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Subject: Cardillac
From: Genevieve Castle Room <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Genevieve Castle Room <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 10 Feb 2017 00:45:51 -0500

text/plain (105 lines)

It's very clear to me that not a single critic below has ever sat down
and listened
to an audio recording of this wonderful piece....

'Innate chilliness'??!!... 'Endlessly chatty'??!!... 'Sonic grayness'??!!...
'Exhausting'??!!.... 'Typical Hindemith'??!!

I don't even know what 'typically Hindemith' means (though I assume
*Gebrauchmusik*).... His oeuvre has so much variety from beginning to end
(and that includes aesthetic variety).

Ok - here are the six reviewers

>1) Paul Hindemith's youthful opera "Cardillac" (1926) was written to shock
rather than please. Perhaps the most shocking aspect is the innate
chilliness of the piece. Listening to Hindemith's deft weaving together of
disparate musical materials ranging from screeching Expressionism to
conservative choral laments, you were never entirely sure if the composer
was sincere or having you on.

--Heidi Waleson

>2) I am afraid I'm with the nay sayers -- agree with the critic who finds
an absence of emotional variety - it's COLD [sic] music.

--Rupert Christiansen

>3) Opera Boston’s production of Paul Hindemith’s 1926 opera “Cardillac”
answered the question about why the work is so seldom done: It just isn’t
all that great.... The failure of this piece to enter the repertory
alongside such more or less contemporaneous works as Strauss’s “Elektra”
and “Salome,” Schoenberg’s “Erwartung,” Berg’s “Wozzeck” and “Lulu,”
Weill’s “Three Penny Opera” and “Mahagonny,” Shostakovitch’s “Lady Macbeth
of Mtensk’ and Puccini’s “La Fanciulla del West” is not the fault of Opera
Boston, which gave its all to its realization. “Cardillac” is a rarity that
was at the top of the list of operas I looked forward to seeing this season
in Boston. Now that I have, I don’t have to ever again.

--Frederick Hoover

>4) Cardillac is a troublesome work. Yet the story isn’t the problem. The
problem is that the thirty-year old Hindemith was unable to deliver that
variety; he simply could not write music that supports all that emotional
content. His craft is, of course, stunning, revealing an inordinate talent
for shape, counterpoint, and rhythmic momentum. But it falls short of
expressing the varieties and extremes of emotions contained in the entire
story, such as the father-daughter duet, which never reaches the level of
tenderness it calls for. Instead, the relentlessly complex linear textures
and non-committal harmonic language, combined with a lackluster sort of
“B-flat” orchestration, creates an aura of sonic grayness that compresses
all that expression into a rather limited and unsatisfying emotional space.

--Tom Schnauber

>5) Hindemith’s score is, well, typical Hindemith: dense as the text,
contrapuntal and endlessly chatty – Yakataka, yakataka, yakataka in the
woodwinds, sounding rather as if Bach had lived on and eventually turned to
opera. Perhaps if the conductor had allowed the orchestra to accompany
more, rather than playing it as a dramatic symphony with voices, my
neighbour wouldn’t have remarked 'it was as if a machine had been turned on
full all evening'.......Exhausting.

--Nigel Wilkinson

>6) Cardillac is not easy to love [....] Despite having had to play lots of
it, I have never warmed to Hindemith's music, and this opera is not really
to my taste.

--Micaela Baranello


Alas... Hindemith doesn't fit the typical rhetoric of modernism (i.e.,
Stravinsky versus Schoenberg); nor is he exotic enough to count as "Other"
(Shostakovich); nor was he a "good" emigre (Bartok, Milhaud, Weill, etc);
and he ends up sitting comfortably as an "academic" composer in Yale.

All that counts against him....which is a pity.

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