(Note: This post has been updated (2) as of 3:45 PM Eastern on 4 Feb. See below.)
Oh dear. I do seem to be being ganged-up on by writer on music and weblogger Lisa Hirsch of Iron Tongue Of Midnight, and composer and weblogger Marcus Maroney of Sounds Like New, presumably on the matter of my ideas on the proper reading of a Wagner score, but in truth mainly because neither much appreciates what both see as my claim of possession of special knowledge on the subject; my attack on the approach to Wagner taken by such criminals as conductor and notorious avant-garde composer and inveterate hater of the Romantic, Pierre Boulez (an approach much favored by both Ms. Hirsch and Mr. Maroney); but mostly because of what is perceived by both Ms. Hirsch and Mr. Maroney as my insufferable arrogance.
The back-and-forth began with this post by Ms. Hirsch, and my responses here, and here, and continued to an aborted end in the comments thread attached to Ms. Hirsch's above linked post (aborted because of Ms. Hirsch's demand not merely request, as she so misleadingly would have it understood that I give specific examples), and, finally, this most recent post by Ms. Hirsch.
First, a bit of vital clearing-up.
Mr. Maroney writes in the above referenced comments thread:
There is *no* objective way to discern from the scores what aesthetic approach Wagner preferred, and we have neither a recording of his own interpretation or his specific comments on other interpreters' views of his works indicating that he wanted a "massive" sound (which isn't mutually exclusive from "transparent", as ACD seems to think). He never, to my knowledge, wrote or said "I really dislike the transparency that [is] brought to my score at the expense of "massive sound." ACD, you're not the expert on Wagner that you seem to think you are.
Mr. Maroney grossly misunderstands my term "massing" to mean "massive." It of course means nothing of the sort not even marginally as would have been made clear to Mr. Maroney had he read with but a modicum of care what I've so far written on the matter. Mr. Maroney is also in error in his assertion that we have no record of Wagner's own reading of his works as conductor, or his thoughts on how those works ought to be conducted. We have a record of both, which will become clear as this, um, conversation continues.
With that appalling misunderstanding hopefully out of the way, I'll start by complying with the "request" made by both Ms. Hirsch and Mr. Maroney for a specific example; a "request" made, despite all outward appearance, not as a challenge, but in the interests of better understanding, as both would have it taken. I, however, insist on going about it in my own way as I think I can say, without any chance of being in error, that my study of Wagner and his mature works (Meistersinger excepted) exceeds in breadth, depth, and duration their own by at least a whole order of magnitude, and therefore it cannot be presumed by me they've the specialized background necessary to allow me to deal in shorthand explanations, so to speak (indeed, I know for certain from what's already been written by both that they lack that background).
In going about it in my own way I put myself at special, and specially damaging, risk because it involves my making reference to certain Wagner recordings no longer in my possession (i.e., I, for various reasons, didn't replace them in my slow rebuilding of my fire-destroyed libraries previously mentioned on this weblog), and so I must rely wholly on my memory of those no-longer-possessed recordings to make my points. But it's a risk I'm willing to take because it's by far the best way to go about the thing, both for the present purpose, and for the understanding of those readers who've only a passing interest in this business.
I choose as specific example a deceptively simple Wagner excerpt: the 136 measures which constitute the prelude to Wagner's first mature work, Das Rheingold. I ask both my inquisitors to listen to those 136 measures as conducted by Pierre Boulez on his Bayreuth Ring set (a set I no longer have in my possession); listen repeatedly and critically so as to get a solid measure-by-measure sense of what he's doing. I then ask them to listen in that same way to that same excerpt as conducted by Georg Solti on his Decca Ring set (a set I do presently own). I further ask that, for the time being, they do NOT consult the score. That will come later. After they've both those readings in their respective ears, so to speak, I then ask them both to independently on their respective weblogs describe in musical detail the heard difference between the two in terms of the music itself (as opposed to the audio, which is markedly different).
I await those descriptions with proverbial bated breath.
Update (10:28 PM Eastern on 3 Feb): I just noticed a misquoting of me by Ms. Hirsch in her most recent post linked above. Wrote Ms. Hirsch:
ACD, on both his blog and in comments below to my Roger Norrington/Wagner posting, asserts that transparency in Wagner represents a "willful disregard of a composer's clear intent as reflected in the score."
What ACD asserted was that transparency imposed by a conductor (emphasis added) on a Wagner score where such transparency is not written into the orchestration by Wagner himself represents a "willful disregard of [Wagner's] clear intent as reflected in the score."
That's something quite different from what Ms. Hirsch alleged I wrote.
Update (3:45 PM Eastern on 4 Feb): Marcus Maroney goes on a furious tear in one part of which he "humor[s] ACD" by grudgingly if only cursorily complying with my above request vis-à-vis a comparison between the Boulez and Solti readings of the Rheingold prelude, declaring he never asked for specific examples from me (true, in a sense: he merely whined (again) that, "Again there's far too much generalization coming from ACD"), then disassociates and excuses himself from further participation in the fray (if I've misunderstood Mr. Maroney on that last point, I'm certain he'll let me know).
Lisa Hirsch responds as well, and has graciously entered into the fray by declaring her intention to comply with my request. I wish only to assure Ms. Hirsch that I didn't at all object to her desire to have specific examples demonstrating my point as the above post should make clear, but rather her demanding rather than requesting those examples of me. I look forward to her description of the differences between the Boulez and Solti readings of the Rheingold prelude.