[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: GG: Convincing Interpretations? Validity?

This posting seems to have been lost in the F# crash.

All the best,



At 00:53 4/4/1996 -0500, Captain Nemo wrote:

>        Ok given this, how do we judge a piece?  What is it that makes one
>performance bad or good?  How do we know when we hear two presumably note
>perfect performances that one is a good interpretation and one is a bad
>        Well, to begin, we need to consider, shall I say, the culturual
>baggage which we have acquired.  Knowing that we can never have the exact
>interpretation(s) that Beethoven would have, and knowing that we would not
>appreciate that (those) very interpretations that Beethoven's audience
>would have, we have come up with ways which will please the (20th century)
>audience, which have been developed and modified over time to suit the
>audiences of recent past from those which were for late 19th century
>audiences, ad infinitum.  What we are doing today is a perversion of what
>would have been done (perversion not at all in the bad sense; in fact,
>there is no possible way of avoiding this distortion of the music).

(development of argument snipped to save space)

>        I conjecture that there is no true justification for our culturual
>baggage.  That this is just an accumulation of vogues built upon vogues
>with only a grain of truth contained within.

Part of our disagreement, i suspect, is that i don't agree with your basic
conjecture. While some of the baggage (as you call it) may appear to be
artitrary, much of it appears to make sense in the context of changing
musical technologies & cultural expectations. To use the most obvious
example: have you tried to listen to an "authentic instruments" ensemble in
a modern or even a large 19th century concert venue? It doesn't work. The
scale of the sound is completely wrong.

(Recording is a completely different issue, of course... something that GG -
perhaps first - clearly recognised)

Having said that, i would suggest that even if your conjecture was correct,
why should a performing tradition be dismissed simply because it appears to
be arbitrary? If it still gives pleasure for an audience or a performer,
it's valid....

There's also the whole issue of historical perspectives to be dealt with. GG
was an iconoclast; so i'll refer to Earl Wild, whose pretty much the last of
the old generation of knights of the grand piano... even if you don't like
his stylish, slightly gladiatorial approach to pianism (i do, as it
happens), "Wild Earl" offers a physical link to a historical tradition which
has changed (GG helped change it). I suspect we need to appreciate these
different strands in performance to understand where we are now... but in
case, we can also appreciate them simply because they're interesting....