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In Reply to: RE: Nice review, and thanks, but ... posted by rbolaw on April 06, 2017 at 18:40:58
. . . and I was referring to those who pursue their interests within the deep recesses of the academe, where only those who are worthy, those who are acolytes in the service of cryptic knowledge too esoteric for the general public to understand may flourish. Woe be unto you if you go astray from their Delphic pronouncements. Woe be unto you if you dare employ vibrato in 18th-century music! They don't have any good evidence for forbidding it, but they all march in lock-step in pronouncing it forbidden.
Jeez, you can go back to the 50's and see articles by Jacques Barzun warning (in more general terms) of this type of esoteric nonsense, so disconnected from the life of the people.
If you want me to name names, how about if we start with Neal Zaslaw, who in a completely dishonest manner, attempts to completely change the meaning of Geminiani's writing:it [vibrato] only contributes to make their [i.e., the players' or the instruments'] Sound more agreeable and for this Reason, it [vibrato] should be made use of as often as possible.Notice, there are no restrictions on Geminiani's statement, and, yet, for no reason at all, Zaslaw would have us believe that Geminiani was referring only to solo playing, not ensemble playing. Like all too many academicians, Zaslaw molds and interprets the evidence to fit the prevailing academically fashionable theory. Disgusting, really. (It also figures that he was at Stanford for awhile IIRC.) It's not the book learnin' that I have any objection to, rather, it's the idea that the book learnin' is OWNED by the academicians, who then reveal the TRUTH to us plebians from their ivory towers.
A lot of my posts are made when I'm put on hold on the phone at the office, listening to music and sorting through mail at home, or otherwise multi-tasking. Hence the frequent gaffes. I do think that there are some talented musicians who understand that the HIP concept is useful if used in a fluid and imaginative way, not so much if used in a rigid and mechanical way.
Vibrato certainly had an important role in 18th century music and intelligent HIP performers and writers well know it. Singers and wind players produce it naturally and have to make a conscious effort to suppress it. String players have long imitated it in the human voice.
Some writers have commented how in the mid to late 19th and early 20th centuries, as the middle class expanded and large performing venues became more common, music became louder and sharper. Researchers have found (not sure if I can find the cite at this point) that people tend to speak not only louder, but also at a higher pitch, in a larger venue.
To me (and I've discussed this with professional singers), heavier and more prevalent vibrato may well be naturally associated with both louder volume and sharper pitch (as with vibrato above the fundamental, Maria Callas style).
But none of that suggests a dogmatic and complete rejection of vibrato for 18th and early 19th century music.
. . . without channeling Maria Callas! ;-)
Yes indeed, but I was trying to say, it's no accident that more judicious use of vibrato, or lighter vibrato, lower pitch, and smaller ensembles and/or original instruments that are generally less powerful and loud are usually part of the HIP approach for 18th and early 19th century music. It was a quieter, pre-industrial time that called for a different aesthetic approach.
I think it's possible to recognize its value without setting up a HIP v. modern shootout at the OK corral.
"Judicious" use of vibrato and/or lighter vibrato too often ends up as the sonic equivalent of no vibrato.
Lower pitch, smaller ensembles - I'm generally OK with those performance elements (except for one-to-a-part choruses, Josh Rifkin style - that's a no-go for me!).
I don't mind quiet, but I do mind desiccated.
Reproducing as closely as possible the sound the composers themselves or their contemporaries would likely have heard is not an idea you have to embrace or reject fully at all times and in all contexts. The same goes with your critiques, which I certainly don't reject or disagree with entirely and in all contexts.
It's like the "Schoenberg ruined music for 50 years" argument. He didn't, nor was he the savior of Western music he hoped to be. Much to his own disappointment, Schoenberg's ideas were rejected by many of his major contemporaries, never mind his successors. You could argue ultimately he's had an impact in nearly any western music that gives a greater than traditional role to dissonance, but others have had similarly wide-ranging impacts.
There's no need to be rigid and dogmatic on either side with these things, I think.
Yeah, but it's KINDA true - and I say that in spite of the fact that "Verklarte Nacht" is one of my two favorite works ever composed. ;-)
Wow, Chris. You need to get Tom Hanks to star in the movie version... :)
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