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Thursday, February 24, 2011

more on baroque music, played on a baroque instrument (originally) but in the modern (read: romantic) style

My friend K and I went to the family night, Canadian Opera Company's ensemble version of Mozart's The Magic Flute together. Then K wrote this to me: I was thinking about plays I've seen- versions of Shakespeare for example and how directors so often change the settings of their plays to suit their interpretations.  The words are the same but so much else is changed to be more original and current.  Wasn't the Magic Flute this time much different with costumes, setting etc than the one you saw before?  Isn't that maybe why violinists play Mozart with a more modern technique?  The notes are the same but much is changed.

This is my answer:
I have never seen The Magic Flute before, but you are right - there are lots of reasons to change the "look". I thought this was very successful, and that ol Moz' would have enjoyed the playfulness of this production. I don't always, or even usually, like much updating, but of course it is a tradition of western culture in every art form. Must also say that the audience filled with children was absolutely as well-behaved as any audience, and the kids we were with all enjoyed themselves. I consider it a perfect success for the COC.

On the other hand, music...romantic style playing of baroque music on instruments that are (or at least were) feels like not the same to me, and it is not updated to a "current" style so to speak, so it is like updating from one past paradigm to another, so it's maybe like a contemporary artist, painting a biblical scene in renaissance costume. Or using egg tempera to do campbell soup cans. (Actually, that would work as a joke or piece of conceptual art, but not as the way it's done.) Does my idea come through? It is neither historically accurate nor contemporary. That's what I get from the violin practice. (I guess that's why a lot of stage updates kind of bug me too - Rossini played in the Fascist period is quite common, even banal, and so nowhere.)

K recommends YouTube videos of the differences between baroque and modern violins, and here is a great video on the hardware from Baroque Band. It makes me wonder if the longer modern bow is the reason for more vibrato.

Now here is video of someone playing a baroque violin which is for sale with no vibrato at all,

and here is a video of Kyun Sun playing Vivaldi on a baroque violin with plenty.

Still not sure where this is going. Who has the answers? Writing to James and Tom now. (My homies, obviously.)

The marigold wonders nervously: Is there an actual answer to this? Am I going to find someone who is able to help me figure it out? Will I have to lie awake night after night puzzling it out?

1 comment:

  1. I loved the Four Seasons concert on Baroque - thanks fo rincluding on your blog. I can't think of the last time I listened to it, maybe when Nigel Kennedy played it wearing street threads.
    I wish some current rock and roller would make classical cool again. I was aghast hear recently that a person like Steven Tyler of Areosmith was classical trained, and that he actually knows way more about music than he would have us believe. Wish he'd pass just a little of that onto his fans - a whole new classical audience would open up if guys like that talked it up a bit more.
    Just all to say, I liked your post!