G-Day

Posted Friday 5th August, 2016 by Jamie Masters

 

G-day
G is for Edvard Grieg, Holberg Suite (first movement)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJ6AaBArhRw
Grieg's nice. I always like a bit of Grieg. The YouTube clip is a very good,
energetic performance by the Camerata Nordica, but I can't make up my mind
how I feel about the gesturing. A nice idea to plunge straight into the piece while
the players are still arriving on stage – a trick of editing, just to remove that
whole pompous before-the- music ceremony that you get in so many classical
performance videos – but then I feel ever so slightly patronised by the way every
minute feature of the playing is telegraphed with winks and nods and jerks. To
be fair, they have to exaggerate their movements to communicate with each
other – they don't have a conductor – but it's meant for the audience too, surely.
A defiant rejection of fusty old tradition; a fresh, enlivening performance-ethic
for a modern age; engaging with the audience rather than talking down to them.
It's just on the brink of excessive pleading – "hey, classical music isn't as boring
as you thought it was: watch how we can liven it up!". Just on the brink. Stops just
short.
Well, I do baulk at the nods and winks (especially the cellist's cheeky offbeat
pizzicato gesture at 23"), and whatever irritations I have with the way concerts
are done, I don't think these strategies actually solve anything. But no doubting
the quality, of this and of similar groups (often strings, for some reason). Great
performance, despite too much 'performing'.

G is for Edvard Grieg, Holberg Suite (first movement)

 

Grieg's nice. I always like a bit of Grieg. The YouTube clip is a very good, energetic performance by the Camerata Nordica, but I can't make up my mind how I feel about the gesturing. A nice idea to plunge straight into the piece while the players are still arriving on stage – a trick of editing, just to remove that whole pompous before-the-music ceremony that you get in so many classical performance videos – but then I feel ever so slightly patronised by the way every minute feature of the playing is telegraphed with winks and nods and jerks. To be fair, they have to exaggerate their movements to communicate with each other – they don't have a conductor – but it's meant for the audience too, surely. A defiant rejection of fusty old tradition; a fresh, enlivening performance-ethic for a modern age; engaging with the audience rather than talking down to them. It's just on the brink of excessive pleading – "hey, classical music isn't as boring as you thought it was: watch how we can liven it up!". Just on the brink. Stops just short.

Well, I do baulk at the nods and winks (especially the cellist's cheeky offbeat pizzicato gesture at 23"), and whatever irritations I have with the way concerts are done, I don't think these strategies actually solve anything. But no doubting the quality, of this and of similar groups (often strings, for some reason). Great performance, despite too much 'performing'.