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Re: [ARSCLIST] Dynamic-frequency Range
On Thu, 19 Oct 2006, Mike Richter wrote:
> There is a homogenization of classical music performance today which had
> no counterpart fifty or a hundred years ago. Landowska's harpsichord for
> Bach had little resemblance to the keyboard instruments Bach used, but
> it did introduce the world to something closer to his music than playing
> his works on a Steinway. By the same token, Glenn Gould's piano
> performances of Bach's music are revelatory in their way, but that is
> not accepted as the composer's way.
Curiously, many have argued that the recording has caused that
And on the subject of historically informed performances...
Even when we might have a sense of the composer's way, we often don't like
to hear it that way.
As for the having it the composer's way...not every composer was a capable
conductor or performer, and, as when one compares Stravinsky's own
recordings of Le Sacre, his "intent" changed dramatically over the
years...and I would wager so did his conducting abilities, and
the ability of orchestras to perform his music.
Then there was Brahms who complained that musicians took his scores too
One project we are working on is a disc of Liszt pupils playing
Liszt...some of the Welte rolls. There are several that are marked
suggesting the recording is how the pupil remembered Liszt playing the
work. We plan to feature duplicate performances of the same piece, played
by former pupils, both claiming to have performed in the way the composer
played...well, either Liszt never played it the same way twice (which is
my guess) or, those pupils might not have had accurate memories.
For me, the major problem with historically informed performances is that,
while they might play on period instruments, keep the size of the ensemble
historically correct, use the original metronome markings, etc...they
can't replicate playing techniques that are no longer taught...things like
the use of rubato within a phrase without losing the overall beat,
measured portamento, etc. I wonder what Beethoven would have thought of
the Nikisch recording of the 5th or d'Albert's broadcast of the Emperor.
Then we have Bruno Walter who was probably the best informed to perform
Mahler, yet we do not generally place his Mahler recordings at the top.
I have never heard a recording of the Messiaen organ works where a
performer is a free rhythmically as one can hear in the composer's
Even when we released the Scriabin rolls...we included two recordings of
the same piece...one played by Scriabin and the other by Goldenweiser. The
Goldenweiser was recorded within a few days of Scriabin's...using the
same studio...they were friends, yet the differences in the performances
are astounding...plus, Scriabin departs from the printed text and provides
his own ending...well, he was the composer...
For me, one of the great benefits of older recordings is that one can hear
how they used to play...or these days, how they used to record...like a
Glenn Gould. And on the subject of Gould...I spent a most fascinating
afternoon watching some outtakes from a video session where Gould had
spent about 30 minutes on three measures of Bach. The outtakes were far
more fascinating that the final version. Hence, the information exists
only because of the process.
I treasure some Horowitz and Sinatra recording session outtakes I have.
Pity so much of that sort of material is lost.