In search of the perfect tempo (Shostakovich's Fifth)

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Euphonium
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In search of the perfect tempo (Shostakovich's Fifth)

Postby Euphonium » Thu Sep 09, 2010 3:00 pm UTC

Leonard Bernstein, who wouldn't know a proper and effective tempo if it jumped out of Hell and bit him in the balls, gets infinitely more acclaim than he deserves as a conductor of the compositions of others (presumably, of course, he knows how to interpret his own compositions). Particularly egregious are his interpretations of Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5, in which he takes the tempos throughout the work, but especially in the finale, ridiculously too fast: this utterly destroys the effect of a forced, "Your business is rejoicing! Your business is rejoicing!" that Shostakovich intended.

My question is, what recordings have you found that best capture the mood Shostakovich aimed to create here?

I haven't found a perfect one; the best I've heard is Bernard Haitink with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra on Decca--but it's still just a tad too fast.

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Re: In search of the perfect tempo (Shostakovich's Fifth)

Postby Midnight » Thu Sep 09, 2010 9:41 pm UTC

Are you implying that proper tempos only exist in hell? If Bernstein doesn't use those, he got his from somewhere less evil, and therefore uses 'good' tempos, ergo Bernstein's version is pretty good actually.
uhhhh fuck.

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Re: In search of the perfect tempo (Shostakovich's Fifth)

Postby kroxigor01 » Thu Sep 09, 2010 11:23 pm UTC

My favourite recording is Mariss Janson and Vienna Phil. Last movement at about MM 144. Middle section (horn solo) at about 64. With the final fanfare at about 130.

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Re: In search of the perfect tempo (Shostakovich's Fifth)

Postby Euphonium » Fri Sep 10, 2010 2:26 pm UTC

Many have recommended Mstislav Rostropovich's 1983 recording with the National Symphony Orchestra, but regrettably it seems that that one is not being published anymore.

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Re: In search of the perfect tempo (Shostakovich's Fifth)

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Wed Sep 15, 2010 8:14 pm UTC

Wait, what the fuck? If the point of performing is to reproduce the composer's intentions, why not just have composers produce one good recording and be done with it?
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kroxigor01
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Re: In search of the perfect tempo (Shostakovich's Fifth)

Postby kroxigor01 » Tue Sep 21, 2010 6:42 am UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:If the point of performing is to reproduce the composer's intentions...

That is not the point of performing. All interpretations are valid. But there is theoretically a 'best' interpretation (not necessarily the composers IMO).

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Re: In search of the perfect tempo (Shostakovich's Fifth)

Postby achan1058 » Tue Sep 21, 2010 2:26 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:Wait, what the fuck? If the point of performing is to reproduce the composer's intentions, why not just have composers produce one good recording and be done with it?
Usually this is because they are long dead already, but other reasons, such as the composer is a bad conductor, exists.

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Re: In search of the perfect tempo (Shostakovich's Fifth)

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Wed Sep 22, 2010 1:11 am UTC

ITT: Poor interpretations of my post.
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Re: In search of the perfect tempo (Shostakovich's Fifth)

Postby ChocloManx » Fri Sep 24, 2010 1:18 am UTC

I know there are a lot of Herbert haters out there, but I quite like Karajan's version with the Berlin Philharmonic on Deutsche Grammophon or Decca, I don't remember.
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Re: In search of the perfect tempo (Shostakovich's Fifth)

Postby Midnight » Fri Sep 24, 2010 2:04 am UTC

achan1058 wrote:
TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:Wait, what the fuck? If the point of performing is to reproduce the composer's intentions, why not just have composers produce one good recording and be done with it?
Usually this is because they are long dead already, but other reasons, such as the composer is a bad conductor, exists.

Yeah but his point is "if good conductors realize the intent of the composer"--so by that logic, you can't have a BAD composer/conductor
also, i have no idea how you can have good vs. bad conductors. I mean, i can understand like, hilariously bad ones that just point at random things and don't keep a tempo, but I definitely could not tell a good one from a great one.

Regardless, there is NOT a "best" interpretation for any piece of music. Again, there are laughable failures in interpretation, but there isn't a difference between a good one and a great one, cause they're all either "Acceptable interpretation" or "unacceptable interpretation", and I give a wide range for acceptable. I'm not trying to say I'm the ultimate arbiter of what's acceptable, but if there's a popular youtube parody of it, you can assume you did a shitty job.
uhhhh fuck.


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