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Subject: clarifications re: Mozart & anachronism
From: Leslie Barcza <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Leslie Barcza <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 31 Oct 1998 14:54:39 EST
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I'm enjoying the civil exchange of opinions in the threads re:
Figaro. I would like to make two small clarifications.

1: I don't think I or anyone else ever said even once that the
historically informed school of performers were better; rather, I was
riding to the defence of folks on this list who were being derided for
daring to call Mozart boring.  I simply suggested that perhaps part
of the problem is that Mozart exists in several current incarnations,
including a rather precious and overly sublime composer who sometimes
makes me yawn, and that the newer Mozart might be a good alternative.
I don't think anyone does Mozart a favour by making him a sacred cow,
a cause that one must either be for or against. I grew up on the big
fat Mozart (and Mendelssohn, and Schumann and Schubert, and Handel,
and Vivaldi, and Bach......) and still adore those recordings.

I agree with Mike's statement that "no one is required to listen to
any one style of performance"; but the variety is not quite as
democratic as that. Is there an alternative to companies like the
Met, LOC, etc., that also have huge amounts of funding behind them? I
bemoaned the production by Opera Atelier in Toronto, for example,
because they have no stars. But how soon, in my lifetime will I get
to hear Figaro done so stylishly, and ALSO sung well? When I alluded
to Solti's work on IMMORTAL BELOVED I was stating that this is not
simply a matter of choice, but rather a highly political battle
between groups who want to make money.  Levine, Mehta, and Abbado, to
name three from within that mainstream get loads of airtime; things
will not change quickly even if people have as much nerve as Ed
Rosen ( thanks Ed).

2: I own up to the quote Philip was unable to identify:
[me]    << > Beecham's reading of MESSIAH is now as
        >>anachronistic to modern ears as, to name two examples,
        Korngold's >>style of filmscore or Mies van der Rohe's glass
        box architecture: >>styles that were, in their day the very
        essence of modernity >>
[Phil]  I have no idea whom Craig was quoting here, but I would like
        to ask why Beecham's reading of MESSIAH must be considered
        anachronistic, as also Korngold's film music or Mies van der
        Rohe's style of architecture. As far as I know, an
        anachronism is "the placing of persons, events, objects, or
        customs in times to which they do not belong" or a person or
        thing from a former age that is out of place in the present"
        to quote the 1994 edition of Webster's...
It's the second sense, not the first (cf the waltzes placed in the
wrong period, by Strauss in ROSENKAVALIER). I'm saying that to
emulate the style of Beecham right now would be as out of place as to
emulate van der Rohe or Korngold; to do so would be to use a style
that, while once the most modern style, would now be perceived to be
out of place in this era. But perhaps I was overly optimistic,
because obviously --if the responses on this list are any indication--
some people still want that bigness.

    Leslie Barcza in Toronto    [log in to unmask]

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