Thoughts on conservatism vs innovation

Discussion in 'Music [DB]' started by Bruce Lindfield, Dec 13, 2005.

  1. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I think this is a false premise...?

    So I have heard lots of old recordings like you mention , but I have seen the Berlin Philharmonic play several times in the last few years and have many modern recordings...

    I don't think there's any doubt that for sheer sound - the modern recordings and current orchestra, is far better than the old ones - richer bass sound, better accuracy, articulation etc. etc.

    Some of the conductors' interpretations and visions of how certain pieces should be played are certainly preferable and there is certainly a sense in which Conductors like Bruno Walter are closer to somebody like Mahler....and you can't beat Stravinsky conudcting his own pieces...

    But for sheer sound quality, I think there is no doubt that the great modern orchestras have improved as a whole, over their counterparts from previous generations.
  2. Dr Rod

    Dr Rod

    Aug 19, 2005
    Dear Bruce Lindfield

    It's a matter of taste. I am afraid there can be no right or wrong ( or false premise as you say).

    You talk about there being "no doubt" that modern orchestras are better etc... Well, with all due respect, you better believe there will be doubt, and dissent.

    IMHO Bruno walter is too relaxed in Mahler. I prefer Lorin Maazel for Stranvisky pieces to Stravinsky himself, and when I heard R. Strauss conduct his own music I was very disappointed. But I respect your opinion and would suggest that you respect the opinions of others. Frankly I was a bit offended by your absolutist remarks.
  3. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well ...don't you think all those player in the Berliner have grown up listening to those recordings, don't you think that each year, the auditions get harder and have you actually heard them play in the last few years, in the concert hall?

    I've seen them in the Albert Hall and the Royal Festival Hall and I'm sure they get better each year!! :)

    Well - now you are just proving my point - so I was saying personal taste comes into it for conductor's interpretations and that nobody can say which is better...

    But I was just saying that surely each member of the Berliner, has heard their illustrious predecessors more times than we have and will be building on that tradition, experience and the increasing technical expertise of instrument builders and restorers/repairers - if they are going to get into the orchestra, then surely each year they have to get better?
  4. Dr Rod

    Dr Rod

    Aug 19, 2005
    Technique and expertise are not everything. I preferred the BPO 10 years ago than now. To me Rattle has done them a disservice. They sound plain and commonplace. They lost their traditional sound a phrasing. Again, technique and tougher auditions are not everything.

    I know you have heard them live, well I have too, I lived in Berlin for a year when I got married. I studied with Janne Saksala (current member) and Wolfgang Guettler (former member).

    I don't have a problem with your opinion, just with the tone of your first post. I think we shall agree to disagree like good gentlemen.

  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Conservatism vs innovation and inspiration....:eyebrow:

  6. The premise as laid out here, in order to be true, must always be true. It seems that the idea is that orchestras, because they are competitive and are foundational, i.e.- new players building on the past, will always get better, keaner, with each new group of players.

    I'm not saying that newer orchestras are worse or that progress isn't made, Bruce. I simply point out that in other competitive fields that also build on past foundations the later practitioners do not exhibit better "quality", whatever one percieves that to be. For example in photography one could compare the work of geniuses past and present and all along the way, mediocrity exists side by side. I have also seen the "dumbing-down" of educational standards pretty much across the board in USA public schools with the result that record test scores from the 1970's stood in some Georgia counties for 20 years and were only broken when the test was made easier. I must wonder if musical education has not been similarly affected. I know that my hometown high school band in the mid 1960's made a wonderful recording. Since that particular band director left that county, the band has never been as good and the recording proves it. During the 1960's that Georgia county was producing college level music instructors and music professionals. Now, it barely has a band. I use examples that are local to the USA, but these must considered. There are shortages across the country for orchestra and band teachers. Few Georgia public High Schools have orchestras, so there is not the huge pool of competition driving up the quality of the performers. The decrease of the relative value of orchestra players' salaries and the availability of better paying careers causes many skillful players to abandon music as a serious livlihood. Just talk to our own Tbeers.

    Also there is the "Orwellian" factor that you brought up in another thread and I have recently caught wind of actual evidence that this is happening in the UK. That is the marketing of classical music and orchestral music in general through cosmetic control, which certainly could compromise sheer skill. One UK music college bassist recently used the term "facial handicap" and indicated that it was a common term in their school, so you know what I'm talking about, Bruce. Anyway, I think there will always be better and worse players, conductors, and orchestras. The extent to which society appreciates and enjoys and is educated about beautiful music will determine how competitive the current crop is. Also we have to separate whether the recordings we are hearing are just done better nowadays, or whether the engineers of the past were more careful. Again, each era has its' geniuses in the recording field. There are so many variables that one can generalize or rationalize the theory that as time goes on the standards are raised, etc.,etc.,;- but I just don't think this is true in every case and therefore may not be true in the case of orchestral performance.

    So I guess I agree a bit and also disagree because what I agree with you about disagrees with what I disagree with you about. :smug:
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well my main point is that Sir Simon Rattle is a true genius and one of the very few working today - I would go a long way to see him play whatever with whomever - ;)

    But obviously some people aren't going to be ready for his new ideas and fresh appoach and will bemoan a lost tradition - I'm sure it happened to every new conductor of a major orchestra...:)

    I've seen the Berlin Philharmonic play over the last 2-3 years and they have sounded better every time - maybe because they have broken with tradition!!??

    Oh and I'm pretty certain that none of them were chosen for their looks!! :p
  8. All of this discussion is prompting me to look for my Dad's old Deutch-Grammaphone recordings of the Berlin Philharmonic and other renowned orchestras that were producing fine recordings in the 50's and 60's. As well as loving classical and baroque music (my father owned and played 3 recorders and classical guitar) he was also an audiophile and collected many of what were considered to be the "best recordings" of the time of his favorite pieces. What I remember as a child was sneaking over to the stereo and cranking the bass way up on just about anything he had playing;- usually Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, Schubert, etc.

    Dad continued to collect classical recordings on into the 80's but he already had a substatial collection by 1960. I'm sure there are many chances within that collection to compare the gut/ metal strings, recording technology, interpretations, etc. It will take time and contacting other family members but I think the collection is stil intact somewhere.
  9. Dr Rod

    Dr Rod

    Aug 19, 2005
    Dear Bruce

    You wrote: Conservatism vs innovation and inspiration...

    So, in your opinion, I like conservative, non innovative, and non inspirational musicians.

    So inspiration doesn not happen in orchestras like the Staatskapelle Berlin or Dresden?
    these orchestras have a personality and a sound of their own, they are not "conservative", they just don't fit in the high octane contemporaty orchestral sound. Why not leave alone the last 10 orchestras (or so) in the whole world that can still be recognized because of their characteristic playing? this won't get in the way of innovation.

    I have nothing against innovation, I like many innovative performers that have challenged the status quo, and I agree that Rattle is a genius. But I just don't like his interpretations and what he has done to the BPO, that's all.
  10. Francois Blais

    Francois Blais Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    Québec, Canada
    Hey guys. Please cool down.
    We are far from the original question here.
    Should I split the thread into another one titled "Thoughts on innovation vs conservatism" and move it to the Music forum?
    I find the thread interesting, but it doesn't answer the original post anymore.

  11. lucas vigor

    lucas vigor Banned

    Sep 2, 2004
    Orange County, Ca,
    I am reading these posts and wondering what the heck was "offensive" about them?

    There was no mention of sex, religion or politics or obscene/vulgar words.

    I am really confused...were some of the offensive portions already deleted from the thread?

    I can't stand listening to old mono recordings of classical music. I recently purchased some Pablo Casals recordings and was not happy at all!

    My Bartok violin concerto no 2, with Gil Shaham and Pierre Boulez sounds fantastic, however!
  12. Dr Rod

    Dr Rod

    Aug 19, 2005
    Hey Lucas Vigor

    to answer your question, I just over-reacted, I admit it, and appologize publically to Bruce. I have just deleted my tantrum, but my concerns remain the same.

    You see, I love Pablo Casals and don't really like Gil Shaham (don't get me wrong, he is an outstanding performer), I also like many other modern performers, not only dead ones.

    I guess the old performers had just a very different approach to phrasing that is lost nowadays. Some guys like Perlman still have those long phrases.
  13. Francois Blais

    Francois Blais Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    Québec, Canada
    Nothing offensive.
    The original thread in the DB Strings forum was split in half, and this part moved here.
  14. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well it was all part of the same conversation - so the original post was saying that the Berlin Philharnmonic sounded much better with Guts and I was saying that they sounded much better to me now - with their current strings.

    Of course the point is that there are many other considerations which affect sound of an orchestras strings section and it is probably impossible to isolate just the fact of gut vs. steel from the whole equation - it's only in forums like this that this artifical distinction can be made...:meh:
  15. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Thanks, that really adds a lot to the conversation. Filling in your profile would add more, as anonymity tends to be viewed with suspicion down in these parts - especially when the post in question is of a negative nature.
  16. Francois Blais

    Francois Blais Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    Québec, Canada
    the guy has posted 63 messages since he joined TB two days ago. Not bad for a newbie, huh?
    And his signature says he's back.
  17. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    the guy has posted 63 messages

    62 of which are in BG, no less...
  18. Tbeers


    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    GI Joe is awesome. So is the Berlin Philharmonic.

    I'm gonna go listen to my record of Eroica conducted by Karajan.
  19. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Fellas, our user-agreement-challenged friend has just emailed me promising more returns under different usernames. Please keep your eyes peeled and let me and Jon know when you see more idiocy of this nature. Thanks! :)
  20. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    what is a "Speach ?" some sort of hybrid fruit ?