October 3, 2016

"Neville Marriner... figured prominently in debates over how music from the early modern period... should be played in the present day."

"He advocated smaller, more agile groups for early music, and he remained committed to playing that repertoire with modern instruments, even as an insurgent movement urged a return to instruments and styles that had been in use in the 17th and 18th centuries. Mr. Marriner dismissed the insurgents as 'the open-toed-sandals and brown-bread set,' but their rebellion soon achieved a measure of success and eventually became its own kind of establishment."

From the NYT obituary, quoted by my son John, who has collected a number of articles and videos at Facebook.

23 comments:

Sebastian said...

He brought a lot of people a lot of pleasure. But the dismissiveness was silly and the debate is over.

Laslo Spatula said...

Given the opportunity, Beethoven would have played all his compositions with Rick Wakeman's 1973 Yes Moog-and-keyboard set-up. No one else needed.

And he would wear the cape.


I am The Replacement Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

Moog Beethoven.

How do we know THIS isn't what he heard in his head, but he only had the instruments available at the time to recreate it?

I am The Replacement Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

We grow up hearing English, we learn English, we then communicate our ideas in English.

You grown up hearing piano and violins, you learn piano and violins, you communicate your ideas in piano and violins.

Moog is Esperanto.

I am The Replacement Laslo.

rhhardin said...

Old music with mean-tone tuning is good.

That was before the discovery of the 12th root of two ruined the great chords.

YoungHegelian said...

At his height, Marriner was an LP recording MUH-CHINE! He & the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields would crank out 20+ recordings for Phillips a year!

I was never a big fan, since I was (am) the worst sort of original instrument prick imaginable. But there's no denying that he brought the Baroque masters into many a household that had not heard them before, simply by force of numbers if in no other way.

mockturtle said...

I'm with Neville on this. While I enjoy Bach's Brandenberg Concertos played with original instruments, modern instruments give them more depth.

Wilbur said...

Since the demise of classical music on Miami radio several years ago, I no longer am treated to their dulcet-toned DJ "And now Sir Neville Mariner with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields with ...". Seemed like every third recording was preceded with this.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

It's probably grotesquely inaccurate to say that original instruments are a gimmick but I bought many a CD based mostly on the reasoning that original instruments would make the music sound more like the composer intended.

That's pretty dumb of me.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

It's pretty easy to be that kind of a sophomoric snob, like poo-pooing colorized movies.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

I wonder whether debate rages among those car restoration guys.

Are you like a second-class Civil War re-enactor if you got your belt from Walmart?

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

If I'm at a brewpub that serves cask-conditioned, then my decision is easy.

rhhardin said...

WQXR used to boom out, at full classical symphonic volume, "This is the radio station of the New York Times."

Jim said...

YoungHegelian and Wilbur said what I would have said. Except that my call letters in Kansas City were KXTR.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

Some things are a hell of a lot better than they used to be.

A $15 Casio watch is hard to beat, if all you care about is accuracy and convenience.

Hiking shoes and athletic shoes are immensely superior to what they used to be.

Disabled vehicles and flat ties are almost completely a thing of the past.

I could go on.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

I presume that modern musical instruments are much, much better.

I'm pretty sure that cat gut strings were actually made from cat guts.

I'm guessing they didn't remove the strings surgically.

rightguy2 said...

Marriner and his splendid ensemble recorded one of the greatest marriages of a masterpiece with a performance/recording ever. It sounds as though the entire ensemble had been playing this great composition for a long time and had internalized it to the point where it lives & becomes a breathing entity as it flows out of their collective mind. I have listened to this version of The Lark Ascending hundreds of times and I never fail to be inspired. (I could go on and on.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzONNtE_WqM

mockturtle said...

Thanks for the link, rightguy2! I had forgotten how exquisite was the artistry of the late Iona Brown. Truly an outstanding recording in every respect.

Otto said...

i have listened to Baroque music for over 60 years, so i have heard all styles. All are fine, but if you get a chance listen to Stokowski doing Bach's Toccata and fugue in D minor. Not the original score or instruments but WOW.Soli Deo Glori

rightguy2 said...

mockturtle:

Thanks for mentioning Iona Brown. Significant omission on my part. Her solo violin on Lark is transcendent.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Agreed on Iona Brown. Her Handel sonatas (on the ASMF set) are the finest I've ever heard. I'm of the "open-toed sandal" sort, and generally prefer period instruments in music before the mid-18th century, but she knew how to use a modern instrument to great, nay, perfect effect.

William said...

These things happen in threes. Oscar Brand and now Neville Chamberlain. Who will be the next nearly famous musician with a discerning audience to die. Andre Previn must be feeling a chill about now.

Paul Snively said...

Well, this sucks.

For those of you who have never had the pleasure, I present Edvard Grieg's "Holberg Suite for strings, 1. Prelude", performed by the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, conducted by Sir Neville Marriner. This is a wonderful piece when you need a little picking up, a little audible joy.