Guest Cynic Posted May 22, 2009 Share Posted May 22, 2009 Clearly Cynic hasn't heard the Koopman recording of the B minor P & F or he might be tempted to express himself in rather less conciliatory manner. The reaction of Mr Kemp and Mr Corr and others is entirely understandable; there seem to me to be a number of factors which lead to their dismay. First, and it's not Koopman's or anyone's fault but the organ is very sharp; my own pitch memory plays me false all too often these days but it sounds closer to C sharp minor than C. This in itself can be unsettling even if you don't have pitch memory. But surely the performance of the Prelude must take the palm (if that is le mot juste) for the most rhythmically slipshod and careless performance of any piece not only committed to disc but presented in any form as a performance. There is nothing "free" about it; it sounds like the effort of an enthusiatic but incompetent amateur, which is not how I have viewed Mr Koopman as a performer in the past. Cynic has made a large number of quite excellent recordings and he would never to allow such poor, unrhythmical and uncontrolled technique to be issued on a recording. Nor would his producer! It's almost worth having the recording just to remind ourselves of how bad a commercial recording can be. What an appalling offering to foist upon the public! The fugue, I feel, fares better, although the player sounds quite uninterested in what he is doing. On the question of speed, I have thought from time to time about the tempo of the fugue, and I wonder whether anyone would agree with me that usually one can gauge the most effective speed of a piece not from the opening bars but more likely from a passage in the middle: bars 37 and on for a few, if taken too slowly can over-emphasise the fact that they are little more, dare I say, than high class note spinning; rather like similar passages in the BWV 565 fugue. Mr Kemp raises another interesting point; how many of us interpret the music we play and direct as a result of having heard it that way many times in the past. We have got used to it and it sounds comfortable and familiar. Of course, it isn't always wrong, but going back to the score and revising it afresh can sometimes yield surprising results. When Benjamin Britten recorded Elgar's Dream of Gerontius many critics found the result unfamiliar and often unacceptable; the trouble was that in almost every case what Britten did was what Elgar had directed in the score! (I think I may have bored for Britain before on this subject . . .I plead that I have done nothing wrong and it's all within the rules). Must go and deal with the other hornet's nest . . . David Harrison Awfully sorry, but I did listen to the recording that Richard McVeigh kindly linked to, earlier in the topic. Of course, the broadcast might have been of another Ton Koopman version. We don't all have to like the same things, so it should not worry you that I found this version pretty rivetting actually. Yes, it was fractionally irritating at times, but we all have ideal interpretations already in our brains, so the shoe often chafes a little! I am naturally flattered by any kind remarks about my own work, but for me, this was a rhythmical performance although the rhythm was (in a totally natural way IMHO) distorted a little by the use of agogic accents here and there (lingering on certain chords or cadences to bring them out). Put it this way, rhythmically speaking, I have heard many many worse. Those who play like automata for instance to me being more or less equally bad as those who cannot keep to a consistent beat at all. To my ears it was a little fast but it still comes across as totally committed and sincere playing. If this performance or my views upset anyone, I'm sorry. I believe variety is the spice of life and to hear another slant (even a sharp one) on a masterpiece must surely be healthy, even if it is (obviously) not for every palate. Your comment about determining the ideal speed from some particular feature later in the movement I entirely agree with. In this case, a speed that sounds appropriate for the later pedal entry (the one which is not the subject) would determine it for me. Played too fast, that interpolation seems frivolous or only of passing significance, which it isn't. My ideal speed would certainly be slower than this recorded version, but what right have I to say that my opinion is any more valid than anyone else's?! Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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