11 von 12 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
- Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
This rather earlier book of the famous, and now perhaps also infamous, musicologist Richard Taruskin is an excellent read on many subjects of music. The book was published in 1995, it is a collection of essays, and although it is already quite radical on many points, it is not yet as extremist as Taruskin's later writings. In 1995 there are still 6 years before Sep 11, and life is peaceful, beautiful and prosperous. Taruskin tells us that "A humanist has been defined as one who rejects authority but respects tradition." At that moment, he still finds it "so dispiriting, and ultimately sinister" when rhetoric is taking the opposite track "respecting authority and rejecting tradition" - exactly a position he takes himself some 13 years later, i.e. today.
However, in those glorious past days, he is more preoccupied with musical, not political dilemmas, and his erudition is astounding. The book touches on many issues. I liked his essay on modern vs traditional approach in interpretations; he provides a marvelous excursion in the past, speaking of enormous liberties conductors like Richard Strauss, Hans Pfitzner, Willem Mendelberg were taking with the score, in particular, with Beethoven. He gives a lot of credit to Toscanini, who was the first one to play "com'e scritto", whatever it meant for the Maestro, however. He notes that the speedy tempos of Toscanini were lauded during his days by German and Austrian audiences, and that future conductors, as Furtwangler and Scherchen, are already examples of the Glacial Shift theory, according to which performances have been getting steadily slower.
Taruskin's favorites are clearly defined. He prefers Nicholas McGegan in Handel, Nicolaus Harnoncourt in Bach, and in Mozart, he esteems Frans Bruggen, Malcolm Bilson and John Eliot Gardiner. His rage and fury are targeted on Christopher Hogwood's Beethoven, while he praises much Roger Norrington in the same First Symphony. Along the lines of his argument, Taruskin tells interesting stories of Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Schubert, their famous expressions and dialogs with their teachers, which make it somewhat an entertaining read, although in no way Taruskin's writings are an easy read - his vocabulary is extensive, and his constructions are rather complex.
I also liked very much the chapter "Resisting the Ninth" - an essay on Beethoven's Symphony No. 9. Taruskin reviews in particular the recording under the baton of Roger Norrington, but he gives extensive background on this opus, and to my amazement, I learned that in the 19th century this symphony was viewed as "eccentric, unconnected, and incomprehensible; the fourth movement of it so monstrous and tasteless, and inits grasp of Schiller's Ode so trivial" - this all is according to Louis Spohr, a musician who played for the composer conducting. Then Fanny Mendelshon, whose brother dicrected it in Dusseldorf premier in 1836, wrote that the symphony was "in parts abominable...a burlesque". Taruskin explains that the only musicians who embraced the Ninth without reservation were those "whose own aesthetic program it could seem to validate", i.e. Wagner, and later Brahms in his First Symphony, Frank, Bruckner, Mahler. This chapter is truly full of the most interesting facts and ideas, and is marvelously written.
Taruskin's essays on Mozart was also valuable. Naturally, he is dismayed by commercialization of Mozart and by sentimental approach to his art. It was personally intriguing for me to find that Taruskin sees Mozart as a tragic figure, which is quite close to my own view on Mozart's music, that it is not at all cheerful as it is frequently served to the "faceless mass" (per Taruskin), but rather that his music is full of melancholy. Taruskin's essay does not mention Salieri specifically, but he concedes that Mozart's music was more complex that his contemporaries, and was viewed as brash and overspiced for an average listener. "Too many notes, my dear Mozart, and too beautiful for our ears." - complained Emperor Joseph II at a rehearsal of Die Entführung aus dem Serail.
Perhaps the most controversial idea expressed in the book is concerning Bach. Taruskin claims that "Anyone exposed to Bach's full range knows that the hearty, genial, lyrical Bach of the concert hall is not the essential Bach. The essential Bach was an avatar of a pre-Enlightened - and when push came to shove, a violently anti-Enlightened - temper. His music was a medium of truth, not beauty. At the truth he served was bitter. His works persuade us - no, reveal to us - that the world is filth and horror, that humans are helpless, that life is pain, that reason is a snare."
However, this seems to reflect on the author's inner ideas about life, and ironically such views made him come to his later conclusions, expressed in "The Danger of Music". I think everyone has her own Bach, and to view the glass is as half-full, one can retort by saying that Bach music is full of hope and vigor, its intrinsic beauty persuades us that humanity is also genius and bliss, that life is creation, that reason ultimately prevails over horror, that inspiration is divine. That to me seems to be the ultimate conclusion of Bach, but not an intermediary means he uses to show filth and horror, only to bring the listener to the enlightened end, which is the magic of music. But as with everything, each man worships his own Bach and tends to his own garden.
Overall, this is a great book to learn a lot, while keeping in mind that even in 1995, the author was already criticized of his blunt, if not offensive language, and of his "tired neo-Marxist attempt to make music slave of history"; yet I still adore his passion in this book; he is very opinionated and controversial, but never boring. The book is bigger than any review of it. Recommended.
13 von 22 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
- Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Taruskin's contribution to the "authenticity" debate needs no introduction: indeed, his central point - that using documents does not mean an "authentic" performance has been achieved - is clearly important. Yet it also happens to be a rather obvious, even basic, one, and the credibility of his arguments are lacking in light of the following -
1. Apparently, HIP [historically informed performance] is not aiming to recreate the past but is instead only interested in the 'shock of newness' [p.79]. Thus, the 'Brüggens and Bilsons' are "authentic" not through 'historical verisimilitude' but by being 'a true mirror of late twentieth-century taste' [p.166]. Unfortunately for Taruskin and his disciples, this proposition is too simplistic. If the sole aim was to pander to the ideal of what's in and what's new, why bother with any documents at all? (After all, Wendy Carlos and the Swingle Singers etc managed to create 'new' performances of Bach, WITHOUT such slavish recourse to documents). When sources as prescriptive as Quantz ('Versuch einer Anweisung die Flöte traversiere zu spielen', 1752) and Starke ('Wiener Piano-Forte-Schule', 1819-21) etc are consulted, it is somewhat illogical to argue that a brand new performance style has been created. [The fact that they may sound brand new to us is a totally separate issue.] It is quite obvious that no performance of today can completely recreate the past, but unfortunately that DOES NOT justify his argument that they are merely - 'new'. They are - in fact - a hybrid. To draw a non-musicological parallel, reconstructed Viking longhouses - based on, for example, the extant remains of the houses of Skallaholt and Isleifstadhir in Stöng (Iceland) - are SURELY not 'new' houses just because they use 21st-century thatch and turf, because they do not feel and smell the same to us as they would have done to Viking inhabitants, or because it is a contemporary concept to reconstruct historical houses. They do not, for example, have central heating, fitted carpets or a TV set.
2. R.e: the supposed fraudulent claim of the likes of the Hanover Band to having presented Beethoven's music 'in a form he would recognise' [p.204-5]. In addition to the point made above (i.e. Beethoven would perhaps 'recognise' a Stein or Walter piano above a Yamaha synthesizer, etc) one further observation must be made. Taruskin claims that this statement implies that other performances cannot also be 'in a form he would recognise' - but they do NOT say this. They do NOT say that others are unable to attempt similar reconstructions and in fact, they do NOT even say that other performers SHOULD TRY to attempt similar reconstructions!! Neither Taruskin nor any of his flock have provided a concrete example of an early music group who claim that their version of the work in question - AND THEIRS ALONE - is THE correct rendition, down to the last breath, fermata and accent (bravo chaps!). However, I'd be delighted for someone to offer Taruskin a helping hand here...
3. In order to substantiate his arguments, Taruskin peppers his points with invented facts and contradictions. The Tallis Scholars, for example, are cited as contributing to the modern obsession with countertenors [p.165] - this in spite of the fact that by near-unanimous agreement, their overriding characteristic is actually their use of...SOPRANOS. Taruskin then continues his countertenor-revolution hypothesis by citing Gothic Voices. But hang on a minute...their complete discography [21 CDs to date] has NO SINGLE EXAMPLE OF A COUNTERTENOR [the top voice is either a contralto or a tenor, and in some rare cases a soprano]. Compare this error with p.352, where he does indeed notice (congratulations, Mr Taruskin) that the top vocalist is - in fact - MARGARET Philpot (i.e. a WOMAN). And yet another careless contradiction (just how many are there?) - compare his comments on indicated tempo markings in Brüggen's Beethoven performances on p.164 and p.229...
4. Taruskin's aesthetic preference for "traditional" performances (despite occasional attempts to look balanced) is so obvious that we can conclude only this: 'Text and Act' is simply a ragged apologia for conventional interpretations. One example will suffice: Taruskin praises the 'air of excitement' about Beethoven performances which are - even by his own admission - 'scrappy studio' versions, such as those of Scherchen and Liebowitz. Indeed, he finds - 'anything' - preferable to Hogwood's, 'all cloaked up in the mantle of authenticity' [p.226-7]. In addition, anyone who is still unsure about Taruskin's aesthetic leanings need only hear his renditions of Medieval and Renaissance music made with the Columbia University Collegium Musicum between 1970-75 (available via Minstrel Records); for whilst these can certainly be considered as "authentic" in his understanding of the word (i.e. as a reflection of late twentieth-century taste), it is patently clear that they are far removed from "authentic" (as it is normally understood), with their Orff-inspired orchestrations and beefy warbling.
It is this final point which undoubtedly highlights the main issue here. If you hate "authentic" performances, you will obviously find his arguments wonderfully persuasive. If, however, you do not hate "authentic" performances, you will find his arguments far too extreme to convince entirely. It's certainly fabulously entertaining (e.g. 'sew that into a sampler and hang it on the wall', p.231) - but is it scholarship...? That, ladies and gentlemen, is for you to decide.
Sirven a mi nombre todos mucho o poco, pero no ay hombre que piense ser loco...