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John Williams albums by Philips Records (Boston Pops)


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You try too hard to make jokes on this forum.  Your overall success rate of making people laugh would improve if you posted less often and didn't spread your comedy juice so thinly.

I finally got around to taking pics of my collection               I'm gonna listen to and post my thoughts on each starting soon!

Well, I looked on Amazon and it turns out I can get all 13 of the Philips albums I don't have for ~2 bucks each, so I ordered them.  I think I'll listen through all 19 in order once they arrive and po

I never was, and I'm still not a fan of the "The Planets", but I always loved JW's interpretation.

 

I never really compared the execution with other conductors.

 

I said to myself, that in "theory" no one can conduct this work better than John Williams! :lick:

 

Even if I know that the BPO is not a "classical" orchestra, they can play pretty much everything with good taste and class. Some classical guides recommend this version.

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Just now, Jay said:

But what's the bit about the synthesizer all about?

 

I imagine the Tanglewood Festival Chorus may have been too small (?) and the available organ too weak (??), so they were augmented with synths? The work only has an offstage women's choir at the very end, so you need a large enough group for it to be heard at all in the auditorium.

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Listen to the end of Neptune, the fading women's voices. It's an offstage choir, usually placed around the hall, that slowly fades out, e.g. by opening the auditorium doors when the choir part begins and then gradually closing them.

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55 minutes ago, Marian Schedenig said:

Listen to the end of Neptune, the fading women's voices. It's an offstage choir, usually placed around the hall, that slowly fades out, e.g. by opening the auditorium doors when the choir part begins and then gradually closing them.

It was used in the trailer to Star Trek: Generations if I remember correctly (and very effectively). 

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Maybe I'll ask my original question in a different way.

 

Regardless of why they chose to use a synthesizer for this recording, why did they feel the need to put that sentence about doing so into the booklet?  Was there a stigma against using a synthesizer in classical recordings back then?  Is there still one now?

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28 minutes ago, Jay said:

Maybe I'll ask my original question in a different way.

 

Regardless of why they chose to use a synthesizer for this recording, why did they feel the need to put that sentence about doing so into the booklet?  Was there a stigma against using a synthesizer in classical recordings back then?  Is there still one now?

 

I'd put it differently: There's a (rightful, I say) stigma against randomly changing a composer's work, including the instrumentation. If a synth is noted in the score, you use a synth, but if an trumpet is listed, you don't randomly substitute a trombone, or a clarinet, or a cello, or a synth. And especially not for human voices.

35 minutes ago, Bespin said:

KARAJAN!

 

Also one of my favourites, but I prefer the Kempe. It has more punch (interpretation, performance, and recording). I so wish Karajan had recorded it in the 70s, when he made his other pretty much unsurpassed Strauss recordings. His digital 80s versions are invariably a bit less exciting, and much flatter sounding - and the Alpensinfonie was one of DG's first digital recordings (and the first one they put on CD).

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6 hours ago, Marian Schedenig said:

I'd put it differently: There's a (rightful, I say) stigma against randomly changing a composer's work, including the instrumentation. If a synth is noted in the score, you use a synth, but if an trumpet is listed, you don't randomly substitute a trombone, or a clarinet, or a cello, or a synth. And especially not for human voices.

 

That's not to say that it isn't done, though. Sometimes with good reason, probably. It used to be common for symphonies to be arbitrarily edited and rearranged, especially if they were considered "unperformable" or "wrong" (most of Bruckner's works especially suffered that fate, both with and without his blessings, and most of the original versions only became common decades later). Mahler, in his career as a conductor, famously re-orchestrated some of the major symphonies he performed (e.g. Beethoven's 9th), though from what I've read those were tastefully done and mostly to account for then modern instruments - performing on original instruments, as is a norm today, wasn't done back then, so (as far as I understand) Mahler instead adapted the orchestrations so that the final sound was closer to what the composer would have expected when he wrote the original orchestrations (for instruments of his own time). Those are still performed occasionally, but you wouldn't go to a concert of a Beethoven symphony and hear the Mahler orchestration without it being explicitly mentioned. Liberties may be taken when something isn't specified exactly in the score, or when it's impractical and compromises must be made. Karajan apparently sometimes beefed up some orchestral effects (I believe he added extra gongs or bells to Pictures at an Exhibition, for example), without explicitly mentioning it (but then, Karajan did everything for presentation and effect; most of his concert videos are actually playback performances with instrument groups set up so the camera could get just the angles and composites he wanted).

 

You do often get adapted versions of works in concerts, of course, but not usually without clear credit. You wouldn't want to go to a concert expecting a symphony with a big orchestra and be surprised when a version for two pianos is presented instead when that's not what you signed up for.

 

Authenticity applies to interpretation as well. Until the mid 20th century (or later), most performances of "old music" (basically everything before, and sometimes including, the actual Classical era, i.e. up to Haydn & Mozart) were very "Romantic" interpretations (lots of pathos, big orchestra sound), which is very much not how they were conceived by their original composers. Partly that's due to the technological changes in instruments (as mentioned above), but also in the tempos, accents, etc. Today, the composer's original intentions weigh much more heavily (also because performance history has since been studied and better understood), and even if a performance you hear isn't done on period instruments, it's much more likely than a few decades ago to adhere more closely to the composer's intentions, both written and not (which is especially important for old music, because detailed performance instructions are a very modern things - dynamic markings were rare until Bach or later; ppp and fff didn't come into use until Beethoven; in older music, dynamics were usually not indicated at all and instead derived from such things as note lengths and rhythm, according to then common practice). A conductor performing a Mozart symphony with "incorrect" (i.e. neither written nor implied) tempo changes or dynamics would nowadays be considered at least unusual, if not outright "wrong". Compare e.g. Bernstein, of whom it has been pointed out (without contesting his musicality) that much of what he did in Mahler symphonies was actually nowhere to be found in Mahler's scores. The special relevance for "old music" comes of course from the fact that specific knowledge of its performance practices was essentially lost until after the Romantic era, so for a long time those works were performed "wrongly" simply because people then didn't know any better.

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On 6/11/2021 at 1:34 PM, Marian Schedenig said:

 

If you're in the mood for more film-style classical music with off-stage performers, try Richard Strauss' Alpensinfonie


The most film music-y classical music to my ears is the first movement of Bruckner’s 6th (Maestoso) and the last movement of Bruckner’s 8th.  The first couple minutes of the Maestoso sound like a Main Title cue for a superhero movie, and the last five or so minutes of it sounds like an epic Finale cue.

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31 minutes ago, MrScratch said:

The most film music-y classical music to my ears is the first movement of Bruckner’s 6th (Maestoso) and the last movement of Bruckner’s 8th.  The first couple minutes of the Maestoso sound like a Main Title cue for a superhero movie, and the last five or so minutes of it sounds like an epic Finale cue.

 

Much as I love the 6th with its rhythmically insane opening (one of my favourites of his and probably his most underrated symphony), I can't really imagine it in a film music context, simply because - like so much of his music - takes its time to develop and get to a point, so to speak. The 8th finale is easier, but then it really is programmatic action music. I've heard the coda used in a astronomy documentary trailer once, to great effect.

 

7 minutes ago, SteveMc said:

Don Juan by Strauss sounds a great deal like a film music suite.

 

Well, most Strauss tone poems to, for obvious reasons. But the Alpensinfonie is the most extensive and probably the most extensively and "literally" leitmotif-driven of the lot (and often has a bad reputation for it). Smetana's Ma Vlast is another candidate (most obviously and popularly Vltava, of course) - or to put it differently: All those Wagner-inspired ton poems fit the pattern. ;) 

 

With Strauss, you get yet another side: His operas. Parts of them are very film music like - Elektra perhaps most of all, because there the music actually narrates extensive scenes set in the past and not actually presented "live" on stage.

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When I listen to the finale to Rachmaninov 1st Symphony I always imagine it to be the soundtrack to the beginning to an oldfashioned swashbuckling movie, like in the Errol Flynn days.

 

Agree about Strauss and about Elektra, even more it is with Salome, I think, which is possibly the greatest opera of the 20th century IMO.

On 6/11/2021 at 8:00 PM, Jay said:

Maybe I'll ask my original question in a different way.

 

Regardless of why they chose to use a synthesizer for this recording, why did they feel the need to put that sentence about doing so into the booklet?  Was there a stigma against using a synthesizer in classical recordings back then?  Is there still one now?

 

I would say, yes, there was and is a general stigma against synthesizers in so called classical music, although some more modern composers used it from time to time. But they are widely regarded as a cheap imitation of acoustic instruments.  And one would NEVER use it as an addition to an established work which is instrumented conventionally with acoustic instruments. 

I understand that Williams used it just to augment the sound of organ and choir, not to introduce a new sound, but rather try to let the synth vanish and not be discernible. That I would say may be okay, because somehow it is kind of an extension of modern recording techniques using lots of microphones and manipulating the recorded sound afterward in the studio for the mix to achieve a desired result. So I personally would let it pass in this case :-)

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On 6/11/2021 at 8:00 PM, Jay said:

Maybe I'll ask my original question in a different way.

 

Regardless of why they chose to use a synthesizer for this recording, why did they feel the need to put that sentence about doing so into the booklet?  Was there a stigma against using a synthesizer in classical recordings back then?  Is there still one now?

 

Bottom line it's a deviation from the printed score, therefore it should be mentioned.

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