To reverse the question, I've become quite convinced over the years of hearing Ein Heldenleben from broadcasts, that one of the most successful concert halls to hear it played is the Royal Albert Hall. There might be a number of reasons for this. Careful microphone placement by the BBC, the vast scale of the place (or just conductors who know Strauss wrote for harps that are meant to be heard!) - whatever it is, the clarity of the orchestral sound in this work is often astonishing when broadcast from the RAH. And it's a very different experience when hearing the same performance in the hall itself which isn't half as focused. A couple of performances, by Sinopoli and Jansons, are really ear-opening.
Opera, for me, is the most problematic. This should only ever be experienced live. I'm not sure I can really recall an opera I've been at, which has subsequently been issued on CD or film, that has captured anything like the experience of being there. Let's take Bryn Terfel, for example. The voice certainly comes over well on live recordings, but what doesn't is the sheer intensity and magnetism of his stage presence which you just can't replicate in any form whatsoever. It's completely singular, of the moment, and particular to every specific note he sings and acts. His eyes quite terrify me; I never quite remember that when I hear a broadcast of an opera I heard him do. Birgit Nilsson was very similar - the voice in recordings or broadcasts could never match what you heard on stage.
« Back to index | View thread »
Thank you for taking part in the MusicWeb International Forum.
Len Mullenger - Founder of MusicWeb