Cher Public

The allegory of the Currentzis

Teodor Currentzis, the provocative young conductor who has won a string of awards for his reinvention of Mozart’s works, will next year unveil his ‘no compromise’ studio recording of three of the composer’s most famous works. The often black-clad 41-year-old, described as the ‘Nick Cave of classical’…” [The Independent]

  • la vociaccia

    Anyone who pushes that “nonstop vibrato is a 20th century invention” canard is a fucking idiot. Utterly unworthy of discussion

    • PetertheModest

      You need some vibrato.

      • aronocity

        Does anyone know a good history of the use of vibrato in singing? Because I’ve heard that canard used in a lot of places.

        • Howling in Tune

          Thank you!

          One thing’s for sure: listen to recordings of opera singers from before World War II (and even more before World War I) and you hear vibrato way narrower than we get today.

          • la vociaccia

            Yes, narrower, not non-existent. Vibrato happens when you relax; your tongue, palate, and the the space in your mouth and throat determine the quality and texture of the ‘spin.’

            But if you are ‘without’ vibrato, you are either tensing up or shoving it through your nose (or both)

            • PetertheModest

              Are more modern singers relaxing too much ?

            • You know what really gives you the best vibrato IMO…The XTC pill MDMA. It does something with you diaphragm which makes singing the most easy thing ever and the vibrato just flows through your body. I wish I could sing like that without taking drugs lol.

  • Krunoslav

    Fraud alert sounded.

    • armerjacquino

      You WAIT till you hear who he’s cast as Fiordiligi and the Countess…

      • grimoaldo

        “The casts for the first two recordings include – for Le nozze di Figaro – Andrei Bondarenko as Count Almaviva, Simone Kermes as Countess Almaviva, Christian Von Horn as Figaro and Fanie Antonelou as Susanna. The Così fan tutte cast comprises Simone Kermes as Fiordiligi, Malena Ernman as Dorabella, Christopher Maltman as Guglielmo, Kenneth Tarver as Ferrando, Konstantin Wolff as Don Alfonso and Anna Kasyan as Despina.”

        http://www.gramophone.co.uk/classical-music-news/teodor-currentzis-and-sony-classical-to-record-mozart-operas

        I want to hear the recordings even more now.

        • armerjacquino

          Ernman, Maltman, Tarver- lovely.

          However…

        • Krunoslav

          Bondarenko proved nothing special in a recent Zankel appearance singing Handel. Wolff is looks 9, voice 3, no?

        • laddie

          The last I heard from some of these singers is that they had plenty of vibrato.

          I am extremely interested in hearing his approach to Mozart opera though I may not be particularly excited about some of these voices. Maltman as Guglielmo? Now there’s a man with a vibrato. His performances are always mesmerizing nevertheless.

    • grimoaldo

      Idiot or fraud or not, the approach sounds quite interesting to me, I look forward to hearing the recordings.

      • grimoaldo

        Henry Purcell (1659-1695)

        Dido and Aeneas

        End of Act III:
        Dido´s Lament When I am laid in earth, soprano
        Chorus With Drooping Wings

        Simone Kermes soprano
        The New Siberian Singers
        Musica Aeterna
        Direction Teodor Currentzis

        • armerjacquino

          Whatever the original cast of DIDO AND AENEAS sounded like, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Classical Barbra.

      • PetertheModest

        I think some hidden unheard details will become apparent for the first time, which will be interesting, but the overall effect will be diminished.

      • PetertheModest

        Currentzis and the Don (Overture):

        and Donna Anna’s Non Mi Dir:

        I think you lose more than you gain from his approach, especially in the Overture, but it does sound different, and it is interesting, for a change.

        • Quanto Painy Fakor

          Sounds like major hearing loss! But as people age they often don’t want to admit it.

        • laddie

          Very exciting (referring to Don G.) sound. I would love to see him conduct some day.

  • redbear

    His appearances in 2008 and 09 in Paris created quite a stir. For me, he instantly went on my list of top conducting talent. A force of nature. As for when the vocal vibrato started I will leave to others, not wanting to incur the wrath above, I only know that the violin got heavier and louder in the early 20th Century.

    • Maybe your arms just got weaker.

    • la vociaccia

      There is no ‘wrath’ to be incurred. Just science.

      • redbear

        What do you know about violin strings? Speaking of science. Your science tells us that the last half century of HIP study has been a fraud? It’s Fox News Sunday at Parterre and the Rushes are revved up.

        • la vociaccia

          Calm Down. I’m talking about vocal vibrato; which, thank god, HIP (which is actually a movement I’m very fond of) does not regard with such flippancy as currentzis.

          The anti-americanism is always welcome, though.

          • la vociaccia

            And to think WE get accused of xenophobia

            • redbear

              So what are you talking about then?

            • la vociaccia

              Please see my original post at the top of the page. I’m talking about Currentzis claiming that only in the 20th century singers would start to ‘vibrate nonstop,’ which is absurd, and more to the point is moldy chestnut popular among conservatory undergraduates.

              With regards to Violins he may be right; I am not fully informed on that subject, but I do know about the history of singing

        • operaassport

          HIP = hysterically ignorant performance.

          I’m dying to find out what a “no compromise studio recording” of Mozart is.

    • Flora del Rio Grande

      Mr Red Bear: I can tell you that in December 1951 I attended a piano
      dress of Cosi fan tutte at the old Met with Fritz Stiedry and Rudolf Bing
      and Alfred Lunt rehearsing a cast including as Fiordiligi Eleanor Steber.
      I have a vivid recollection of both Stiedry and Bing again and again
      saying “not so loud,” Steber! “Lovely lovely, Eleanor, but not so big
      not so heroic,” said the Maestro. When the first performances came
      Steber had settled down and the ensemble was well balanced and no
      one was too loud. But this actually addresses the matter of the size
      of auditorium in which we hear Mozart. The old Met was too large,
      the new Met is waaaay too large, and having heard Cosi with Schwarzkopf
      two years in a row back in the late 50s at Chicago, I can tell you that
      house is not for Mozart, nor is San Francisco, and so on.
      The newer American houses, Twin Cities, Houston, St Louis have
      better scaled houses — 1000 to 1800 seats is about right; even
      better are the European provincial houses of only a few hundred
      seats. Everyone knows this. Yet, Levine must play his Cosi in that
      airplane hanger. One of these days the leadership at the Met
      will change, and perhaps the richest city in the world will build an
      additional smaller house for Bellini-Mozart-Britten-Gluck and so on.
      That will be a happy day for music lovers in New York.
      Perhaps Mr Currentzis will make his Met opera debut in that
      dreamed-of new house. I cannot see him working in the present one.

      • Howling in Tune

        Flora, James Levine tried for years to get a mini-Met built. My guess is that, when he retires and is asked what his greatest regrets are, not getting a smaller house built will be at the top of his list.

        As for building a new opera house in “the richest city in the world” (though I think that honor might actually belong to Abu Dhabi or Doha), the problem is real estate. The Met, sensibly IMHO, wanted a mini-Met to be on or near the Lincoln Center campus, and they weren’t able to acquire a parcel on which to build one. Levine finally gave up trying.

        These days New York does have at least two opera venues of roughly mini-Met size, though they’re not used exclusively for opera: the BAM Harvey and the Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center, where Lincoln Center, Inc. often presents opera. Linc Inc. also uses the Lynch Theater at John Jay College (10th Ave. @ 58th St.), though I think that isn’t as good a venue.

        • James Levine tried for years to get a mini-Met built.

          Citation, please.

          • Howling in Tune

            Let’s see …

            http://www.nytimes.com/1987/05/27/arts/met-opera-narrows-repertory-plans.html
            5th paragraph and last four paragraphs on page 2

            http://listserv.bccls.org/cgi-bin/wa?A2=OPERA-L;lyfN3w;199604211027255D
            28th and 29th paragraphs
            (why this isn’t on nytimes.com I don’t know)

            http://www.csmonitor.com/1988/1228/lmet.html/(page)/2
            2nd paragraph

            http://tinyurl.com/k4cofw9
            7th and 8th paragraphs

            http://www.paristransatlantic.com/magazine/interviews/rockwell.html
            15th and 16th Q-and-A (about the Rose Theater)

            There was lots more coverage of this issue way back when we were little opera queenlets (I’m surprised you don’t remember, Cieca), but there’s an awful lot of journalism from the 70s that hasn’t ever made it onto the Interwebz.

            • What I get from those quotations is that Levine every now and then for a time in the late 1980s made vague noises about how he thought it would be nice to have someone build a little toy theater for him in addition to the venue dedicated to the company of which he was artistic director. During the almost two decades Levine held that position at the Met, he made no positive steps toward creating this “mini-Met” that I can see: no plans were commissioned, for example, and there was never a “proof of concept” type project, e.g., presenting an opera at a non-Met venue in New York City. Just “it would be nice” and not anything more.

              During that time (1986-1994) the Met introduced a new Ring cycle, created a series of enormous, expensive Zeffirelli and Zeffirelli-lite productions, toured internationally and produced a huge number of opera recordings on CD. Meanwhile Levine conducted in Salzburg, Bayreuth and Munich. The Met was rolling in money and Levine was full of energy, but nobody did anything but pay lip service to the development of a smaller Met venue. So I think it’s obvious what Levine was “trying” to do, i.e., where his priorities were. Actually performing opera in a smaller venue in New York (e.g., BAM or a Broadway theater) was not one of them. Rather, what he was really interested in was getting a shiny little pyramid built for himself. The various hired guns who were running interference for him at the Met would dangle “Mini-Met” in front of him every now and then to stop his pouting.

            • operaassport

              James Levine made almost NO attempt to get a mini-MET built for one simple reason: he has almost NO interest in the kind of repertory that would be played there.

              The acoustics at the Rose Theatre -- for classical music -- completely suck.

            • Howling in Tune

              Those articles are just what I found in a quick Googling session. I do remember, though, that back in those days, before I grew up and came to New York, that a mini-Met did get talked about and wished for in the press.

              Mind you, I never said that Levine tried effectively to get a mini-Met; obviously he was not effective.

              La Cieca’s not wrong to say that the mii-Met concept mostly got lip-service, but for a while it did get a good bit of that. (Look at how those articles are worded and it’s pretty clear that the writers thought of a mini-Met as an idea that had been around for a while.)

              I even remember something about a plan at one point (sometime in the ’80s?) to buy one of the buildings across Broadway from Lincoln Center, tear it down, and build a new tower with a mini-Met in the basement. Obviously the plan came to nothing.

              In any case, my main point in replying to Flora was that a circa-1000-seat house for the Met is not at all a new idea, and that at various points even the Met itself expressed the wish for such a theater. (As long as it didn’t suck resources away from the main house, though that was never said aloud.)

        • Bianca Castafiore

          Howling, the main opera house at BAM is the Gilman, the Harvey is a different theater, more appropriate for staged plays than opera.

          http://www.bam.org/about/rentals

          • Howling in Tune

            Oh, I know. But I’ve seen several Baroque operas staged there. (Handel, mostly, and certainly not the big productions by Les Arts Flos.)

            BAM has been doing that a lot less in the past few years. That’s too bad: I found that having the singers in the forward playing area and the orchestra toward the back of the stage worked well.

  • peter

    Anyone into sharing their early and mid 19th century recordings of Mozart operas so we can compare the vocal style to today’s?

  • So comforting to read that 41 is considered “young”.

    • armerjacquino
    • grimoaldo

      Hey m croche, nice to see you! Were your ears burning, manou and I and Batty were wondering where you were in the Forza chat yesterday.

      • manou

        Yes indeed -- we have been missing you here m. croche. I do hope you are well and wish you an excellent New Year.

        • Thanks for the shout-out. Happy New Year to you both and indeed to all Parterreczyki.

    • manou

      A propos youth or otherwise, one of the comments on the Lebrecht blog (about the same Independent article) describes Currentzis as “a conductor of pre-catheter age”.

  • redbear

    My television has on, now, in prime time, the Orlando with Mehta. This is because, over the last half-century, lots of extraordinary musicians rediscovered the baroque. Sorry you missed it.

    • grimoaldo

      I guess you mean this Mehta, not Zubin --

    • marshiemarkII

      Grimo, that music is SO SUBLIME, I levitate listening to that sublimity, but wonderful as Mehta (I love his Rachmaninoff Songs!) the tempo is so fast, so he gets a bit screamy at the end, listen here for perfect poise and clean coloratura, this will be forever my God! (poor thing what a terrible thing came over to him, and then we lost his divine singing!)

      • grimoaldo

        What happened to Drew Minter? I didn’t know anything had happened to him.
        Yes it is another wondrous performance.

        • Rackon

          Drew has been directing opera and stage shows in Europe (and exotic locales like Cleveland) but mainly teaching. He’s been a music professor at Vassar for 10 years or so.

          Haven’t checked lately but I think he used to have a blog or website. He usually had interesting and intelligent things to say about music.

        • marshiemarkII

          That’s really wonderful to hear Rackie!!! the story I told below allegedly happened late 80s or early 90s, so it is really great that he recovered and picked up the pieces. He is so musical, I am sure he has lots to offer to his students!

          • m. p. arazza

            ” the story I told below allegedly happened late 80s or early 90s”

            The reason this does not ring true is that he was vocally fairly active in that period. You say he was “never heard of again,” but he was (an admittedly small-voiced) Ottone in the Poppea with David Daniels at BAM in 1996, for example. I wonder if you’re confusing some other incident with the one in which he was reportedly mugged before singing Gluck’s Orfeo with Concert Royal in 1984. But he sang beautifully, and in fact, although I had heard him before, that was the time I first realized how great he was.

            • Howling in Tune

              As it happens, Drew Minter sang in New York on Monday afternoon.

              Trinity Wall Street’s Bach at One program at St. Paul’s Chapel included, for the last program of the Britten year, The Journey of the Magi (Canticle IV) alongside two Bach cantatas. The scheduled countertenor, Geoffrey Williams of New York Polyphony, couldn’t appear, so Drew Minter (in town for The Play of Daniel, which he directed) stepped in.

              He did fine, sounding more or less like his old self. The voice was small, but it has improved from the late ’90s and early ’00s, when it would seem like his voice, already threadbare, might just break off and stop working at any minute. That danger, at least seems past.

              His pitch and ensemble singing were bang on target. (No surprise there; he’s always been a pro that way.)

      • marshiemarkII

        Wasn’t he wondrous?, the Va Tacito is also sublime!
        I loooooved him long before countertenors were all that fashionable, would play his disc (from which this is taken I think) day and night for months, and hoped one day to hear him at the Met, and then I heard that he had been beat the living shit out of, in the Combat Zone in Boston, and after that trauma he was never able to sing again! :-(
        Don’t know if the story is true or not, but what is true is that he was never heard of again!

        • Hippolyte

          Unfortunately not all of us are Minter fans: I find him pretty unlistenable and avoid all those many drippy recordings he made with McGegan. It’s a shame he got all the exposure that should have gone to someone like Jeffrey Gall, for example. Unfortunately, he continues to sing: McGegan again conducted him in Handel’s Teseo at Goettingen in 2011 (I heard them do it together in 1985!), and the broadcast revealed a feeble-sounding Minter as Egeo. He has since repeated the role in SF and will perform it again at Tanglewood in August. On the hand he’s been directing as well and his production of The Play of Daniel played just last week in NYC.

          • marshiemarkII

            Interesting how de gustibus works because I find Jeffery Gall intolerable!!!!! the main reason I can rarely listen to the ubercamp Peter Sellars Cesare that is a camp fest stagingwise, but Gall really grate my ears, and is the definition of what gives counter-tenors a bad name :lol:
            Para el gusto las flores para escoger los colores

          • Howling in Tune

            Isn’t Jeffrey Gall the countertenor who had to stop entirely in what would have been mid-career to battle a brain tumor?

        • Krunoslav

          MM II, I think you may be thinking of erstwhile tenor, then ( after being mugged) parlor baritone Richard Conrad. I saw Drew announced for an upstate NYS concert of Bach arias earlier this year,and he is announced for Tanglewood as has been said. He directs and teaches.

          I like many moments from BOTH his singing and that of Jeffrey Gall, but in different kinds of music (even within Handelian opera).

          • marshiemarkII

            Kruno I have no idea who Richard Conrad is so unless the person who told me that story back in late 80 or early 90s was confused, I do remember very well discussing Drew Minter, because I liked him so much, so I was very interested in why he was not performing anywhere….. and the Combat Zone hit rather close also because Marshie-Madeleine was working in Boston out of the Four Seasons Hotel and occasionally would wander behind the hotel, into the Zone, and find some magnificent Bubbles from the outer burbs that would end up spending the night at the Four Seasons :lol: them the days :D

            • Krunoslav

              MMII, here’s Richard Conrad with Dame Joan back in the day -- not an engaging timbre but a highly informed and agile stylist:

              With Marilyn Horne, they are Bonynge’s singers for “The Art of Bel Canto” album.

            • marshiemarkII

              Kruno thanks!!!! OK yes I do remember now the Art of Bel Canto which I even own, so I should have known who he was then, but you know knowledge does occupy space, and we have so much stored :D
              But of course he was at least a couple of generations before the events we were talking about???? what year did that happen? was it at the Combat Zone? you know I think I went to the CZ a single time during college times, and it was very yucky….. plus a Harvard student, football player looking for straight trade was murdered while I was there, so we kind of started to be super careful, plus Marshie-Madeleine at the time was the Disco Q in excelsis, so preferred to shake her booty at the “nicer” gay clubs that were just starting to flourish. But by the late 80s/early 90s the CZ was heavenly, with lots of gorgeous Bubbles from the Northern and Southern suburbs, AItalians/Irish/Portuguese/Cabo Verde/etc that were totally delicious……After the Drew Minter story I tried to be a tad more circumspect, :D and before long the experiment was over and MMII was back safely in the splendors of Sucksee. I went back sometime in the past decade, and the Combat Zone had completely evaporated into the mists of memory lane, just as 42nd St in Sucksee is today nothing whatsoever resembling what it once was….

            • Krunoslav

              It seems to me Conrad was attacked in the 1980s. Yup, Wikipedia says 1983. So that’s not tpo many generations (or South Boston bubbles) before whatever event you heard about.

            • Bill

              Krunoslav -- I have the Age of Bel Canto on LP -- more or less my first exposure to Marilyn Horne -- superb in Lucrezia Borgia -- her voice then was not as tough as it later became and clearly she had the flexibility
              which was rarer for Mezzos at the time. Sutherland was wonderfully droopy with alluring tone. Richard Conrad was a different type of voice -- quite thin and wispy in quality and clearly not a voice of much ability to carry in a large opera house -- he did sing quite stylishly, could easily manage the florid passages (but with little dramatic emphasis). After that recording I do not believe I ever encountered his singing again

            • Hippolyte

              Richard Conrad also appears in the highlights from Handel’s Giulio Cesare that Sutherland & Bonynge recorded; he sings an aria written by Handel for a later revival where the role of Sesto was sung by a tenor.

  • papopera

    Would these be the 1000th recordings of Mozart operas? Badly needed indeed. I can’t wait.

    • PetertheModest

      I wouldn’t mind a bit more Salieri myself. How about this aria from The Chimney Sweep: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_H2rIuoNIIM

      This and the overture seems to be all that’s available at the moment (on Youtube). Would really like a recording of the whole opera, if it’s all of comparable quality.

      • oedipe

        There was a beautiful concert performance of Salieri’s Les Danaïdes at the Opéra Royal in Versailles. It was filmed and broadcast on Medici TV and you can still watch it right here:

        http://www.medici.tv/#!/les-danaides-salieri-les-talens-lyriques-opera-royal-de-versailles

        • Hippolyte

          Both Montserrat Caballe and Daniela Dessi sang Hypermnestre in Les Danaïdes back in the day, Caballe on several different occasions even.

          • grimoaldo

            Thank you very much for the link to the concert oedipe, I am enjoying it.

    • laddie

      Well, my dear, what makes it so exciting is that it might be a new approach to Mozart we haven’t actually heard.

  • Krunoslav

    “Sony Classical’s president, Bogdan Roscic, said: “Vocal production these days can be quite coarse because of the need to fill a huge theatre.””

    This man’s company has Mario Lanza among its enduring sellers and has issued recordings featuring Nano Machaidze…

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

      “Currentzis’s Figaro was recorded in sessions of up to 14 hours a day over 11 straight days and nights. Sometimes the orchestra would devote a full rehearsal to shaping a single chord to perfection.” I wonder which chord was lavished such attention. But actually, getting the players to really play chords in tune is often glossed over.

      Sounds like a package deal where the orchestra and artists, the producer and freelance recordists are paid a fee and they deliver whatever the current equivalent of a “glass master” is.

  • Flora del Rio Grande

    Bogdan has a good point; glad to see someone in his position
    recognize that publiclly. So, why doesn’t Sony, with its immense
    cash flow, build a humane sized theatre in NYC and run a glorious
    season of connoisseur opera, recording everything on DVD?
    Herr Gelbfleisch and the Met will never do it!

    • Howling in Tune

      If you can convince the Sony powers-that-be to direct some of that cash flow -- realistically, with land acquisition and construction costs, probably well into nine figures -- into a venue for an art form that’s notorious for costing more than it can earn, then we’ll all salute you.

  • oedipe

    I don’t understand the hostility towards Currentzis. He has an original approach, he is an innovator. It is not by chance that during his tenure Gérard Mortier has employed Currentzis extensively to conduct in Madrid.
    How come that people who are such fervent defenders of innovation in opera stagings can be so conservative when it comes to the interpretation of the music?

    • armerjacquino

      What hostility? La vociaccia didn’t like his comment about vibrato, kruno suspects he might be a fraud. They’re the only two negative comments I can see.

      There’s a bit more criticism of Kermes, but that’s another matter.

      Where is the hostility towards Currentzis that you mention?

      • Krunoslav

        Kruno has heard him conduct and also pontificate. He is certainly talented but also very convinced that his is the one and only truth. Russia is the perfect place for such self-acclaimed geniuses ( c.f. Scriabin).

        • oedipe

          He is certainly talented but also very convinced that his is the one and only truth

          So is Mortier. A fact that hasn’t dented the admiration of many on Parterre for his views. So why the different treatment?

          • armerjacquino

            Wow. I’ve never seen someone make a generalisation out of one person’s opinion quite so quickly or so shamelessly.

            • In case you’re unfamiliar with the rules, AJ… Two comments = General Consensus (often a sinister plot in disguise).

          • Krunoslav

            Well, I for one don’t automatically assume that every decision/move Mortier has made has been brilliant or an artistic triumph any more I assume that every performance or assumption of a role or score by an artist I esteem will be “glorious”.

            That’s not the way my mind works and I am not ashamed of that. NOT A PARTISAN.

        • Howling in Tune

          Kruno, Currentzis does at least deserve some credit for getting a period-instrument band together and singers like this in an out-of-the-way place like Perm, doesn’t he?

          • Krunoslav

            Perm is a major city, among Russia’s 15 largest, and has a high level of culture- universities, scientific centers, theatres, a good opera company. It is no kind of a backwater in Russian terms.

            • Howling in Tune

              Oh gosh, Krunoslav, I intended no slap at Perm. I know it’s a real city, and I’ve seen several different articles in the English-language media in the past few years about how the mayor and local government are working hard to transform Perm into a cultural center.

              But Perm is geographically distant from the major classical music circuits (more than 1100 km east of Moscow). And, as I understand it, even Moscow and St. Petersburg haven’t managed to get a steady period-instrument orchestra going. (Hell, neither did New York, really, until the stars finally aligned at Trinity Church Wall Street.) So getting MusicAEterna established in Perm deserves a salute, no?

            • Krunoslav

              OK, Howling. I salute him! Let God bless him and keep hm (in Perm).

            • Howling in Tune

              Ha!

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Here is Maestro PPP at work:

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

      He’s interesting.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Actually, in some of these rehearsals he’s teaching the players the music measure by measure

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

  • pobrediablo

    How about he first rallies for lowering the pitch of the orchestras?

    • Howling in Tune

      When he’s using period instruments (as in the Mozart), the pitch is lower.

  • Jochanaan

    It’s an interesting development that musical personalities like Currentzis seem to be making such an impact. Performances of Patricia Kopatchinskaja (violin) and Michael Gees (piano)come to mind; rather eccentric performers with an extreme way of playing that leave a big impression on live audiences.

    This makes me wonder:

    Have mainstream classical music (concert) performances become too predictable/sedate/…?
    and:
    Should there be a new direction and what should it be?

    I’d like to hear what you people think.

    PS I can imagine that Currentzis’ performances can be electric live, but on record it sounds to me a bit like late Pogorelich conducting. Texture overdose. But that’s personal.

    • MontyNostry

      Surely there has always been a place for somewhat maverick performers on the classical music scene? Look at Glenn Gould, for instance. The danger comes when they tip over into self-indulgence …

    • oedipe

      Have mainstream classical music (concert) performances become too predictable/sedate/…?

      The generic international style of classical music (and opera) performances.

  • RobNYNY

    There were complaints early in Caruso’s career that he always sang with vibrato. There were lots of straight tone singers back then. Martinelli was mostly a straight tone singer. Even today, there are some. Schwarzkopf never really had control of her vibrato, alternating between a jiggly straight tone and a wobbly vibrato. Gundula Janowitz sang mostly straight tone until later in her career when her voice finally matured into something that was listenable. Ruggiero Raimondi sang straight tone much of his career. A few years ago I heard a Spanish soprano singing the Verdi Requiem straight tone. (I don’t remember her name.)

    • la vociaccia

      Could you point to some videos of Martinelli that demonstrate that? Because in all of these videos I very clearly hear a constant vibrato, with a very tight spin that does not interfere with the pitch.

      Same with Raimondi. I don’t hear any straight tone here. I hear basically the same thing as Martinelli; a solid consistent sound with a present but not intrusive vibrato

      When I think of “straight tone” I think of this (specifically the first singer)

      But Paul Agnew is singing very carefully and over virtually no accompaniment. I may be wrong but singing true ‘straight tone’ over a full orchestra sounds extremely dangerous

  • Jochanaan

    Sure, you could also add Richter to that list. But both Gould and Richter seem to be products of the Neue Sachlichkeit in music, which was a kind of revolution.
    I think we have come to the point where classical music has been desentimentalized to it’s limits. Maybe it’s time for a new revolution?

  • mercadante

    Quite frankly, I think he protests too much. Many of today’s singers are Baroque specialists. The type of singing he, and the Sony guy, seem to be talking about went the way of all flesh a couple of decades ago. No one would expect a Corelli, Giacomini, del Monaco, Bergonzi to be singing Mozart. That technique is for Giordano, Mascagni, Puccini, late Verdi. And I would hardly expect Kenneth Tarver, Roberta Invernessi, Sonia Prina etc, to be singing Andrea Chenier. He may have some novel ideas, but he seems to be trying to put wine of a more recent vintage into a brand new bottle with his label on it.

    • Howling in Tune

      Exactly.

      What Currentzis is saying is hardly new; it’s the argument that Christopher Hogwood and his colleagues began making with their Messiah recording more than 30 years ago. By no means all period-instrument conductors embrace that kind of singing (Harnoncourt in particular rejects it), but (as we know) a lot has changed in the singing of 18th-century music since 1975 or so.

      These ideas about singing 18th-century music may still be new to Russia, though. Can Krunoslav tell us anything about that?