Roger’s got the Schütz

The 2019 International Heinrich-Schütz-Preis (mind how you pronounce it) has gone to Sir Roger Norrington, 85.

The prize is worth 30,000 Euros and the citation says he has been, for half a century, one of the most important pioneers in historically informed period practice, ‘after Nicolaus Harnoncourt and Sir John Eliot Gardiner’.

Roger won’t like that.

Such Schütz.


This post is not available in German translation.

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  • Why “mind how you pronounce it”? What’s there to mispronounce? Mr Lebrecht has cracked better jokes in his day.

    Even without the Umlaut, it would simply be yet another case of orthographic inaccuracy, as in “Gotterdammerung”…

  • Norrington will direct orchestras to play Richard Strauss’s music without vibrato as if Strauss himself didn’t use it.

    • The default style for orchestral (if not solo) string players at the turn of the 20th century was no vibrato. This can even be heard in the earliest (acoustic) orchestral recordings. In fact, at 6 bars before 42 in Heldenleben, Strauss has to explicitly turn it on–via ‘vibrato’ printed in the score–and only for the cellos and violas at that. He then dials it down a few bars later via ‘poco senza vibrato.’ These indications would hardly have been necessary if all the string players had the continuous vibrato that Norrington has campaigned against. Here, vibrato is treated as a special effect, one of many special playing techniques that Strauss requires of the strings.

    • This is the second or third of Sue’s comments I agree with or would like to be associated with. The second or third in one week! I’m off to see a doctor.

  • I am always at a loss when I hear that some already well-established and, frankly, more than well off practitioner of classical music (Roger N, Anne-Sophie M etc.) has won a financially attractive ‘prize’. The profession is dying, the vast majority of classical musicians are hugely overworked, undervalued and underpaid. There really is that much to celebrate, and this certainly isn’t the way to celebrate it.

  • You have to be kidding. Of all of the HIP crowd who have attempted to perform and record music written after the time of Beethoven, he is probably the worst offender. He has a strong tendency to disregard not only the performance tradition for the piece, but, in many cases, the explicit comments and suggestions regarding the piece made by the composer. Exhibit A is his recording of Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastique.” Berlioz, who wrote extensively about his own music, had suggested that the ideal orchestra for the work would actually have something like 130 players. So what does Norrington do when he records the work? He cuts the orchestra down to about 60 players! Believe me, it takes some work to make the last two movements of that work, “March to the Scaffold” and “Dream of the Witches’ Sabbath,” sound boring, but Norrington managed it! (I do admit that some of his early choral recordings for Decca are pretty good, but that was before he caught HIPV (Historically Informed Performance Virus), for which there is apparently no cure).

    30,000 Euros? I wouldn’t give him 30,000 inflated 1923 Deutsche Marks!

  • Roger Norrington, Paul Steinitz and Peter Pears all served on the committee of the International Heinrich Schütz Society) British section, administered by Bärenreiter during 60s and 70s. All three pioneered the music of Schütz in this country in public performances that used original brass instruments in the wonderful polychoral repertoire in particular – the original surround sound .
    Roger’s choir “The Schütz Choir of London” was founded in 1962 ‘inspired by Paul and the London Bach Society’ so he once said in an interview. He is to be congratulated warmly on this award. Memories are often short!

  • I heard one of the best live performances of Beethoven Symphony No. 5 played by a student orchestra under Norrington — with both a serious sense of historical urgency and a sense of humour: Norrington even turned his back, smiling at the audience at certain point. It worked wonderfully: there is indeed a sense of fun even in this symphony.

  • == I always regret that his cancer treatment worked,

    This contributor should be banned from SD !!
    Why wasn’t the comment redacted ?

    • My cancer treatment has worked so far too. Comments like that prove that a sinister level of evil does exist in the world, even in classical music crowds. This is also why I don’t understand why so many of you are intent on being on stage as there will always be a certain percentage of sinister people in the audience.

      Of course this poster (AKA coward) would never go back stage and tell Roger, “Hi. Sorry to hear that your cancer treatment worked…” These types tend to also have trouble with simple things in life, like asking a female out on a date.

      I won’t even waste my time attempting to express in words what cancer surgery and chemotherapy are like. The only thing you can do is lead a healthy lifestyle and hope that you are one of the lucky ones.

  • ==I too could think of a few more or less silly jokes based on your name (or on your face as seen in that thumbnail)

    Ah, nothing like ad hominem attacks

  • My own experience is that growing up in a house with Beethoven recordings by Karajan, Bohm and Solti, I then discovered Norrington’s interpretations about the age of 11 via a televised documentary and series of performances around Christmas 1988, if I recall correctly. They were a revelation – so exciting and refreshing, much more than many other HIP conductors. Ever since I’ve been attentive to all of his subsequent recordings and performances. Sometimes they work (mainly high romantics like Schumann and Mendelssohn as well as Beethoven) and sometime they don’t (I agree the Symphonie Fantastique is not his finest hour).

    I shall always be grateful for that early education about interpretation, for the freshness and excitement of many of his recordings, and for the window onto how Beethoven and others may have sounded to their contemporaries.

    As for Harnoncourt, his recordings have never really appealed to me, although JEG has always been a serious rival to Norrington to my ears.

  • ==== I always regret that his cancer treatment worked,

    The redaction policy on SD is strange. Yesterday, Esther Cavett had a redaction for “privacy” purposes when she simply repeated what had been written in Evening Standard about Rattle’s divorce settlement. And today you’re letting the above nasty comment stand.

    Do you actually have a policy, or is it whim ?

    • The comment about Rattle is potentially libellous (in the sense the site can be sued). The cancer comment is just nasty (but nobody can sue).

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