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Thread: New Ensemble Inegal Recording

  1. #11
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    Feb 2012
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    Default Re: New Ensemble Inegal Recording

    I thought I should add my voice to this debate, taking the "middle path" .

    It could be that Adam Viktora and ensemble Inegal wanted to give themselves a small break from the Baroque world. This can be good, because variety in music helps everyone appreciate different periods and styles better -- musicians included. It can help avoid "mechanistic" interpretations of the same repertoire ("Oh no, we have to rehearse for yet another Zelenka mass today").

    So, a foray into modern music is not a bad thing. I agree with Alistair that Martinu should receive this (perhaps rare) attention from the Czechs. Martinu wrote some incredibly beautiful vocal madrigals, looking back at the madrigals of the Renaissance, and there is only one long out-of-print recording of them. Even if one is not interested in modern music, those works are approachable and would be worth hearing, they are that good. Then there is the vocal music of Max Reger and Paul Hindemith (think "parallel J.S. Bachs" of a sort). The Bach-inspired motets of Reger are wonderful and underrepresented in the recording catalogue, as are (even more so) Hindemith's mass from 1963 and the Rilke chansons. What about Hindemith's Apparebit repentina dies, or the completely unrecorded Ite Angeli veloces -- these immensely beautiful works need advocates who can perform well in the Renaissance/Baroque style. I only wish Adam Viktora had gone for some of the works above!

    Of course, there are (many) works by Zelenka that still need to be recorded, no one can deny that point. Also there are Zelenka's contemporaries: J.J. Fux and Caldara, whose brilliant masses and motets have received so little attention. I would love to see a recording by the Czech groups of a Fux mass, performed properly. In fact, I would love to see a recording with motets by Zelenka, Fux and Caldara on the same CD -- that would be a real celebration!

    Obviously I have my preferences over Britten and Arvo Part, as everyone can see, and I will stick to ensemble Inegal's Baroque recordings for now, but the shocking new "modernistic" trend in Adam Viktora's output is not, by itself, that bad, I think.

    Finally, I second the idea of a Tomas Kral solo CD! What a great idea.

    (By the way, is anyone reading this post who knows Adam Viktora personally, or any of the other Czech groups? If so, then please, by all means let them know the wishlist and my opinions above - you have my royal blessing for this!)

  2. #12
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    Sydney, NSW, Australia
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    Default Re: New Ensemble Inegal Recording

    What a nice level-headed response to this debate. However, one should not assume that the musicians of Ensemble Inegal, including Adam Viktora, have no other jobs than the ensemble and therefore need a break from the kind of music in which the ensemble specialises. They feature in a large array of different ensembles and, if I'm not mistaken, there is a fair sprinkling of modern instrument groups among those.

    Maybe I should start a separate thread for the Tomas Kral solo CD idea and see what support it garners.
    Osbert

  3. #13
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    Smile Re: New Ensemble Inegal Recording

    Yes, I fully agree that one can't assume variety is the reason for Adam Viktora's new recording. I suggested it as just one possibility (i.e. "it could be ..."), but one can only guess. I suppose it could be that Adam Viktora was catching up with mates from England and they asked him "Why not record Ben Britten, Adam, in our honour?" -- the reason is not that important, but what I said about variety being good is still true.

    Having said this, I should throw in (hopefully not to confuse any readers) that actually the points of view expressed by Osbert and Honey B are valid as well -- if one doesn't like modern classical music, and is not prepared to give it a go from time to time, and then sees one of their favourite Baroque conductors conduct the music they don't like, they would feel, well, ripped-off and even a bit angry. This is perfectly fair, and is worth considering. From another point of view though, great music was written through all the ages -- even in our century (cf. the Finnish composer Rautavaara's Garden of Spaces written a few years ago) although I admit there it is more rare -- and whether one wishes to, or is able to take interest in it is something personal. From this perspective, a conductor has to conduct good music, actually, great music, no matter what epoch, and hence can't cater to everyone's personal taste. If one now takes this perspective, then suddenly it's not possible to feel ripped-off, or angry, or anything else . The question that remains is: what is the music being conducted? Because, to give a concrete example, Capella Regia under Robert Hugo recently recorded some music by a Czech Baroque composer (Jacob), in an astounding performance, yet one cannot be blamed for thinking: "if only it was Zelenka", because Jacob is, after all considered, not quite the same genius as Zelenka. And at this point I feel I should stop writing, having said enough things for everyone, and leave my previous post to say the rest.

    PS. Please do make a new thread for a Tomas Kral recording, Osbert, I'm sure it will have the support of many Zelenka fans like myself. I don't know whether enough lobbying will get a recording through, but it never hurts to try .

    Cheers to all,
    -- King Max

  4. #14
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    Dec 2007
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    Lewes, UK
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    Default Re: New Ensemble Inegal Recording

    Many thanks to Honey B for raising this issue and to everyone who has helped make it a most interesting debate! I was going to contribute to support the middle ground but found that King Maximilian had anticipated most of my points, so decided to wait until I had actually heard Adam Viktora's new CD.

    Despite the "poor value for money" - 47 minutes' total playing time forsooth - I do urge everyone to get it whether they like Britten or not, indeed especially if they feel they hate Britten or modern music.

    This is a wonderful disc. All the virtues for which we admire Esemble Inégal - the beauty of tone whatever the tempo or dynamic, the clarity of line, the miraculous light and shade and musicality of the phrasing - are ideally suited to this work.

    I listened with someone who has sung the piece and who plays the harp. Her verdict? Utterly beautiful, the best performance she has ever heard live or on CD.

    The Pärt is a minor part of the disc: 3 slighter works but interesting and attractive, equally well performed and suited to these singers.

    A theme in our debate seems to be whether our heroes might be betraying their expertise by stepping outside their comfort zone. I hope that I have shown that vocally this is not the case. Surely they can only be refreshed and developed as artists by performing non-baroque works that are suited to their talents?

    It is also noteworthy that the Britten is accompanied only by harp.The Pärt has 6 instrumentalists of whom only one, the cellist, played in the Missa Omnium Sanctorum. Viktora's Dvořak Mass was with organ alone. So no Ensemble Inégal / Prague Baroque Soloists playing Rachmaninov's The Bells for us, it would seem.

    I agree that I would not like to see Viktora's wonderful vocalists torturing their voices in some of the later music, including for example Beethoven's 9th, but where they can illuminate and communicate the music with their precious set of virtues, whether it be back to the Renaissance or forward to Martinů's equally suitable madrigals, then I shall rush out to buy their disc!

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