Author Topic: Re: 'SYMPHONY' BBC 4 & R3  (Read 5341 times)

Offline JSC

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Re: 'SYMPHONY' BBC 4 & R3
« Reply #30 on: November 12, 2011, 06:29:20 pm »
The one comment he made on Liszt's symphonic poems involved comparing them with the music a pianist might play to accompany a silent film, followed by a quick demonstration on the piano ("something sentimental..." I remember hearing). The point seemed to be that Liszt's symphonic poems comprised solely of cheap effect.
I see what you mean, but I think it was actually quite an interesting point about the kind of musical 'material' Liszt uses - think of all those diminished 7th chords. ... I don't think it was a value judgment.
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Offline martle

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Re: 'SYMPHONY' BBC 4 & R3
« Reply #31 on: November 12, 2011, 07:18:14 pm »
I haven't seen this, so may be speaking out of turn, but...

There is a legitimate point to make there: Liszt's harmonic and rhetorical practices are derived at least in part from his interest in monodramas (some of which are amazing) - little dramatic scenas for domestic consumption with all the 'bad-guy', OTT-drama and so on that's now very familiar to us from silent movie scores etc. The point is that the rhetoric was invented almost from nothing by  Liszt and others, and subsequently adopted by later composers and musicians (including film composers right into the 1940s at least) as the currency of musical drama. I guess you'd have to make that chronology and lineage clear for any meaningful point to come across...
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Offline JSC

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Re: 'SYMPHONY' BBC 4 & R3
« Reply #32 on: November 12, 2011, 07:27:26 pm »
Yes - in fact I think JD would be more interested in the potential of such a comparison to illuminate/historicise silent-movie accompaniment tropes than to imply 'cheap effect' in Liszt. But then I know him and he used to teach me so it's possible I'm being over-generous about how much of that point came through in his (admittedly slightly gnomic) comment on screen.
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Offline martle

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Re: 'SYMPHONY' BBC 4 & R3
« Reply #33 on: November 12, 2011, 07:50:00 pm »
monodramas

I of course meant melodramas  :facepalm:
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autoharp

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Re: 'SYMPHONY' BBC 4 & R3
« Reply #34 on: November 12, 2011, 08:16:11 pm »

Offline martle

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Re: 'SYMPHONY' BBC 4 & R3
« Reply #35 on: November 12, 2011, 09:42:40 pm »
Yes! Don't know that one. Perfect example!
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Offline ahinton

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Re: 'SYMPHONY' BBC 4 & R3
« Reply #36 on: November 12, 2011, 09:54:18 pm »
monodramas

I of course meant melodramas  :facepalm:
I think that we'd all taken that one as read, oh green one; Liszt's influence on Sch-you-know-who notwithstanding, it would streatch credibility rather too far to try to see Erwartung as a proto-Lisztian symphonic poem...

Woolley Monkey

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Re: 'SYMPHONY' BBC 4 & R3
« Reply #37 on: November 13, 2011, 04:55:43 pm »
I see what you mean, but I think it was actually quite an interesting point about the kind of musical 'material' Liszt uses - think of all those diminished 7th chords. ... I don't think it was a value judgment.

I know Liszt could over-use diminished 7th chords. I think my reaction had something to do with the demonstrations at the piano of mere effects, implying that it was unnecessary to quote any of Liszt's music.

I think it could be taken either way (as a value judgement or not). Perhaps clarifying comments were edited out.

I haven't seen this, so may be speaking out of turn, but...

There is a legitimate point to make there: Liszt's harmonic and rhetorical practices are derived at least in part from his interest in monodramas (some of which are amazing) - little dramatic scenas for domestic consumption with all the 'bad-guy', OTT-drama and so on that's now very familiar to us from silent movie scores etc. The point is that the rhetoric was invented almost from nothing by  Liszt and others, and subsequently adopted by later composers and musicians (including film composers right into the 1940s at least) as the currency of musical drama. I guess you'd have to make that chronology and lineage clear for any meaningful point to come across...

Thanks for this, I don't recall ever reading about it.

But going back to the silent film comment vis-a-vis Liszt's symphonic poems: a crucial difference would be that the latter were never meant to literally depict any of the literature they're based on.

Offline kleines c

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Re: 'SYMPHONY' BBC 4 & R3
« Reply #38 on: November 18, 2011, 01:16:51 pm »
We thought that last night's 'Symphony', 'New Nations and New Worlds' (Episode 3 of 4), was fascinating, and I commend it to everyone reading R3OK.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01778mc

Writing in today's 'Telegraph', James Walton argues that BBC Four’s 'Symphony' has now been established as one of the televisual gems of the autumn.

Quote
" ... Here, the idea of controversy was an apparently daring suggestion that much of Wagner’s music was symphonic in nature – and the big finish was provided by the 1893 premiere of Tchaikovsky’s Symphonie Pathétique in St Petersburg."


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/8897553/Symphony-BBC-Four-review.html

I am also delighted to see BBC Radio 3 providing such an intelligent accompaniment to the series.   As for BBC Four (television), what gems!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b017h80m

Congratulations to all!

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Re: 'SYMPHONY' BBC 4 & R3
« Reply #39 on: November 18, 2011, 02:05:09 pm »
Quote
" ... Here, the idea of controversy was an apparently daring suggestion that much of Wagner’s music was symphonic in nature

Only if you rely on a definition of symphonic that elides questions of form (or did it mean any more than Wagner's music is extended & works with a kind of thematic 'development' whereas Verdi is differently extended & doesn't ((at least in the same way?))).

Offline martle

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Re: 'SYMPHONY' BBC 4 & R3
« Reply #40 on: November 18, 2011, 03:12:35 pm »
Quote
" ... Here, the idea of controversy was an apparently daring suggestion that much of Wagner’s music was symphonic in nature

Only if you rely on a definition of symphonic that elides questions of form (or did it mean any more than Wagner's music is extended & works with a kind of thematic 'development' whereas Verdi is differently extended & doesn't ((at least in the same way?))).

No. It was a deeply UNcontroversial thing to observe, and is as old as, well, Wagner himself.

I hate to be negative, but I did see last night's episode and found it  pretty disappointing. I wasn't expecting anything too erudite or scholarly, but the approach seemed very slapdash, generalised, and pandered to every stereotype and cliche I could anticipate. The script was just plain lazy - all the stuff about Mahler and Sibelius for example seemed to be lifted virtually wholesale from Alex Ross's The Rest is Noise. Ross may well have a legitimate legal case if he could be bothered.

Simon R B was sort of ok. But that wasn't good enough. And as for Mark Elder... what's happened to the guy?? His pompous gushing was really embarrassing to watch, for me. And facial expressions while conducting...? Eeeurgh. Deathridge at least had genuine authority in what he was saying but had evidently been told to keep it dumb.

What I thought it needed was a personal, zealous touch - someone to take the subject by the balls and make it gripping. More on the social history, the architecture of the concert halls, the responses of instrumental design to composers' demands for greater emotional clout and volume.

It was just sort of insipid.
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Offline strinasacchi

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Re: 'SYMPHONY' BBC 4 & R3
« Reply #41 on: November 18, 2011, 11:09:58 pm »


I hate to be negative, but I did see last night's episode and found it  pretty disappointing. I wasn't expecting anything too erudite or scholarly, but the approach seemed very slapdash, generalised, and pandered to every stereotype and cliche I could anticipate. The script was just plain lazy - all the stuff about Mahler and Sibelius for example seemed to be lifted virtually wholesale from Alex Ross's The Rest is Noise. Ross may well have a legitimate legal case if he could be bothered.

Simon R B was sort of ok. But that wasn't good enough. And as for Mark Elder... what's happened to the guy?? His pompous gushing was really embarrassing to watch, for me. And facial expressions while conducting...? Eeeurgh. Deathridge at least had genuine authority in what he was saying but had evidently been told to keep it dumb.

What I thought it needed was a personal, zealous touch - someone to take the subject by the balls and make it gripping. More on the social history, the architecture of the concert halls, the responses of instrumental design to composers' demands for greater emotional clout and volume.

It was just sort of insipid.

I agree completely.  I watched the first two episodes and had hoped to find the series compelling enough to continue watching even when I wasn't looking for glimpses of, um, well, me (and various friends and colleagues of course).  But it was all stupidly simplistic and lacking in passion.

Simon Russell Beale showed genuine and infectious passion in the choral series he presented.  I had the impression he had more input (and probably more interest - certainly more knowledge) in that series.  That doesn't mean he can be made into a generic spokesman for "classical" music generally.

Offline marbleflugel

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Re: 'SYMPHONY' BBC 4 & R3
« Reply #42 on: November 19, 2011, 03:47:32 am »
I had a hunch it was going to turn out this way- my usual canard  with  downgraded telly is 'Europudding' but that can't apply here because middle European networks do this stuff much better themselves :facepalm:. Mart, totally with your specification there.

Offline ahinton

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Re: 'SYMPHONY' BBC 4 & R3
« Reply #43 on: November 19, 2011, 08:27:20 am »
Quote
" ... Here, the idea of controversy was an apparently daring suggestion that much of Wagner’s music was symphonic in nature

Only if you rely on a definition of symphonic that elides questions of form (or did it mean any more than Wagner's music is extended & works with a kind of thematic 'development' whereas Verdi is differently extended & doesn't ((at least in the same way?))).

No. It was a deeply UNcontroversial thing to observe, and is as old as, well, Wagner himself.

I hate to be negative, but I did see last night's episode and found it  pretty disappointing. I wasn't expecting anything too erudite or scholarly, but the approach seemed very slapdash, generalised, and pandered to every stereotype and cliche I could anticipate. The script was just plain lazy - all the stuff about Mahler and Sibelius for example seemed to be lifted virtually wholesale from Alex Ross's The Rest is Noise. Ross may well have a legitimate legal case if he could be bothered.

Simon R B was sort of ok. But that wasn't good enough. And as for Mark Elder... what's happened to the guy?? His pompous gushing was really embarrassing to watch, for me. And facial expressions while conducting...? Eeeurgh. Deathridge at least had genuine authority in what he was saying but had evidently been told to keep it dumb.

What I thought it needed was a personal, zealous touch - someone to take the subject by the balls and make it gripping. More on the social history, the architecture of the concert halls, the responses of instrumental design to composers' demands for greater emotional clout and volume.

It was just sort of insipid.
Sad but true in all cases (especially Elder, who manner and mannerisms made him barely recognisable - was he playing to the camera in the ways that he'd been directed to do or has he really undergone the sea-change that his contribution suggests?); yes, you've hit all the nails on the heads here, maître marteau.

What a litany of missed opportunities!

Offline martle

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Re: 'SYMPHONY' BBC 4 & R3
« Reply #44 on: November 19, 2011, 08:43:15 am »
What a litany of missed opportunities!

That's the real pont. It IS a fascinating topic, potentially. But these things need zeal and energy to work. When they do work, it's almost always because of a zealot: Bronowski, Cooke, Scharma, Berger, Clarke, Robert Hughes... someone with a point of view who will take the topic by the scruff of the neck and make it totally compelling.
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