Roger Norrington; from HIP to MAD?

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Belle
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Roger Norrington; from HIP to MAD?

Post by Belle » Thu Mar 09, 2017 1:15 pm

Yesterday I was watching a performance, on subscription TV, of the Brahms Violin Concerto; the Adagio movement only. (Normally I would want to see the complete work but they have a program called "Intermezzo" where you get mostly excerpts from performances.) I don't recall seeing the name of the splendid female violinist, but the Montreal SO was the orchestra, recorded at the Maison Symphonique (I'd never heard of this before). Roger Norrington was conducting from a chair.

Right away there was something very different about this performance. The sense of an overarching cantilena line - so much a hallmark, for me, of the music of Brahms - had been substituted for a series of almost clipped individual phrases from the instrument groups. Norrington was shaping the work according to his HIP aesthetic with late 18th/early 19th century works. Vibrato was MIA. I loved his Schubert #9, recorded so many years ago, but in his feverish desire to invoke the past he seems to have taken something away from Brahms. The same thing happened to Symphony #1 when it was performed by a South German orchestra at the Proms last year. Some people loved it, claiming that vibrato in the strings section was never a part of Brahms's sound world and that surely Norrington was performing the music according to its original conventions. We have some very early recordings (one from 1913, I think) of Beethoven conducted by Arthur Nikisch and there is some truth to this, from what I've heard. Nikisch was, of course, a friend of Brahms.

Norrington is obviously in demand around the world and it must be because the audiences want that sound he creates. It demonstrates to me the professionalism of orchestral players who may be used to playing a work more conventionally but then accept a totally new interpretation, irrespective of whether or not they are in agreement with the way it is conceived by a particular conductor. This Norrington Brahms was a radical departure, for me.

And what of the soloist? She might need to be convinced about the clipped phrasing because she will almost certainly be using those longer phrasing lines so characteristic of Brahms. What compromises, if any, did she make?

The experience raised these issues for me as a listener.
Last edited by Belle on Thu Mar 09, 2017 2:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

maestrob
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Re: Roger Norrington; from HIP to MAD?

Post by maestrob » Thu Mar 09, 2017 1:52 pm

Hello, Belle.

1) It would really help if you would post the excerpt you're talking about, but I'm assuming that's not possible or you would have done it already. :)

2) Norrington is not one of my favorite conductors, although his Beethoven I find uneven there are some interesting ideas in it.

3) I would hazard a guess that the soloist made compromises in order to work with Norrington, and restudied the music with him during preparation.

4) I'm not an HIP fan when it comes to Brahms only because no one has yet persuaded me. For the record, my favorite Brahms Violin Concerto is Heifetz/Reiner/Chicago, and my best set of the Symphonies is Solti/Chicago.

Belle
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Re: Roger Norrington; from HIP to MAD?

Post by Belle » Thu Mar 09, 2017 2:03 pm

This would have been the performance, but I can't find it anywhere to let you hear for yourself what I'm talking about.

http://www.mezzo.tv/en/our-programs/con ... __15042015

It was the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. ("Maison" means "house" so that's obviously the VENUE and not the name of an orchestra. There's often wrong information on the graphics which attach to "Mezzo" performances on "Intermezzo". They should have mentioned the orchestra, and NOT the venue. At other times, these serial offenders get the name of an entire work completely wrong!!)

Modernistfan
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Re: Roger Norrington; from HIP to MAD?

Post by Modernistfan » Thu Mar 09, 2017 4:19 pm

In my opinion, Norrington is one of the worst offenders in the HIP coterie. For one thing, concerning performance of Brahms orchestral works, if vibrato were not to be used, wouldn't conductors such as Otto Klemperer, who started conducting when Brahms was still alive but lived long enough to make stereo recordings of his music, have been using far less vibrato than the current norm? This certainly is not the case for the Klemperer recordings that I have heard.

The real problem with Norrington is that he likes to substitute his judgment (flawed as it is) for not only the performance tradition of a work, but in many cases, the express wishes of the composer. A blatant example is Berlioz's "Symphonie Fantastique." Berlioz, who wrote extensively about his own music, had suggested that the ideal orchestra would be something like 130 players or even more. So what did Norrington do when he recorded the work? He cut the size of the orchestra down to about 60, on no authority other than his own! Believe me, it takes real talent to make the last two movements of that work, "March to the Scaffold" and "Dream of the Witches' Sabbath," sound boring, but Norrington somehow manages it.

Belle
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Re: Roger Norrington; from HIP to MAD?

Post by Belle » Thu Mar 09, 2017 4:37 pm

The orchestral forces of the Montreal Symphony were diminished for Norrington's performance of the Brahms. I forgot to mention that earlier.

I agree with your comments. When I think of somebody like Kleiber, just as one example, and his beautiful readings of Brahms #2 and #4 it makes me wonder why Norrington is in demand at all. And, having seen an unshaven Norrington in hospital-style livery for his contribution to the film 'In Search of Beethoven', I began to wonder about his mental state.

Still, as I mentioned earlier, there are enthusiasts for Norrington's 'revisions' of the repertoire from Schubert onwards. I can only imagine the fate of the Schumann symphony, on that same program, in his hands. :roll:

maestrob
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Re: Roger Norrington; from HIP to MAD?

Post by maestrob » Fri Mar 10, 2017 11:47 am

Modernistfan wrote:
Thu Mar 09, 2017 4:19 pm
In my opinion, Norrington is one of the worst offenders in the HIP coterie. For one thing, concerning performance of Brahms orchestral works, if vibrato were not to be used, wouldn't conductors such as Otto Klemperer, who started conducting when Brahms was still alive but lived long enough to make stereo recordings of his music, have been using far less vibrato than the current norm? This certainly is not the case for the Klemperer recordings that I have heard.

The real problem with Norrington is that he likes to substitute his judgment (flawed as it is) for not only the performance tradition of a work, but in many cases, the express wishes of the composer. A blatant example is Berlioz's "Symphonie Fantastique." Berlioz, who wrote extensively about his own music, had suggested that the ideal orchestra would be something like 130 players or even more. So what did Norrington do when he recorded the work? He cut the size of the orchestra down to about 60, on no authority other than his own! Believe me, it takes real talent to make the last two movements of that work, "March to the Scaffold" and "Dream of the Witches' Sabbath," sound boring, but Norrington somehow manages it.
Agree with you on these comments. Norrington doesn't seem to want music to flow: he has interesting ideas, but they don't always hang together. The Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique and his Verdi Requiem bear me out if you listen carefully. There's no sense of architecture there.

Belle, I clicked on your link to the Brahms/Schumann concert, but couldn't figure out how to play it. Does one have to be a subscriber to listen?

jserraglio
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Re: Roger Norrington; from HIP to MAD?

Post by jserraglio » Fri Mar 10, 2017 1:06 pm

I am certainly no fan of Norrington, except for the early Argo LPs, but to my surprise I liked his recent live RVW cycle 2008-16 with the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin (minus the 7th). So does a friend of mine, a VW enthusiast I burned them for.

RVW Syms 1-6, 8-9.Norrington/Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin

Recorded May 12, 2013, Philharmonie, Berlin
Broadcast: kulturradio rbb, June 2, 2013
Symphony No. 1 "A Sea Symphony"
Lisa Milne soprano
Simon Keenlyside baritone
Rundfunkchor Berlin
Einstudierung: Joe Miller
======================================
Recorded December 9, 2012, Philharmonie, Berlin
Broadcast: DKultur live
Symphony No. 2 in G major “A London Symphony“
======================================
Recorded December 8, 2013 Philharmonie Berlin
Broadcast by RBB Kulturradio on December 22, 2013
Symphony No. 3 "A Pastoral Symphony"
======================================
Recorded January 8, 2015 Philharmonie Berlin
Broadcast by RBB Kulturradio on January 24, 2015
Symphonie No. 4 in F minor
======================================
Recorded May 1, 2008, Philharmonie, Berlin
Broadcast: DKultur, May 2, 2008
Symphony No. 5 in D major
======================================
Recorded June 10, 2015, Philharmonie Berlin
Broadcast DKultur June 11, 2015
Symphony No. 6 in E minor
======================================
Recorded November 20, 2016, Philharmonie Berlin
Broadcast by Deutschlandfunk November 27, 2016 DVB-S
Symphony No. 8 in D minor
======================================
Recorded June 7, 2016, Berliner Philharmonie
Broadcast by RBB Kulturradio July 9, 2016 DVB-S
Symphony No. 9 in E minor
Last edited by jserraglio on Fri Mar 10, 2017 1:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

maestrob
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Re: Roger Norrington; from HIP to MAD?

Post by maestrob » Fri Mar 10, 2017 1:41 pm

I would never have thought that Norrington would be interested in RV-W. Thanks for the tip, but I already have Boult, Previn and Slatkin. I must say, you've piqued my curiosity, though. :)

jserraglio
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Re: Roger Norrington; from HIP to MAD?

Post by jserraglio » Fri Mar 10, 2017 1:50 pm

maestrob wrote:
Fri Mar 10, 2017 1:41 pm
I would never have thought that Norrington would be interested in RV-W. Thanks for the tip, but I already have Boult, Previn and Slatkin. I must say, you've piqued my curiosity, though. :)
Me too. Both mono and stereo Boult cycles. A real shocker b/c I have always prided myself on hating Norrington in anything but the EM I love, viz. Argo LP, Schutz, Matthaus-Passion.

Belle
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Re: Roger Norrington; from HIP to MAD?

Post by Belle » Fri Mar 10, 2017 4:43 pm

@maestrob:

There isn't anything on U-tube available for that performance. Somebody will usually post a "Mezzo" presentation but not in this case, apparently. I provided the link to show which actual performance it was.

I have issues with HIP exponents gravitating to more romantic repertoire taking their rather rigid performance practice ideologies with them - especially when we have recordings made by conductors while the composers were alive, as was earlier suggested about Klemperer.

In the case of RV-W, I can only assume Norrington has - at this late stage - decided to join his colleagues in search of further insights into 20th century composers.

jserraglio
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Re: Roger Norrington; from HIP to MAD?

Post by jserraglio » Sat Mar 11, 2017 11:39 am

Belle wrote:
Fri Mar 10, 2017 4:43 pm
In the case of RV-W, I can only assume Norrington has - at this late stage - decided to join his colleagues in search of further insights into 20th century composers.
Apparently, he was performing and recording VW as far back as 1996. Who knew?
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=kQ1GSTm1QT0



https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=-UubLxTTXtc



https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=0Uv4lJsu0Jw



https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=M11YIgtbTHM



https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5qzM_-Gwk1w




https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=MLQ9558qS90


maestrob
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Re: Roger Norrington; from HIP to MAD?

Post by maestrob » Sat Mar 11, 2017 12:52 pm

Wow! Thanks for all of those. I noticed that the complete set you mentioned is no longer available, either on amazon or from MDT. I'll explore the above during the next few days & post my opinions here.

jserraglio
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Re: Roger Norrington; from HIP to MAD?

Post by jserraglio » Sat Mar 11, 2017 1:04 pm

maestrob wrote:
Sat Mar 11, 2017 12:52 pm
I noticed that the complete set you mentioned is no longer available, either on amazon or from MDT.
I just listened to the Sixth with the SFSO and was much taken with the passionate reading. No rigid phrasing that I could detect. The DSOB cycle (- the 7th) was never issued. They were broadcast from Germany and made available on Symphonyshare. I almost passed on them b/c I was so certain RN sucked in Classic & Romantic era repertoire. I believe Job was substituted for the Seventh, but I haven't heard it. I believe the LPO recs are from Japan Decca, most dating from 1997. I sampled them and they sound great even in 128k lossy.

maestrob
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Re: Roger Norrington; from HIP to MAD?

Post by maestrob » Sat Mar 11, 2017 2:14 pm

Just listened to the Thomas Tallis piece. It seemed all right until the accelerando at the climax, when the phrasing suddenly became disjointed and the tempo was too fast. This piece is hard to bring off: only Ormandy and Morton Gould manage to get it right for me, so Norrington is up against stiff competition. Grade: D

maestrob
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Re: Roger Norrington; from HIP to MAD?

Post by maestrob » Sun Mar 12, 2017 10:56 am

Just listened to the London Symphony and the passionate reading of VI: both excellent. The London Symphony was well-shaped and brilliantly played by the London orchestra, while VI was deeply felt and held tightly together. Surprisingly good. Thanks for sharing: I look forward to the others.

jserraglio
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Re: Roger Norrington; from HIP to MAD?

Post by jserraglio » Sun Mar 12, 2017 12:37 pm

Thanks for your reactions. Very helpful to this non-musician. My favorite Tallis Fantasia goes all the way back to Barbirolli's on EMI Angel.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=dbnlhCizyj8


John F
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Re: Roger Norrington; from HIP to MAD?

Post by John F » Sun Mar 12, 2017 3:26 pm

The Boyd Neel orchestra made the first recording of the Tallis Fantasia in 1936 in Vaughan Williams's presence and with his approval. Presumably they managed to "get it right," but whatever, for me the recording is quite beautiful.



RVW's interpretations of his own music could be startlingly unlike others'. The following year he made a hair-raising recording of the 4th symphony with the then-new BBC Symphony Orchestra, the fastest I've heard. That fine orchestra was then making outstanding Beethoven recordings under Toscanini, but it struggles to keep up with the uncompromising composer who charges ahead regardless, especially in the finale. If Norrington's RVW is supposed to be historically informed, presumably his 4th is informed by listening to this recording, otherwise the phrase is meaningless. (I'm inclined to think it is generally, but that's another topic. :mrgreen: )

John Francis

John F
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Re: Roger Norrington; from HIP to MAD?

Post by John F » Sun Mar 12, 2017 4:31 pm

I've just come across another performance conducted by Vaughan Williams: his 5th symphony in a 1952 Prom Concert, 9 years after he premiered the symphony at another Prom Concert. This is one of his less heard compositions, at least outside England, but the more I hear it the more I love it. Less sensational and more lyrical than the 4th, this too receives an expressive but unsentimental and in places brisk performance; the timing is close to that of Barbirolli's recordings but six minutes shorter than several others on YouTube.

John Francis

jserraglio
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Re: Roger Norrington; from HIP to MAD?

Post by jserraglio » Sun Mar 12, 2017 5:41 pm

Norrington launched his RVW symphony cycle in 2008 in Berlin with the 5th. And Sir Roger's un-HIP 2015 DSOB performance of the VW 4th is 2 min. longer than HIP-ster Andrew Manze's, 5 min. longer than the composer's and 3 min. longer than this, my favorite of the RVW 4ths I've heard:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=IrEQ3odk6Ts


John F
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Re: Roger Norrington; from HIP to MAD?

Post by John F » Sun Mar 12, 2017 7:59 pm

After the Vaughan Williams recording, Mitropoulos's 1st movement seems a bit sluggish, and the resonant acoustic somewhat softens the music's ferocity compared with the dry sound of EMI's studio. His tempo for the finale is about RVW's, but in one particularly nasty passage he puts on the brakes ever so slightly to help the orchestra through it, while RVW will have none of that. Even so, Mitropoulos's basic tempo has the Philharmonic scrambling much as the BBC did in 1937. All this said, it's a fine version which I haven't heard in many years, and I'm glad you linked to it.
John Francis

maestrob
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Re: Roger Norrington; from HIP to MAD?

Post by maestrob » Mon Mar 13, 2017 11:42 am

Thanks for all the postings: I have some serious listening to do!

JohnF, I have admired RV-W's recording of the Fourth for many years, and it's too bad his reading of V has never made it to CD TMK. I'm looking forward to hearing that. I discovered IV through Leonard Bernstein's stereo recording in the 1960's, which was issued on CD along with the Serenade to Music, which I sang under the baton of Robert Page in the Pennsylvania All-state chorus in high school (1966). It's a great recording, and Bernstein's only experience with that composer.

AS an aside, I've often wondered why Vaughan-Williams is not played more outside of the British Isles: his music is no more nationalistic than, say, Wagner or Brahms, yet these composers are heard all over. I think Ralph Vaughan-Willams was a great symphonist, and he deserves much more international recognition.

jserraglio
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Re: Roger Norrington; from HIP to MAD?

Post by jserraglio » Mon Mar 13, 2017 12:13 pm

Norrington's programing a series of concerts containing a nearly complete RVW cycle in the dragon's lair, the Berlin Philharmonie, is the exception that proves the rule that GB'symphonists are mostly honored in their own country, viz., Stanford, Simpson, Bax, Arnold, Ireland, Brian, Rubbra, Alwyn, etc., although Elgar and Walton are performed elsewhere. For me RVW is the greatest of them all, along with Nielsen, Bruckner, & Mahler among my favorite post-classical-era symphonists.

maestrob
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Re: Roger Norrington; from HIP to MAD?

Post by maestrob » Tue Mar 14, 2017 11:50 pm

Norrington's III & V were both excellent, IMHO, and beautifully played. I'm delighted to hear that he's planning to bring the RV-W cycle to Berlin: I hope he can teach them well enough that they'll sound as good as Barenboim did with his recent discs of Elgar I & II with the Dresden Staatskappelle, which I recommend highly.

Image

jserraglio
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Re: Roger Norrington; from HIP to MAD?

Post by jserraglio » Fri Mar 17, 2017 6:06 pm

Once again, your reactions helped me to narrow choices down. The Berlin cycle with the Deutsche Sinfonie Orchestra has been concluded, afaik. Now I would really like to get those LPO recs from the 1990s on Japanese Decca that have been published on YT.

THEHORN
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Re: Roger Norrington; from HIP to MAD?

Post by THEHORN » Sat Mar 18, 2017 3:39 pm

Norrington isn't a bad musician, just insufferably dogmatic too much of the time . Too often, he seems so determined to get rid of "stylistically incorrect interpretation " he merely succeeds in throwing the proverbial baby out with the bath water .
Some of interpretive ideas have been interesting, but he has absolutely no right to make it sound as though HE is doing it right and everybody else isn't . This is the height of arrogance and presumption .
I'd be very interested in hearing his Vaughn Williams symphonies . When he conducts 20th century English music he fortunately abandons his dogmatism .

jserraglio
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Re: Roger Norrington; from HIP to MAD?

Post by jserraglio » Sat Mar 18, 2017 9:37 pm

THEHORN wrote:
Sat Mar 18, 2017 3:39 pm
I'd be very interested in hearing his Vaughan Williams symphonies.
RN recorded a partial RVW cycle on Decca in the 90s (2, 3, 4, 5, 6) with the LPO. 2, 3, 5 are posted earlier in this thread with a live recording of 6 (SFSO).

Image reissued in 2015 Image

Image

Image

jserraglio
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Re: Roger Norrington; from HIP to MAD?

Post by jserraglio » Mon Mar 20, 2017 8:38 am

Yet another VW 5th Symphony cond. by Sir Roger Norrington, this time live from 1993 with the SFSO. I uploaded this to YouTube as an unlisted audio file (165k vbr). Thanks goes to the original uploader of the entire concert on another forum (c/w Beethoven's PC 2, Larrocha, and Creatures of Prometheus Overture & Finale).

Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 5
Roger Norrington, conductor
San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
October 20-24, 1993, Davies Symphony Hall

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yySgJBH ... e=youtu.be


jserraglio
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Re: Roger Norrington; from HIP to MAD?

Post by jserraglio » Sat Mar 25, 2017 10:00 am

Three more live RVW perfs by Norrington. Many thanks to the original uploader. Because I uploaded them as "unlisted", they won't show up in a YT search.

Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 1
Roger Norrington, conductor
Deutsches Sinfonie Orchester Berlin 2013
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPpNux4njXY

_____________________________________________________________________

Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 8
Roger Norrington, conductor
Deutsches Sinfonie Orchester Berlin 2016
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXhpAHZq58Q

_____________________________________________________________________

Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 9
Roger Norrington, conductor
Deutsches Sinfonie Orchester Berlin 2016
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8k7y4oFxj1A

jserraglio
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Re: Roger Norrington; from HIP to MAD?

Post by jserraglio » Mon Mar 27, 2017 9:35 am

Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 3 from the recent Norrington DSO Berlin cycle:

Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 3 "A Pastoral Symphony"
Roger Norrington, conductor
Deutsches Sinfonie Orchester Berlin 2013

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5q33GiK_xc


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