Author Topic: M8 in Rotterdam Conducted by Nézet-Séguin  (Read 972 times)

Offline Bruckner1896

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Re: M8 in Rotterdam Conducted by Nézet-Séguin
« Reply #15 on: March 29, 2018, 10:39:42 AM »
I live in Salt Lake City, Utah, and have attended almost all Utah Symphony Masterworks concerts since February 2001.  I attended the three public performances of Mahler's Symphony No. 8 given by the Utah Symphony on February 18-20, 2016, conducted by music director Thierry Fischer, with Markus Werba singing the role of Pater Ecstaticus.  In all three performances, as well as on the commercial recording released in November 2017 on the Reference Recordings record label, I found, and find, Mr. Werba to be a thoroughly convincing performer of that role.  After the final concert, I briefly talked to Mr. Werba while crossing a street just next to the Salt Lake City Mormon Tabernacle, the venue of the performances and recordings, and at that time he indicated that he had sung the role many times already.

As for Mr. Nézet-Séguin, he is too high-profile (and expensive?) to be a guest conductor of the Utah Symphony, but I tend to favor the analysis of Settembrini somewhat, but phrased differently:  the question is often not which conductors are overrated -- aren't they all, at least in some repertoire -- but rather, which conductors are underrated in what repertoire.  So, for example, I would say that our current music director, the Swiss conductor Thierry Fischer, is underrated as a conductor of Mahler, although Dan Morgan, a reviewer at musicweb-international.com obviously disagrees, at least based on the two recordings of Mahler the Reference Recordings record label has released, with Thierry Fischer conducting the Utah Symphony.

Sincerely,

Gregory M. Walz

Offline barryguerrero

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Re: M8 in Rotterdam Conducted by Nézet-Séguin
« Reply #16 on: March 29, 2018, 10:40:48 AM »
I listen to many of the Philadelphia Orchestra broadcasts on Sirius/XM radio and I very much like what I'm hearing. Of course, sometimes there's a guest conducting and not N.-S. I think the current programming in Philly is both good and interesting. Last night I heard a premiere of a wild organ concerto by Christopher Rouse.

I have a 'pirate' of Mahler 8 with N.-S./Philladelphia. I consider it to among the very best in my collection. I can't comment on the Rotterdam performance.

A conductor's job is very much like a quarterback. Their's is clearly the most important position in the hall (although, not always), but the final outcome is a team effort. The people pulling the strings behind the curtain - managers, board of directors, union representatives, recording engineers, etc. - they're like the coaches on the sidelines. They make a big difference as well. Focusing solely on the conductor is like focusing solely on the quarterback.


I find it more accurate to evaluate a conductor's work when you're not seeing them. That way, you're not either 'drawn in' or repulsed by what you're seeing. It's too easy to think that everything you're hearing comes from the baton. 

To give an example, I can't stand watching the Berlin Phil., or the Lucerne Festival Orchestra (same people, for the most part), because the strings and woodwinds twirl their torsos all around the room while they play. It's like watching a giant Maytag. I get seasick!  On a recording, I don't have to see that nonsense.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2018, 11:04:43 PM by barryguerrero »

Offline waderice

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Re: M8 in Rotterdam Conducted by Nézet-Séguin
« Reply #17 on: March 30, 2018, 05:44:52 AM »
I find it more accurate to evaluate a conductor's work when you're not seeing them. That way, you're not either 'drawn in' or repulsed by what you're seeing. It's too easy to think that everything you're hearing comes from the baton. 

To give an example, I can't stand watching the Berlin Phil., or the Lucerne Festival Orchestra (same people, for the most part), because the strings and woodwinds twirl their torsos all around the room while they play. It's like watching a giant Maytag. I get seasick!  On a recording, I don't have to see that nonsense.
Here are two examples of what Barry is talking about, about the "torso twirling".  First, look at this excerpt of Jascha Heifetz playing the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in the film, "Carnegie Hall":

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFaq9kTlcaY

Then, look at this excerpt of Nadja Salerno Sonnenberg playing the Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9pT5dTbQXo

While both violinists are famous in their own right, there's absolutely no need to do all that "torso twirling" that Barry is talking about.  Just execute and play the damn music as written and add nothing visual to the delivery!  Do you see how visual histrionics add nothing whatsoever to the music?  If not, turn your computer monitor off and just listen.

Wade

Offline barryguerrero

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Re: M8 in Rotterdam Conducted by Nézet-Séguin
« Reply #18 on: March 30, 2018, 10:14:22 AM »
Good examples.

I just think that if folks would stop 'glorifying' conductors - believing that great classical music requires a 'correct' interpretation that unlocks a work, like a key - then we wouldn't get these extreme backlashes as well. These extreme polarities are unhealthy and have little to do with the music itself. To me, conductors are just people. And as such, I want to know next to nothing about them. They're a necessary evil. All that matters are the music results, and those results involve everyone who's participating: the percussionists, the first flute, the third stand in the back of the second violins, the substitute harp who came in at the last moment, etc. - everyone.

Offline Prospero

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Re: M8 in Rotterdam Conducted by Nézet-Séguin
« Reply #19 on: April 01, 2018, 03:49:39 PM »
Something of a logical contradiction from Barry. Certainly the communal nature and individual contribution in an orchestra are of the greatest importance. However, the complexity of, say, a Mahler symphony needs both practical and interpretive presence. Even if Mahler in his final years and even illness wanted some mode without a conductor, his whole composing career is based on the need for a conductor. His conducting was apparently extremely intense and detailed.

I am not great fan of baseball umpires, who are far less integral to playing the game than a conductor is in the performance of a complex score.  One solution has been suggested in baseball to use a photo-electronic device to determine balls and strikes. But we do see the deadening effect of video replay reviews that also end up in many cases as enigmatic and mechanical. Maybe you could have an electronic device beating time for an orchestra, set up by an orchestral committee, to coordinate the performance of a Mahler symphony.

One continuing problem, of course, is the monotony of mechanical devices and the bland result of so many committee decisions.

Offline barryguerrero

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Re: M8 in Rotterdam Conducted by Nézet-Séguin
« Reply #20 on: April 02, 2018, 11:08:27 PM »
Points well taken, and I'm exaggerating my point in an effort to get people to stop worshiping conductors (which leads to equally ridiculous, vitriolic backlashes and - sometimes - character assassinations). Can't we just enjoy the music.

Offline Prospero

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Re: M8 in Rotterdam Conducted by Nézet-Séguin
« Reply #21 on: April 10, 2018, 04:00:45 PM »
On Settembrini’s view of his Parsifal that Nezét-Séguin conducts “everything in the same flashy way”?

And it seems that maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin approaches the score with this gentle nature in mind. His tempi tend to be broad, particularly when Wagner calls for lengthy pauses. You could feel the spacing throughout the prelude, the silences introspective and invitations to dig deeper. But what made his interpretation truly unique was the overall restraint you could feel. The entrance of the knights to close out the opening act did not emphasize the march-like nature that is often given grandiosity in other interpretations. Here it remained subdued, the transition more focused on the shift in mood. That isn’t to say that he wasn’t aggressive or didn’t push the Met Orchestra to its full voluminous potential. The music frayed and blistered powerfully throughout the second act as the tensions grew. But it all came back to the level of sublime tenderness in the final act, the final phrases simply divine.

David Salazaar, Opera Wire

Offline barryguerrero

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Re: M8 in Rotterdam Conducted by Nézet-Séguin
« Reply #22 on: April 12, 2018, 09:29:17 AM »
I heard the entire broadcast of the Mahler "Resurrection" symphony last night on Sirius XM satellite radio (Nezet-Seguin/Philadelphia). I was a truly wonderful performance from start to finish - the best one I've heard in many years. The two singers were only average, but that's no reflection on the conductor or the orchestra. It truly was outstanding, including N.-S.'s tempo relationships.

Offline waderice

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Re: Thoughts on the Philadelphia Orch., was M8 in Rotterdam Conducted by NS
« Reply #23 on: April 14, 2018, 07:15:41 AM »
As a regular subscriber to the Philadelphia Orchestra, I'd like to add what I perceive to be a few additional cents' worth to the discussion about Yannick Nézet-Séguin's programming and conducting approach.

Overall, with ANY composer whose works I'm pretty well acquainted with, it seems that NS generally takes broader tempi and likes to add occasional rubato for added effect.  The performance of Bruckner's 8th earlier this season was a case in point, where a work that generally takes an hour and twenty minutes for most conductors to direct, he took easily, an hour and a half.  And the Bruckner 8th was on the SECOND half of the program.

He seems to enjoy giving his players additional freedom to be more expressive (e.g., show off their talents) when it comes to solo parts.  Not "more expressive" in a way that it makes the intent of the music to become vulgar sounding or beyond what the composer intended.  For example, the concert I attended yesterday that had the Bartok Concerto for Orchestra on the second half of the program, was a classic example.  While there was disciplined playing by the first chairs and sections of the orchestra, he allowed for more freedom by his players in execution.  This was totally different than what you would hear in the classic recording of the same work by Reiner and the Chicago Symphony, who demanded STRICT discipline in how they played.

From a programming point of view, Philadelphia audiences seem to enjoy tremendously, either a piano or violin concerto played by a big name soloist as part of ANY concert.  This is quite evident by the enthusiastic response by the audience, which on a Friday afternoon, is generally made up of elderly subscribers.  Yesterday's concert, featured the Rachmaninoff 2nd Piano Concerto played by Daniil Trifonov as part of an upcoming complete Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto package recorded by Deutsche Grammophon.  The response of the audience was probably twice as enthusiastic at the conclusion of the Rachmaninoff as was that for the Bartók.  This week's concert series has in addition to the Rachmaninoff 2nd, the 3rd concerto, on other nights.  I believe that only the Rachmaninoff Fourth remains to be performed and recorded, though I think the First has already been done; I'm not sure.

When the 2018-2019 concert season was announced by the orchestra, fans of Bruckner at the Facebook Bruckner forum groused up one side and down the other when they found out that there would be no Bruckner played next year.  There is one Mahler symphony at the end of next season, M9, conducted by NS.

While the Philadelphia Orchestra is obviously still a favorite with many, regardless of who the music director happens to be, everyone needs to remember that this organization has only recently emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  Not everyone's favorite composer will get played every year (particularly a long work with large orchestra).  Performances of the Shostakovich Leningrad Symphony, the Rachmaninoff 2nd Symphony, and the Bruckner 8th as conducted by NS "ate" up a good portion of their budget.  And the Shostakovich went on the road for performances away from Philly.  The orchestra's CEO recently left and a new one has just been hired.  So the Philadelphia Orchestra still has to take a cautious path for the time being as it still tries to get its feet on solid financial ground.

Wade

Offline barryguerrero

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Re: M8 in Rotterdam Conducted by Nézet-Séguin
« Reply #24 on: April 17, 2018, 10:46:23 AM »
As if that outstanding performance of the "Resurrection" symphony weren't enough, I heard most of a N.-S./Philly broadcast of Mahler 4 that had an outstanding Adagio movement - possibly the best I've ever heard of that gorgeous movement. The Philly strings were, of course, out of this world and the climax was the best I've ever heard it executed (with excellent harps, horns and timpani). The second and fourth movements had plenty of dramatic contrasts in tempi, which the Philly players handled with ease (I missed the first movement). I didn't catch the soprano's name, but she was very good for that part. If that's superficial conducting, then I'll take superficial every time.