5 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Technically flawless, but artisitically flawed.,
This review is from: Schubert : Die Winterreise (Audio CD)
Discussing Sviatoslav Richter's revelatory performances of the late Schubert sonatas, Glenn Gould observed that he saw artists as being divisible into two broad categories. In brief, the first of Gould's groups saw their job as drawing attention to their instruments and to their own technical facilities; the second concentrated on dedicating their skills to revealing the music (Richter was Gould's preeminent example of the latter).
Unfortunately, this performance seems to sit squarely in the first of Gould's two groups. Technically flawless, both in terms of the exceptional skills of the performers and the quality of the recording, there is, however, a woeful surfeit of what I can only call 'effects'. There are too many examples of odd bursts of inappropriate fortissimo or pianissimo singing, self-conscious changes in tempo, or bizarre pianistic effects - like the spreading of chords that should be taken whole; a residue, perhaps, of Staier's harpsichord playing.
The overall sense is that these artists were striving to do something new and memorable with the work, which is all very commendable in its way. And they certainly do succeed in creating some memorable moments, although not perhaps for the reasons they had intended. There is simply too much of them in this performance, and not enough of Schubert. In one word, it's mannered, and I find that both pointless and unforgivable.
Like Sir Peter Hall's 1990s stage production of Hamlet, in which everyone wore ridiculous red costumes and Hamlet stripped naked to show that he was mad, this is all about the performers. Far too often, in spite of Pregardien's wonderful diction and awesome technique, I was left with the impression that the words and music were only there as a vehicle for his self-aggrandissement. Likewise, Staier's technically stunning playing seemed too often bent on highlighting itself. So just two stars, for the technical perfection.
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Initial post: 23 Oct 2013 09:57:33 BDT
You seem to be scoring a point, but really it comes to aboslutely nothing when your review is being read in full, because you did not even bother to get 'facts' straight before venting your own air - Staier did not play on a harpsichord.
In reply to an earlier post on 2 Dec 2013 12:30:47 GMT
Thank you for the comment. Of course Staier is not playing a harpsichord here; my point was that it was perhaps his experience as a harpsichordist that led him to spread some chords that Schubert intended to be taken whole. Schubert has clearly marked the chords that should be spread - as anyone with a knowledge of the score will know - and Staier takes liberties in adding some of his own, which Schubert did not intend. It is the musician's role to interpret the intentions of the composer, not to reinterpret them.
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