Definitive performance -- is there such an animal?

CharmNewton
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Post by CharmNewton » Tue May 23, 2006 10:49 pm

Could agreement be reached on a definitive performance of Cage's 4'33"?

John

PJME
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There we go again...

Post by PJME » Wed May 24, 2006 2:59 pm

From
http://www.classicalnotes.net/columns/silence.html

Although often described as a silent piece, 4'33" isn't silent at all. While the performer makes as little sound as possible, Cage breaks traditional boundaries by shifting attention from the stage to the audience and even beyond the concert hall. You soon become aware of a huge amount of sound, ranging from the mundane to the profound, from the expected to the surprising, from the intimate to the cosmic –shifting in seats, riffling programs to see what in the world is going on, breathing, the air conditioning, a creaking door, passing traffic, an airplane, ringing in your ears, a recaptured memory. This is a deeply personal music, which each witness creates to his/her own reactions to life. Concerts and records standardize our responses, but no two people will ever hear 4'33" the same way. It's the ultimate sing-along: the audience (and the world) becomes the performer.

etc etc etc etc

karlhenning
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Post by karlhenning » Wed May 24, 2006 3:28 pm

CharmNewton wrote:Could agreement be reached on a definitive performance of Cage's 4'33"?

John
Cage would have resisted the pressure to find a 'definitive' reading of most of his scores.
Karl Henning, PhD
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston, Massachusetts
http://members.tripod.com/~Karl_P_Henning/
http://henningmusick.blogspot.com/
Published by Lux Nova Press
http://www.luxnova.com/

rwetmore
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Post by rwetmore » Wed May 24, 2006 6:16 pm

Heck148 wrote:P - a peformance is only definitive, IMO, if I happen to agree with it!! :lol: :P :!:
No, a performance is only definitive if Mark Anstendig objectively determines that it is. :wink:

Heck148
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Post by Heck148 » Wed May 24, 2006 6:37 pm

rwetmore wrote:
Heck148 wrote:P - a peformance is only definitive, IMO, if I happen to agree with it!! :lol: :P :!:
No, a performance is only definitive if Mark Anstendig objectively determines that it is. :wink:
yes,but only if heard on vinyl LP in EQ'ed analog....played on the
#$%U&*@%$@# cartridge!! :lol:

Brendan

Post by Brendan » Wed May 24, 2006 6:47 pm

Heck148 wrote:
rwetmore wrote:
Heck148 wrote:P - a peformance is only definitive, IMO, if I happen to agree with it!! :lol: :P :!:
No, a performance is only definitive if Mark Anstendig objectively determines that it is. :wink:
yes,but only if heard on vinyl LP in EQ'ed analog....played on the
#$%U&*@%$@# cartridge!! :lol:
If so, there goes the Reiner Concerto for Orchestra. MA preferred Karajan for that piece. Personally I like Fricsay for it, but am getting the Reiner on SACD shortly (when I can rein-in my current spending on books) so may revise my opinion. And Sao Win (from memory) cartridges really are meant to be something. Expensive, if nothing else.

Reminding myself of Fricsay and definative performances/recordings, I'd have to add his Bartok Piano Concertos with Geza Anda.

rwetmore
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Post by rwetmore » Wed May 24, 2006 6:53 pm

Heck148 wrote:
rwetmore wrote:
Heck148 wrote:P - a peformance is only definitive, IMO, if I happen to agree with it!! :lol: :P :!:
No, a performance is only definitive if Mark Anstendig objectively determines that it is. :wink:
yes,but only if heard on vinyl LP in EQ'ed analog....played on the
#$%U&*@%$@# cartridge!! :lol:
Especially if Morel conducted it... :)

rogch
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Post by rogch » Thu May 25, 2006 6:15 am

The term "definite" is very much a matter of taste, at least if "definite" means the same as "perfect" or "the best recording available". But recordings labeled as "definite" often have the following characteristics: They are accepted by a large number of both listeners and critics as outstanding, they have stood the test of time and are often the benchmark recording other versions are compared to. Some recordings that could be called definite apart from the ones Pizza mentioned:

Beethoven's tripple concerto: Karajan, Richter, Rostropovich and Oistrakh
Carl Orrf's Carmina Burrana: Eugen Jocum's legendary recording on DG
Schönberg, Verklarte Nacht: Karajan, BPO
Elgar, cello concerto: du Pre and Barbirolli (du Pre's destiny may play its part here, but it is a great recording)
Mozart, Don Giovanni: Waechter/Sutherland/Giulini (some may prefer preformances on period instruments but this recording is a classic)
Berio, folk songs: Cathy Beberian. The only recording that counts, all others stink in comparison

Personally, i have a few recordings i rank as the best, even though they are perhaps not generally known as "definite":
Grieg, Peer Gynt suites: Beecham, RPO. I have lost interest in all other recordings i have heard.
Dvorak, symphony no. 9: Harnoncourt, Concertgebouw. But i am not a great Dvorak fan so it that is perhaps why i prefer a unconventional recording :wink:
Mozart, eine kleine Nachtmusik: Furtwängler on Naxos historical. A thoughtfull interpretation of a piece i never though would sound this good.

I am sure some will disagree with me on at least some of the recordings above. I'll be glad to hear about other suggested recordings.
Roger Christensen

"Mozart is the most inaccessible of the great masters"
Artur Schnabel

premont
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Post by premont » Thu May 25, 2006 7:57 am

I don´t like the word "definitive" in this context. It is so, well - definitive.
And it is without sense when used in this way about a particular interpretation, since many different interpretations of the same work may indeed be definitive in their own way at the same time. And the bad thing about the word "definitive" is the fact, that it leads to the disregarding of other equally "definitive" interpretations. Better to us the word "unsurpassed".

premont
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Post by premont » Thu May 25, 2006 8:03 am

rogch wrote:The term "definite" is very much a matter of taste, at least if "definite" means the same as "perfect" above.
This is definitely not my definitive definition of the word "definite" :D

pizza
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Post by pizza » Thu May 25, 2006 8:35 am

If calling a recording "definitive" is meant to convey the idea that it's the final and conclusive authority on how a work should be played, then it probably shouldn't be taken at face value but for reasons already mentioned, rather as an exaggerated compliment. But if the word is meant to suggest an established or widely recognized model of authority or excellence, then it fits fairly well. The context of the review or critique will usually clarify the author's intention.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Thu May 25, 2006 6:02 pm

premont wrote:
rogch wrote:The term "definite" is very much a matter of taste, at least if "definite" means the same as "perfect" above.
This is definitely not my definitive definition of the word "definite" :D
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
Corlyss
Contessa d'EM, a carbon-based life form

Heck148
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Post by Heck148 » Thu May 25, 2006 6:25 pm

premont wrote:I don´t like the word "definitive" in this context. It is so, well - definitive.
Better to us the word "unsurpassed".
yes, I agree. "unsurpassed" accepts/implies the subjective nature of the concept....it allows for equality...equal merit of other choices.
"definitive" is trying to establish one's own opinion as universal. which is always a problem.

Agnes Selby
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Definitive performance.

Post by Agnes Selby » Thu May 25, 2006 7:52 pm

I note with interest that your discussion here is about recordings.

It is difficult to imagine a definitive performance on a recording.
Much work goes into the making of a recording. It is not a
spontaneous performance, there are technicians involved, parts of
the performance are re-recorded and the performer is able to
change whatever he find unsuitable at that moment.

In other words, problems are ironed out as the recording is
being doctored.

It is also questionable if a definitive performance can be obtained
by listening to a performance from the stage. It depends on the mood
of the listener. A previous argument with the mother-in-law will not have
the same effect on the listener as it would have on his neighbour who had come to the concert/recital after a pleasant dinner at the Ritz.
What is one man's meat is another's poison.

Other influences play a part. For instance, Barenboim's treatment
of his sick wife has forever changed how I react to his music. It should not influence me but it does.

It comes down to the enjoyment of music at a given time.

There is one exception, though. Hearing the debut of Sutherland in Covent Garden these many years ago and the very excitement
created by her voice will remain with me forever.

Regards,
Agnes.

taisiawshan
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Re: Definitive performance.

Post by taisiawshan » Thu May 25, 2006 8:44 pm

Agnes Selby wrote: It is also questionable of a definitive performance can be obtained
by listening to a performance from the stage. It depends on the mood
of the listener....
Regards,
Agnes.
When we are "judging", isn't it true that we should be as objective as possible, which means "rational" in the case, not "the mood"?

Agnes Selby
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Definitive peformance

Post by Agnes Selby » Thu May 25, 2006 9:16 pm

Yes, you are right. We should regard a performance from a rational perspective.

However, it is difficult to divorce an emotional experience, such
as listening to music, from every day happenings. Mood is not
subjective to rationality.

I agree that the technicians doctoring a recording can be rational.
A live performance is subjective to the mood of the performer
and to the listener's receptiveness.

Thank you for the reply to my posting.

Regards,
Agnes.
----------------

pizza
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Post by pizza » Thu May 25, 2006 11:45 pm

I think the term "doctoring" as applied to studio recordings is somewhat misleading because it implies there is something wrong with the process that requires corrective attention of a technical nature. Modern recording engineers encounter very few unanticipated technical problems. Sessions and takes that fall short of the performing artist's standards are usually discarded. Recording engineers will splice takes from separate sessions if they produce what they believe is a better sound or overall view of the music. But the final product, whether the result of one or several takes and/or splices is usually judged by the average listener without regard to the technical processes that were required to produce it.

The same is true of live recordings. Some live recordings are produced in one session and others are the product of several different live sessions from which the artist or producer selects what he believes to be the best examples. The recording engineers may use various techniques to suppress extraneous or unwanted sound such as excessive audience noise, but the overall effect is what the listener hears and reacts to.

We don't react to the visual arts by first analyzing their technical history. Most viewers don't think much about how many sketches or studies an artist made in order to produce a painting. The emotional reaction is to the finished product and is usually spontaneous. I think the same is true of recorded music.

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