This is the tagline to an article by Michael Berkeley (yet another from The Guardian‘s Arts section): Bach’s complete works, every Beethoven symphony, the Ring in a day — could we be overdoing the greats? Through the wonders of the internet, I came across a link to this at the US ArtsJournal Music site. Their intro reads like this (as usual, follow the link below to read the full article):
As the phenomenon of downloadable media continues to entrance the classical music world, marathons have become the hottest promotions going. “Blockbusters, bonkbusters, eat as much as you can for £5, sit through the whole of the Ring with a nasal feeding tube and a catheter… Hogarthian feasting is in vogue, with total immersion in composers, artists, playwrights and film directors sold to us as ultimate experiences. But is this an aesthetically rewarding endeavour or a marketing ploy?”
Too much of a good thing
It’s an interesting point of view, and I agree with some of what he says. What does anyone else think? Personally, I only dipped into BBC Radio 3’s Beethoven, Bach and Wagner extravaganzas, most especially in the case of The Ring in a Day, which I really thought was a bit much. In the case of the Beethoven the BBC followed up with free downloadable versions of the complete Beethoven symphonies with the BBC Philharmonic conducted by Gianandrea Noseda, which was a nice bonus, and I dipped into The Beethoven Experience more than into the other two marathons, but I’m inclined to go along with Mr B on the other two. Anyway, the BBC has more of the same in store for us, as Michael Berkeley says in his piece. I think I heard Tchaikovsky mentioned as being due for the ‘everything he wrote’ treatment.
Simon Armitage was never a great fan of opera â€” so writing a libretto was a steep learning curve. But, he says, hearing his words take second place to the music was a liberating experience. He tells about writing the libretto for Stuart MacRae’s new opera The Assassin Tree (which has its premiere at the Edinburgh Festival on 25th August) in this fascinating article in the Guardian Unlimited Arts section. He begins like this:
It was Craig Raine who said that librettists are to opera what toilets are to theatres. So when someone from the Edinburgh festival asked if I’d be interested in writing the words for a newly commissioned opera, I hesitated. I’ve never thought of what I do as a mere functional necessity and, despite having the surname Armitage, I don’t take kindly to being pissed on.
When I looked at the slipcase for this DVD I couldn’t believe the length (approx. 6 hrs!). However, it was such an easy film to watch (I really didn’t notice the length at all!). The Italian sounded so wonderful & it was so…so of another (film making) time. I would have liked it if there had beenÂ more shooting in Munich. But then he (Ludwig) disliked the city & spent most of his time in his ‘castles’. I visited the two that were mainly featured…Linderhoff and Neuschwanstein. The latter is a m a z i n g ! The interior decor is a complete homage to scenes from Tristan and The Ring. I don’t think Wagner came across very well in the film. Just the opportunist he probably was…all for the sake of his art!!
I thought the guy who played Ludwig was very good. Tony K. proffered the following info. about him: apparently he had no previous acting experience and was working as a waiter or something where Visconti was film-shooting. Apparently Visconti picked him up (in more than the usual way) and got him for ‘Ludwig’. Pretty amazing really. The goodlooking girl that played Empress Elizabeth was very good too I thought.
Right now I have no clear idea what function this blog will fulfil. The usual way with blogs is to use them to post regular updates of news and opinions and the like, peppering these with links to other web sites, images and so on. I’ll start the ball rolling with some posts about music-related bits and bobs I’ve come across recently on the web, and who knows where this will develop to from there. Remember, too, that we can all write posts for inclusion in this blog, so don’t be shy.