CD Reviews | CTD (Briefly Noted) | JFL (Dip Your Ears) | DVD Reviews


Manet's Seascapes

An article (Manet au sommet de la vague, July 29) by Jean Pierrard in Le Point describes an exhibit (Édouard Manet: Impressions of the Sea) at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, until September 26:

One's appreciation should be nuanced, however, because when you look closely, however Manet may paint a Norway pine or the Folkestone mail carriage, there is never a misplaced pulley or rope on his ships. The sea? Manet had a professional's knowledge of it! Did it not earn him his first adult emotions when, at age 16, between two failures at the Naval School, he set out as a ship's pilot for Brazil?

A voyage of initiation, not technically that different from the one undertaken a few years earlier by his friend Baudelaire. On board the Havre et la Martinique, when he was not sketching the crew, Manet spent his nights noting down the play of light and shadow between the waves. During the day, he tirelessly measured the horizon. The lesson had not been forgotten when, sixteen years later, he attempted his first seascapes.
Of course, this show has already appeared at the Art Institute of Chicago, from October 20, 2003, to January 19, 2004 (where Terry Teachout saw it and wrote about it, memorably, for About Last Night on January 7, as did Amanda Paulson for the Christian Science Monitor on October 24), and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, from February 15 to May 31, 2004 (where Roberta Fallon saw it and wrote about for Artblog on March 17). I found it interesting to compare the three Web sites for this exhibit:
· Van Gogh Museum: three small images of paintings and not much else (cost of ticket: €12.50 [$15])

· Art Institute of Chicago: 18 nice images of paintings and lots of narrative (cost of ticket: $12 on weekdays or $15 on weekends)

· And the clear winner, Philadelphia Museum of Art: 10 nice images of Manet paintings (and a handful by other painters), a Teacher Packet of information and images, a nifty online form of Manet's Boulogne Sketchbook, and a section called Manet for Kids (cost of ticket unknown)
If you use all three of these sites, you can see a fair number of works in the show, but not all of them. Grrr.


That's Good Reading: Fully Credited Links

From The Literary Saloon, a Brief NYTBR rant hits the target with deadly accuracy, in our opinion:

We've pretty much held our tongues about The New York Times Book Review, waiting to see how the new guy in charge settles in, but, faced by another disappointing issue yesterday, we have to rant a bit. [...]

And -- ah, we can't help ourselves -- foreign literature ? We had to go back four issues, to that of 4 July, to find any review of a book originally written in a foreign language (in the "Books in Brief" section) -- and back another two issues, to the 20 June issue, to find a full-length review of any book originally written in a foreign language (there were two; predictably, they were both works of non-fiction).
There is little more embarrassing to the United States, in my opinion, than our cultural jingoism, in film and literature, especially, and also in music and art. This is why I read as many foreign newspapers as I can, to try to take myself out from behind the America-only lens. My next point may not be related to this question, but I would really appreciate it if venerable institutions like the New York Times would stop considering reports on television programs as "Arts coverage." See link above for what could take the space used up by that fascinating information on the latest reality television drivel. (See Mark Sarvas at The Elegant Variation for some other good ideas for what the NYTBR should and should not be reviewing.)

Blake Gopnik's review (How Grotesque! How Grand!) in last Sunday's Washington Post is an account of a new biennial show at Site Santa Fe, a place I somehow missed on my last trip to New Mexico:
Ask around at art schools and you'll hear that a good many of their prospective students submit portfolios of wacky doodles. The grotesque has clearly trickled down so far that it's become the norm when art is meant to impress. Weird and comic transformation is the order of our day, right across the spectrum from art school to art gallery.
Because you just can't have enough coverage of the Wagner Festival in Bayreuth, you should be reading Alex Ross's The Rest Is Noise every day for some great photoblogging. In response to my survey of reports on the audience's reception of the Schlingensief Parsifal (see post on July 26), Alex says the booing beat out the ooing. The critics at Le Figaro have turned in long reviews of the festival's Parsifal (Jacques Doucelin, «Parsifal» : polémique rentrée, July 28):
It was no longer a question of pink slips, trials, excommunications, since the aborted scandal of Parsifal: no one had lost face—especially not the proud and vindicative director—but Wolfgang Wagner had won. One more time, for the more than half-century that he has ruled with an iron fist over his grandfather's heritage, like the dragon of the Ring over the Nibelung's gold.
In another article the day before (Wagner et le petit lapin, July 27), however, the same critic made clear his disdain for Schlingensief's production:
As far as causing a scandal, it was a rabbit's fart. Let's just say that it was less provocative than it was shaggy and clumsy. Anyway, who can say that those rumors of scandal had not been shrewdly orchestrated by one certain Wolfgang Wagner, Richard's grandson and current director of the Festival, who is about to celebrate his 85th birthday in August?
The same critic also wrote about the Tannhäuser production (Jacques Doucelin, Wagner retrouve ses droits, July 28). No confusion about the audience's appreciation for this production, which was a rousing success, according to Doucelin.

If you want to see what would happen if you put a dozen music critics in a room, with nothing but one of those "big topics" to chew on for a couple days, you should check out Critical Conversation: Classical Music Critics on the Future of Music, the latest brainchild of Douglas McLennan at ArtsJournal (the experiment will continue through August 7). If there is indeed a "future" for classical music, these people will know. I will be teaching a course on opera in the 20th century this fall, so I am thinking about this question in the context of opera history these days. When you have to choose a syllabus of operas to represent the last century, you look at this question in a rather different light. What 20th-century operas do you just HAVE to discuss in a course on the subject? I will be blogging about that course this fall, so you can follow along with the students. I have fifteen weeks, and I look forward to see what Ionarts readers think about my choices.

A little article (Bulgarie: une maison de 8.000 ans, July 26) from France 2 says the following:
Bulgarian archeologists have discovered an 8,000-year-old house near Veliko Tarnovo. The archeologists found a wall, chimney, and ceramic utensils that were in this house of about 50 square meters [538 square feet], dating from the 6th millennium B.C. An altar made of ceramic plates bearing signs, before which the house's residents prayed to the forces of nature, is apparently the "most precious discovery."
Another interesting archeological find is described in an article (Gerard Seenan, Dig hits rich vein of medieval history, July 29):
The jewelled cross pulled from an archaeological dig in rural Aberdeenshire does not, admittedly, look like much. Caked in heavy mud and withered by age, it could easily be overlooked. But the cross is the latest piece in a jigsaw puzzle that is casting new light on the remarkable life of a medieval community. "It promises quite a lot," says Penny Dransart, who is leading the dig at Fetternear. "We don't clean items like that on site so we can't say too much about it yet. But, at the very least, it will add to the cumulative knowledge we are building about life at Fetternear."
Finally, it's not just the Elgin marbles anymore, as the list of disputed art treasures gets longer (Countries battle over artefacts, July 27, from BBC News): the Rosetta Stone, the bust of Nefertiti, the Lindesfarne Gospels. Where will it all end? Museums are becoming afraid to lend artwork for fear they will never see it again, as happened recently to the British Museum (UK exhibits seized in Australia, July 27, from BBC News).

Redemption the Redeemer

A Parsifal at Bayreuth is always an event. Wagner's Bühnenweihfestspiel is—together with the Ring—the most important opera on the "Green Hill" in Bayreuth, and this year the direction of the new production fell to the hands of opera neophyte Christoph Schlingensief.

In a response to (just) criticism about his autocratic and inflexible leadership, Wolfgang Wagner (the master's grandson and brother of the wonderful director Wieland) surprised Wagnerites by handing the 2004 Parsifal and the 2005 Ring to relatively young newcomers to the world of opera: theater director Schlingensief and filmmaker Lars von Trier (Zentropa, Dancer in the Dark, Dogville), respectively. The latter, very unfortunately, gave up on the daunting project, apologizing for not feeling that he would be up to the challenge (see post on June 7). Schlingensief, infamous for having staged a Hamlet in Zurich with a cast made up entirely of neo-Nazis and skinheads, however, did pull his vision through and—A. C. Douglas's opinion notwithstanding—succeeded.

His Parsifal was calmly hailed by the press (see post on June 26) and many viewers alike as being interesting, bold, attractive, and at the very least a Parsifal that does not allow the viewer to nod off at any moment during the production. "Interesting" could be interpreted as damning it with faint praise, but Schlingensief's production is not one to be reacted to with blasé, mild approval. His cluttered, ethnically enriched, video-enhanced Parsifal was provocative (as good opera should be), generally considered "difficult" and laden with symbols—probably (and forgivably, for a novice) far too many of them. Parsifal was Jesus-like, with the blood of representatives of the world's religions on his garb. Klingsor was demonic, in a costume that befitted a villain in computer RPGs with a heavy part black voodoo magician. Video projections, many of them done by Schlingensief for other works of his in the past, added another, sometimes confusing, layer on top of the singers and their surroundings. Set with very dim lighting (a Bayreuth tradition, almost), the colorful costumes could not be appreciated until curtain, and at times it was apparently difficult to distinguish between singers and "stuff" on stage. But it did sweep away the 70-year-old tradition of offering minimalist, geometrically designed sets off the Bayreuth stage that had been the opera's hallmark. (This is only the seventh new production of Parsifal in Bayreuth since its premiere in 1882.)

Christian Schlingenseif, 2004
Christoph Schlingensief, director of Parsifal
Parsifal, Bayreuth Festival, 2004
Parsifal, Bayreuth Festival, 2004
Endrik Wottrich as Parsifal, 2004
Endrik Wottrich as Parsifal, Bayreuth Festival, 2004

An art cemetery, Andy Warhol's Cans, Albrecht Dürer's hare (see post on September 5, 2003) make cameos—and that's just Act 3. Scenic reductionism is not what this Parsifal is about, then. The scandal that many expected and even more had hoped for did not occur. The fairly decent amount of boos were predictable and premeditated, the applause generous. For all the hoopla of bringing a directing novice to the sacred Wagner temple, Wolfgang Wagner wanted to be safe on the musical side and brought in Wagner veteran, l'enfant terrible-turned-Keeper-of-the-Grail Pierre Boulez to conduct the affair. His Wagner conducting—fast, crisp, ascetic, with heavy accents—was radical when he had the musical direction of the Patrice Chereau Ring (1976) or Parsifal in 1966; it isn't anymore, though. The press reacted differently to the music: the German press was reserved and indifferent to critical, referring to Boulez's own words on his approach to Wagner rather than bothering to explain, and the foreign press was more enthused about the musical quality. The Bayreuth choir, everyone agreed, was in top form. The singing, and agreement, here, too was barely up to Bayreuth standards, however. Boulez's thin approach to the score helped, in that it meant that the singers did not have to yell. Endrik Wottrich (Parsifal) did it anyway, Eleonore Büning from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wryly remarked. Alexander Marco-Buhrmester and Kwangchul Youn (Amfortas and Titurel, respectively) were the only ones to get high marks in her book.

But who cares about the performance when—also a Bayreuth tradition—there is a scandal to talk about, after all. Not about the direction or the singing, but involving the director and a singer. The first tremors were felt when Endrik Wottrich (Parsifal) panned the production in an interview a few days before the premiere (mentioned by A. C. Douglas at sounds & fury). Wolfgang Wagner was surprisingly lenient, though that might just have something to do with the fact that his daughter and scheduled successor to his position, Katharina Wagner, is "good friends with" Wottrich. Wottrich having his own opinion about a production is fine, but he wasn't very diplomatic about it. Schlingensief, of course, not averse to a good exchange on artistic visions, had his way of getting back, mentioning that Wottrich had problems with the African elements of the opera (he had said so himself) and objected to "Negroes" running about the stage. Schlingensief went on to say that he didn't share Wottrich's concept of "purity" for Germany—which, if you know anything about Germany, is tantamount to firing the silver bullet without looking vicious yourself. Wottrich fired back. He was not going to let someone like Schlingensief dictate whether he could say "Negro" (the German Neger, which isn't a terribly bad thing to say, but politically incorrect for at least a decade and a half) and anyway he didn't have a problem with blacks but would equally object if white homeless bums were on stage. At any rate, it was dragging Wagner down into the dirt and Western Civilization was far too good for that. Finally it was really Schlingensief who was the racist and Nazi, because he put blacks into roles associated with serving others in Parsifal.

If Wottrich, the archetype of a cultural conservative with a lack for subtleties in public perception, helped himself much with the rebuttal is for others to decide, but it made and still makes for a juicy little éclat. In the end he called Schlingensief's production "dirt" and "trash" and vowed not to sing it again next year. Which, just from the position of someone appreciating good singing, is probably not so terrible a loss. But who will provide the scandal?


Ionarts in Manchester: Biber's Rosary Sonatas

This is the conclusion of the Ionarts coverage of the the Eleventh Biennial International Conference on Baroque Music in Manchester, England. Here are Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.

Available at Amazon:
Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber, Rosenkranz-Sonaten, Musica Antiqua Köln
On the last night of the conference, we heard another concert, featuring Tassilo Erhardt on violin, Robert Rawson again on bass viol, and Pieter Dirksen on harpsichord and organ. The program honored two tricentennials, the 300th anniversaries of composers Georg Muffat and Heinrich Biber, who both died in 1704. (It is also an anniversary year for Marc-Antoine Charpentier: see the review of the first concert at this conference, on July 25.) Three pieces by Muffat opened the concert: the Passacaglia in G minor, played on harpsichord, the Sonata Violino Solo (1677), for violin and continuo, and the Toccata no. 10, played on the modern organ in the Brown Shipley Concert Hall. What concluded the first part of the concert was far more noteworthy, the Chiacona in C for violin and continuo by Antonio Bertali (1605–1669). This sort of piece was a standard in the 17th century, the simplest harmonic bass pattern that repeats over and over in a persistent variation. The effect it inevitably creates is a hypnotic suspension of the normal rules of harmony, allowing Baroque composers to introduce daring progressions. The spell of this sort of composition is an interesting precursor of what Philip Glass and the other minimalists would start in the 1970s. By the end of it, Tassilo had had quite a workout with the endless divisions.

On the second half of the concert, there was one piece by Vincent Lübeck (1654–1740), a prelude and fugue in A minor from 1728. The rest of the program belonged to Biber, especially two pieces from the famous Rosary Sonatas, composed around 1674. This is a set of sixteen pieces, each one accompanied by a picture of the fifteen mysteries of the rosary (increased to 20 by the present pope in 2002) and the last one—the Passacaglia in G minor, which we heard on this concert—with a picture of a guardian angel leading a child. The other piece from the group that we heard was the Sonata in G, the tenth in the collection, corresponding to the image of the crucifixion of Jesus, the last of the five sorrowful mysteries of the rosary. These sonatas are infamously difficult, especially because of the scordature, or special retunings required of the violinist, and it was a treat to hear them.

Tassilo is a gifted violinist and scholar (he gave a paper at the conference on the exegetical tradition regarding the canticle of Moses in Exodus, sung after crossing the Red Sea, and how it may have influenced Baroque depictions of the music of the Israelites), and he gave a spectacular performance at this concert. He will soon be married to Peter Holman's daughter Sally, and their performing group, Apollo and Pan, won the Early Music Network International Young Artists' Competition in 2001. Pieter Dirksen, who is also based in Utrecht, was excellent as well.

After this final pleasure for the ears, the only conference business remaining was to decide where the next party would be held. After hearing three proposals at the Sunday morning business meeting, the conference attendees voted overwhelmingly to hold the conference in 2006 in Warsaw. I have always wanted to visit Poland, and now I have a great excuse.


American Paintings at the National Gallery

There is a little two-room exhibit on the East Building mezzanine of the National Gallery of Art here in Washington, called American Masters from Bingham to Eakins: The John Wilmerding Collection. (Joseph Smith played a concert of America music on May 23, as part of the gallery's famous concert series, which was reviewed on Ionarts on June 6.) The Web feature for this exhibit is particularly extensive, for such a small show, including a narrative description of the show and beautiful images of the paintings and other works (including this nifty zoomable slideshow). What this sort of Internet presentation says to me is, "We know that everyone around the world won't be able to come to Washington to see this exhibit, and we want to make the art available to those people." That is exactly what museums should do. Why don't more of them do it?

Dr. John Wilmerding teaches art history, formerly at Dartmouth and now at Princeton, and was for about a decade curator and then deputy director of the National Gallery. His books and exhibit work have focused on American art, a passion that he indulged as a collector, too. It may seem strange to think that Dr. Wilmerding would have to keep the fire of American art alive, while teaching in the United States and curating at the National Gallery, but according to their press release, "when the National Gallery of Art opened in 1941, its collection included fewer than a dozen historical American paintings." Dr. Wilmerding has been at least partially responsible for righting that outrageous wrong. These 51 works from his own collection, now donated to the museum, signify Dr. Wilmerding putting his money where his mouth always was.

Some of the artists (Andrew Wyeth, John Marin, Thomas Eakins, Winslow Homer, George Caleb Bingham) represented here have become familiar enough, but there were many names new to me, like Frederic Edwin Church, Alvan Fisher, William Stanley Haseltine, Martin Johnson Heade, Fitz Hugh Lane, Adelheid Dietrich, Thomas Charles Farrer, John Frederick Kensett, George Henry Smillie, and William Trost Richards. (The Web site for the exhibit has a lot of links for information on these lesser painters, as well as links to other works by them in the National Gallery's collection.) Most of the works are rugged landscapes, seascapes, and still lifes of floral arrangements and fruit, probably the sort of work that represented painters' bread and butter, and as such didn't really stand out as I walked through the exhibit. It is all beautiful but not remarkable.

For me, the highlights of the show included Eakins's splendid Portrait of Dr. William Thomson (1906), an oil study for the finished portrait now in the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia. The Web site describes this muted brown, sketchy painting as "one of the most empathetic portraits" of Eakins's career, and the sense of calm mastery of medical knowledge (the subject was a leading physician in the treatment of eye diseases, and he holds an ophthalmoscope in his hand) that radiates from this image really impressed me. Again, the Web site gives us the following information that rounds out my appreciation of the work:

By the time Eakins asked Thomson to sit for him in 1906, the two men were well acquainted: Eakins had been one of Thomson's patients for more than a decade, and the two had long shared a fascination with optics and the complexities of vision. Dr. Thomson was one of Eakins' few contemporaries who knew that the artist was losing his sight.
It is one of the largest works in the exhibit, so it is given pride of place in the second room.

John Frederick Peto, Take Your Choice, 1885, National Gallery of Art, John Wilmerding CollectionAmong the smaller sketches and watercolors, I was taken with Eastman Johnson's Seated Man (1863), a pair of pencil sketches on paper. The largest image shows a seated African-American man, described on the Web site as follows:
His boots, jacket, and high-buttoned shirt suggest a livery costume. It is possible that the youth (likely a freedman) was employed to assist with military horses, coaches, or wagons. Although drawn with great care, as if intended to serve as a preparatory sketch for a studio painting, no larger work incorporating this figure has been identified. Eastman Johnson was one of America's most acomplished genre painters. His willingness to produce images that touched on the most hotly debated issue of the day—the abolition of slavery—thrust Johnson to the forefront of those willing to address African American subjects on the eve of the Civil War.
The strangest painting, I thought, and also my favorite was John Frederick Peto's Take Your Choice (1885), shown here, a whimsical study of a box of old books:
While the battered volumes reflect human struggle, they also suggest the triumph of creativity. As John Wilmerding has written, "Peto's books stand as embodiments of culture as diverse as the shapes and colors of the volumes themselves. For him books were more than inert things lying around tables or shelves; they were unexpected but accessible incarnations of art."
In my opinion, the most beautiful book is a tattered book, a book that looks like it has been not only read but well thumbed, carried around in a pocket or under an arm, that has visibly lived with people and not just gathered dust on a shelf. Standing in the museum, I briefly gave thought to changing the name of this blog to "Take Your Choice" and using the painting as the head image. For the time being, however, those eyes will continue their vigilant observation at the top of this page. You can take a look, as I did, at the other works of art by John Frederick Peto in the gallery's collection. Even though I am a sucker for well-executed genre painting, Take Your Choice is the best of them.

American Masters from Bingham to Eakins: The John Wilmerding Collection will be on view to the public until January 30, 2005. This exhibit was also reviewed by Paul Richard, John Wilmerding, Giving His Awe for American Art (Washington Post, May 9).

Manchester Baroque Conference (Part 5)

This is a continuation of Ionarts coverage of the Eleventh Biennial International Conference on Baroque Music in Manchester, England. Here are Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

Other interesting research I heard about in Manchester include a paper (abstract) by Deborah Kauffman on a particular musical arrangement she calls violons en basse. That is the label applied by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in a letter to Grimm, to a technique found in French motets, ballets, and operas, in which the musical texture is reduced to treble instruments and a treble voice, with the violins playing a basse continue line in their own register. (Praetorius uses the humorously diminutive term bassette for the same concept.) This practice is related to the contrasting sound of the petit chœur and is used by composers, Prof. Kauffman believes, to signify youth, innocence, the pastoral, and peace. For this paper, she identified 33 examples of this sort of musical texture, from pieces dated 1701 to 1753, enough to place this technique in the "common musical language of topics that was so central to eighteenth-century rhetoric."

The most convincing pieces she presented as typical of this association included the opening of Couperin's motet Adolescentulus sum ego (1703); "Sur ces bords fortunés, sung by Diane in the prologue of Rameau's opera Hippolyte et Aricie (1733); and "Regnez, aimable paix," sung by L'Amour in the same prologue; "Monarche redouté," Orpheus's plea to Pluto for Eurydice's life (sung by soprano), in Cléreambault's Orphée (1710); and "Tout cède au charme" in the first act of Rameau's Naïs (1749), in which Neptune, in disguise, attempts to woo a young nymph. In the question period following this paper, Jean-Paul Montagnier added that numerous examples can be found in the work of Charles-Hubert Gervais, and Lionel Sawkins said the same is true of the motets of Michel-Richard de Lalande, where there are about 30 or 40 such examples, by his estimation. Catherine Gordon-Seifert suggested that the rhetorical significance of the technique was more general, perhaps presenting a musical sound that was distinctly feminine.

Cellist and musicologist John Lutterman gave a paper on the Bach Suites for Solo Cello as Artifacts of Improvisational Practices (abstract), which dealt more generally with the question of the concept of a finished written work (a modern concept) and notated music as a basis for improvisation and spontaneous recomposition (a much more Baroque concept). In this way of looking at especially Baroque music for solo instruments, the written score may be simply a road map to show a performer how to improvise. The solo cello suites will always be fascinating (see the Ionarts double review of Mischa Maisky's recent performance in Washington), but it was not really clear how Lutterman thinks these ideas should be applied to performances of them, although it is an interesting concept.

The most exciting of the many Bach sessions was a round table led by Christoph Wolff, who teaches at Harvard and is the director of the Bach-Archiv in Leipzig. The Bach-Archiv (founded and supported by the East Germans before reunification) and the Johann-Sebastian-Bach-Institut in Göttingen (supported by the West Germans), working in tandem, have nearly completed the absolutely indispensable critical edition of the works of J. S. Bach, the Neue Bach-Ausgabe (NBA), and they now plan to extend their editing work to other members of the Bach family. The work on the NBA has thoroughly revolutionized our understanding of the works of J. S. Bach, and I have no doubt that the new editions will do the same. The other major research projects undertaken by the Bach-Archiv include a thorough combing of primary documents housed in small archives around Germany. This type of work—examining one by one every possible financial or personal document for any information about Bach—is something that individual scholars could never undertake, but a research institution like the Bach-Archiv can and is doing. According to Prof. Wolff's report, they have already found a number of significant documents in this way, previously unknown, and more will almost certainly come to light. Yoshitake Kobayashi and Kirsten Beisswenger presented their work on a catalogue of copyists' hands in sources used to compile the NBA, painstaking paleographical work that will also be published by the Bach-Archiv.

Other sessions I found interesting included Élisabeth Gallat-Morin's paper (abstract) on the presence and performance of French Baroque music in New France (Canada); the discussion session on starting an association of scholars interested in examining J. S. Bach's music in its theological and liturgical contexts (abstract); and Peter Holman's paper (abstract) on Italian cellist and composer Lorenzo Bocchi's career in Edinburgh and Dublin. There were many more that I could not attend.

Go to Part 6.


Hojotoho! Hojotoho! Heiaha! Heiaha!

It's that time of year, when people travel around the world to spend hours upon hours in a darkened theater. Yes, it's the Bayreuth Festival, that annual orgiastic resurrection of Wagner's operas. Alex Ross, music critic for The New Yorker, is living out my dream (see post from August 12, 2003): he has posted photographs of his visit to Bayreuth on The Rest Is Noise. We look forward to more Bayreuth blogging, and to Alex's review of the Christoph Schlingensief production of Parsifal in the magazine next week (for now, Alex will say only that the production is "probably fated to be known as the 'dead rabbit Parsifal' "). The news reports on the Parsifal premiere are mixed:

German crowd jeers Wagner opera, July 26, BBC News:

A staging of Wagner's opera Parsifal by controversial German director Christoph Schlingensief was loudly booed at the opening of the Bayreuth Festival.
Wagner Festival Starts Without Scandal, July 26, Deutsche Welle:
The 2004 Wagner Festival opened with a controversial production of "Parsifal" on Sunday. But despite some booing, many in the audience agreed that the director's work was an interesting and courageous interpretation.
Opéra: une mise en scène contestée de "Parsifal" ouvre le festival de Bayreuth, July 26, TV5 (Agence France-Presse):
The 93rd Bayreuth Festival opened Sunday night with a new production of Wagner's Parsifal, whose director, the German Christoph Schlingensief, was booed by a majority of the audience, but without that reception turning into a scandal, as the German press had predicted. . . . Pierre Boulez, given a standing ovation by the entire audience, has come back to the hidden orchestra pit of Bayreuth, after a 24-year absence.
"Parsifal" applaudi (Parsifal applauded, with a nice picture), July 26, Le Nouvel Observateur:
The controversy that had been predicted was largely absent. . . . The Parsifal production, described as a mixture of national mythology and images borrowed from African cultures, inspired applause and none of the expected booing.
Werner Theurich, Schlingensiefs "Parsifal": Bilderflut, Bilderwut ("A flood of images, a rage of images," with lots of great photos in the article), July 26, Der Spiegel:
Never before was a premiere at the Bayreuth Wagner Festival awaited with greater tension than Christoph Schlingensief's Parsifal. But the "provocation pro" disappointed the sensation-greedy: instead of scandalous ideas, the director presented well-matched Pop aesthetics.
Bayreuther Festspiele ohne Skandal eröffnet (Bayreuth Festival offers up no scandal), July 25, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:
The theatrical troublemaker, who has created his first opera production, received some violent booing at Sunday evening's premiere in the Festspielhaus, but this was easily outweighed in the end by applause. While opinions about the production diverged, agreement prevailed over the achievement of Pierre Boulez: the French conductor presided over a great musical moment at the Richard Wagner Festival.
As we knew he would, A. C. Douglas at sounds & fury had already pronounced the failure of the Schlingensief production, because and he later noted that the tenor singing Parsifal criticized it. The new controversy, apparently, is that Schlingensief has accused tenor Endrik Wottrich of racism, saying that he doesn't like the production because of its imagery of Africans (Ist der Tenor ein Rassist? [Is the tenor a racist?], July 26). (In response to this post, he expressed his hope that an accident would prevent Boulez from conducting the opera at Bayreuth. "Doesn't ACD realize that Boulez 'saved Parsifal'," he asked impishly: see Tom Service, How I rescued Parsifal, July 23, in The Guardian.) If you can't make it to Bayreuth but you want to hear the operas, ACD has a list of live streaming radio feeds for some of the performances at the top of his blog, although I haven't been able to make them work properly. Yet.

Manchester: Baroque Music Conference (Part 4)

This is a continuation of Ionarts coverage of the Eleventh Biennial International Conference on Baroque Music in Manchester, England. Here are Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Jean-Paul C. Montagnier, Charles-Hubert Gervais: Un musicien au service du Régent et de Louis XV, 1671–1744, 2001I was finally able to meet Jean-Paul Montagnier, whose book on Charles-Hubert Gervais (Charles-Hubert Gervais: Un musicien au service du Régent et de Louis XV, 1671–1744, shown here) I reviewed for Music & Letters in 2003. He gave a paper on the extension of the cadential 6/4 chord in the French grand motet, relating it to theoretical examples from Rameau and other theorists. In his examples, the 6/4 chord is extended in thirds to a very dissonant chord that resolves to the dominant chord. Rather than being tempted to "correct" such a structure, he demonstrated that composers were encouraged to use this type of harmony by misreading theoretical treatises of the time. After his paper, we spoke about his book on Gervais and a part of my review with which he disagreed (on the question of what happened to the concept of the proper liturgical texts in the Chapelle Royale in France).

Catherine Gordon-Seifert gave a paper about erotic symbols in French Baroque airs (abstract). Using examples from treatises on love and morality from the 17th century (like Albert Flamen's Devises et emblèmes d'Amour moralisez, 1653, Otto Van Veen's Amorum emblemata figuris, 1608, and the famous "Carte de Tendre" from Madeleine de Scudéry's novel Clélie, 1654), she showed how phrases from 17th-century airs de cour—best represented in the works of Michel Lambert—were part of the salon culture of the précieuses, with their evocation of attraction and seduction.

John Powell gave a paper on Lully's ballet Psyché (1670), the critical edition of which he has prepared for the Lully complete works (from Georg Olms Verlag in Hildesheim). This ballet was the last collaboration between Lully and Molière, and it was produced originally for the lavish salle des machines in the now-destroyed Palais des Tuileries (see post on February 16). The list of collaborators also included playwrights Philippe Quinault (who became Lully's librettist) and Pierre Corneille, leading Voltaire to write in the 18th century of this work that only Racine was missing from the list of great dramatic authors of the period. John S. Powell, Music and Theatre in France, 1600–1680What John traced was the way that the work was transformed, after its initial Parisian performances, when it was taken on the road and performed in unusual venues in Chantilly (where, in a famous story, a chef named Vatel threw himself on his sword after messing up the king's dinner) and in the king's newly acquired fortresses at Doncheri and Dunkerque, in lands that were taken from the Netherlands. When the troupe returned to Paris, a reduced version was performed in Molière's theater in the Palais-Royal. Lully and Quinault later made an operatic version of the same story in 1678. I also reviewed John's excellent book (Music and Theatre in France, 1600–1680), for Music & Letters in 2001. John has an excellent Web site on Music and Theater in 17th-Century France.

Go to Part 5.


Ionarts in Manchester: Charpentier's Four Seasons

This is a continuation of Ionarts coverage of the Eleventh Biennial International Conference on Baroque Music in Manchester, England. Here are Part 1 and Part 2.

ChopinWe were treated to two concerts as part of the Baroque Conference, which took place in the octagonal Brown Shipley Concert Hall on the campus of the Royal Northern College of Music. Ludwika Nitschowa's Giacomettiesque bronze sculpture, shown at right, in the lobby of this building was given in 1973 by the Fryderyk Chopin Society in Warsaw. It commemorates a concert that Chopin gave in Manchester, to an audience of 1,200 people, on August 28, 1848, on his way to several engagements in Scotland. Thanks to the RNCM and other groups like the Manchester Chamber Concerts Society and the Manchester Opera House, there is still plenty of good music to hear in Manchester.

The first concert we heard, on Thursday night (July 15), featured sopranos Claire Tomlin and Nicola Mills, with Robert Rawson on bass viol. Peter Holman (professor of musicology at the University of Leeds since 2000 and consultant in period performance at the RNCM since 2002) put the concert together and played the chamber organ. Peter is well known as the founder and director of The Parley of Instruments, a group I heard in the opera theater of the Château of Versailles last fall (see review on October 14, 2003), and as the author and editor of numerous articles and editions. This program of music was selected to honor the tricentennial year of Baroque composers Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1645–1704) and Heinrich Biber (1644–1704), who both died 300 years ago this year.

The main work on the program was Charpentier's Quatuor Anni Tempestates (H. 335 to 338, from 1685), or The Four Seasons (on the recording shown below, by a different group). These works for two sopranos set texts selected, apparently by the composer, from the Song of Songs, and they were performed in order, in alternation with other pieces of music. The first of these motets, Ver (Spring), begins with the words "Surge propera amica mea," and its first part appears to be in a responsorial form (with a "verse" followed by the return of "Surge propera amica mea"). However, its liturgical function, if it had any, is confused by the addition of a second part, "Et cito pulchra es." The texts selected for spring include references to winter being past, flowers and other plants appearing on the earth, and birdsong. This was followed by an actual motet, Sicut spina rosam genuit (H. 309), a text proper to the Nativity of the Virgin Mary (September 8). This piece was truly responsorial in form, with a verse in triple meter followed by the return of the respond.

The next piece was Æstas (Summer, "Nolite me considerare") is a dialogue, reflecting the narrative structure of the source text. In reference to summer, the female voice says, "Do not look upon me for I am dark, because the sun has looked on me" (Nolite me considerare quod fusca sim quia decoloravit me sol, Song of Songs 1:5). This is answered by the male voice, "You are black but comely" (Nigra es sed formosa), which is a modified version of the Biblical text. The final section, to the words "Quia moriar amore" (for I die of love), is set to languishing music that seems to indicate the secular function of these four pieces. The fourth selection was Biber's Salve Regina (1663), with Claire Tomlin singing the missing soprano part, reconstructed by Peter Holman. As this piece was composed when Biber was only 19, as Peter put it before they performed it, "some of it's fairly crude."

Available at Amazon:
Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Quatuor Anni Tempestates and three motets, Strasbourg Parlement of Musique
The third season, Autumnus ("Osculetur me osculo oris sui" [Let him kiss me with the kiss of his mouth]), has text that is not particularly autumnal, since there is no mention of that time of year in the Song of Songs. A few references to harvesting, wine, and feasting are what Charpentier brings together, and the final section ("comedite amici et bibite et inebriate" [eat, friends, and drink and get drunk]) is set with virtuosically tipsy melismas that were quite thrilling. A short piece by Gottfried Finger, the Sonata no. 4 in D minor, for bass viol and continuo, came next. The two sopranos returned for the last season, Hyems (Winter), which is the longest of the four pieces, in several sections. Other than the opening text, "Surge aquilo et veni auster" (Awake, north wind, and come, south wind), there is nothing that is particularly wintry here either, so most of the text focuses on the search of the female voice for her lover. One section, "Quæsivi eum et non inveni" (I sought him but found him not), is absolutely charming. The final piece was Charpentier's early setting of the Marian antiphon Regina cæli lætare (H. 32), with text-painted melismas scurrying upwards on the word "resurrexit" (he has risen).

After this concert, I went out to dinner with a group of friends from New Zealand and Peter Holman, at an Indian restaurant in a part of Manchester famous for its curry places. I learned there that Claire Tomlin is a singer who works with Peter regularly in the Parley of Instruments, among other groups. Although Nicola Mills is a soprano based in Manchester, who has never performed with Peter or Claire before, their two voices were perfectly matched for this program of two-soprano pieces. This type of work, in which two treble voices are like soaring twins, was so important in the Baroque period, as the vocal equivalent of the trio sonata. (The best Italian examples were composed by Claudio Monteverdi, such as my favorite, his Salve Regina for two sopranos—published in the Selva morale e spirituale, 1640—which two soprano friends performed at my wedding. It was recorded memorably on this 1991 recording by Emma Kirkby and Christopher Hogwood, Venice Preserved.) Peter Holman said that he wants to put together a program of two-soprano works for these two women, which would be something I would like to hear. Their work on this concert, especially in the Charpentier Four Seasons, was excellent. Bass violist Robert Rawson (who presented a paper on Biber at the Baroque Conference) seemed most comfortable accompanying the vocal pieces, and his only solo appearance was not sparkling, although the Finger piece is not particulary memorable.

Go to Part 4.


Ionarts in Manchester: Baroque Conference (Part 2)

This is a continuation of Ionarts coverage of the Eleventh Biennial International Conference on Baroque Music in Manchester, England. Here is Part 1.

Available at Amazon:
Bruce Gustafson and David Fuller, A Catalogue of French Harpsichord Music, 1699–1780 (1990)
I heard many interesting papers while attending the Baroque Conference, so I thought I would pass along some notes on some of them that might be of interest. Bruce Gustafson, known for his catalogue of French Baroque keyboard music (with David Fuller, shown here) is undertaking an exciting new edition of the music of Chambonnières. He read a paper presenting some findings from that work (abstract). Why do we need such an edition, when Thurston Dart published a still available edition in 1969? Because Bruce and others have discovered a number of new musical sources, and this edition is going to take a new approach by publishing, side by side, different versions of many works, representing changes in embellishment especially. The intention is to allow performers to see the range of choices preserved in Baroque sources.

In the same session, David Fuller spoke about his work on editing the organ music, especially the fugues, of Louis Couperin (abstract). Study of these works has been hampered by the fact that the principal manuscript source for them, the so-called Oldham manuscript, has been in private hands for some time. This unusual source includes thirty of Louis Couperin's fugues, with year and sometimes even date of composition noted: Fuller hypothesizes that it was copied, perhaps after the composer's death, from a pile of untidy manuscripts in the composer's papers. He announced that L'Oiseau-Lyre has obtained the rights to publish a facsimile of this manuscript, planned for next year (a transcription was published by the manuscript's owner last year). In the meantime, the publisher has offered to send photocopies of the manuscript to interested scholars. These fugues, composed precisely during the years when the fugue was being transformed into a free-standing genre, will enhance our understanding of the fugal genre when they are better known.

A brilliant researcher from the Centre de Musique Baroque, Gérard Géay, gave a talk, mostly impromptu from the keyboard, on his ideas about how the minor mode developed from its ancestral modal harmony in the 17th century (abstract). The CMBV's work encompasses a broad range of French and Italian music in the Baroque period, and that experience of Baroque music and theory gives its researchers an unusual perspective on music history. One of the reasons that Gérard said he undertook this study was to understand polyphonic modality, before harmonic language became truly tonal, so that in its editions the CMBV might have the understanding not to "correct mistakes" that are not mistakes. Essentially, all music historians are trained in tonal harmony by studying Bach chorales and classical music, but music before 1700 worked under rather different assumptions. To put Gérard's thesis in technical language, which is the only way to discuss it, the deuterus mode, when extended in polyphony so that the question of ambitus became largely academic, was problematic. As a result, its cadences were often modified to end on chords based on A instead of on E, which essentially gives us the flavor of the modern minor tonality.

Go to Part 3.


One Year of Ionarts

Amazingly enough, today also happens to be the first anniversary of the appearance of this blog, on July 23, 2003, with a post that is far from being the most interesting one I have ever written. (Note to anyone who is thinking of starting a weblog: make your first post something you will be proud of in a year.) This site has gone from those humble beginnings to a collaborative project I never imagined, thanks to all the contributors, now numbering four and sure to increase.

The arts blog is a juggernaut phenomenon, part of this developing medium, blogging, whose prominence continues to increase. One of our number, the ever-present Terry Teachout at About Last Night, has even been nominated to serve on the National Council on the Arts. We wish Terry the best of luck on getting confirmed: Tyler Green and I have your back covered here in Washington. When Terry is elected President of the United States, I will be happy to be nominated as Librarian of Congress or another cultural position. Perhaps he will send me as Cultural Attaché to the American Embassy in Paris. I can dream, can't I? When Terry gets to the White House, I hope he will get cracking on the Ionarts Proposal (March 28).

What good news came our way on our birthday? We thank Alex Ross, at The Rest Is Noise, for mentioning some recent posts by Jens and me. Alex is at work on a top secret summer project and leaves for Bayreuth today: we wish him safe travels and look forward to reading his notes from Wagner Central. We have also just learned of the Internet resurrection of A. C. Douglas, who is blogging again at sounds & fury. No matter what his new title may lead you to think, the last thing ACD will do is "signify nothing." Welcome back! Mark Sarvas at The Elegant Variation writes about Petrarch climbing Mont-Ventoux (actually from July 21). As Mark surely knows, Ventoux is also a peak sacred to cycling (see my review of Les Triplettes de Belleville). As you will recall, this is a 700th anniversary year for Petrarch (see post on June 1).

The bad news? As I discover every year, the worst drawback of traveling is the damage it does to your garden. I live in the city, so I am responsible for a tiny patch of land, but it has really gone to hell in the space of a few weeks. I'll be pulling weeds between rain storms today. If you are new to Ionarts, or if you are a regular reader, maybe you would like to take a walk down memory lane in the Ionarts Archives: take off your shoes and stay a while. Thanks to everyone for reading!

ó nostoV

What parallel courses did Bloom and Stephen follow returning?

From Manchester, by way of Philadelphia and Chicago (long story), I am back home in Washington. The temperature is about 20° warmer than what I experienced in England and France, but there is just as much rain so far. There are still a few Europe posts that will appear here for the next couple days, after which we will return to our regularly scheduled programming. On the return trip, my suitcase was weighed down with a stack of purchases from that temple to the religion of bibliomania, Gibert Joseph (26, bd Saint-Michel, on the edge between the 5th and 6th arrondissements). Now that I have just finished Ulysses and feel completely submerged in language, it's on to some French reading.

In the meantime, to note in the world of museums:

In an article (Un jeu de constructions pour conter l'aube de l'humanité [A game of construction to tell the story of humanity's dawn], July 21) for Le Monde, Emmanuel de Roux describes a new museum in the Dordogne region of France, the Musée national de préhistoire (Web site still under construction at the time of writing), in Les Eyzies-de-Tayac-Sireuil. It was planned in the 1970s and has finally opened to the public, as of July 20. The location, in the Vézère River valley, is an area dense with paleolithic historical sites. Also see Emmanuel de Roux, Les Eyzies, capitale de la préhistoire depuis plus d'un siècle (in Le Monde, July 22).

I just discovered the Centre national de la cinématographie in France.

Souren Melikian was in Washington not too long ago, and he has published a review (The Arab imprint on Spanish history, July 17) in the International Herald Tribune on an exhibit (Caliphs and Kings: The Art and Influence of Islamic Spain) at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery (until October 17). That exhibit should round out a full day of museum going for me, now that I'm home, if I combine it with Palace and Mosque: Islamic Art from the Victoria and Albert Museum (at the National Gallery of Art until February 6).


The Legacy of Carlos Kleiber on Disc

See also: In Memoriam Carlos Kleiber

available at Amazon
L.v.Beethoven, Symphonies 5 & 7,
C.Kleiber / WPh
DG Originals

available at Amazon
L.v.Beethoven, Symphonies 5 & 7,
C.Kleiber / WPh

Carlos Kleiber was notoriously difficult to lure to the recording studio. Whenever he did record, however, something magical was sure to come out. His Beethoven 5th (and 7th) Symphony are unanimously hailed as the versions to measure all others against. They continue to stand the test of time, and re-released as a SACD, this Deutsche Grammophone Originals disc ought to be the cornerstone of every music-lover's library. It will continue to outshine, outsell, outlive all other rivals. Forget 'historically informed', forget discussions about tempo... under Kleiber this work is everything you can imagine it to be, and all along it will always sound 'just right'. Never forced, never wilful, there is not a hint of 'interpretation' - just music at its most frightening, at its most beautiful, lyrical... Enjoy!

available at Amazon
J.Brahms, Symphony No.4,
C.Kleiber / WPh

His Brahms 2nd was a staple of his painfully narrow repertoire. Unfortunately, he did not record it for DG (though it's available on DVD). Instead, we have a splendid Brahms 4th from him. "Swaggering gait" is attested to in the stupendous Scherzo, and the playing from the Vienna forces (the recording is from 1981 and sounds great, still!) is impeccable. Not the most lyrical of accounts, but one of the most important - in brass armour and unstoppable forward momentum. It is Carlos Kleiber on record, at mid-price, so we are not asking for a coupling... petty questions reserved for lesser gods of the recording industry. I am still a sucker for my Brahms symphonies with the late Günter Wand (RCA, Brahms Symphonies 1-4), but I would not want to be without this one, either.

Tristan und Isolde took a special place in his musical life, and it should, in ours, as well. Alas, his DG recording from Dresden with Margaret Price as Isolde, Brigitte Fassbaender as Brangäne, René Kollo as Tristan, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau as Kurwenal, and Kurt Moll as King Marke is not without fault. The interpretation is lithe and gorgeous, and the balance and the remastered sound are superb, though some describe it as a bit metallic.
available at Amazon
R.Wagner, Tristan und Isolde,
C.Kleiber / Staatskapelle Dresden

Margaret Price is not the dramatic soprano usually tackling Isolde, but her voice is beautiful and works well for most of the opera's length. Gramophone's Alan Blythe thought that Brigitte Fassbaender would have made a better coupling with a different Isolde, but I am taken by her Brangäne entirely. Kollo and Dieskau are not the backbone of this recording, while Kurt Moll is his usual flawless, moving, exceptional self as Marke. With Furtwängler, Barenboim, Böhm, the endless Bernstein, perhaps even the new Thielemann (see Dip Your Ears, No. 7), this is not the natural first choice.

available at Amazon R.Wagner, Tristan & Isolde,
Kleiber, 1974 Bayreuth
Opera D'oro

UK | DE | FR

>available at Amazon R.Wagner, Tristan & Isolde,
Kleiber, 1974 Bayreuth

UK | DE | FR
There is, however, a recording of the most sublime Tristan moment in Kleiber's life, his 1974 Bayreuth performance. Helge Brilioth as Tristan is no Wolfgang Windgassen, and he seems to be concerned about economy at times, but it pays off in Act II, I am told. Catarina Ligendza is strange in a good way: naive, childlike, and at the same time threatening. Donald McIntyre was past his prime, but Yvonne Minton made for one of the finest performances of a Brangäne. For Kurt Moll the usual statement applies. The Melodram recording (less expensive than one might expect because this Tristan fits on three CDs) captures the sound of Bayreuth well enough, and magic happens as Kleiber conducts with fire, unearthing little nuances that others throw away, always in the interest of the piece at large. For the Kleiber-Tristan experience, this is the recording to get... though I would still want to own a studio Tristan besides it.

available at Amazon
C.M.v.Weber, Der Freischütz,
C.Kleiber / Staatskapelle Dresden

Sticking with opera, Carl Maria von Weber's Der Freischütz, often considered to be the first true German opera, with Kleiber—recorded in 1973 with excellent sound—has few rivals (Rafael Kubelik on Decca being the only serious available one) and has garnered much praise. Gramophone's John Warrack feels that some of the tempi are not as he would want them but underscores how interesting and full of insight this recording is. (His colleague Alan Blyth, however, does not care for the whole thing much.) The cast is fairly impeccable with Gundula Janowitz as Agathe, Peter Schreier as Max, Bernd Weikl as Ottokar, Theo Adam as Caspar, etc., and the result is delectable to my ears. For anyone with a hankering for German Romantic opera, this is an ought-to-have.

available at Amazon
G.Verdi, La Traviata ,
C.Kleiber / Bavarian State Orchestra

Opera yet again, this time Verdi's La Traviata, one of Kleiber's staples. Available in three different versions (apart from the regular issue also as Centenary Collection, and SACD!) it is famous for Ileanas Cotrubas—a light, fragile, and wholly believable Violetta, not a showstopper but a woman, now sick, albeit with amazing vocal control. Quibbles about tempi among critics occur, but this is such a well-judged performance that, due to a few cuts, none of which are disconcerting to me, conveniently fits on two CDs. Placido Domingo as Alfredo and Sherill Milnes as Germont don't hurt either... and for anyone wanting a dramatic and moving Traviata rather than purest vocal fireworks, this would be the set to go to.

available at Amazon
J.Strauss Jr., Die Fledermaus,
C.Kleiber / Bavarian State Orchestra

Die Fledermaus (The Bat), the light and fun operetta by Johann Strauss, Jr., was another favorite of Carlos Kleiber's - and it 'hears' on this recording, perhaps the finest Fledermaus on disc. What saddens me, who is used to seeing the operetta in full, with all the dialog, is that the latter is cut. A particular shame since the direction was with the incomparable August Everding. Everyone else, it seems, takes objection to Ivan Rebroff singing the role of Prince Orlofsky in falsetto, a 'trouser-role' for mezzo soprano. Amidst Julia Varady (Rosalinde), Lucia Popp (Adele), Hermann Prey (Eisenstein), René Kollo (Alfred), Bernd Weikl (Doctor Falke), et al., this doesn't quite concern me as much, though—especially since I am not convinced by a real mezzo as Prince Orlofsky either. A minor annoyance can be that changing discs takes place more or less mid-Act II finale. Alas, anyone with a disc changer
available at Amazon
F.Schubert, Symphonies 3 & 8 ("Unfinished"),
C.Kleiber / WPh

and no desire to hear funny German (oxymoron?) dialogue has no excuse but to own this version.

Schubert, at last, including the 3rd Symphony he conducted so often. But neither the 3rd nor the 8th, the "Unfinished," convince 100%. "Hard driven" is a term rightly ascribed to the unduly fast tempi that Kleiber employs, especially in the 8th. The musicianship is still extant, and amply so... the Vienna Philharmonic plays superbly, and the sonics are good. The spirit of Schubert (or at least my conventional understanding of it), seems to have been AWOL. Perhaps this isn't so bad, if for no other reason than that Kleiber probably has something to say, even if we don't find it fitting our expectations. Still, Solti (also with the VPO) on Decca or Günter Wand on RCA are likely to get more playtime at home.