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Chris
09-06-2000, 08:36 PM
Does anyone have an opinion on this violinist? I'm still not sure what I think...

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"Wagner's music is better than it sounds." - Mark Twain

Michael
09-07-2000, 02:01 AM
The first set of B.'s violin sonatas that I ever bought were by Josef Suk and Jan Panenka and I found the performances excellent. The violin tone was a little shrill, if I remember, but I put that down to the recording. They have been released on CD recently on the Supraphon label but I haven't heard them in their new format.
Michael

Chris
09-07-2000, 12:12 PM
I was thinking of buying the violin sonatas by him, actually. I have the concerto and romances, and I like them. Some would say he takes the concerto a bit slow, but I like it that way, myself. Thanks.

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"Wagner's music is better than it sounds." - Mark Twain

Rod
09-07-2000, 02:58 PM
As with Michael, the first B violin sonotas I bought were by Suk on tape. I chose him simply because they were the cheapest (!) but they stand up very well compared to better known performers. However for the very best set of B violin sonatas, look (if you can find it these days) for the set by Jaap Schroder with Jos van Immerseel on forte piano (Deutche Harmonia Mundi label). This is really first class, 'electric' playing, light years ahead of the best modern instrument sets I've bought over the years.

Rod

Chris
09-07-2000, 08:06 PM
Well, Suk's set is certainly not the cheapest now http://www.gyrix.com/~cgraye/ubb/smile.gif I would take your suggestion, Rod, if I didn't hate listening to Beethoven on period instruments (I like them with everyone else, though, for some reason).

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"Wagner's music is better than it sounds." - Mark Twain

Michael
09-07-2000, 08:14 PM
My favourite set of the violin sonatas is the Perlman/Ashkenazy on Decca and in spite of its years, it sounds very well, too. I also have the Kremer/Argerich set but I don't really like it. It's a more modern approach than the Decca but I just don't like their phrasing. The opening of the "Spring" sonata is a disaster, I think.
Michael

Rod
09-08-2000, 05:42 PM
Originally posted by Chris:
Well, Suk's set is certainly not the cheapest now http://www.gyrix.com/~cgraye/ubb/smile.gif I would take your suggestion, Rod, if I didn't hate listening to Beethoven on period instruments (I like them with everyone else, though, for some reason).



If you took advantage of my recommendations I'm sure you would eat those words (unless you put B amongst the Wagnerian 'school')!
Certainly there is no logical reason why period instruments should be good for the others yet not B, who was more tuned in to their sounds and potential than any of his contemporaries.

Rod
Rod

Peter
09-08-2000, 06:08 PM
I have slightly changed my views on period instruments, thanks to the enthusiam of Rod, but I am still not convinced by the Fortepiano .To my mind, the fortepiano was an instrument still in the development process and it is therefore inferior to the Pianoforte - I agree that allowances must be made when playing Beethoven's works on modern pianos, but I am not convinced that were he still living today (age 230 !!) Beethoven would be insisting that we played his Sonatas on the old Fortepiano instead of a modern piano. Doubtless he would have his preference amongst modern instruments, maybe preferring a Bosendorfer to a Steinway, but I would be amazed if he insisted on a Graf or an Erard. When it comes to orchestral instruments, I think there is more of a case for the use of period instruments and performance practises .

Chris
09-08-2000, 10:58 PM
Originally posted by Rod:
If you took advantage of my recommendations I'm sure you would eat those words (unless you put B amongst the Wagnerian 'school')!
Certainly there is no logical reason why period instruments should be good for the others yet not B, who was more tuned in to their sounds and potential than any of his contemporaries.


I never said it was logical, it's just what I like. I've listened to period Beethoven, and have heard several you suggested, but they did nothing for me. Some were worse than others, though. The worst is the Hanover Band. I would rather hear the 9 symphonies pounded out on a bunch of rocks. On the other hand, period Bach, Mozart, etc., I enjoy very much - better than modern instrument versions in many cases. I can't tell you why, those are just my preferences.



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"Wagner's music is better than it sounds." - Mark Twain

Michael
09-09-2000, 02:58 AM
Originally posted by Chris:
I was thinking of buying the violin sonatas by him, actually. I have the concerto and romances, and I like them. Some would say he takes the concerto a bit slow, but I like it that way, myself. Thanks.



I'm going a bit off the original subject here, but I like a slow tempo myself in the violin concerto. My favourite recording is of Zino Francescatti with Bruno Walter conducting the Columbia S.O. Excellent stereo recording and a broad, steady pace with a rather nervous, edgy sound from the soloist which prevents the whole thing becoming too bland, which it can easily do. Incidentally,today somebody gave me a loan of the new clarinet arrangement of the concerto! Michael Collins is the soloist and the Russian National Orch is conducted by Mikhail Pletnev who arranged the work and also wrote the cadenzas. I have only heard a bit of it so I can't give a proper opinion, but I think the Mozart concerto is safe enough for a while! The new version may grow on me, but B.'s own piano arrangement of the concerto has yet to do that.
Michael

Rod
09-09-2000, 02:22 PM
Originally posted by Chris:
I never said it was logical, it's just what I like. I've listened to period Beethoven, and have heard several you suggested, but they did nothing for me. Some were worse than others, though. The worst is the Hanover Band. I would rather hear the 9 symphonies pounded out on a bunch of rocks. On the other hand, period Bach, Mozart, etc., I enjoy very much - better than modern instrument versions in many cases. I can't tell you why, those are just my preferences.



Your the first person I've heard being so critical of the Hanover Band set. Quite frankly, once I'd heard these symphonies played on period instruments (Norrington's set) my versions by Karajan and Bohm (BPO and VPO respectively) started gathering dust!

Rod

Rod
09-09-2000, 02:26 PM
Originally posted by Chris:
I was thinking of buying the violin sonatas by him, actually. I have the concerto and romances, and I like them. Some would say he takes the concerto a bit slow, but I like it that way, myself. Thanks.



Virtually everyone takes the Violin Concerto too slow, is it a Beethoven concerto or a gypsy seranade?

Rod

Rod
09-09-2000, 02:38 PM
Originally posted by Peter:

I have slightly changed my views on period instruments, thanks to the enthusiam of Rod, but I am still not convinced by the Fortepiano .To my mind, the fortepiano was an instrument still in the development process and it is therefore inferior to the Pianoforte - I agree that allowances must be made when playing Beethoven's works on modern pianos, but I am not convinced that were he still living today (age 230 !!) Beethoven would be insisting that we played his Sonatas on the old Fortepiano instead of a modern piano. Doubtless he would have his preference amongst modern instruments, maybe preferring a Bosendorfer to a Steinway, but I would be amazed if he insisted on a Graf or an Erard. When it comes to orchestral instruments, I think there is more of a case for the use of period instruments and performance practises .

I don't prefer the fortepiano on grounds of the sound of these instruments per se, but rather on their suitability for the notes that Beethoven wrote. The fact that so much of B's piano music is clearly not suitable of the modern instrument is the reason, I suggest, why so much of it is is mis-interpreted. Beethoven one posessed an Erard and disliked it soo much he asked (in vain) a local piano maker if he could install a Viennese action into it! B's music is well suited to the Graf, which it why it is the most popular instrument chosen by fp players for Beethoven. I have all of the late period sonatas played on a Graf (Paul Badura-Skoda)and never have they sounded so electric. If B had miraculously came into possession of a modern Steinway do you think he would have wrote music for it in the same manner as the compositions he did write?!!

Rod

Peter
09-09-2000, 04:54 PM
The piano version of the Violin Concerto (which was only done at the request of Clementi) is interesting from several points - Beethoven wrote 3 versions of the solo Violin part - the 2nd incorporated the technical changes suggested by Franz Clement (which Beethoven accepted but was not entirely satisfied with, as he considered the 1st version to be musically superior, then after completeing the piano arrangement(in which he returned to the original version) he made a 3rd revision shortly before publication.
Another interesting feature of the Piano Version is the Cadenzas he wrote - highly original, combining Timpani and piano. I have a performance of the Violin Concerto which uses these cadenzas (arr. for Violin and Timpani).
As for the piano version itself - I haven't heard it in years, but I don't recall it making a very favourable impression with me.

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'Man know thyself'

Chris
09-09-2000, 06:51 PM
Originally posted by Rod:
Virtually everyone takes the Violin Concerto too slow, is it a Beethoven concerto or a gypsy seranade?

Rod


Well, "slow" is reletive, I guess. Can you post some times you consider "good"?

Oh, and about the Hanover Band thing - it just seemed to me that there were some problems with certain parts being heard too much over others and things like that. But I think you might have misunderstood me. I didn't mean that the Hanover Band was the worst recording in existence, I meant that it was the worst of your recommendations (for me).



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"Wagner's music is better than it sounds." - Mark Twain

Peter
09-09-2000, 08:16 PM
Originally posted by Rod:
I don't prefer the fortepiano on grounds of the sound of these instruments per se, but rather on their suitability for the notes that Beethoven wrote. The fact that so much of B's piano music is clearly not suitable of the modern instrument is the reason, I suggest, why so much of it is is mis-interpreted. If B had miraculously came into possession of a modern Steinway do you think he would have wrote music for it in the same manner as the compositions he did write?!!

Rod



I know we are never going to agree on this point, but I don't understand why you think so much of B's piano music is clearly not suitable for the modern piano - why not ? Had Beethoven possessed a Steinway, I doubt that his music would have been any different as the sonatas are really orchestrally conceived, and in that sense they are not really suitable for any keyboard instrument !
Also Beethoven had no hangups re. transposing the Sonata Op.14 no.1 into an entirely different medium - the string quartet - surely it is less of a leap than that to go from a Graf to a Steinway ?
With regard to the Hanover Band , I'm with you on that one - I have heard them perform live, and they are electric !

Rod
09-11-2000, 02:50 PM
Originally posted by Peter:
I know we are never going to agree on this point, but I don't understand why you think so much of B's piano music is clearly not suitable for the modern piano - why not ? Had Beethoven possessed a Steinway, I doubt that his music would have been any different as the sonatas are really orchestrally conceived, and in that sense they are not really suitable for any keyboard instrument !
Also Beethoven had no hangups re. transposing the Sonata Op.14 no.1 into an entirely different medium - the string quartet - surely it is less of a leap than that to go from a Graf to a Steinway ?
With regard to the Hanover Band , I'm with you on that one - I have heard them perform live, and they are electric !



On the subgect of op14, if ever proof was needed that B was not composing for some fantasy Steinway it is these two sonatas. They may be orchestrally conceived but it is the tone of the instrument that concerns me. Too many passages of B simply do not sound effective on the thick toned modern piano as far as I am concerned. If you have heard op2/3 on a 5 octave Schantz for eg, compared to the bombast one usually hears on a modern grand, you would understand. If you could prove to me that B would have wrote the above pieces in exactly the same way had he access to a Steinway, I would rate him less as a piano composer.

Regarding The Hanover Band, they are first rate with Baroque also. Their recent recording of Serse (Handel opera) is the first choice for that piece. Critics may say 'too much brass' hearing this relatively small ensemble's B symphonies, but they were saying that at the premiere of the First Symphony ('it sounded like a wind band')! If others don't like it don't blame the Hanover Band, blame Beethoven!

Rod

Chris
09-11-2000, 08:47 PM
If Beethoven had no notion of a Steinway, and his music just happened to sound better on one, how does that make him a less great composer? How do you factor in something that doesn't exist?

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"Wagner's music is better than it sounds." - Mark Twain

Rod
09-11-2000, 09:10 PM
Originally posted by Chris:
If Beethoven had no notion of a Steinway, and his music just happened to sound better on one, how does that make him a less great composer? How do you factor in something that doesn't exist?



The fact is, as far as I am concerned, it doesn't sound better on a Steinway, it sounds worse regardless of the mechanical flaws possessed by the older instruments, thus the factor you mention does not come into play and in my opinion never will. I suspect Beethoven would not want to think even his own arrangements of his own pieces for different instruments were better than the originals.

Rod

Chris
09-12-2000, 01:18 AM
Originally posted by Rod:
The fact is, as far as I am concerned, it doesn't sound better on a Steinway, it sounds worse regardless of the mechanical flaws possessed by the older instruments, thus the factor you mention does not come into play and in my opinion never will. I suspect Beethoven would not want to think even his own arrangements of his own pieces for different instruments were better than the originals.

Rod

But that's not the issue. The fact is that Beethoven could not have planned for things that didn't exist. How you think they sound now has nothing to do with it. Here's an example of what I mean. A computer game may be programmed to run on an nVidia TNT2 Ultra graphics card. This is the card the developers have who make the game, and their vision takes shape through this card. Then, a year later, nVidia releases the GeForce DDR. You play the game on a machine with this new card. The game you play is no longer the game the programmers concieved, because its instructions are executed differently by this new hardware. There may be good things and bad things about this new card. There will be some who prefer to play the game with the older card, and some who prefer to play it with the newer card. The point is, the programmers could not have known what the game would be like on this new card, and even though they specifically programmed the game for the old card, some will certainly like it on the new one better. This doesn't mean they should have made a different game because there was something that might come later that some people would think enhanced the experience.


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"Wagner's music is better than it sounds." - Mark Twain

Rod
09-12-2000, 12:40 PM
Originally posted by Chris:
But that's not the issue. The fact is that Beethoven could not have planned for things that didn't exist. How you think they sound now has nothing to do with it. Here's an example of what I mean. A computer game may be programmed to run on an nVidia TNT2 Ultra graphics card. This is the card the developers have who make the game, and their vision takes shape through this card. Then, a year later, nVidia releases the GeForce DDR. You play the game on a machine with this new card. The game you play is no longer the game the programmers concieved, because its instructions are executed differently by this new hardware. There may be good things and bad things about this new card. There will be some who prefer to play the game with the older card, and some who prefer to play it with the newer card. The point is, the programmers could not have known what the game would be like on this new card, and even though they specifically programmed the game for the old card, some will certainly like it on the new one better. This doesn't mean they should have made a different game because there was something that might come later that some people would think enhanced the experience.




Yes, they will like it on the new card if it sounded better, but what would they think if (as with myself) it sounded worse. There is every indication that Beethoven thought the same. He even sent his much vaunted Broadwood to Streichers to have it re-voiced in the Viennese style! From a discussion with Czerny in the conversation books B apparently was praising Streicher's instruments as late as 1823. I cound give you more examples from B's own lips. Most writers I have read that have studied the issue have come to the same conclusion as myself, my position is not radical. I recommed a book by William Newman 'Beethoven on Beethoven' regarding this topic. Even Barry Cooper praises the Badura-Skoda recordings I recommend, using an original Graf, in his Beethoven Compendium.

Rod

Rod
09-12-2000, 04:08 PM
Originally posted by Chris:
But that's not the issue. The fact is that Beethoven could not have planned for things that didn't exist...



To be honest I'm not totaly sure what your angle is with this posting, so if I miss your point you must forgive, but I will make this remark. As far as I am concerned, a first rate professional piece of music must be composed with a specific instrument in mind. If it is any good it will sound the best with that specific instrument, regardless for future development, because the nuances of that instrument will have be reconised and made use of in the composition.

With Beethoven piano music, the essential element is the Viennese action, regardless of its keyboard compass etc, with the simple light action (and thus relatively light stringing) and small leather covered hammers. This is the essence of the instrument for which B was writing.

English actioned pianos of this time are not served so well by B's music, for their sound is rather too muddy for B's dynamic style, but became the modern standard because concert pianists demanded ever more volume - the increased size and weight of action required for this is more suited to the English action as the weight can be counterbalanced so that the keys do not become unplayable - something that cannot be done with the Viennese action, whose scope for increased volume is strictly limited because the extra weight is directly felt via the keys.

Beethoven was asked by someone about composing more music for the flute, B said that the instrument was too underdeveloped for him to make use of it as he would wish, so he did not write so much for it. Thus with the flute B was a realist and wrote for it as best as the instrument would allow and no more, and his flute music sounds no better with todays technically superior instrument.

Following this logic there must have been pianos in Vienna that served his purpose. B wrote as the instruments of the day allowed and no more - hence the 'moonlight' was written for a 5 octave piano, and not some then none existant ideal 7 octave instrument.

Rod

Peter
09-12-2000, 05:44 PM
When J.C. Bach published his 2nd and 3rd sets of keyboard concertos, they were described as being for 'Cembalo' or pianoforte. Even Beethoven's Op.2 were offered as 'pour le clavecin ou pianoforte'. Now it is quite obvious that Beethoven's sonatas cannot possibly be performed as he wrote them on a harpsichord, yet he had no objection to this publication that I am aware of. Surely the Harpsichord is far less satisfactory instrument to perform Beethoven on than a Steinway ?

Chris
09-13-2000, 02:32 AM
Rod:

I'm not trying to say that he wrote for something that he thought would come later. I just don't agree that nothing can sound better on an instrument that it was not originally written for when that instrument did not exist. I have no idea what Beethoven would think, but on some level, I don't really care - I listen to them the way I like them. Remember all of the times I have expressed fondness for the sound of the pianoforte. (That is not to say I don't like the fortepiano in certain pieces, of course.)

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"Wagner's music is better than it sounds." - Mark Twain

Rod
09-13-2000, 12:05 PM
Originally posted by Peter:

When J.C. Bach published his 2nd and 3rd sets of keyboard concertos, they were described as being for 'Cembalo' or pianoforte. Even Beethoven's Op.2 were offered as 'pour le clavecin ou pianoforte'. Now it is quite obvious that Beethoven's sonatas cannot possibly be performed as he wrote them on a harpsichord, yet he had no objection to this publication that I am aware of. Surely the Harpsichord is far less satisfactory instrument to perform Beethoven on than a Steinway ?

I believe far later Beethoven sonatas than op2 were published 'for piano or harp'. This was done purely for commercial reasons, the harp at that time still being a popular instrument. B was never one to let purism get totally in the way of making money, nor were his publishers.

Rod


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"If I were but of noble birth" - Rod Corkin

Rod
09-13-2000, 01:27 PM
Originally posted by Chris:
Rod:

I'm not trying to say that he wrote for something that he thought would come later. I just don't agree that nothing can sound better on an instrument that it was not originally written for when that instrument did not exist. I have no idea what Beethoven would think, but on some level, I don't really care - I listen to them the way I like them. Remember all of the times I have expressed fondness for the sound of the pianoforte. (That is not to say I don't like the fortepiano in certain pieces, of course.)



I am not totally against the use of the modern piano, for in the right hands it is still capable of producing a large proportion of the 'musical message'. I still listen to many B recordings using Steinways. But ultimately these perfomances are transcriptions because the nature of the instrument always reveals itself, to gain the complete message requires the original instrument. The nature of perfomances today in large halls by definition precludes the use of instruments like the Walter as they are simply not loud enough (one even struggles to hear a Steinway at some halls I've been to), but I do not regard listening under these circumstances as the ideal.

Rod

Chris
09-13-2000, 02:00 PM
Rod:

You could almost say that about playing something on a Yamaha that was written on a Steinway, though (granted, that's a little less severe than your case). Not that I disagree, I just don't find it that important what the original vision was (that did not take into account something we have now) vs. what I like to hear coming out of the speakers. *Shrug*

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"Wagner's music is better than it sounds." - Mark Twain

Rod
09-13-2000, 03:14 PM
Originally posted by Chris:
Rod:

You could almost say that about playing something on a Yamaha that was written on a Steinway, though (granted, that's a little less severe than your case). Not that I disagree, I just don't find it that important what the original vision was (that did not take into account something we have now) vs. what I like to hear coming out of the speakers. *Shrug*



For many people this business is simply not an issue as they like Beethoven played as we usually hear it. In this respect I could be regarded as less of a Beethoven fan, because frankly I find B's music not too engaging played like this - I have many B CDs that I will never play again. On the otherhand you could say I am the ultimate fan as I demand the ultimate from and for the music, things that a lot of others are not concerned about, and am not at all satisfied until I get it.

You pays ya money and takes ya choice!

Rod

Chris
09-13-2000, 09:07 PM
Originally posted by Rod:

You pays ya money and takes ya choice!
Rod

Quite true. That reminds me of something else I was thinking of, though, regarding authentic recordings. Isn't appropriate tempering an even more fundamental thing than instrument choice? Wouldn't true "period" recordings want to reflect that more (as well as the exact frequency of A)? It just seems more important to me.


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"Wagner's music is better than it sounds." - Mark Twain

Rod
09-14-2000, 12:05 AM
Originally posted by Chris:
Quite true. That reminds me of something else I was thinking of, though, regarding authentic recordings. Isn't appropriate tempering an even more fundamental thing than instrument choice? Wouldn't true "period" recordings want to reflect that more (as well as the exact frequency of A)? It just seems more important to me.




These matters are also important. Tempering has always been an issue, for which there is no easy answer, unless you can provide me with one! This could be a topic in its own right. But regarding the frequency of A, todays standard is clearly too high for music of this period and earlier.

Rod



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"If I were but of noble birth" - Rod Corkin

Chris
09-14-2000, 02:51 AM
Originally posted by Rod:
These matters are also important. Tempering has always been an issue, for which there is no easy answer, unless you can provide me with one! This could be a topic in its own right. But regarding the frequency of A, todays standard is clearly too high for music of this period and earlier.

Rod




Right, and aren't there a lot of period recordings that don't take these things into consideration?



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"Wagner's music is better than it sounds." - Mark Twain

Rod
09-14-2000, 04:26 PM
Originally posted by Chris:
Right, and aren't there a lot of period recordings that don't take these things into consideration?



With regard to the frequency of A certainly do. Regarding tempering, musicians were arguing about this 100 years ago I'm sure. I'm not sure what the standard was in Vienna when B was alive. But this whole business is a matter of compromise between negatives as far as I can see. I doubt if this issue is of overriding importance in this debate. The important factors are the piano's action and the manner of playing it. If fps are not tuned authentically I'm afraid I can't tell you why. They sound so different anyway, I am not sure I can tell how they are tempered.

Rod

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"If I were but of noble birth" - Rod Corkin

Chris
09-14-2000, 04:36 PM
It was a seperate question. I was just wondering what you thought.

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"Wagner's music is better than it sounds." - Mark Twain

Zevy
01-13-2013, 11:41 PM
I'm going a bit off the original subject here, but I like a slow tempo myself in the violin concerto. My favourite recording is of Zino Francescatti with Bruno Walter conducting the Columbia S.O. Excellent stereo recording and a broad, steady pace with a rather nervous, edgy sound from the soloist which prevents the whole thing becoming too bland, which it can easily do. Incidentally,today somebody gave me a loan of the new clarinet arrangement of the concerto! Michael Collins is the soloist and the Russian National Orch is conducted by Mikhail Pletnev who arranged the work and also wrote the cadenzas. I have only heard a bit of it so I can't give a proper opinion, but I think the Mozart concerto is safe enough for a while! The new version may grow on me, but B.'s own piano arrangement of the concerto has yet to do that.
Michael

I was just listening to the arrangement for clarinet of the violin concerto. IMHO it is superb. This is as opposed to the arrangement for viola of the clarinet concerto. That was terrible.

Chris
01-14-2013, 01:38 AM
Wow, bumping a 12 year old thread!

Michael
01-14-2013, 03:23 AM
Yes - it's weird reading something you posted 12 years ago.

The old expression "Never put it in writing" really applies to the internet. It will always be out there somewhere and will come back to haunt you.

(Needless to say, I am not casting aspersions on the deathless prose delivered by the members of this revered forum!) ;)