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BobLombard
10-26-2000, 05:59 PM
There seem to be nearly as many distinct 'interpretations' of the Diabellis as there are recordings of it. The extremes (that I have heard) are represented by Yudina (very serious everywhere) and Perl (lighthearted everywhere). It has been said that many of the variations are parodies of music popular at that time and played in Vienna's coffee houses; that this work was an act of defiance by Beethoven, showing a Vienna that had written him off as a once-great hasbeen that he was not yet done; that the work was a toss-off answer to Diabelli's challenge.

What was Beethoven's attitude toward the 'challenge'? About the Variations? Toward the people of Vienna at that time? How would B have played the work, if he could have?

Rod
10-26-2000, 07:17 PM
My preferred recording is by Bernard Roberts on Nimbus. He plays with authority and sensitivity and always the tempi are well judged (appart from the theme itself, which I believe is supposed to be vivace but everyone plays it in a rather plodding and superficial manner).

I've heard sories before of B producing works that alledgedly mock the Viennese. I don't think he would compromise his musical professionalism by publishing something that was nothing but a cynical joke, especially if he gave it an opus number! The fact that their is much humour in the work should not raise suspicion, for this humour is often found with Beethoven, usually where you least expect it. Who was the supreme Scherzo writer!!

Diabelli himself thought the variations were the best of their kind, a natural successor to Bach's Goldberg variations. Who disagrees today? Who is qualified to call this work a 'toss off'!!??

The fact that all the other predominant composers in Vienna were contributing may have aroused B's competetive spirit at a time when he was not 'flavour of the month'. Thus one could say it was the competition he 'demolished' and not necessarily the Viennese public.

How would B have played it? I suppose with fire, wit and solemnity, as and when required!

Rod


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

Chris
10-26-2000, 08:08 PM
Hey Rod, remember that recording of the Diabelli Variations that Paul List made with Susan Halligan? You ever listen to that anymore? I think it's pretty dang good, myself. I know you're the kind of guy who generally finds one recording and sticks with it (I am too), but I thought you might have gone back to this one once in a while. What ever happened to Paul, anyway? I haven't seen him around.

Serge
10-26-2000, 08:46 PM
The Variations were four years in the making, so they most certainly were a serious endeavor. Some guy named Paul Bekker said something alluding to the Var. being written for an instrument that did not and will never exist, and, to wit, the expressive range demonstrated over the 33 short pieces is incredible. These were B.'s last piano compositions, the last works written for his favorite instrument, and they do seem to provide a fitting end.

Peter
10-27-2000, 12:07 AM
I think the Bagatelles Op.126 were written after the Diabelli and that they were B's final word on the piano. Interesting to note that amongst the other composers who wrote variations at Diabelli's request were Liszt and Schubert - comparisons with the Beethoven though would be very unfair !

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'Man know thyself'

Rod
10-27-2000, 12:41 AM
Originally posted by Chris:
Hey Rod, remember that recording of the Diabelli Variations that Paul List made with Susan Halligan? You ever listen to that anymore? I think it's pretty dang good, myself. I know you're the kind of guy who generally finds one recording and sticks with it (I am too), but I thought you might have gone back to this one once in a while. What ever happened to Paul, anyway? I haven't seen him around.

Yes I still have Halligans disk. I wrote Paul a lengthy assessment of it which was polite to the extent it was untruthful. I feel her playing lacks most of the authority that Roberts has in abundance. Also some of the slow variations are way too slow even by conventional standards. The recording has more value because of the 'authentic' tuning. I don't like the sound too much either. I haven't played it for a while. I'd like to know what appeals to you in this recording.

I also have a recording by Gulda that is extremely rushed, too fast even for me. It gathers dust also. I still await a fp recording and will pay any price for it.

I don't know what has happened with Paul. Perhaps he still resides 'elswhere'. Or our mystic has found God.

Rod


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

Rod
10-27-2000, 12:48 AM
Originally posted by Peter:

I think the Bagatelles Op.126 were written after the Diabelli and that they were B's final word on the piano. Interesting to note that amongst the other composers who wrote variations at Diabelli's request were Liszt and Schubert - comparisons with the Beethoven though would be very unfair !



Yes op126 are the last, and never a more heartfelt and sincere set of notes been bestowed upon the piano as these.

Yes we must not be unfair to these other men. A one-sided contest is poor sport for a gentleman.

Rod


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

Chris
10-27-2000, 02:27 AM
Originally posted by Rod:
Yes I still have Halligans disk. I wrote Paul a lengthy assessment of it which was polite to the extent it was untruthful. I feel her playing lacks most of the authority that Roberts has in abundance. Also some of the slow variations are way too slow even by conventional standards. The recording has more value because of the 'authentic' tuning. I don't like the sound too much either. I haven't played it for a while. I'd like to know what appeals to you in this recording.

I also have a recording by Gulda that is extremely rushed, too fast even for me. It gathers dust also. I still await a fp recording and will pay any price for it.
I don't know what has happened with Paul. Perhaps he still resides 'elswhere'. Or our mystic has found God.
Rod


Well, I agree with many of your points (the slowness and so on). The reason I like it is that I have never really found a Diabelli Variations that I love. Nor have I really looked for one. It is on my list of things to buy, but it is pretty far down. I like it because it is superior to others I have heard, from what I remember of them. That plus the historical tuning makes it a good addition to my collection. When I do shop around for the "perfect" recording, it will have to be on a Steinway, not a Yamaha C7 piece of crap http://www.gyrix.com/~cgraye/ubb/wink.gif Because it was cheap and good compared to others, it makes a good place-holder, and so I am satisfied with it for now. I guess what I just said sounded kind of negative, so I should say that I thought some of the variations were very well done (I can't remember which ones off hand). Well, those are my reasons http://www.gyrix.com/~cgraye/ubb/smile.gif

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

[This message has been edited by Chris (edited 10-26-2000).]

Peter
10-27-2000, 10:57 AM
Originally posted by Rod:
Yes op126 are the last, and never a more heartfelt and sincere set of notes been bestowed upon the piano as these.

Yes we must not be unfair to these other men. A one-sided contest is poor sport for a gentleman.

Rod




Absolutely agree about the Bagatelles - they are superb. My comparison point with Liszt is that he was only a boy of 12 and Schubert 25 compared to the vastly more experienced and mature B in his 50's.


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'Man know thyself'

Rod
10-27-2000, 02:57 PM
Originally posted by Chris:
Well, I agree with many of your points (the slowness and so on). The reason I like it is that I have never really found a Diabelli Variations that I love. Nor have I really looked for one. It is on my list of things to buy, but it is pretty far down...


Not too far down I hope. Anyway, I can certainly recommend Roberts disk on Nimbus if you can find it in Elderburg! I don't know what piano he plays, but it is modern and the accoustic is ambient. This disk is on sale for £3 in HMV in Oxford St London! I have needed no other since this. You will not find the ideal version until someone who knows what they are doing records it using a Graf or Streicher instrument. Sometimes B's dynamism sounds a little grotesque or uncouth on the modern piano. On the Graf you can bash away as much as you like and the music never sounds over-the-top.

Rod


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

Rod
10-27-2000, 03:17 PM
Originally posted by Peter:
My comparison point with Liszt is that he was only a boy of 12 and Schubert 25 compared to the vastly more experienced and mature B in his 50's.




Whilst I had already contemplated your point, if L and S were, at that time, of a comparable age with Beethoven, I suggest my statement would have been equally valid!

Rod



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

Chris
10-27-2000, 03:26 PM
Originally posted by Rod:
Not too far down I hope.
Rod


I'm planning to get the Cello Sonatas first. Also, I was looking into buying a complete set of Mozart Symphonies on period intruments (Academy of Ancient Music, maybe), and maybe some Handel.


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

Peter
10-27-2000, 07:12 PM
Have you seen the recommended recordings for the 'cello sonatas on this site Chris? there are quite a few versions to choose from, including period instruments.
I'm also thinking of getting the Mozart Symphonies on period instruments - Rod must be having an effect on us !!

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'Man know thyself'

Chris
10-27-2000, 09:04 PM
Nope, I still don't like Beethoven on period instruments http://www.gyrix.com/~cgraye/ubb/wink.gif Mozart, however, is another story altogether.

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

Rod
10-30-2000, 03:18 PM
Originally posted by Chris:
Nope, I still don't like Beethoven on period instruments http://www.gyrix.com/~cgraye/ubb/wink.gif Mozart, however, is another story altogether.



A totally illogical statement if ever I read one. I suppose if you had been around in B's time you would have been one of those describing him as 'ripe for the mad house' hearing the 7th on such instruments? Was B thinking of some fantasy modern orchestra as well as the fantasy Steinway piano?

Rod

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

Chris
10-30-2000, 11:58 PM
I don't care what he was thinking. I care only about what I think sounds good. I think everything up to Beethoven sounds "better" on period instruments. From Beethoven to present sounds "better" on modern instruments. I can accept some arguments that say music should be played on the instruments for which it was written, but that has nothing to do with what I find appealing. I could pay for a CD set with period instuments and sit there and feel proud I am listening to the music played on the instruments that the composer knew, or I could buy a set with modern instruments, and sit down and enjoy the music. Guess which one I will pick?

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

Rod
11-01-2000, 12:50 PM
Originally posted by Chris:
I don't care what he was thinking. I care only about what I think sounds good. I think everything up to Beethoven sounds "better" on period instruments. From Beethoven to present sounds "better" on modern instruments. I can accept some arguments that say music should be played on the instruments for which it was written, but that has nothing to do with what I find appealing. I could pay for a CD set with period instuments and sit there and feel proud I am listening to the music played on the instruments that the composer knew, or I could buy a set with modern instruments, and sit down and enjoy the music. Guess which one I will pick?



By circa 1850 all the instruments used by composers were virually the same as they are now, thus the composers from this time onward (up to today) were (are) composing with 'authentic' instuments. And you accept that composers prior to Beethoven sound better with 'authentic intruments'. Thus, by your own words, Beethoven is unique in the history of music. The only composer who could not write for his own instruments.

What about Haydn and B's other contemporaries, Chris? Haydn's music is greatly elevated on period instruments from what I've heard. Even Schubert is 'saved' to a limited extent.

I'm not even talking about cd interpretations, which are of variable quality with both modern and period styles. I am talking about which intruments have the maximum potental to render B's notes as sound in the manner he would have heard or anticipated in deafness. Bearing this in mind, if you still stick by your assertions, then B was a pretty poor composer, and was only 'saved' by subsequent instrument development.

Rod


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

Chris
11-01-2000, 03:30 PM
Originally posted by Rod:
By circa 1850 all the instruments used by composers were virually the same as they are now, thus the composers from this time onward (up to today) were (are) composing with 'authentic' instuments. And you accept that composers prior to Beethoven sound better with 'authentic intruments'. Thus, by your own words, Beethoven is unique in the history of music. The only composer who could not write for his own instruments.

What about Haydn and B's other contemporaries, Chris? Haydn's music is greatly elevated on period instruments from what I've heard. Even Schubert is 'saved' to a limited extent.

I'm not even talking about cd interpretations, which are of variable quality with both modern and period styles. I am talking about which intruments have the maximum potental to render B's notes as sound in the manner he would have heard or anticipated in deafness. Bearing this in mind, if you still stick by your assertions, then B was a pretty poor composer, and was only 'saved' by subsequent instrument development.

Rod



I think Haydn and others of that period sound best on period instruments (usually). As I have said before, though, my liking Beethoven on modern instruments does not mean he couldn't write for his own instruments. It means something came along which happens to make his music sound better. Beethoven could not have planned for something that did not exist yet. He wrote the best he could for what he had. It was great - far above what anyone else had done. It just happens that something that was invented later makes the music sound better to me. I don't think (unlike you, I would guess) that anything essential is lost in going period to modern instruments. At any rate, I certainly feel more is gained than lost. Still, though, it is just a matter of what I like to hear, and not any matter of musical philosophy, or whatever.


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

Rod
11-01-2000, 05:05 PM
Originally posted by Chris:
I think Haydn and others of that period sound best on period instruments (usually). As I have said before, though, my liking Beethoven on modern instruments does not mean he couldn't write for his own instruments. It means something came along which happens to make his music sound better. Beethoven could not have planned for something that did not exist yet. He wrote the best he could for what he had. It was great - far above what anyone else had done. It just happens that something that was invented later makes the music sound better to me. I don't think (unlike you, I would guess) that anything essential is lost in going period to modern instruments. At any rate, I certainly feel more is gained than lost. Still, though, it is just a matter of what I like to hear, and not any matter of musical philosophy, or whatever.



I'm not talking philosophy, just pure logic. There are important differences between these instruments, not just the sound but also the methods required to play them that affect what we hear also. Why do you admit Mozart may sound better if their is no significant difference? Why did the new instruments not improve Mozart etc. also?

I for one believe that if music does not sound the best on the instruments the composer was considering, then it is not particularly good music. Thus by definition, the fact that you prefer what is essentially a transcription of B's music would, to me, mean that the music has only been 'made good' by men that followed (instrument makers and the techniques employed by performers to play them, in this case) and that, as it most likely stood in Beethovens mind at its conception, the music was something less. By default this must be what you believe, even if you can't accept it. I suggest I have probably spent more cash buying Beethoven's music played in the modern style on modern instruments than everyone else here put together, and I'm telling you it's only half Beethoven. For many people that's all they want, but not me.

Rod

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

BobLombard
11-01-2000, 06:56 PM
Your notion of 'pure logic' is severely strained. Read your message over again, separate opinion from logic, and see what you end up with. Perhaps you'll decide that you and Chris are arguing opinions, which is a useless exersize.

Rod
11-01-2000, 07:30 PM
Originally posted by BobLombard:
Your notion of 'pure logic' is severely strained. Read your message over again, separate opinion from logic, and see what you end up with. Perhaps you'll decide that you and Chris are arguing opinions, which is a useless exersize.

On the contrary, my argument is based fundamentally on Chris's own statements. Where my personal opinions only come into it this is obvious. But you must see the logic contradiction whereby Beethoven, the greatest of all composers, is the only composer whose music sounds inferior on instruments that he made use of daily. This is the 'logic' of Chris's opinion. Not 'pure' logic I admit, but there's a logic answer of sorts that needs to be justified. Unless you see these remarks in a totally different light. There was a time not so long ago when Baroque music was played predominantly on modern instruments, today who would deny that authentic Baroque emsemble offer a vastly superior 'alternative'!! Virtually all the music in the Handel section of the CD stores in London are now 'authentic', many of which are award winners.

Rod

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

Chris
11-01-2000, 11:58 PM
You're still missing the point, Rod. Nowhere to I claim that modern instruments make Beethoven's music better. I only claim that I find his music on modern instuments more appealing. Beethoven on period instruments may be better than all other composers on any type on instuments, but I still think Beethoven on modern instuments sounds better. It's just what I like to hear and nothing more.

Just to continue the discussion, however, I must disagree with this statement:

"I for one believe that if music does not sound the best on the instruments the composer was considering, then it is not particularly good music."

I would accept that in terms of instruments used before the piece was composed, but how can you say Beethoven's music could not sound better on instuments that came after him? There is no way he could anticipate what those would be like. Beethoven did not sit down and say, "Whoa, can't write that - that will sound better in 200 years." He wrote the best he could for what he had. I just don't see "not the same as the composers exact vision" as being the same as "worse". In general, I don't see modern instruments as losing anything essential from their period counterparts when it comes to Beethoven. Different, yes. In a way that matters, no. In a way, I think it makes a lot of sense that I would find Beethoven's music the only music I like "out of context" because if any composer's music could be said to transcend specifics, it is Beethoven's. Now, I know what you are going to say to that - you are going to say that mastery over those specifics is what makes his music great. That is true, but I mean to say that Beethoven's music is far more than the sum of its parts. More so than anyone else's.

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

Peter
11-02-2000, 12:58 AM
Thought I'd chip in here - since Beethoven was one of the first composers to give us really accurate instructions as to how he wished his music to be performed, and knowing as he did that there would be advances in the design of musical instruments (the piano had come a long way in his own life-time)- surely he was rather remiss in not stating that on no account was his music to be played on instruments other than those he was familiar with ? Or do you suppose he thought the piano had reached its full potential and no further developments were possible or desirable?
Now Rod, don't take this as an anti-authentic instrument argument because it is not (and I have a lot more sympathy with your views on this subject than I did at first) - it is rather an argument in defence of modern instruments.

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'Man know thyself'

BobLombard
11-02-2000, 05:18 AM
I'm not arguing modern instruments/forces versus their 'period' counterparts. I have no problem enjoying both, from pre-Baroque forward. I'm saying that the elements of logical argument can be slippery critters. The Sophists in Socrates time utilized that slipperiness(is that a word?). Symbolic logic was invented in an attempt to make logic 'sticky'. A listening preference for modern instruments in performances of Beethoven is not amenable to logical dissection. All that can be said is that such a preference is wrong. Shades of Stalin.

Rod
11-02-2000, 01:54 PM
Originally posted by Chris:
You're still missing the point, Rod. Nowhere to I claim that modern instruments make Beethoven's music better. I only claim that I find his music on modern instuments more appealing. Beethoven on period instruments may be better than all other composers on any type on instuments, but I still think Beethoven on modern instuments sounds better. It's just what I like to hear and nothing more.

Just to continue the discussion, however, I must disagree with this statement:

"I for one believe that if music does not sound the best on the instruments the composer was considering, then it is not particularly good music."

I would accept that in terms of instruments used before the piece was composed, but how can you say Beethoven's music could not sound better on instuments that came after him? There is no way he could anticipate what those would be like. Beethoven did not sit down and say, "Whoa, can't write that - that will sound better in 200 years." He wrote the best he could for what he had. I just don't see "not the same as the composers exact vision" as being the same as "worse". In general, I don't see modern instruments as losing anything essential from their period counterparts when it comes to Beethoven. Different, yes. In a way that matters, no. In a way, I think it makes a lot of sense that I would find Beethoven's music the only music I like "out of context" because if any composer's music could be said to transcend specifics, it is Beethoven's. Now, I know what you are going to say to that - you are going to say that mastery over those specifics is what makes his music great. That is true, but I mean to say that Beethoven's music is far more than the sum of its parts. More so than anyone else's.


We are in danger of running around in circles now, but never mind, it's still better than the totally banale state that BDepot has degraded to. You are right in that I am missing your point, what is the difference between 'better' and 'more appealing'. For me they are mutually inclusive! And what's all this about 'he wrote the best he could for what he had'? It sounds almost apologetic!

With regard to the instruments, an important factor that I only vaguely alluded to earlier is that the progression in development has produced a corresponding change in perfomance techniques, thus whilst the music is actually performed in a differenct manner due to the different nature of the instruments. For example you cannot play a gut strung violin with bow from circa 1770 in the same manner you can a modern instrument and bow with high tension stringing, and this is reflected in the way you interpret the music. The infinitely long decay of a Steinway will encourage more long-winded interpretations of adagios than B could ever have imagined (eg the 25 minute adagio from op106!!). Thus the instrument and the interpretation are unavoidably linked. I could go on about tone thickness, colour, pitch, tuning etc...But fortunately for everyone I won't!

Rod

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

Chris
11-02-2000, 03:34 PM
Rod:

Well, as I said, I don't think the changes that come about as a result of the instruments are important enough to make it a problem. As I said though, you kind of need to judge that piece by piece. Perhaps the real reason I like Beethoven on modern instruments is that I love modern instruments, and Beethoven is the earliest composer whose music can get away with using them (to my ear). I just love the way violins (and other strings) sound now. So clear and perfect. The horns are so much less, well, crappy ( http://www.gyrix.com/~cgraye/ubb/smile.gif) now. And the pianos! The Steinway is the most beautiful sound in the world!

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

Rod
11-02-2000, 04:34 PM
Originally posted by Chris:
Rod:

Well, as I said, I don't think the changes that come about as a result of the instruments are important enough to make it a problem. As I said though, you kind of need to judge that piece by piece. Perhaps the real reason I like Beethoven on modern instruments is that I love modern instruments, and Beethoven is the earliest composer whose music can get away with using them (to my ear). I just love the way violins (and other strings) sound now. So clear and perfect. The horns are so much less, well, crappy ( http://www.gyrix.com/~cgraye/ubb/smile.gif) now. And the pianos! The Steinway is the most beautiful sound in the world!


Interesting you mention the piano and the horn. I've got 2 recordings of B's sonata for horn and piano and the difference between the two could not be greater. One recording is at the same time colourful electric and poignant, the other would send you to sleep, which explains why the work has been neglected until recently. I leave it to you to decide which was the authentic instrument version. I could say the same regarding op11 and op16. It is this colour and electricity that I miss most from modern instruments. Have you not heard Baroque timpani? The drum entry in the Scherzo of the 9th Symphony can never sound so fantastic on todays fat tubs compared with the old drums, which were a product of the battle field and sound pretty terrifying!

If you think the Steinway sounds beautiful I wish you could hear the original Graf used by Badura-Skoda, it's truely the piano of angels!

Rod


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

Chris
11-02-2000, 07:17 PM
Actually, my favorite fortepiano sound comes from a recording I have of Mozart's Piano Concerto 23. Malcolm Bilson plays a replica of one of Mozart's pianos or something like that. Great sound. (Interestingly enough, that is one of the few occations where I think the period horns sound fantastic.)

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

Rod
11-02-2000, 07:57 PM
Originally posted by Chris:
Actually, my favorite fortepiano sound comes from a recording I have of Mozart's Piano Concerto 23. Malcolm Bilson plays a replica of one of Mozart's pianos or something like that. Great sound. (Interestingly enough, that is one of the few occations where I think the period horns sound fantastic.)


I have numerous excellent recordings of B works by Bilson using 5 octave pianos similar to those in Mozarts day. Pieces such as Op2 and 5 especially benefit from these instruments.

The scherzo trio of the Eroica sound fantastic on natural horns, I can tell you.

Rod

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

Serge
11-02-2000, 08:09 PM
All this discussion seems to prove a point I made here some while back; that interpretation is always going to be an issue in classical music and that it is a good thing. I seem to recall some dissention to that opinion of mine, though...
Chris likes Beethoven on modern instruments, Rod has other ideas about that. Personally, I agree with Chris. The sound of modern instuments, which I've grown up around, makes period instruments sound light and flimsy. That is a PERSONAL opinion, and does not forevermore make Beethoven on period instruments useless. Ten years from now, I may have swung all the way round to Rod's side. But if I do, I won't fight with others about my opinion because it is just that: an OPINION. If I'd grown up listening to Beethoven transcribed for panflutes and tribal drums, I'd say the sound of western flutes and timpani are too odd for me to like. It is because of this difference in opinion that leads to diff. interpretations that allows listeners to choose what they like best. Do I like the sound of Bach's organ work transcribed for modern orchestra? Hell yeah! Does anyone else? Doesn't matter to me. It's all opinion.

Peter
11-02-2000, 10:01 PM
I tend to agree with you Serge - I do thank Rod though for changing my opinion which used to be firmly in the 'modern' camp - now I am far more open and can accept performances on either authentic or modern, provided they are of an artistic quality that does justice to B. I think you are also right to make the point that in 10 years time your views will probably have changed - that shows that you have an open and intuitive mind - the only healthy way to be !

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'Man know thyself'

Luis
11-03-2000, 08:18 AM
I once read that one of Bís greatest achievements regarding this variations was to review almost all his piano work. I havenít heard ALL Bís piano music but at least half of it was published and for sure all his Ďmajorí works on this instrument, but still I havenít noticed one single relation to previous works. Am I listening wrong or what I read wasnít right?

Rod
11-03-2000, 12:36 PM
Originally posted by Serge:
All this discussion seems to prove a point I made here some while back; that interpretation is always going to be an issue in classical music and that it is a good thing. I seem to recall some dissention to that opinion of mine, though...
Chris likes Beethoven on modern instruments, Rod has other ideas about that. Personally, I agree with Chris. The sound of modern instuments, which I've grown up around, makes period instruments sound light and flimsy. That is a PERSONAL opinion, and does not forevermore make Beethoven on period instruments useless. Ten years from now, I may have swung all the way round to Rod's side. But if I do, I won't fight with others about my opinion because it is just that: an OPINION. If I'd grown up listening to Beethoven transcribed for panflutes and tribal drums, I'd say the sound of western flutes and timpani are too odd for me to like. It is because of this difference in opinion that leads to diff. interpretations that allows listeners to choose what they like best. Do I like the sound of Bach's organ work transcribed for modern orchestra? Hell yeah! Does anyone else? Doesn't matter to me. It's all opinion.



Well, I've been listening to Beethoven for 15 years, and for half of that time I listened to nothing but modern interpretations, I spent a fortune buying virtually the complete works twice over. Yet I was not happy with most of it, and had to ask myself was it the music itself that was not right was was it something else? Having satisfied myself that the fault lay not with Beethoven, I was forced to look at the interpretation and the instruments. My judgement is not solely opinion. I am not a fan of the old instruments in themselves, it is just that ultimately they are more appropriate. I won't take anyone seriously who suggests that the 13 year old Beethoven was thinking of a Steinway when he wrote the 'Bonn' sonatas. Thus I would like to know when it was that Beethoven suddenly received this revelation that he was really writing for the instruments and playing techniques of 100 years in the future. With those who simply like the sound of modern instruments, well, that IS opinion and I can live with it quite easily. But is has little to do with Beethoven. My own position is firmly rooted in FACT.

Rod

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

Rod
11-03-2000, 12:41 PM
Originally posted by Luis:
I once read that one of Bís greatest achievements regarding this variations was to review almost all his piano work....

If it is being suggested that B was conciously making references to his earlier music in these variations, this is the first time I've heard of such a suggestion. But It's the sort of fanciful Idea one often reads from 'academics' and performers.

Rod



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

Peter
11-03-2000, 03:17 PM
Originally posted by Rod:
I won't take anyone seriously who suggests that the 13 year old Beethoven was thinking of a Steinway when he wrote the 'Bonn' sonatas. Thus I would like to know when it was that Beethoven suddenly received this revelation that he was really writing for the instruments and playing techniques of 100 years in the future. With those who simply like the sound of modern instruments, well, that IS opinion and I can live with it quite easily. But is has little to do with Beethoven. My own position is firmly rooted in FACT.

Rod



Well re. the late Quartets at least Beethoven did say that they were for another age. I think Beethoven was very aware of posterity and knew his works would last and be performed - hence my earlier point - why didn't he stipulate that on no account were his works to be performed on instruments other than those he was familiar with ?
When it comes to Facts, Facts and more Facts (Dickens Mr.Gradgrind comes to mind !) - we know that Beethoven did not say that his sonatas from the 1780's and 90's were not to be performed on a piano of the 1820's. We know that he must have performed Bach's 48 on an instrument disliked by Bach - or was Bach writing for an imaginary future instrument as well ? We have no knowledge as to whether or not Beethoven would have approved of the modern piano - We do know that every composer including and after Beethoven has made use of the modern instruments available . I am utterly convinced that the benefits of the modern piano outweigh the disadvantages and that Beethoven would concur - that of course is opinion !

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'Man know thyself'

Rod
11-03-2000, 05:22 PM
Originally posted by Peter:
Well re. the late Quartets at least Beethoven did say that they were for another age. I think Beethoven was very aware of posterity and knew his works would last and be performed - hence my earlier point - why didn't he stipulate that on no account were his works to be performed on instruments other than those he was familiar with ?
When it comes to Facts, Facts and more Facts (Dickens Mr.Gradgrind comes to mind !) - we know that Beethoven did not say that his sonatas from the 1780's and 90's were not to be performed on a piano of the 1820's. We know that he must have performed Bach's 48 on an instrument disliked by Bach - or was Bach writing for an imaginary future instrument as well ? We have no knowledge as to whether or not Beethoven would have approved of the modern piano - We do know that every composer including and after Beethoven has made use of the modern instruments available . I am utterly convinced that the benefits of the modern piano outweigh the disadvantages and that Beethoven would concur - that of course is opinion !


I suggest that by 'another age', Beethoven meant 'another state of mind' rather than anything to do with instruments. Regarding Bach, I'm sure he was impressed with a piano by Stein that he was shown on some occasion, if my memory serves me right.

The pianos of the 1820's were not fundamentally that different sonically from that of 1800 or earlier, for the action remained basically the same. Or at least not so different that one developes a preference of one over the other. The increase in volume is apparent, but is still within reasonable limits. I have a few recordings of early B pieces played on 5 octave and 6.5 octave Viennese fp's and the essential qualities are the same with both. It is only when you hear the pieces played on early English actioned pianos that the impression changes. One is awar immediately that one is listening to a quite different instrument.

Regarding B and the '48', we have discussed this, and I have stated my position already, in another chain.

Yet again I will say it is not a matter of whether he would have approved of the modern instrument. I suggest if he did, he would have wrote music somewhat differently to what he would otherwise have done for the Viennese fortepiano - which to a certain extent could be regarded as a different instrument altogether. If this is true, then the best option for what he did compose lies with the fp.

The principle value of the modern instrument lies in that it is designed for large concert halls alongside correspondinly large orchestras, however, B's piano music was not on the whole written with such performance circumstances in mind. Certainly not the sonatas and chamber music.

Rod

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

Serge
11-03-2000, 07:09 PM
My judgement is not solely opinion. I am not a fan of the old instruments in themselves, it is just that ultimately they are more appropriate. I won't take anyone seriously who suggests that the 13 year old Beethoven was thinking of a Steinway when he wrote the 'Bonn' sonatas. Thus I would like to know when it was that Beethoven suddenly received this revelation that he was really writing for the instruments and playing techniques of 100 years in the future. With those who simply like the sound of modern instruments, well, that IS opinion and I can live with it quite easily. But is has little to do with Beethoven. My own position is firmly rooted in FACT.

Rod

[/B][/QUOTE]

I'm not disagreeing, Rod! You seem to think no one here believes you when you say Beethoven wrote for instruments of his own time, or that it is just possible that Beethoven would sound more authentic played on such period instruments, but that isn't the issue, really, because it's all true. Like I said, it's personal. Yes, Beethoven played "authentically" is likely more true to the spirit of the music. Doesn't mean, though, that Beethoven's music must ALWAYS be played 'authentically' for the listener to understand the music. Unless I'm completely misreading you, you intend to let the fact be known that B. 'sounds' better on period pieces. For purists, that's likely their position as well.
For people more willing to accept the idea that music adapts through the space of years, then those Bonn sonatas played on a baby grand can sound just as nice and be just as worthwhile as the same played on a fortepiano. The interpretation involved in playing the work on a more resonant piano can even help bring out qualities in the music not apparent before. Just as a painter can produce a painting and 100 years later see the artwork take on a whole new representational meaning. No one can look at anything only one way forever.
I think this whole hornet's nest has lost a little focus, but I would like to reiterate a few things:
1.) Rod is right to say B. sounds more 'authentic' on period pieces.
2.) Chris is equally right to say B. sounds better on modern pieces, no matter when the work was composed.
3.) No matter which position one takes, and whether it's founded in 'fact' (like Rod's) or not makes no difference. The score itself to most works has remained pretty much inviolate over the centuries, so, again, whether you listen to a work authentically or not, you are still hearing the composer's original notes.
4.) The beauty of a free country is often found in the amount of choice people are allowed (even in music!).

While I'm sure this issue will continue, I think I've said my piece. No one here is wrong, because there is no right answer!

Rod
11-04-2000, 04:49 PM
Originally posted by Serge:

I'm not disagreeing, Rod! You seem to think no one here believes you when you say Beethoven wrote for instruments of his own time, or that it is just possible that Beethoven would sound more authentic played on such period instruments, but that isn't the issue, really, because it's all true. Like I said, it's personal. Yes, Beethoven played "authentically" is likely more true to the spirit of the music. Doesn't mean, though, that Beethoven's music must ALWAYS be played 'authentically' for the listener to understand the music. Unless I'm completely misreading you, you intend to let the fact be known that B. 'sounds' better on period pieces. For purists, that's likely their position as well.
For people more willing to accept the idea that music adapts through the space of years, then those Bonn sonatas played on a baby grand can sound just as nice and be just as worthwhile as the same played on a fortepiano. The interpretation involved in playing the work on a more resonant piano can even help bring out qualities in the music not apparent before. Just as a painter can produce a painting and 100 years later see the artwork take on a whole new representational meaning. No one can look at anything only one way forever.
I think this whole hornet's nest has lost a little focus, but I would like to reiterate a few things:
1.) Rod is right to say B. sounds more 'authentic' on period pieces.
2.) Chris is equally right to say B. sounds better on modern pieces, no matter when the work was composed.
3.) No matter which position one takes, and whether it's founded in 'fact' (like Rod's) or not makes no difference. The score itself to most works has remained pretty much inviolate over the centuries, so, again, whether you listen to a work authentically or not, you are still hearing the composer's original notes.
4.) The beauty of a free country is often found in the amount of choice people are allowed (even in music!).

While I'm sure this issue will continue, I think I've said my piece. No one here is wrong, because there is no right answer![/B]

I agree that B's music does not HAVE to be played authentically to get the musical message across, I still have quite a few modern style recordings in my 'a-list'. But they are still essentially transcriptions, albeit very 'close' transcriptions, and this is always in the back of my mind when I listen to them. Thus they can never be 'ulta' first class, which is the standard I seek these days, and for the record I do believe the music sounds better on the old instruments.

With regard to the 'Bonn' sonatas (WoO47) I have recordings of these on a modern and also an old 5 octave piano and after listening to these in comparison, I can safely say that not a single person reading this would select the Steinway version, whose thick tone is wholely inapropriate for music of this nature. And one does not need more resonance than the Viennese pianos offer to play Beethoven correctly. Modern instruments are in fact too resonant to play Beethoven in the required dynamic style. One gets the excitement of an instrument being pushed to its limits using a Walter or Schantz, wheras on a Steinway, one has to holdback somewhat and thus this particular sensation is lost.

Rod

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

Peter
11-04-2000, 07:25 PM
Originally posted by Rod:
Regarding Bach, I'm sure he was impressed with a piano by Stein that he was shown on some occasion, if my memory serves me right.

The pianos of the 1820's were not fundamentally that different sonically from that of 1800 or earlier, for the action remained basically the same. Or at least not so different that one developes a preference of one over the other.

Yet again I will say it is not a matter of whether he would have approved of the modern instrument. I suggest if he did, he would have wrote music somewhat differently to what he would otherwise have done for the Viennese fortepiano - which to a certain extent could be regarded as a different instrument altogether. If this is true, then the best option for what he did compose lies with the fp.


Rod



Yes Bach was impressed by a piano he heard at the end of his life - proving that it is possible that he may have approved even more of a modern piano. I know of no cases where a composer at the end of his life has lamented the innovations in instrumental design during his lifetime- quite the opposite.
I thought the action of the piano had been revolutionised by Erard's double escapement from 1809.
By approving of the modern piano I do not mean had it been available to him then, I mean if he could come back and hear his works performed on modern pianos now that I think he would approve.
I think it ludicrous to describe Beethoven played on modern pianos as a transcription.The modern piano is merely the culmination of 150 years in design. It is as daft as saying that an automobile from 1890 is not the same species as a motor car of today.You imply that there is a change from horse and cart to motor car.That would be a transcription.


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'Man know thyself'

Rod
11-06-2000, 07:09 PM
Originally posted by Peter:
Yes Bach was impressed by a piano he heard at the end of his life - proving that it is possible that he may have approved even more of a modern piano. I know of no cases where a composer at the end of his life has lamented the innovations in instrumental design during his lifetime- quite the opposite.
I thought the action of the piano had been revolutionised by Erard's double escapement from 1809.
By approving of the modern piano I do not mean had it been available to him then, I mean if he could come back and hear his works performed on modern pianos now that I think he would approve.
I think it ludicrous to describe Beethoven played on modern pianos as a transcription.The modern piano is merely the culmination of 150 years in design. It is as daft as saying that an automobile from 1890 is not the same species as a motor car of today.You imply that there is a change from horse and cart to motor car.That would be a transcription.



I admire your nerve in suggesting that Bach's appreciation of the Stein can in some way deduced as an appreciation of SteinWAY! Nevertheless, this is not the issue as I have never said that B would have dissaproved of the Steinway. I just say that he didn't compose for it or even for an instrument of its English actioned nature.

Erard's double escapement action only cured to some extent a fault that existed only in English actioned piano's (as made by Erard themselves). Beethoven described his own Erard as being unplayable and that he could do nothing with it. He even asked if he could have its action replaced with a Viennese one!

I suggest that if B was here today he would accept, regardless of his impression of the modern instrument, that his compositions were better suited to todays fp replicas!

'Transcription' may sound ludicrous to some, but it would sound correct to others. I suggest you compare pictures of the action of a Walter with that of a modern Steinway. I think there is enough difference there to justify my remark.

Regarding cars, why is it that the best of the older models are so valueable and sought after? I'd rather have a Mercedes roadster from the 1930's (or earlier) than one of their current sport models! Quite simply, these old cars have something that time and technology can not improve upon and it still in demand!

Rod

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

Peter
11-06-2000, 10:14 PM
Originally posted by Rod:

Regarding cars, why is it that the best of the older models are so valueable and sought after? I'd rather have a Mercedes roadster from the 1930's (or earlier) than one of their current sport models! Quite simply, these old cars have something that time and technology can not improve upon and it still in demand!

Rod



Having witnessed the old crocs London-Brighton run on Sunday in the pouring rain and seen the people getting drenched as they tried to shield themselves with umbrellas, plus the umpteem 'casualties' on the road-side - I for one am glad of the improvements in technology !
One point that has not been made here in regard to FP's is the frequency of broken strings - whilst this does occur on modern pianos (my Bluthner seems particularly keen on this in the top register) it is rare in performance.

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'Man know thyself'

Rod
11-07-2000, 12:36 PM
Originally posted by Peter:
Having witnessed the old crocs London-Brighton run on Sunday in the pouring rain and seen the people getting drenched as they tried to shield themselves with umbrellas, plus the umpteem 'casualties' on the road-side - I for one am glad of the improvements in technology !
One point that has not been made here in regard to FP's is the frequency of broken strings - whilst this does occur on modern pianos (my Bluthner seems particularly keen on this in the top register) it is rare in performance.


Even the Model T came in a version with a roof, just for people like you! The fact that I regularly break the strings of my Gibson SG does not mean I should dump the best solid electric guitar ever made! I would accept a superior strength modern string on the fp as long as the sound and action remained unaffected (ie if the string was of an increased weight and thus requires a heavier action to activate its sound).

Rod


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

Peter
11-07-2000, 02:28 PM
I agree with you actually ! I would love to own a viennese Erard and to perform Beethoven sonatas on one - my opinion on this issue differs from yours only in that I see nothing wrong in performing B on modern instruments as well (not necessarily a Steinway ! ) - So you have educated me into seeing the argument FOR authentic instruments but I am not convinced by the argument AGAINST modern instruments.

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'Man know thyself'

Rod
11-08-2000, 12:41 PM
Originally posted by Peter:

I agree with you actually ! I would love to own a viennese Erard and to perform Beethoven sonatas on one - my opinion on this issue differs from yours only in that I see nothing wrong in performing B on modern instruments as well (not necessarily a Steinway ! ) - So you have educated me into seeing the argument FOR authentic instruments but I am not convinced by the argument AGAINST modern instruments.


I'll be surprised if you can find a Viennese Erard, Erard is a French company, who became the mortal enemy of Steinway in later years. I suggest the argiments FOR using modern instruments are to do with convenience, finance and commerciality. The arguments AGAINST are to do with music.

Rod


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

Peter
11-08-2000, 01:49 PM
Sorry for the mistake - I knew Erard had a French base, but I thought there was also a Viennese factory as well.
With quite a few firms now offering reproductions of Fortepianos it will be interesting to see further developments and if your commercial arguments really hold up.

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'Man know thyself'

Rod
11-09-2000, 02:34 PM
Originally posted by Peter:
Sorry for the mistake - I knew Erard had a French base, but I thought there was also a Viennese factory as well.
With quite a few firms now offering reproductions of Fortepianos it will be interesting to see further developments and if your commercial arguments really hold up.


B's Erard was a gift like his Broadwood, I'd be surprised if E would make such an instrument in Vienna as its nature did not suit the Viennese taste at that time. But I can't say for sure about whether any were made outside France at that time.

I was unaware that firms were making fps in any quantity, all the reproductions I have heard have been made virtually by individuals and are unfeasibly expensive. Of course there is the further element as to whether performers in large numbers would actually appreciate these instruments and thus have the desire to play them. Time will tell, but for me the halcyon days of the fp revival have already come and gone, so perhaps the desire will never come regardless of price. By Commerciallity, what I meant does not really concern the initial price, it concerns how much money you can potentially earn by playing.

Rod

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