Friday, May 9, 2014

A Mystery Solved?

Last week published an opinion piece which turned a few heads. Early music should be left to period players said Julian Haylock, but for all the wrong reasons. Though his hypothesis is polarizing, the evidence he chooses to support his argument is spotty at best.

Three very different recordings of Bach's St. Matthew Passion - one conducted by Otto Klemperer, the second by John Eliot Gardiner, the third by Riccardo Chailly - form the basis of Haylock's argument. Not only was each performance recorded by different 'generations' of conductors and ensembles, their experience with HIP practice ranges from completely ignorant to experienced professionals. This sampling makes it very hard to argue that the instruments themselves really tip the balance one way or the other.

Apart from the work itself, it's difficult to find some similarities between the recordings. After a bit of digging, however, it appears that each disc is offered on labels owned by the same parent company, Universal Music Group. Furthermore, Haylock has been a periodical reviewer on, a website owned and operated by Universal, not just by "music fans" as it claims. With this in mind, Haylock's eclectic selections for The Strad make for a curious coincidence at the least. Are there more sinister motives afoot?

The thread below contains the discussion on my wall surrounding the article and may be of interest.

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