Audio Asylum Thread Printer
Get a view of an entire thread on one page
|For Sale Ads|
In Reply to: RE: Budapest Music Center label and Disbelief posted by Mike Porper on July 09, 2012 at 13:00:55
I am not one to instantly dismiss a conductor just because he was once a performing/recording soloist. Abbado is an example of a pianist turned consuctor who has been quite good over the years, IMO.
Perhaps you missed Ashkenazy's recordings of the Rachmaninoff Symphonies, Symphonic Dances and other orchestral works with the Concertgebouw Orchestra. IMO, one of the better traversals of this wonderful music. And I've been present when he conducted Sibelius, as well as hearing the CDs, and it is definitely not so easily dismissed.
And of course Rachmaninoff was, himself, an outstanding conductor as well as one of the greatest pianists of all time. So I'm not one to generalize.
However, I cannot say the same about Kocsis. His recordings of the Rachmaninoff piano concertos left much to be desired, IMO, and I'm not enamoured of this take on the Rachmaninoff Symphony No. 1.
"Life without music is a mistake" (Nietzsche)
I'm replying to your post, but I'm trying to include ideas from other posts too.
The whole issue of Ashkenazy as a conductor is very interesting. I must say I'm not convinced by his conducting prowess at all, and I didn't think much of those Concertgebouw Rachmaninoff recordings. There have been a couple of posts in this thread indicating that the players love him as a conductor, and that certainly counts for something (and I know that Sir Adrian Boult made some very positive comments about his conducting), but from the excerpts I've seen of his rehearsals, I'm just not that impressed, nor am I impressed by the resulting performances, many of which suffer IMHO from terminal blandness.
In fact, the whole phenomenon that certain conductors are beloved by their orchestras has no correlation IMHO to their resulting performances. I was just thinking about this during the last week in connection with another conductor who, by some accounts, is beloved by the orchestras he works with, and that would be Jiri Belohlavek. For instance, Ivan Moravec spoke very highly of him in a conversation with me, and I had a friend who had an administrative position in the Detroit Symphony who told me that the orchestra members loved working with him. And yet, I was just comparing Belohlavek's performance of Suk's early E-major Symphony with Neumann's, and, to me, the difference was night and day, despite the far superior engineering on the Belohlavek recording. Sometimes, it comes down to the most basic things, such as deciding where the main line (Hauptstimme) is and where the secondary lines (Nebenstimmen) are. When Belohlavek conducts this work, it's all one big mishmash - nothing is differentiated, and it makes Suk seem almost incompetent as an orchestrator. (I'm exaggerrating, but not as much as you may think.) It's as if Belohlavek has no sense of texture at all compared to Neumann in this work. And yet, Belohlavek is a beloved conductor and is even admired by musicians I highly respect (such as Moravec). Go figure.
I feel much the same way about Ashkenazy as a conductor. As I mentioned, I do like many of his earlier recordings as pianist, such as the EMI's now on Testament, and the very early Deccas. But I haven't been moved or excited his performances for quite some time now.
Maazel and Haitink are two other conductors loved by musicians, yet I find their performances (for the most part) dreadfully boring. But I was not aware that musicians loved Ashkenazy so much.
There are recordings in the Ashkenazy/RCO box that I think are better than others, of course, but most of the competitive box sets of Rachmaninoff's orchestral works are pretty bad overall. And Ashkenazy's recording of the 1st symphony in that set is one of the better performances. A bit too civilized, perhaps, but there are parts that he gets right that most recordings/performasnces miss entirely, and for that alone, I appreciate it.
Like you, I prefer his early piano recordings. Love those Deccas.
"Life without music is a mistake" (Nietzsche)
as a conductor by his recording of the Sibelius 4th with the Philharmonia Orchestra, which I thought was a bland, insensitive performance. The disc also contained the very interesting Lounnotar with Elisabeth Soderstrom which I think it's fair to describe as a mess of an interpretation.
It looks like I should reconsider and open myself to the possibility that Ashkenazy did some good things on the podium.
Post a Followup:
Post a Message!
This post is made possible by the generous support of people like you and our sponsors: