Saturday, April 30, 2016

Brahms and Mendelssohn - From a Different Place...

My first action in this blog is to state my illimitable admiration  for and unabashed admiration of Glenn Gould. I need to be perfectly clear about this, as the following reactions on my part are  in no way any  forms of criticism;  only consternation  and  a measure of confusion:
A few days ago, I finally got to hear some of the works  of Brahms and Mendelssohn as recorded by Gould. I can only wonder if any of you out there have ever undergone the same reactions  I underwent upon listening to his readings.
The reactions were specifically the same with both the Brahms (late Brahms) and Mendelssohn (a  number of the Songs Without Words).
In all cases, the playing was truly wonderful. The beauty of the melodic line and the attendant harmonic positioning  were  utterly delicious. No one I know of could play the instrument better than this  enormously gifted  musician.
But, the wonderful flow of Mendelssohn, for me, was stultified by a sense of indifference leading essentially  from one state of diffluence to another; almost a feeling of 'ho-hum', without boredom - as if there was no nesting upon completion of a statement - all attended to by ravishing piano playing.
Almost as glib, if you will, or adroit as the wonderful ease Mendelssohn demonstrated, second only to Mozart, in the writing down of an idea.
As for Brahms; the overly expansive, almost dilatory manners of expression whenever there was a climactic phase of the music made me rather uncomfortable and left me  rather firmly in mid-air.
And; again- like the writing of the composer, who totally unlike a Mendelssohn or a Mozart, took much time to labor over so many of his ideas. Did you know that Wagner sneeringly derided Brahms as "that prophylactic composer" - was his reasoning the same as mine, or simply the music itself?  For example; months required for some of the late pieces to be completed; or, somewhere between 14 and 20 years to complete his first symphony(again! a reminder that I am a great lover of Gould, of Brahms, of Mendelssohn).
I have never undergone reactions like this; all in one day - have any of you?
Was it something I ate??

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