Recording-Technique, Playing w/Meier, Kundry

(Originally written on October 19, 2006) 

Dear New York Folks,

This is Jiwon.

“Working with him has a very great influence on me, and I think I can speak for all my colleagues as well. Just the way he is with us, the way he is conducting, the way he knows all the pieces. He knows almost every single word of every single character of every single opera he conducts.”

Who said that? You say that he is not a liar.

Whoever said that, Daniel Barenboim should be the best one to explain Meier’s music in public, her vocal techniques in particular.

The only thing I know about this voice: There was something wrong with his singing during the rehearsal with this maestro.

Now, I can understand why the formites hardly appreciate when Pape and Heppner were singing together: They should have followed each other in a certain way, instead of following something another and destroying each other’s talent. One forumite exactly pointed out.

I was fortunate to turn on the radio, which was broadcasting a concert from Japan, before wasting time to write all the details about Waltraud Meier. I was more fortunate to find this interview before I finally write this. 10 minutes were all I had and I am not required to report the program that night. Once I start to mention the player’s name, suddenly I have too many things to write: About him, about his friends-or-rivals, about Japan… Tired.

Is it simply this recording engineer’s favorite way to capture his favorite music? Or is it the result of his previous works, in which all the Japanese musicians and foreign performers had to be captured in this way?

I know the Japanese music industry had suffered a certain change since Barenboim’s Wagner rocked the audience and even educated the music students. (Who was the most active members to conduct the masterclass during their visit to Asian headquarters?) I also know the NHK couldn’t play like that as time went by. So, I used to think that this happening was just a part of Japan, and now… hum…

I only wish the recording engineer changed his recording technique as the concert made a visual progress.

I was writing about something instrumental. I now have to write about something vocal. Why do I want to write about these two, something different?

Something is similar while something is different, and by now, you should know what something is. You are called music critics, aren’t you? If you still don’t know, your maestro, who knows almost every single word of every single character of every single opera he conducts, will teach you.

While searching for the “private” opinions about the Met’s recent Kundry,

I remember to find the best words to describe this singing as “aggressive but disciplined.” Where was it? Google or NYT-Forum? I can’t find it now. If my memory is right, it came from Meier’s devoted fan, not from her detractors.

No one would disagree.

If her present singing is like this, what about Waltraud Meier during her lovely days, which is basically the same vocal technique? She’s just built the strong muscles to protect her favorite personality, which means the voice as a singer.

Let’s imagine that you are playing next to Waltraud Meier. Singing or playing… whatever.

To be continued…

(Originally written on November 6, 2006)

Dear New York Folks,

This is Jiwon.

Some time ago, it was too hot to write. Some time later, it will snow…

Let’s imagine that you are playing next to Waltraud Meier. Singing or playing… whatever.

Being onstage is not same as playing in a rehearsal room. That you should wear outward make-up and project your voice/sound to the end of hall is not your single responsibility. You should also listen to your own voice/sound from far away.

You are standing by your partner on stage, but the truth is that you are flying to the border to pick up your partner’s sound instead of just standing there and listening to him/her, but then you should still stand on the same spot in order to send your music to where it should be blended with your partner’s music.

While standing next to your partner and performing with him/her, the AIR is perhaps the only thing you could behold from your partner’s throat. Not partner’s sound but partner’s AIR…

You hear your partner in a multi-dimensional way, then you and your partner are able to share the same imagination. Even the audience is allowed to enter this same imaginative world.

Can you understand what I mean? It is difficult for me to explain it even in my language. I never did, as a matter of fact. I felt no need to explain it to all the enemies in American music school.

Some American knew this and I don’t know where they learned it, for I hear nothing from the American Symphony Orchestras. (I am still curious who was THAT visiting conductor who made a quick decision to save my dying sound. His rehearsal was only for 10 minutes, but then he remembered my face while looking round the library. He was tall, bald, having the appearance of typical American…)

I’ve never tried to explain it when I returned to this fucking country, for NOBODY but one heard it from my performance and I rejected his phone call. I was not in a position to teach my juniors by then. To explain it to my seniors, they should prove enough ears to catch it or they should possess an open mind to accept something new from their juniors, whether it is better or not. Years later now, I’d rather not explain it to my juniors, for they wouldn’t survive their professional life if they really understood it.

Last year, I encountered one amateur saxophonist, who was practicing in a park, and gave him an advice. Weeks later, I heard his practice again, and gave him more comments. One week later, I met his entire family, and his wife was asking me to teach their daughter.

This was my only answer: “I gave you lessons because you are not professional. Time will pass by. The weaker your body grows, the better you will remember my comments. It’s wonderful to want to enjoy music throughout your life. However, if you want your kid to study music and my instrument, the things will be entirely different. Not only my teaching style doesn’t work here, but also I am nobody here. Professional music means money and personal relationship, especially in a wind section. You should find a good teacher, who excels in politics. First of all, I don’t see your daughter physically aggressive enough to accept the favorite music style here. She will fail anyway. Why don’t you invest this same amount of money in her another future? It will be never late for her to want to enjoy music after then.”

I felt awful. Since then, I avoid talking to any practicing sound in the park.

With Waltraud Meier performing next to you,

Not only you can not ignore this voice, but also it doesn’t allow you to listen to your own voice from far away. Not only you are losing your AIR, but also you are limiting your auditory or even mental view. The Art of Sound or the Art of Air becomes one dimensional. Some time later, you will be chained to your new voice, or singing diction. The more you like your new singing diction, the more you will build aggressive muscles enough to make your new voice to be heard at the end of hall.

There are more than three ways to change your way of playing to join Meier’s stage. Singers can learn it from Waltraud Meier and her fellow musicians. No need to learn, actually. Just play with them and survive your life.

Strings know how to make or follow it. Flute knows how to make or follow it. Oboe knows how to follow it. Clarinet knows how to make it. Bassoon knows how to make or follow it. French-horn knows how to make or follow it. Trumpet knows how to follow it. Trombone knows how to make it. Tuba knows how to make it. Timpani knows how to make it.

Make it or follow it: It is not from my theory, but from my experience. They just need a certain personality, specific equipment, and a unique technique. Where did I learn this? Before, during, or after my American study…

Where do I live now, and how many years have passed, and how everybody sound today? Bad ones still sound same. Did they even try to change their lifestyle? Only the normal ones lost their music, and they are smiling.

Things won’t change unless the trustees fire those musicians. Or… they’re still on a long way to go, to complete it.

Music critics, professors, and even the audience say that they are proud of a huge improvement they accomplished over decades, particularly in orchestral ensemble.

Now, this is my very personal opinion.

I hate talking, partly because I don’t like my voice, then what about Waltraud Meier?

It was from the Google Group, but I am not sure if this opinion welcomes his name being used in my place:

“I saw her Kundry, (Amy Shuard???,) at the Teatro alla Fenice in 1971. Given all the roles that Kundry has to play…hag, camp follower, tempress, seductress et al…she wasn’t all that bad. Having said that….tonight — I’m off to see Waltraud Meier as Kundry and I’ve seen her do the role before but my best all-time Kundry was Leonie Rysanek, then there was Regine Crespin in the role at Bayreuth — summer 1959 under Knappertsbusch — Hans Beier, Eberhard Waechter and Josef Greindl.”

Leonie Rysanek? Regine Crespin?

I heard both of them, and don’t know why it is still impossible for me to remember who was who. Which voice was whose?

One day, I heard Rysanek or Crespin, and I dropped my jaw. I was listening to one very seductive Wagnerian voice, and THAT AIR in this feminine voice was just…

Some time later, I heard Crespin or Rysanek, and I closed my eyes. THAT AIR in that feminine voice was just…

I knew I heard something TWO, but somehow, I was just confused and the two different Wagnerian names approached me as one same AIR until I found this forumite’s opinion. So, I wanted to watch them. Regine Crespin:

No interesting information about this singer. Weird. Leonie Rysanek:

Wow! The way she rests, the way she stands, the way she moves, the way she stares, the way she glances, the way she smiles, the way she grins, the way she dreams, the way she screams, etc…

This body is a dramatic singer, IMHO. (I compare this body with mine, which is dying…)

I am still trying, trying to remember which was whose. The only thing I remember: The radio said that HER voice was powerful enough to be heard amid the plane noise overhead in outdoor concert. Who was SHE? I don’t remember.

Perhaps, I heard Crespin first, and then Rysanek couple of years later, but still can’t explain the difference between the two voices. Perhaps, their music was too short for me to overcome my awesome feeling and start to analyze their vocal techniques.


I was so tempted by this seductive voice that there was no time to ponder on whether those singers reach the music through the text or not. (Weird that I am not a lesbian…) Or there was simply nothing wrong with their singing diction.

It doesn’t matter if Leonie Rysanek were Regine Crespin, or vice versa.

As my problem never to accept Waltraud Meier as Barenboim’s Wagnerian diva arose, I happened to find this opinion from the NYT-Forum: “Wanger’s Kundry doesn’t have to be a good singer.”

My question:

1. If so, why those two names are remembered as Everybody’s Kundry?

2. I still didn’t watch their acting Wagner’s Kundry. What conquered me was their voice while listening to their “purely musical” repertoire. More precisely speaking, what caught me was the AIR in their voices.

3. If their voices were the reason of Wagnerian fame as Everybody’s Kundry, why did I find no one mentioning their Isolde or Brunnhilde or etc.? At least their possibility to sing those roles. It has been years since I read quite a lot about something Wagner by using the search button and typing “Meier, Kundry, Isolde, and etc…”

To my ears,

If Rysanek or Crespin sound sexy or erotic or seductive, Meier sounds like hard porn. I was determined to believe my theory ever since my ears suffered from acoustic onslaught by Meier’s strange SINGING diction. What kind of first-rate pop music sounds like this when the main topic of this inferior culture is love or sex? They might be cheap, being judged by your standard, but they at least sound sexy or erotic or seductive.

At first, it just sounded strange. Then, I had to think, think, think and create my own definition, “hard porn,” for FOLKS were crazy about this weird SINGING, and I just couldn’t understand their reason.

For years, I’ve been looking for one forumite, who wrote Meier’s singing as D-something vowel sound. It was a kind of insulting and it ended with exclamation marks: Meier’s D-bla-bla vowel sound!!! (deteriorating or distorted or deformed or something like that…)

It was in the Google Group, and it was before 2002 if my memory is correct. When I wanted to show you and tried to find it again, it was gone. After spending one year to scour this place, I gave up. Perhaps, American Henry Fogel brainwashed him or Jewish Sergey Brin deleted his posting.

There are other postings, of course, which explain Meier’s vocal techniques in full details. It is of course not my job to force you to read that common knowledge. For years, my only concern had been to find this missing posting, and then… I gave up: Meier’s D-bla-bla vowel sound!!! (deteriorating or distorted or deformed or something like that…)

What do I do?

I am still thinking.

This is not fair. It is still OK that Wanger’s Kundry doesn’t have to be a good singer. However…

When Wagner’s prima donna sounds sexy or erotic or seductive, this feminine character can feed all the Wagnerian youngsters, one of whom would be able to end up his career as a Heldentenor.

When Wagner’s prima donna sounds like porn, this bitch voice exterminates all the talented singing actors.

Each talent should meet her proper partner, instead of being paired with the wrong one and destroying each other. Why Waltraud Meier always steals talented partners from THE DIVAS and kills their voices, instead of finding her proper partner and making him a legendary penis?

This is not fair.

Consumers need sexy stars from here and then porno stars from there. The porn market will be bigger, perhaps. What is the average age of those girls and how old is Waltraud Meier? Why the audience in these days can never taste another Waltraud Meier, who is younger, fresher, and fleshlier.

This is not fair.

Earning a blissful happiness, achieving a supreme fame, and practicing the most generous heart are great, unless it doesn’t destroy other’s happiness, other’s fame, and other’s heart.

This is not fair.

Waltraud Meier and her supporters believe that her fame was earned by her talent and hard working, and she has admirers elsewhere. Even charitable audience, partly due to my insulting. Why doesn’t she just prove her art of SINGING elsewhere with musicians, whose favorite way of making music is just same as her SINGING diction?

This is not fair.

Waltraud Meier as dramatic what?


P.S. 1: Let’s see Salome in silhouette –> The long and winding road. Ta-ta tada taah… The wild and windy night. Ta-ta tada taah… Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah 

(One of two reasons why I think Solti was a music director was his offensive comment disapproving this diva’s rich but loose shape. She thought it was offensive. Now that this body is simply too weak, I just hope this singer suffers from more humiliation and torments her body until a real dramatic voice spurts out from the bottom of her from-wounded-to-triumphant heart. Unlike me, she still didn’t give up her life. Unlike poor male voices and female mezzos, she is not required to perform on the same stage as Meier. Why doesn’t she try more to make her voice real dramatic?)

P.S. 2: Is my writing organized? I don’t think I’ve been doing anything useful lately, but I gave up. Just too tired… Only want to finish it as soon as possible.

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