I think you are right in drawing the distinction between live performance and recordings the way you do. I think though, that it does bear discussion. |
I went to Paris this past winter to audition for the Paris Coservatory, and while I was there I attended several concerts; what were, in fact, the first large-scale concerts I have ever attended. If its of any interest, I saw Pierre Boulez conducting a program of pure Schoenberg, including Mitsuko Uchida playing the Piano Concerto. The person I went with and I had an animated argument about the nature of live performance. She, being quite a bit older than I, said that when she was younger, live performance was a much more intimate spectacle; if you like to think of the Paris Salon, do so now. She remained unconvinced as to what, objectively, was the 'better' way to listen to music. She saw merit in both recordings and live performances.
I am of more of a recordings person, but that has nothing to do with it. I think it was Gould who said that he admits that something exceptional does happen in a concert situation occassionally; and that he would rather that 20 000 people be there rather than 2000, and furthermore, that it be a recorded concert. And whats more, paraphrasing Gould again, such special moments are a passing fancy; if music is indeed the gradual lifelong construction of wonder and serenity, and although music itself (as a living and breathing thing) does permit for spontaneity, the performer must realize that he has quite the responsibility, much like a driver does.
Sorry for the rant. I just had a discussion with my mentor as to the nature of the performers role; I am not quite sure where I stand, and so I needed to write it down.
Date: Sun, 31 May 2009 02:09:02 -0700
Subject: Re: [F_minor] Fogelsong und die Mensch Maschine
I can't believe that the beat goes on and on and on like this about recordings vs. concerts. They are two distinctly different experiences, just as film vs. theatre, live lectures vs. reading a transcript, watching the sunset vs. seeing the photograph. Isn't that obvious? I just don't see the need for discussion other than to make a case for one's personal preference - as GG so eagerly did.
Concerts and recordings each have their own appeal for both the artist and the audience... and I do not think one is less of a pure artistic _expression_ than the other. Was it Rubinstein who said, "Even my mistakes are beautiful."? Whoever it was, it was a pretty arrogant remark, and there are those who would rather hear a flawless performance. But when I go to a concert I too do not sit on the edge of my seat waiting for the artist to self-destruct. That probably was a bit of projection on Glenn's part, since it is far more likely that he was waiting for the mistake and not the audience. So many variables in live performance that simply cannot be controlled... how could someone with his need to control be expected to enjoy that?
But really, this need to complain about splice and dice is just silly, so long as the integrity of the music itself holds up. If I want to actually hear music the way Gould heard the music in his head, what better way than to use everything technology can offer? And I think it actually takes MORE artistry than a live performance when you are as exacting as GG was about the product. When Les Paul invented multi-tracking, he was considered a genius who revolutionized the entire recording industry. Did that diminish his purity as an artist? I think not. But that was a different kind of music, so I guess we apply different standards.
And the singing? Why bring Schenker into it? Just deal with it. You know it's going to be there every time you listen to Glenn Gould, and it baffles me (like they baffled him to cut the distraction) why it was and is such a contentious issue. Oh well, that's why we have critics I guess... to overstate the obvious, understate the marvelous, and try to turn the sublime into the ridiculous.
The only good thing is that we're still talking about GG so passionately! Putting ourselves on the record, as it were.
Regards to all,
On Sun, May 31, 2009 at 12:09 AM, maryellen jensen <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
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