Thursday, July 16, 2009

That loving feeling

I'll be honest: I haven't found much to excite me in the realm of serious art music lately. I've been busy with law school and a summer clerkship, too; that, however, doesn't explain it.

The fact of the matter is this: the recording industry is undergoing a change. People have been pronouncing classical dead for a while. Prematurely each time, I might add. There are still interesting releases, and I think that -- despite my initial skepticism -- DVD/BD is going to be a large part of the way forward. And why shouldn't it? High-definition media and televisions, coupled with audio reproduction systems that can get us closer to the concert halls, makes visual opera-going an easy and attractive option. Indeed, Wagner needs to be experienced visually (even if in a bad production, though one should know what a good production would look like first) to be understood fully. Orchestral works benefit less from visual presentation, but a tasteful production can be very nice.

We're seeing more releases on the order of the "Wagner cube" of last year (was it?), which is -- ultimately -- a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it's nice to hear out-of-print performances; on the other, how many times can we look at a conductor in a work and say the same thing? Unfortunately, too, a complete Verdi-from-La Scala set leaves me cold. As does a complete Haydn. Audite's Furtwängler-RIAS set looks neat, but how many times can I say the same thing about Furtwängler's Beethoven 5th? I find it harder and harder to justify completism.

I'd rather not see this blog fall victim to stagnation, which -- I am acutely aware -- is a real risk (if not already a problem). So, for the moment, anyway, I'm going to open the borders. I still would like to do my part in resisting the "dismal tide," so I won't be throwing the gates wide. I'll just expand my musical focus and introduce some more topics. Film will, naturally, be a big one. Books. Talking -- again -- about how Karl Böhm's Wagner works for Meistersinger, but not the Ring (it does, in my book) might be fun, but I'd rather compare Bill Evans' 1967 stand at the Village Vanguard to his legendary 1961 dates. Or why Al Reinart's For All Mankind deserves more notice than Moon-anniversary-mania will afford it.

Let's try this and see what happens. If I can get out of this blogging slump, then I'll draw the boundaries a little closer to their original locations. Heck, I might even decide that I like the new way forward.

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