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Subject: Re: Cardillac
From: London Tier <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:London Tier <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 11 Feb 2017 19:08:13 -0800

text/plain (139 lines)

Hindemith is one of the mysteries of 20th century music, fallen from the
peak into near-oblivion. Very strange. I was at a concert a few years ago
where Kammermusik no. 1 was performed and totally dazzled the audience. The
wild Hindemith of the 1920s seems to be more appealing these days than the
more sober style after that. Maybe someone (preferably not named Leon
Botstein, lol) should mount a Weimar "Ring" with Cardillac, Johnny Spielt
auf, Irrelohe, Der Zwerg.

This would make a nice contrast with my imaginary American "Ring":
Susannah, Baby Doe, Regina, Vanessa.

On Friday, February 10, 2017, Genevieve Castle Room <
[log in to unmask]
<javascript:_e(%7B%7D,'cvml',[log in to unmask]);>> wrote:

> 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
> ====End====
> 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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