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Re: GG: Beethoven & Brahms
At 14:28 31/3/1996 -0500, Captain Nemo wrote:
> Now, to digress, what makes an interpration valid to me, if
>"convincing" is a useless term. To me, an interpretation is valid if the
>performer can justify every action that s/he has decided upon.
While i agree with a lot of your ideas on a point-by-point basis, i'm not
sure i can agree with this basic assumption. Why should the fact that a
position can be justified make it valid, "right" or even interesting? All it
means is that the position taken is consistent with a number of intellectual
assumptions, which may or may not be stated; & which may or may not be
appropriate to the piece in question. I've heard plenty of carefully, even
reasonably argued musical positions which have resulted in total misfires...
& yes, a few have come from the keyboard of GG.
I will accept that a thought-out position is more likely to create a
provocative performance; & that this kind of performance can sometimes offer
unexpected insights (it's hard to imagine performances which miss the point
of a composer more than GG's Wagner transcriptions; but the meeting of alien
minds is fascinating)... it can also offer empty, manneristic gesturing.
More generally, it results in one of those sad, nagging displays where
everything is in order; but nothing is in place....
Seeing performances in terms of the validity of the justification also
avoids the question of performances which are clearly at odds with the
intellectual position behind them (in other words, where the performer/s
aren't really doing what they think they are). There are certainly times
when most people will wonder whether GG (for all his indisputed talent,
"genius", insight - even intellectual vigor) really did know what he was
doing; & to simply dismiss these doubts as irrelevant because he could
always justify his stranger positions really is an act of aesthetic
cowardice. We should always reserve the right to question the questionable &
to test it for validity; based both on our own perceptions of the music &
the world which surrounds it.
That is, after all, what the performers who are justifying their worth have
presumably been doing (that's certainly what GG did)... so why shouldn't we?
(If you forgive a short detour, i'd like to suggest a better example of the
kind of conundrum i'm describing: the French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard. If
you ever have a chance to see his films THEN read the critical self-analysis
he makes of them, you'll know exactly what i mean when i describe an artist
who's intellectual/aestheic intentions are at odds with his artistic
Frankly, i'm always happier with someone who answers vaguely that the
performance "just feels right". At least that way, i can be sure of the
honesty behind the concept, if not its logic.