Thursday, March 19, 2015

Conversation on Facebook

We were discussing:

Richard Strauss: Four Last Songs, who did the best recording? I would say Gundula Janowitz.

I responded with Jessye Norman.

Mark S. I find Janowitz hard to beat, but much of that is due to Karajan's nuanced handling of the orchestra. Della Casa sings it as well as anyone. Jessye Norman is fine if you enjoy under-pitch singing.

[You can imagine my reaction to this.]

Barbara B. Singers are not generally trying to achieve orchestral intonation. Pitch nuances are part of the phrasing. Orchestral objective is to keep you from sticking out from the other players. Solo singer objective is to make yourself stick out. Choral singers need to sing in very precise tuning but not soloists, particularly not opera singers.

Mark C. Great observation, Barbara. As a conductor, I know that many of those moments which produce 'chills' are, in fact, caused by singers vocalizing a few cents below pitch. This has also been proven experimentally. It tends to work on flat sevenths.

This kind of arguing is fun, but pointless.

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