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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000597.txt from 2003/06

From: Karl Krelove <>
Subj: RE: [kl] Vibrato on the Clarinet
Date: Thu, 19 Jun 2003 19:36:09 -0400

I don't necessarily disagree with some of what you've said below, David. My
post had specifically to do with an assertion that newer recordings
generically suffer from a slap-dash approach (under-rehearsal) which
explains their frequently dull and unmusical character, while older
recordings were better, by implication of the original poster, because they
were rehearsed more thoroughly, thus allowing more interesting, musically
inspired results. My question was based on my experience living on the US
East Coast that orchestras here tended to record as a contractual exercise
more 40-50 years ago and often prepared their performances less carefully
than now, when many American orchestras are having trouble finding recording
contracts, particularly to re-record the same pieces that have been done
hundreds of times since the advent of recording.

But since you addressed your reply specifically to me, a couple of more
specific reactions to your points:

> I think as time goes on we are seeing an awful pile of rotten and poorly
> done performances of the standard repetoire.

This goes without saying - "as time goes" of course being open ended back to
the beginning of the recording industry. The longer we keep recording, the
more junk will pile up.

> To add to this appalling state
> there are few great Coductors in the historical sense. Alot of
> conductors I
> have worked under basically have learned a recording and them
> emulate it in
> terms of tempi. This is a rather discorncerting way of learning how to
> conduct. As a clarinetist who works regularly in an orchestra I can
> 100Percent say the conductor is the essence of great orchestral
> playing and
> the key to inspiring players to hang it out there so to speak.

I won't argue your view of the conductor's place in the performance process,
although I'd quibble with the 100% figure. But I don't know what level of
orchestra you play in, so I can't know if you're seeing the best conductors
or simply the parade of time beaters whom less well-known and financially
well-off orchestras have to deal with most of the time. Moreover, the
suspicion that some conductors learn their "interpretations" from someone
else's recording isn't a new phenomenon. In fact Toscanini's often repeated
definition of tradition as "the last bad performance" (or something similar
to that, probably in Italian) carries essentially the same complaint back
before the beginning of recording. He was complaining about conductors
mostly grounded in the 19th century.

> The other thing is what most people don't like to hear is the general
> dumbing down of world through mass cultural brainwashing through TV and
> general media crap. Few 16 year olds I know of like classical music,
> instead we are breeding a real problem by making classical music into an
> elitist bit of nonsense. In Europe this is not the case so much. An
> incredible amount of orchestras of all levels are doing pretty decently in
> Europe in spite of the monopoly of big bands like the Berlin Phil and what
> have you.
This isn't by any means a recent development, either. When I was 16 (40
years ago) I was one of maybe a half-dozen kids in my high school who
willingly listened to anything without guitars in it. "Classical" music has
*always* been an elite interest in the US. I have no first-hand idea what
the state of affairs is in Europe, but my understanding certainly agrees
with yours.

> As to recording schedules I think one just can't concoct inspiration in a
> studio with a copy of the version Herbert von Karajan did in 67 of a
> Bruckner interpretation. some of this stuff is happening and
> sadly I think
> musicians today sometime aren't discriminating enough to hear or want to
> hear the difference.
This is where we differ, I think. Not that I think you're wrong in saying
that trying to knock off a copy of von Karajan's "interpretation" (or that
of any other conductor's whose recordings have attracted enthusiasm over the
years) is an acceptable or useful way to record music. But I think there are
now and have always been enough unimaginative performers (conductors and
others) to account for the bad or merely boring recordings that have always
been produced. I doubt if you've ever played for a conductor who openly
admitted to copying anything from anyone.

> A number of recent records I bought on CD are close to the junk pile or
> resale list for me because I find they have no musical value whatever. A
> recent recording of Brahms with boulez is among the worst interpretations
> ever done in music. In contemporary music as of late I have had some
> trouble with his thinking as well...but then I am off topic.
I don't know the Boulez recording of Brahms you're referring to, nor do I
have a clue as to what other recordings you're complaining about. I'm sure I
could come up with a list of my own, and it might or might not include some
of yours. When you start to characterize something as subjective as musical
performance as "the worst...ever done" I think you've launched into an area
of hyperbole that will only lead down a very dark and endless road.

Thanks for reading.

Karl Krelove

> From: "Karl Krelove" <>
> Sent: Thursday, June 19, 2003 4:56 AM
> Subject: RE: [kl] Vibrato on the Clarinet
> > > ... I will
> > > say too that records are really done in a hurry and with far less time
> for
> > > rehearsal. This transates into more of the older records being more
> > > musical......when you can go and do extra rehearsal and extra
> > > takes you have
> > > something! .
> > >
> > For American orchestras in the 1950's through maybe the '80's
> contractual
> > recording guarantees led to sessions in which standard repertory was
> > sometimes put out on the music stands and recorded with no rehearsal at
> all
> > just to fill commitments. But my impression is that, at least
> here in the
> > US, recording is for a number of economic reasons a much more limited,
> even
> > endangered activity and orchestras, when they can record at all, are
> > generally recording material they've rehearsed, honed and
> refined through
> a
> > regular concert series or even a tour.
> >
> > Do I have a distorted or flat-out incorrect view of the current state of
> > symphonic recording?
> >
> > Karl Krelove

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