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Discussion: Beethoven: Fidelio - Davis

Posts: 19
Page: 1 2 next

Post by Castor February 10, 2007 (1 of 19)
Michael Tanner reviewing the new LSO Live version of the above in the latest issue of BBC Music thinks that it is one of the greatest accounts he has ever heard, but he then goes on to write:

"... he puts his magnificent achievement at a huge disadvantage by emitting so many expressive groans and grunts as virtually to make himself another instrument in the orchestra, one not scheduled by the composer. He obtrudes especially at moments of quiet intensity, and the dramatic opening of Act 2, largely a series of powerful chords, alternating winds and strings, is equally infuriating. When everything is going full out you can't hear him, but elsewhere I found myself tensing for the next intrusion. Even Glenn Gould was more reticent."

Two questions:

1 Has anyone heard this recording yet?

2 Is there no one at LSO Live with the courage to broach the subject of groaning with Sir Colin?

Post by terence February 10, 2007 (2 of 19)
I haven't heard this recording, but I have no doubt Michael Tanner is right - on other Davis SACD issues I have bought his moaning and grunting has for me ruined the music-making.

I wasn't considering this Fidelio because of it, and now that Tanner has once again highlighted its prominence I definitely won't be purchasing. A real pity, as Tanner is an outstanding judge of opera, and if he says it's a great performance I believe it.

Post by ramesh February 10, 2007 (3 of 19)
If one wrapped a NASA-issue multi-g force nappy around Colin's mouth it'll quite dependably solve the problem.

Post by LSO Live February 11, 2007 (4 of 19)
I'm really surprised at this. Yes, you can hear Sir Colin in a few places, but weíre talking about brief noises and you can count the total number on one hand. It is the only review of Fidelio I have read so far to mention it.

I donít quite understand why Sir Colin has the acquired this reputation. Iíve heard many recordings by other conductors where they (or their players!) can be heard far more frequently.

And the comparison with Gould is absurd. Gould could be heard almost continuously.

Chaz

Post by Jonty February 11, 2007 (5 of 19)
LSO Live said:

I'm really surprised at this. Yes, you can hear Sir Colin in a few places, but weíre talking about brief noises and you can count the total number on one hand. It is the only review of Fidelio I have read so far to mention it.

I donít quite understand why Sir Colin has the acquired this reputation. Iíve heard many recordings by other conductors where they (or their players!) can be heard far more frequently.

And the comparison with Gould is absurd. Gould could be heard almost continuously.

Chaz

I am inclined to agree here. The grunting has been much exaggerated on this site.

Post by Edvin February 11, 2007 (6 of 19)
I agree with LSO Live and Jonty, the grunting from Davis is blown out of proportion. But I would prefer a conductor to be silent. Not too much to ask for, is it.

Post by Castor February 11, 2007 (7 of 19)
Whether one takes the view of Jonty and Edvin or that of Terence et al., the problem still remains.

It must surely be having some effect on the sales figures of the, otherwise excellent, LSO Live issues.

Couldn't Chaz raise the matter with Sir Colin (he doesn't seem that fearsome!) as he may be completely unaware that his vocalisation is audible on the finished recordings?

Post by terence February 11, 2007 (8 of 19)
for what it's worth, i've noticed that the amount of grunting you hear DOES depend on the type of player/equipment you're using. some emphasise/highlight it more than others. that could account for the GAD (Grunt Awareness Disparity) noted in the comments above.

one thing Tanner is certainly right about is that ONCE you've heard it, you can't just start ignoring it. it's like chinese water torture waiting for the next ejaculation to happen.

Post by JordanRowland February 11, 2007 (9 of 19)
I keep noticing it on his LSO Live recording of 'The Dream of Gerontius'. It doesn't really spoil the performance for me, but I'd prefer it if it wasn't there.

Post by Eve February 11, 2007 (10 of 19)
The defensive reaction from LSO Live shows that nothing will be said to Davis - and they can adduce those listeners who don't mind, and (as we know) the many reviewers who simply don't mention it.

I wonder if some of the defenders listen at low levels & consequently hear less of the grunting? Those of us who listen at high volume have noted that most of Davis' excellent LSO Live performances are ruined by the conductor's egocentric ignoring of how distracting his extra-musical contributions are.

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