C. Robbins Landon (he had a
passion about them).
> The credo (within reason) must alway aim at the composer's original
> intentions which do include later revisions and authorized
> arrangements (like the flute and string instruments Johann Peter
> Solomon wrote out from Haydn's symphony scores). I enjoy the playing
> of the BPO with Karajan at times, but it's not Haydn. (And Landon
> thought it the gold standard)The wind and string parts are all out of
> balance and the timpani part (so important to Haydn when he actually
> wrote one) has trouble getting through. I'm not a cat gut wing-nut,
> just someone who likes these works served up with true balance and not
> overly controlled with spot mics. And don't get me started on Harnoncourt.
> Alex McGehee