From: (Matanya Ophee)
Subject: Re: Parkening cheating?
Date: 1995/04/03
Message-ID: <95Apr03131248.$T400772@IH.USA.Com>
X-Deja-AN: 100752761

Thanks to Marc Bentley for posting Patrick Russ' open letter to me 
about his association with Parkening. Some response is obviously 
warranted, openly, and I would aappreciate it if you forwarded my 
resposne to Mr. P.R. Here goes:

| Most people, including
| myself, would see no reason to share his comments with Parkening, as the
| letter reveals much more about Mr. Ophee than about Parkening.  

That is a true statement. _Everything_ anyone posts publicly, 
including public performances and recordings says much about the 

|  As your readers might have guessed, Parkening records his pieces just as
| he performs them.  

I am glad to hear this. The comparison of the recorded samples to 
Parkening's own performances, those that I was unfortunate enough to 
hear in person, somehow does not support this notion. At least not in 
my limited, and obviously outmoded understanding of musical 

| I was present for part of the solo guitar recording of the
| piece Ophee mentioned, Bach's Prelude from the 4th Lute Suite, and also
| for the orchestral recording with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra two
| years later (Bach's Sinfonia from "We Thank Thee, Lord, We Thank Thee" 
| from Cantata 29 contains substantially the same solo part as Prelude from
| Suite No. 4 for lute and Prelude from Partita #3 for solo violin). 

Mr. Russ had an opportunity here to explain _why_ the title of the 
Cantata No. 29 was applied to the solo version written by Bach for 
violin/lute, something Bach himself had not done. I am sorry he 
missed the opportunity. To have assigned such a title retroactively, 
and thus accord the piece a phoney sacredness, is a clear violation 
of the Fourth Commandement. It is unworthy of a true believer.

| Parkening played his own editions and fingerings.  He didn't use a musical
| arrangement by Ophee.   

I did not suggest he did, and obviously his recordings have nothing to 
do with my arrangements. I am very grateful for that.

| There were no gimmicks, nothing was speeded up,
| and in fact both solo and orchestral versions are recorded at the same
| tempi Parkening performed in concert around the country.

That may be true. Yet, it does not explain the discrepancy in tempi 
as it appears on the two recordings in question. On the LP it is 
3:35, on the tape, newly measured by the stop-watch on my computer, 
it is precisely 3:54. That is a difference of 8.37%. I will grant you 
that an artist may play the same piece at different tempi at 
different times, but a large discrepancy still leaves the question 

| Parkening remarked at the time that, although he played the E major
| fingerings, he used a capo on the first fret for both performances because
| the slightly higher pitch sounded better on his instrument, brighter and
| more lute-like.  The Cantata's original key of D Major did not lay well on
| the guitar and sounded dark (remembering that the guitar sounds an octave
| below the written keyboard), 

That is a silly argument, since the violin/lute version _also_ sounds 
on the guitar an octave lower than written. To get a true sound 
picture of the original, one would have to place the capo on the 12th 
fret, or play the Cantata's version in D and place the capo on the 
10th fret. In other words, I agree that one should play Bach's music 
in other keys than the original. But I cannot accept a claim that one 
key choice is brighter or more lute-like than another. If Parkening 
thinks his choice represents a closer rendition to that of the lute, 
he must have never heard a lute being played by the likes of Toyohiko 
Satoh, Nigel North or Paul O'Dette.

| So after considering the different options,
| Ronald Ravenscroft arranged the orchestral work in F Major. Thus, both
| versions sound in F major.  

I have taken Mr. Russ' advice and re-played the tape on a more modern 
machine. Yes, I admit, with a blushing face, that it does in fact 
sound in F. Moreover, the tape has a photograph of Mr. Parkening with 
an orchestra in the background. In the photo, the guitar is clearly 
mounted with a capo at the first fret. Now, does that induces me to 
change my mind? Not at all. On the contrary. It appears to me now 
that the spin-doctor's remedy for the obviously unreasonable tempo on 
the LP, was far more extensive than the cryptic instruction on the 
published score to place a capo on the first fret. Just to imagine 
the tremendous cost in re-arranging Bach's orchestral parts in F. 
Just paying the copyist for making the playing parts... To be 
perfectly frank, this is simply unbelievable. However, even if true, 
the entire enterprise is a musical travesty which does a 
tremendous violence to the leagcy of Johann Sebastian Bach. As I 
mentioned before, Bach did not simply transpose the violin piece from 
E to D, but also re-wrote large sections of the solo part so as to 
function better with an orchestral accompaniment. To have re-arranged 
the orchestra, without at the same time re-arranging the solo part to 
fit, in _whatever_ key you want to do it, is tantamount to playing the
Aranjuez with the orchestra playing their part from the score of the 
Castelnuovo-Tedesco concerto, rearranged in the proper key. The point 
becomes painfully obvious in the arpeggio section starting with 
measure 18, where the orchestra has a fanfare accent on the first 
beat. In the organ version, the arpeggios are re-arranged with an 
accent to fit. In the violin/lute version, as we all know, the accent 
falls one 16th later. To play both the violin version, with the 
Cantata's accompaniment, produces the crudest form of ping-pong I 
have ever heard on any recording. Why was not the guitar part _also_ 
re-arranged to match the right hand of the organ from the Cantata? I 
am sure both Mr. Parkening and/or his arranger Mr. Ravenscroft are 
pertfcetly capable of doing that. To have ignored Bach's own internal 
logic for the Cantata, and to use the product to praise the Lord, and 
to celebrate Bach, does an injustice to both.
|  Ophee suggests that the collection Simple Gifts which contains this solo
| recording was done simply for the money.  Few people know (until now) that
| all artist's proceeds for the album, as well as the arrangers' mechanical
| license fees, go to a charitable trust to feed the poor. 

That is a very commendable gesture. Bravo. I still feel that having 
the records, both the LP and the tape, sold through commercial 
outlets, _without_ mentioning in either case that the proceeds go to 
charity, and precisely _which_ charity organization is the 
beneficiary, is to make me, the consumer, an unwary participant in 
fund raising for charities or causes I may or may not wish to donate 
to. Even if the artists did not receive any remuneration, the record 
company and the retailer certainly made money on the deal. Truth in 
advertising, please.
| I enjoyed the book of correspondence between Segovia and Ponce published
| by Mr. Ophee's company,

That is an interesting observation. There are moments in the book 
which are truly enjoyable, such as the story of Segovia's encounters 
with enemas administered by a Norwegian nurse. A hilarious story 
worthy of the best story-tellers. Segovia's discussion of his 
committmenet to feed his family, is also an intimate portrayal of the 
man which cannot be had from more official biographies. Other 
discussion by Segovia in this book, are far from "enjoyable." Some of 
his comments were, for me personally, some of the most painful 
readings about the guitar and its people. I did not enjoy it at all.

| or visit his
| annual master class at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana where
| he candidly fields many questions related to his profession. 

Never had the pleasure. I did hear once, driving through the 
beautiful Shenandoa Valley, a radio interview with Parkening. This 
was interspersed, almost in every sentence, with the names of Segovia 
and with an expression of his religious feelings. If this is the 
sort of information he dispenses in his masterclasses, then I don't 
think I shall attend. I'd like to know more of what Parkening, the man 
and the artist, has to offer _directly of his own_, without a constant 
reference to his deities.

Matanya Ophee