July 15, 2008

Gratuitous Musickal Observation

Right now the local classickal station is playing a recording of the Overture from Bach's Orchestral Suite No. 4 by a group called La Stravaganza under the direction of Andrew Manze. For some reason, they are performing sans trumpets or drum.

I suppose it can be done this way, but it sure sounds rayther odd.

UPDATE: Over at the devil's website, a reviewer remarks about this:

Manze has been active as a musicologist in examining the sources and has the fourth suite played here without trumpets and timpani, which, in his opinion, were only added later and could not have been part of the original Köthen score [i.e., where the four orchestral suites were first published around 1720]. Of course one misses the ceremonial sound at first, but if one listens closely, one can come to the conclusion that Manze is right: the "antiphonal" effect of a "choir" of oboes opposite a "choir" of strings is not obscured by the trumpets, which by their very nature are not in a position to play much more than the tonic and the dominant chords.

Not being a musicologist myself, again I really don't know why trumpet and timpani could not have been part of the original score, nor who would have added them later. But IMHO, even though the trumpets are confined to a relatively simple notational value, they provide a kind of emphatic framework that nicely highlights and caps off various sections of the work.

UPDATE DEUX: The radio's moved on to one of teh umpteen zillion Fantasies on themes from Carmen, this one by Francois Borne. I'm ashamed to admit that I rayther enjoy Carmen and its progeny. It certainly ain't Mozart, but it is kinda fun.

UPDATE TROIS: Speaking of Carmen, show of hands for all of you who remember this classic Sesame Street bit:

Posted by Robert at July 15, 2008 03:17 PM | TrackBack

Raising hand for the update trois.

Tho now when I watch it, it seems odd and disturbing somehow ...

Must be why I am the way I am today.

Posted by: keysunset at July 15, 2008 09:20 PM