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Bach Suites, Meyer vs Rabbath!

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Samie, May 4, 2005.


  1. Samie

    Samie

    Dec 13, 2000
    Madrid, Spain
    wow!

    Have you ever listened to the bach suites played by each othe these great master side by side? Night and day.

    They are complete oposites when it comes to interpretation.

    Meyer's presicion versus rabbath expression.

    has anybody made similar comparisons? which did you like best? :eyebrow:
     
  2. B. Johnson

    B. Johnson

    Apr 28, 2005
    Although I respect what Edgar Meyer does a great deal, I have never been a fan of his Bach Cello suites. I think that you have to bring them to life and his interpretations tend to be a bit "flat" for my taste. I have never really listened to Rabbath's recordings. Maybe I will check those out :smug:
     
  3. Samie

    Samie

    Dec 13, 2000
    Madrid, Spain

    Yeah, I have heard that before on meyer. On the other hand Rabbath goes to the other extreme, so much interpretation that it almost takes a while to find out what suite he is in.

    Great contrast in both recordings.

    I had heard meyers first so I might be not be partial.
     
  4. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    You should give Gary Karr a listen, also. Recorded live in his living room as he blisses on Bach and the Georgia Strait...

    I haven't heard the Rabbath yet; I love the Meyer but I prefer the Karr. I like his tone better and it seems more human somehow...
     
  5. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I have heard some of Karr's and I can't listen to it for more than about 8 bars without holding on to something -- like when I'm in the dentist chair.
     
  6. joe_sorren

    joe_sorren

    Apr 7, 2005
    arizona
    I love Edgar's playing on the Bach suites recording. Also, the Fleck/Meyer recording of Music for Two is incredible, and the bonus DVD of the making of the album is nothing short of inspiring. These two albums, along with the Appalachia Waltz keep finding their way into my cd player.

    It's hard for me to understand how some felt the Bach suites were "flat." I guess that is what is great about music. 500 people can hear the same concert and walk away with 500 different opinons about the performance.
     
  7. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Hmmmm. I just listened to at least 12 bars and didn't lose any hair or anything.

    You get Gary Karr at your dentist? I only get bad FM radio. I guess that must be one of those things that makes people <heart> New York.
     
  8. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    :)

    The pitch and sound thing actually hurt when I hear it. Much the way that Ron Carter gets me. Fingernail on a blackboard is the closest analogy that I have.

    Then, that rubato crap on Bach strikes me as ridiculous. It just sounds wrong. Especially on the Cello Suites, which are mostly based on dances. The rubato stuff didn't enter into the vernacular until later, Classical (maybe) and Romantic eras, as I understand it, anyhow.

    It's funny, maybe, but this is something that really strikes me when I listen to the Edgar Meyer hillbilly stuff with Yo Yo and the boys. The drastically different feels between the players and the instruments. On the one with James Taylor, check out 'Benjamin'. They all (Edgar, James, Yo Yo, Mark O'Connor, Alison Krause) take a crack at the melody. If you're really tuned in when you're listening, Yo Yo's rubato classical feel will make you spit/spill your coffee.
     
  9. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Karr sounds like a bass played by a human. I like the imperfection of it...

    The intonation doesn't bother me very much and I've never even thought about the rubato thing.

    I would never argue that one is better than the other. I've gotta admit, too, that I lost my Meyer CD about a year ago and am too cheap to buy it twice!
     
  10. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    There's plenty of imperfection with EM. He just compensates VERY well :)
     
  11. EFischer1

    EFischer1 Guest

    Mar 17, 2002
    New York, New York

    Not true. Check out the book "Bach and the Baroque". It is basically an academic study on how Bach would have been performed in his time. An entire chapter is dedicated to the practice of rubato.

    Aside from the practice of rubato at the time, the book says that a movement based on a dance would usually be played with rubato if there was no one in the room dancing.

    I think the "no rubato" rule came along at the same time as the "no vibrato" rule. As it turns out, the research shows that both of those rules were modern inventions and that in the baroque period musicians would have used both vibrato and rubato.
     
  12. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Well, except for the harpsichord and the fretted viols.

    At any rate -- I ultimately have very little interest in the actual history of it. I'll leave that for the historians and librarians. The thing that makes melody and harmony work are the harmonic tensions and releases against time. Much like a joke, if timed properly is funny -- otherwise it ain't.

    The beauty Bach's music is the harmonic and melodic rollercoaster that he takes you on. If you flatten out the road with all of the rubato stuff you ruin what makes the music great.
     
  13. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I came up with Janos Starker's recordings of the Cello Suites, and I suppose I'm used to them. Edgar's sounds a little "ghostly" to me, but still good in its own way. Haven't heard Karr's, but I can't agree that rubato ruins the suites. Ear of the beholder, I guess.

    Of course, the other side of that argument is that by not adding any rhythmic interpretation to all of those 16th notes, you are "flattening out the road" and ruining the music. I have to agree with HEY JOE on this one: Ask 500 people,.....
     
  14. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Or like Betty Carter with 'It Ain't About the Melody'? The tune is the tune and anything else ain't.

    Of course, everything is open to interperatation, but the real issue is that this is where students are taught to start -- before they've digested what the tune (piece) is all about. Generations of this result in a real 2D view of music. Of course, you have on the other end of the spectrum the historians and librarians (Burnsalis/Ivory Tower types) that miss the point off the other end of the scale.

    What I hear in Bach are these huge/large ideas with a million smaller ideas along the way. Practictioners lose the overall point of his work while myopically focusing on the little ideas. This is where I'm totaly blown away by EM's interperatation; he understands this. I submit that if someone thinks that his approach is flat then he doesn't have the perspective to understand the piece.
     
  15. Ben Joella

    Ben Joella

    May 31, 2004
    Boca Raton, FL
    I couldn't agree more. It's the long (harmonic) phrases that really give the suites their movement/direction. The way Edgar holds his dynamics in check until just the right peak gives a real sense of arrival. I miss that on alot of other bass recordings.
     
  16. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Tell that to Billie. Or Miles. Or anybody else who "rephrased" the melody to their own liking. :)

    That's kind of the point - everybody has their own "scale".


    Okay, but that's what I hear in Mozart and Beethoven as well. And Mahler. And Bartok. Ooh, and Ligeti, too. And for many folks, half the fun of listening to a performance works by these good folks is the question of "what is ____x going to do with this?". It's a crapshoot in which every listener considers a different number from 2-12 the "Winning" roll of the dice. If a performer is honest and giving the music their full attention, I'll listen whether they're a "purist" or an "interpreter". The notes on the page are just the beginning.


    I submit that this last statement could easily be construed as condescending by anyone who doesn't know you and likes Karr's version better (keep in mind, I ain't heard it, but I like Starker's). :)
     
  17. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Well, condescending it may be. I have to be honest with my position, though. And the way I sees it..... :)

    As far as the other 'classical' guys you mention, I'll give full way on that as I'm not as up on that masterial and therefore don't have much of an opinion -- other than the things I'm belly-aching about with Bach sound fine to me when applied there (in my limited exposure).

    As far as the Miles and Lady Day examples, these are some of the exceptions that I mentioned. One of the most extreme examples, off the top of my head, is Chick on 'Now He Sings...' with his rendition of 'We'll Be Together..' The thing that these performances exhibit is a deep understanding of the tune to such a point that a listener will walk away humming the tune or at least be flattened with the contrast from the original inherent in the interperatation -- in other words, even if the listener doesn't know the tune, he'll hear the tune and the rennovation all at the same time.

    For me, both Miles and Billie (two of the greats as far as melody players go) miss the mark here and there. But life begins at the edge of the table, right?
     
  18. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    It's all good - just playing Devil's advocate (or Karr's advocate, if you will). For different takes on Bach, check out the recordings Gould made of the Goldberg variations at two different times in his life...these recordings really put the "variation" in "variations", if you know what I mean.

    Or with Mozart, there are similar "schools". The "old school" guys keep it really reserved and light, claiming that the music speaks for itself and doesn't need any help. The more "romantic" school uses lots more rubato, and (on piano, for instance) more liberal use of "modern" effects such as the damper pedal. I can appreciate both, but I like it somewhere in the middle. That's why hey call it "subjective", I guess.
     
  19. joe_sorren

    joe_sorren

    Apr 7, 2005
    arizona
    Have you ever listened to Rachael Podger's Sonatas & Partitas Vol. 1 for violin?

    This link shows a A/B form gut to metal violin playing with and without vibrato. Her playing is bach-o-riffic I think.

    click here
     
  20. EFischer1

    EFischer1 Guest

    Mar 17, 2002
    New York, New York
    naturally.

    This is the focus of the book. Bach's contemporaries seem to disagree, as their writings show.

    It is very difficult to properly perform bach because he left behind no written indication of how he felt his music should be performed. Thusly, the most accurate indication we have come from those who frequently performed his music and saw his music performed (Quantz, Couperin, etc.).