I've previously mentioned over at VA that--to this day--Scherchen's Beethoven 5th is my hands-down favorite for its pure energy. (I've not heard every performance available obviously, who has?)
His Berlioz recording doesn't disappoint. The "Witches' Sabbath" (shock) sounds like a Witches' Sabbath! There's a physical import to the playing--by the simple employment of heavier accents, increased distinction between dynamics, abrupt tempo changes and unapologetically "raw" playing if need be.
I know we I veer into the Subjective above, but there are some objective "advantages" which help: the less homogenous orchestral sound of the "past," less-refined wind and brass instrument designs, and the up-front (but warm) mono sound of the recording itself. Mono-phobics take note: Westminster mono's are warm, a touch spacious, extremely "immediate"-sounding as a rule. Did they achieve what Decca did with Boult's first Vaughan Williams cycle? No. (Listen to the Decca Sea Symphony and be amazed.)
In any case one can't fail to note the sheer enthusiasm of Scherchen's London band: are modern musicians just too bored with sounds they make? Is mastering the music too easy? Are modern conductors too embarrassed by subtitles such as "Witches' Sabbath?" Too silly?
I know I'm generalizing, (but it's so fun), and surely there are imaginative conductors out there but in my experience the usual suspects--the Rattle's and Sinopoli's for instance--go too far, perversing and/or distorting the overall architecture too much.
We need a new Scherchen.
This post is made possible by the generous support of people like you and our sponsors:
Topic - Refreshing Scherchen once again: Berlioz' Symphony Fantastique - email@example.com 09:26:39 05/16/12 (13)
- "We need a new Scherchen" - Mike Porper 09:50:42 05/17/12 (1)
- On Norrington - Poles Apart 15:12:43 05/17/12 (0)
- RE: Refreshing Scherchen once again: Berlioz' Symphony Fantastique - hesson11 16:08:43 05/16/12 (1)
- RE: Refreshing Scherchen once again: Berlioz' Symphony Fantastique - firstname.lastname@example.org 18:10:55 05/18/12 (0)
- Yes, that's a brilliant, fantastic Fantastique. - Poles Apart 11:38:43 05/16/12 (8)
- If I dare say--without getting into a vinyl vs CD war.... - email@example.com 00:35:22 05/17/12 (7)
- My CD set of those has 4 discs, is "newly remastered", and... - Poles Apart 15:07:21 05/17/12 (0)
- if he doesn't spin vinyl any more???? - rbolaw 06:15:47 05/17/12 (5)
- I don't. Who is Mr. Poles Apart? nt - firstname.lastname@example.org 08:18:37 05/17/12 (4)