Blogging Pachelbel #4 — Ettore Stratta

I have read in various places that this is the recording that was used for the 1980 film Ordinary People [Note: since writing this, I've found that Ordinary People used the original Paillard recording, not this one], which many credit with really bringing the piece to the popular audience outside of its previous popularity among fans of Baroque and light classical music. I intend to do some research on that to see if I can pin it down or not. For now, a few comments on this performance:

The text used is exactly the same as in the Muenchinger/Stuttgart recording, i.e., with two extra measures of continuo vamp at the beginning and the 8-measure “bleeding chunk” cut of mm. 27-35. Otherwise, the performance is remarkable for being utterly unremarkable, I’m afraid. Other than an interesting tendency to push ahead of the average tempo of the whole performance (46BPM) before the cut and the tendency to fall below it after the cut, there’s not much else to say. The string sound is clean and modern and the balance between bass and the other voices about right. There is no artificial mucking about with the balances between the parts — for the most part, they are just allowed to speak for themselves (which seems about right to me).

If this is indeed the recording that brought the work to the wider audience [it is not], I don’t think that’s a tragedy, as it’s not bad at all. But it is rather inoffensive, which is a drawback in and of itself, I think. When you consider that the Musica Antiqua Koeln and Hogwood recordings came out within a couple years of the release of Ordinary People, it’s pretty clear that things were on the move stylistically, and while this recording holds up fairly well in comparison to the recordings of the 60s and early 70s, it’s a world away from what was soon to come from the Early Music movement in the 80s and 90s.