Sunday, January 19, 2014

Another Classical Supergroup

In this post I was talking about what must have been a spectacular evening in 1785 when Dittersdorf, Haydn, Mozart and Vanhal got together to read some quartets. In a comment I mentioned what was probably the greatest classical "supergroup" of performers: the trio of Jascha Heifetz, Arthur Rubinstein and Gregor Piatigorsky who were sometimes called the "Million Dollar Trio". I just ran across a film of them that I didn't know existed (though there are lots of recordings and, I see now, a DVD). Here is a photo:

And here is the film, with performances of excerpts from a Schubert trio and a trio by Mendelssohn:

I love when they get into an argument about interpretation--in Russian! There are lots of things to notice here including the generally undemonstrative approach. They play so well they don't bother tossing their hair or gazing soulfully at one another or nodding and gesturing while playing. They just play. And listen really closely to one another. Too bad the sound isn't better. I gather this was filmed for television in 1953. We forget how, back a few decades, there was actually a lot of classical music on television. I saw a broadcast of a Segovia concert from the White House in the late 1970s. I wonder if that is on YouTube? Well, of course it is. The concert was in 1979. Alas, Segovia was eighty-six years old at the time, so just a bit past his prime!

And, of course, Glenn Gould did so much work with CBC television in Canada that he had his own office in the CBC building in Toronto. A friend of mine called the number for CBC Toronto once and Glenn Gould actually picked up the phone! I see that you can purchase the complete Glenn Gould broadcasts in DVD form which went on the air from 1954 to 1977. Here is a little sample:

How did I get on to Glenn Gould? Oh, right, television. Of course the whole media landscape has changed so much. Now "television" does not mean the few channels that I grew up with, but hundreds of channels. And the Internet is like a million more "channels". So we do live in a kind of Golden Age. Now, if we could only get the video directors to stop futzing around with weird camera angles and tight shots.

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