Harnoncourt lives on

It’s been 6 months now since the trickster has left us. In case you haven’t come across it, here’s a great BBC3 interview with Harnoncourt from 2012. It gives you a very rounded idea about him as an artist (and person).

One of the things he touches on that has given me food for thought is how a work of art has a life of its own, it’s not bound by its physical barriers. Its identity as a dialogue between the artist and his/her audience is more important. As such it changes as the audience changes. He postulates that Die Zauberflote of today is not the same as Die Zauberflote of 1791.

It was interesting how on the one hand he wanted us to forget 19th century concepts of listening to music written before that time whilst at the same time acknowledging that we as 21st century audiences have accumulated that experience – all that has come after 1800 – and thus can’t receive art quite as people did in the 1700s. Sounds like a bit of a contradiction.

Though what he probably means is that we can’t roll our eyes at 18th century opera seria for being written according to a set formula of recit/aria/recit but rather take it on its own merits.

He also says that the greatest works of art from the past are always relevant. Of course, they define civilisations. This is more evident today when there’s a lot of anguish and rethinking in regards to European Civilisation. There is a good possibility that in the not so distant future “the Western” way of thinking won’t be the default view of the globalised world. What then? It’s quite disconcerting as a European to imagine this. Will Mozart and Monteverdi be encapsuled as common world heritage in the same way cave paintings of Summerian or Egyptian art was, or will they be forgotten?

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About dehggial

opera lover with a predilection for Mozart and Baroque

Posted on September 5, 2016, in audio only, freeform weekend and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Regie, or Not Regie?

    Thanks for this link! I cannot wait to listen to the interview.

    I have (on my virtual back shelf) a YouTube video of the preparation for his 95 Salzburg Nozze (with the very young DR as Susanna, and also very young Dimtri Hvorostovsky and Bryn Terfel and Susan Graham) It’s about 90 minutes–in German and English with French subtitles (ow, my brain!!)

    I keep meaning to blog about it but for now, I will leave a link here. (I have watched about half of it and I am really enjoying the singers reacting to each other in piano rehearsals–and watching the violins not get up an walk out en masse when NH spends what seems like a half hour on the first three bars of the overture!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love that Nozze! It’s so much fun to see them all so young and excited 😀 Thanks for the link!

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    • I’ve watched the first 40min of it and I found it very insightful! It’s always great, since I’m not a musician and can’t listen like one, to be a fly on the wall and see the process behind a performance. I loved what he said about “the little notes” and the tempi.

      In my mind the basson at the beginning of the overture sounds like a swarm of wasps and then, when the rest of the orchestra joins in, it’s like the wasps have escaped and it’s mayhem (the benign kind – I say that as someone who’s practically immune to insect stings/bites) ;-D

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  2. Thank you for this, dehggi! (and thank you for the 1995 link, Regie).

    PS. Also digging the September header. Mightily.

    Liked by 1 person

    • glad you like it 😀 it took me quite a while to make (there should’ve been a part II with Mozart writing Deh perdona “at the pub” but I gave up).

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      • Regie, or Not Regie?

        Yep! That’s the same one. I watched the rest of it last night. I only wished for a little less NH expounding in the Alps and a lot more singing in the rehearsal halls 🙂

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