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#394629 - 10/11/01 09:30 PM Historical Accuracy: Absolute Necessity or Unneeded Nicety?
Matt G. Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/22/01
Posts: 3789
Loc: Plainfield, IL
This is an issue that's been burning in my brain for years, and I would like to know how all of you feel about it.

When dealing with piano music written before the advent of the more or less modern piano (just for reference, let's say pre-1840), there appears to be two schools of thought: one says that the performance should simulate the technology available at the time a piece was written; the second holds that since we are possessed of modern instruments, they should be used to their full advantage.

The camp dedicated to historical accuracy will insist that dynamics be kept within a narrower range, shuns or severely restricts using the sustain pedal and prefers a general lightness and thinness of tone.

The camp siding with using modern instruments to their full potential counters with the supposition that composers have always worked with the best they had available to them. They further assert that thus the great composers of piano music in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries would have been thrilled to have a modern piano with its superior power and tone.

I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. I can certainly understand and relate to the arguments of both camps. Towards which camp do you lean, and why?
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#394630 - 10/11/01 10:55 PM Re: Historical Accuracy: Absolute Necessity or Unneeded Nicety?
Bernard Offline
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Registered: 07/06/01
Posts: 3857
Loc: North Groton, NH
I definitely side with the camp that favors using modern instruments to their full potential. Composers are very musical individuals and I think if they could be asked about it, they would be more concerned with the musicality of a piece than whether a perhaps futile attempt to mimic the sound of their times should be made.

In my opinion, if authenticity is the aim, the piece should be played on a period instrument. I see no need to try forcing a modern piano to sound like it's from the 18th century.

I'm not against anyone trying to emulate an 18th century sound if that's what they enjoy. So long as they don't become snobs about it.
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#394631 - 10/12/01 10:05 AM Re: Historical Accuracy: Absolute Necessity or Unneeded Nicety?
Cork Offline
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Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 513
Loc: Dallas, TX
The search for "authenticity" has produced many positive results, including the supposed Urtext editions and the interesting period instrument recordings. I say this because I do not wish to seem one-sided on this issue.

However, I believe that the pendulum has swung too far in that direction. It's the same mentality that has stressed technical perfection over musicality, and I believe it has resulted in a sterility of interpretation that has stifled the spread of classical music among the general public. With regard to our own amateur solo performances of great works, I believe that we must take into account the differences between our modern instruments and those extant during the composers' lifetimes.

One simple example is the lovely first movement of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. Beethoven writes "without dampers", but anyone who takes that literally on a modern piano with decent sustain characteristics (like yours, Matt, or mine) will produce a bizarre and horrible wash of sound. The goal should not be "historically accurate reproduction", it should be production of Music. And if our interpretation of a piece (as individual performers) is such that we modify or go outside the bounds of the dynamic markings, then that is part of our search for our own voice. Heck, I rarely play a piece exactly the same way -- I am always experimenting with different interpretations.

Additionally, the wild search for the purest Urtext scores leaves me cold. Certainly I don't want egregious errors in the score, but some composers re-edited their own music so many times (and for many different purposes)it is ridiculous to claim that one version is "exactly what the composer intended". Again, there is value to these editions, but I think it is significantly overstated for most of the playing public.

Perhaps my early grounding in jazz comes out here as well, but I also believe that many (if not most) of the great composer/performers up through at least the mid-19th century were skilled at improvisation, and for us to believe that they stuck religiously to the dynamics and dots on the page is without foundation.

A closed interpretation of Urtext scores within rigidly set boundaries relegates the musician to the level of a typist. Thanks, but I'll stick with my impure interpretations that satisfy my own tastes, and I'll buy the recordings of performers such as Rubinstein whose strength is in making music rather than reproducing the notes on the page perfectly.

So there.
Cork
;\)

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#394632 - 10/12/01 11:12 AM Re: Historical Accuracy: Absolute Necessity or Unneeded Nicety?
kenny Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 7051
Cork, I like your point about the importance of musicality over "rightness". My teacher is always saying "I don't care if you give me some wrong notes, but please make me feel something. Feeling nothing is the ultimate mistake."

As far as whether music from 1803 must be played on a period instrument or whether we are allowed to enjoy it on a modern instrument I say this: I like it both ways.

Some people get way too fanatical about this.
Lighten up world.
Dogma ain't good.

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#394633 - 10/12/01 01:34 PM Re: Historical Accuracy: Absolute Necessity or Unneeded Nicety?
Vid Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/01
Posts: 854
Loc: Vancouver, B.C.
Here is my take on this. I took a class on performance practice when I was a grad student so I've heard probably more than I needed too on this topic.

Our seminar most often concluded that it was up to the performer to sort through the knowledge they have gained from musicological research that they may want to apply to their performances. I see the whole authenticity movement as a valuable source of information as to how musicians/approached music of their respective eras. While this wealth of information is invaluable, it shouldn't be followed to the point of being dogmatic and pendantic.

We have to keep in mind that our musical tradition comes from Western Europe and during the 16th up to the 20th century the performance practice of various countries and regions were very different from one another. So, while on theorist of country X says double dotting is appropriate for dotted sixteenth rhythms, this may have only held true for whatever country, or even town they were living in. Of course some of these things spread around across the continent, but music did not disseminate at the same rate as it does today.

There are big differences between how we approach 'Classical' music today and how it was approached in the past. For one thing, most performers of the past were composers, and improvisation played a strong role in their musical activities. Today, most performers are not composers, and most classical performers can't even harmonize 'Happy Birthday' at the keyboard. If our goal is to approach 'authenticity' I think learning (re-learning?) the improvisational element would be invaluable, not to mention interesting. It was said that Chopin never played one piece the same way twice, yet we listen to our favourite recordings of these pieces which are reproduced exactly in the same way. The technology is wonderful, but unfortunately I think it tends to make our mindset static towards interpretation, and performers who record are aware that their interpretation will be set in stone for posterity, so they hold back. There are exceptions of course, but these are just some thoughts that run through my mind.
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#394634 - 10/12/01 02:46 PM Re: Historical Accuracy: Absolute Necessity or Unneeded Nicety?
BruceD Offline
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Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18155
Loc: Victoria, BC
I would like both Cork and Vid to stand for a round of applause for their responses on this thread.

Thanks, guys!
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#394635 - 10/12/01 04:55 PM Re: Historical Accuracy: Absolute Necessity or Unneeded Nicety?
MacDuff Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 560
Loc: Southeast, U.S.A.
I saw this thread last night, and was going to blather forth my opinion, but the other posters have covered it admirably.

Brings to mind that Charlie Brown line when Lucy and Linus saw historical and biblical figures in the clouds and ol' Chuck said, "I was going to say that I saw a duckie and a horsie, but I changed my mind."

[ October 12, 2001: Message edited by: MacDuff ]

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#394636 - 10/12/01 10:45 PM Re: Historical Accuracy: Absolute Necessity or Unneeded Nicety?
Amy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/07/01
Posts: 433
Loc: Upstate New York
OK here is my opinion on this whole topic....
I think that the earlier music should be played similar to the way it was played back then. The composers wrote it that way for a reason and I feel that if we are playing it differently, (like with lots of pedaling or a big range of dynamics) we are playing it a different way than intended. If I were to play a Mozart sonata with a lot of pedal I would feel like I was denying the whole classical period of music. It just wasn't done that way. I'm not saying that every note has to be exactly the way that it was played then but I try to play as accurate as I can. This is of course just my opinion...
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#394637 - 10/12/01 11:24 PM Re: Historical Accuracy: Absolute Necessity or Unneeded Nicety?
Brendan Offline



Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 5319
Loc: McAllen, TX
 Quote:
Originally posted by Amy:
If I were to play a Mozart sonata with a lot of pedal I would feel like I was denying the whole classical period of music. It just wasn't done that way. [/b]


Yes it was, and to extremes that performers today would find unimaginable and even sickening.

-Beethoven was reported to have held down the damper pedal for the entire duration of the slow movement to the 3rd concerto at its premiere. Also look at the pedal indications in the sonatas for the first movement of op. 31. no 2, the last movement of op. 53, almost all of op. 106, and the reciative in op. 110. Beethoven asks the performer to basically hold down the pedal and disregard the harmonic blurring. Most people don't step up to this for the sake of clarity, even though it is an integral part of the music and yields sounds on our modern instrument that are indeed unprecedented.

-Mozart was also rumored to have done the same thing in the slow movement of the A major concerto, albeit with less of a sonic impression than Beethoven accomplished due to instrumental sophistications that Mozart didn't enjoy. Ini fact, one of Mozart's teaching axioms was the phrase "it should flow like oil." How can the phrases flow like oil if you use no pedal? Finger legato will only get you so far, and certainly won't sustain harmonies.
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#394638 - 10/13/01 12:41 AM Re: Historical Accuracy: Absolute Necessity or Unneeded Nicety?
Mat D. Offline
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Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 512
Loc: Sterling Heights, Michigan
I can't add anything to what has already been said, but I think Beethoven would have been in Heaven, had he been able to play one of our modern pianos. When he indicates "no damper", he was obviously hearing a sound in his head that our pianos today can actually produce.

Good thread...

Mat D.

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#394639 - 10/13/01 05:11 AM Re: Historical Accuracy: Absolute Necessity or Unneeded Nicety?
BruceD Offline
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Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18155
Loc: Victoria, BC
Re: Use of damper pedal:

Let's not forget that the pianos Beethoven - and even more so Mozart - played on did not have the sustaining power of a modern piano. Holding down the damper pedal on a Graf of Beethoven's time would not have anywhere near the effect that it would on a modern piano.

If you look at pictures of Viennese pianos from Mozart's time, none of them even had pedals. It was not until the early 19th century that the damper pedal became a feature of the piano. At the moment, I'm trying to find out exactly when the damper pedal was "invented" and first introduced as a standard feature. Therefore, the rumor that Mozart held down the damper pedal throughout an entire concerto movement may indeed be rumor and actually technically impossible at the time.

Nor should it be assumed - except for the Beethoven quote referred to - that pedal indications in modern editions are those written by the composer. Except for Urtext editions, those are modern editors' marks.

[ October 13, 2001: Message edited by: BruceD ]
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#394640 - 10/13/01 05:51 AM Re: Historical Accuracy: Absolute Necessity or Unneeded Nicety?
magnezium Offline
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Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 722
Loc: Singapore
Brendan: could you please tell me a little more about the harmonic blurring in Beethoven's Op. 31 No. 2? what is meant by harmonic blurring and where does it occur in this movement?

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#394641 - 10/13/01 08:54 AM Re: Historical Accuracy: Absolute Necessity or Unneeded Nicety?
Brendan Offline



Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 5319
Loc: McAllen, TX
 Quote:
Originally posted by BruceD:
[QB]Re: Use of damper pedal:

Let's not forget that the pianos Beethoven - and even more so Mozart - played on did not have the sustaining power of a modern piano. Holding down the damper pedal on a Graf of Beethoven's time would not have anywhere near the effect that it would on a modern piano.


The fact that the sustaining power is not equal to ours doesn't undermine my point that music in the classical era was not played sans pedal. You can also make a similar argument about a section in Liszt's Dante sonata, where he instructs the pianist to hold down the pedal for 16 measures Irregardless of whether or not their instrument could accomplish what ours could, the idea behind it is of more significance.

 Quote:
If you look at pictures of Viennese pianos from Mozart's time, none of them even had pedals. It was not until the early 19th century that the damper pedal became a feature of the piano. At the moment, I'm trying to find out exactly when the damper pedal was "invented" and first introduced as a standard feature. Therefore, the rumor that Mozart held down the damper pedal throughout an entire concerto movement may indeed be rumor and actually technically impossible at the time.


Then howcome in Haydn's sonata in C, Hob. 50 (which was writen contemprary to Mozart concerti) Haydn left pedal marks?

 Quote:
Nor should it be assumed - except for the Beethoven quote referred to - that pedal indications in modern editions are those written by the composer. Except for Urtext editions, those are modern editors' marks.


In the case of composers such as Chopin and Mendelssohn, that is true, but Beethoven, Liszt, Ravel, Messiaen, and Prokofiev were all very specific in their music about the use of pedal. Granted, what you find in an Alfred Masterworks Edition can't be considered as authoritative, but at least as far as Beethoven is concerned, most editions adhere to his pedal indications.

Magnezium, there is a reciative passage in op. 31 no. 2 just before the recap in the first movement where Beethoven wrote to hold down the pedal for the duration or the passage. It happens between mm. 142-7 and mm. 152-7
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#394642 - 10/13/01 10:35 AM Re: Historical Accuracy: Absolute Necessity or Unneeded Nicety?
magnezium Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 722
Loc: Singapore
many thanks for the info, Brendan... \:\)
and this has been a very interesting thread...

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#394643 - 10/13/01 12:02 PM Re: Historical Accuracy: Absolute Necessity or Unneeded Nicety?
Piano World Online   blank



Registered: 05/24/01
Posts: 5613
Loc: Parsonsfield, ME (orig. Nahant...
 Quote:
At the moment, I'm trying to find out exactly when the damper pedal was "invented" and first introduced as a standard feature.


I'm still working on this but, as an interesting aside...
In 179 the Still Brothers of Prague, Bohemia built a grand piano with 230 strings, 360 pipes and 105 different tonal effects. It was three feet two inches wide, had two keyboards, one above the other, and 25 pedals.
The pedals had the following functions: To lift the dampers, to produce lute effect, hollow flute, fagott, French horn, clarinet and many others.
(from "Pianos and Their Makers" by Alfred Dolge).

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#394644 - 10/13/01 01:39 PM Re: Historical Accuracy: Absolute Necessity or Unneeded Nicety?
jodi Offline
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Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 6959
Loc: The Evergreen State (WA)
This has been an interesting thread. On a somewhat related note: I was recently given a CD of "Mozart on the 1793 Fortepiano" It's awful. Not the playing, but the SOUND. Tinny and wimpy - like a bad harpsichord. Only my opinion, of course! \:D Jodi

[ October 13, 2001: Message edited by: jodi ]

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#394645 - 10/13/01 02:05 PM Re: Historical Accuracy: Absolute Necessity or Unneeded Nicety?
MacDuff Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 560
Loc: Southeast, U.S.A.
 Quote:
Originally posted by BruceD:

If you look at pictures of Viennese pianos from Mozart's time, none of them even had pedals. It was not until the early 19th century that the damper pedal became a feature of the piano.
[ October 13, 2001: Message edited by: BruceD ][/b]



I think they had pedals operated by a knee mechanism on the underside of the keybed.

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#394646 - 10/13/01 02:52 PM Re: Historical Accuracy: Absolute Necessity or Unneeded Nicety?
Cork Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 513
Loc: Dallas, TX
 Quote:
Originally posted by MacDuff:
I think they had pedals operated by a knee mechanism on the underside of the keybed.[/b]


That is absolutely correct. The first sustain mechanisms were knee-activated.

Cork

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#394647 - 10/13/01 03:01 PM Re: Historical Accuracy: Absolute Necessity or Unneeded Nicety?
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18155
Loc: Victoria, BC
MacDuff:

Yes, I've been reading about the knee-operated damper-raising mechanism, which seems to have been incorporated into some pianos in the 1780s and '90s. But all references are also to pianos with clear, thin, crystal sound with little - or very limited - sustain. I wish I could find information as to the actual edffect that this lever had on the sound. It would be interesting to know.

Brendan:

In my edition of the Haydn Sonatas which purports to be "based on the original text edited by Karl Pasler (Gesamtausgabe of Haydn's works)", there are no (original) pedal marks indicated in most of the sonatas, and none in the later ones as late as Hob 50 (1791). If the pedal marks in your edition are by Haydn, I wonder if it's possible that he "re-visited" or "re-edited" some of the sonatas to accommodate the newer pianos appearing in the early 19th century? Unlikely, I suppose, but maybe a possibility.

I wasn't arguing your point about the use of the damper pedal in Beethoven. I was trying to say - as Cork said much better earlier in this post in reference to the first movement of Op 27 No 2 - that if you observe the performance practice of the period on a modern grand, you're going to get an unacceptable sound ("a bizarre and horrible wash of sound" (Cork)). In my edition of the Beethoven, Op 31, No 2, which is not - definitely not - an authoritative edition, there is no specific indication that the damper should be released throughout these bars. I believe Schnabel makes a comment on Beethoven's original instructions - but I don't have the Schnabel here to refer to it. On Goode's recording of the sonatas at this point he definitely changes pedal, allowing for some harmonic overlap, yes, but not throughout those measures; he does change pedal twice.

Whatever the period and whoever the composer, I think we as interpreters on modern pianos have to use a certain amount of musical judgment and allow for differences between modern and period instruments.

Regards,
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#394648 - 10/13/01 03:05 PM Re: Historical Accuracy: Absolute Necessity or Unneeded Nicety?
Cork Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 513
Loc: Dallas, TX
 Quote:
Originally posted by jodi:
I was recently given a CD of "Mozart on the 1793 Fortepiano" It's awful. Not the playing, but the SOUND. Tinny and wimpy - like a bad harpsichord.[/b]


Hi, Jodi! Now you know why they gave you the CD!!!

Seriously, I have been told that reproductions of instruments from the classical period can produce extraordinarily beautiful and subtle timbres, though I have not personally encountered any, nor any recordings of them. All of the recordings I've heard have been of true period instruments, and like your CD they've been uniformly terrible. Is that surprising, given the age of these instruments?

Still, the advocates of these reproductions stress that a properly made fortepiano can reveal beauty in classical compositions that we cannot attain in our powerful modern pianos, particularly with those modern instruments that should be called "fortes" rather than "pianos". I'd welcome the opportunity to hear a well-made classical reproduction being employed to play solo works by Mozart or Beethoven.

Thought I'd show that I'm not religious on this argument . . .

Cork

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#394649 - 10/13/01 03:07 PM Re: Historical Accuracy: Absolute Necessity or Unneeded Nicety?
Joy Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 550
Loc: Encinitas, CA
I found a CD of Andras Schiff performing Beethoven on a Broadwood from the master's era at my local library.

I couldn't stand it. Run away run away!



Joy

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#394650 - 10/13/01 03:16 PM Re: Historical Accuracy: Absolute Necessity or Unneeded Nicety?
Cork Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 513
Loc: Dallas, TX
 Quote:
Originally posted by BruceD:
I was trying to say . . . that if you observe the performance practice of the period on a modern grand, you're going to get an unacceptable sound ("a bizarre and horrible wash of sound" (Cork)). In my edition of the Beethoven, Op 31, No 2, which is not - definitely not - an authoritative edition, there is no specific indication that the damper should be released throughout these bars. I believe Schnabel makes a comment on Beethoven's original instructions - but I don't have the Schnabel here to refer to it. On Goode's recording of the sonatas at this point he definitely changes pedal, allowing for some harmonic overlap, yes, but not throughout those measures; he does change pedal twice. [/b]


I believe the instructions from Beethoven were something like "sempre sensa sordini" which I think means "without dampers" (relying on memory; I'm too lazy to check), so there were NO pedal markings throughout the score.

 Quote:
Whatever the period and whoever the composer, I think we as interpreters on modern pianos have to use a certain amount of musical judgment and allow for differences between modern and period instruments. [/b]


Exactly. Beating an example into the ground, this is why I would pedal the Moonlight 1st movement differently on a Petrof than a Yamaha, for instance.

Cork

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#394651 - 10/13/01 03:49 PM Re: Historical Accuracy: Absolute Necessity or Unneeded Nicety?
MacDuff Offline
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Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 560
Loc: Southeast, U.S.A.
There are two fortepiano recordings that I do actually like. One is Malcolm Bilson playing Mozart Concertos Nos. 22 & 26 [Archiv 447 283-2] on a reproduction instrument. The piano has an unusual quality of receeding into the (period) orchestra texture in places without being totally covered up and has an interesting interplay with the timbre of the winds.

The other is Peter Katin playing Clementi sonatas on a Clementi and Co. square piano of 1832 [Athene ATH CD4]. Yes, the piano sounds terrible. But, passages of Clementi that sound somewhat trite on the modern piano make more sense on this instrument with its ethereal high treble, warm tenor, and muddy bass. Clementi is now usually regarded as a second-rate composer. This is probably due to the fact that his music is too rooted in the limitations of the pianos of the period. He was not as forward thinking in this regard as Beethoven.

[ October 13, 2001: Message edited by: MacDuff ]

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#394652 - 10/13/01 06:24 PM Re: Historical Accuracy: Absolute Necessity or Unneeded Nicety?
Matt G. Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/22/01
Posts: 3789
Loc: Plainfield, IL
MacDuff, thanks for bringing up Clementi, since despite his compositional skills, he seems to have been the first proponent of playing the piano legato unless otherwise specified.

It seems that prior to Clementi, the accepted practice was non-legato unless otherwise noted. Clementi's positioning between Mozart and Beethoven is thus quite telling in terms of performance of early piano works.
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#394653 - 10/13/01 08:23 PM Re: Historical Accuracy: Absolute Necessity or Unneeded Nicety?
netizen Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/02/01
Posts: 1926
Loc: New York
This is an interesting thread --reminds me of an earlier one on ornamentation. I consider historical elements in approaching works, but they are not absolute. The same is true for composers indications. I certainly want to know the composers markings/intentions, but they are not, in my view, the final word. For example, as someone has already pointed out, you have to take into account the different capabilities of the modern piano. Or, as Gygory Sandor in his book "On Piano Playing", put it: "On today's piano it would be pedantic and naive to depress the pedal completely and hold it to the bitter end just because "Beethoven said so." The sounds would become blurred and cacophonic, while all Beethoven wanted was a blended effect with two or more harmonies merging over a fundamental note or chord. We must remember that his piano had shorter strings than ours and that he never did specify how far the pedal should be depressed."

On the broader question of historical accuracy, I am reminded of Charles Rosen's quip that "a performance is not an archeological dig." Just how much leeway a pianist has in taking "liberties" with a work is a matter of substantial debate. I think what matters is that a pianist's interpretation (and, ultimately, that's what it is) be convincing (perhaps more so than it be "correct"). Though I know others disagree. Alfred Brendel is reportedly something of a maniac in regards to faithfulness to the score. Gregor Benko tells an interesting story about Brendel's reaction to Hofmann's recording of Beethoven's Op31 no3: "An interesting personal experience touches on the question of Hofmann's Beethoven: in the early 1970's before this recording had been reissued, pianist Alfred Brendel visited me in my New York office, having learned of the recordings existence. He was eager to hear it and approached the listening session with respect and anticipation. Delight and amazement were visible on his face as he listened --until a certain spot where Hofmann deviated minutely from the printed page. "Stop!" exclaimed Brendel, and he refused to hear another note, explaining, "That one deviation negates the whole performance for me. I don't want to hear it."

I apologize for the length of this post and these quotes, but it's an interesting thread and I thought they might be of interest.
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#394654 - 10/14/01 12:58 AM Re: Historical Accuracy: Absolute Necessity or Unneeded Nicety?
shofir Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 19
Loc: Israel
BruceD and everyone:

according to "Men women and pianos a social history" by Arthur Loesser, and "Piano" by David Crombie: there was a single lever that raised the entire set of dampers off the strings as early as the mid-18th century. It was first operated by hand, but later on piano makers built it to be operated by a knee lever (by 1770). The foot lever, or pedal, as we know it today, was invented by Broadwood in England in the year 1783. (see "Men women and piano" pages 47,101,224, "Piano" page 20)

Bruce, Mozart did have a piano with a knee lever, and Anton Walter made him a piano with a foot pedal some time before 1784. (see "Men women and pianos" pages 101,125)

and I think you are right about the beethoven. This is a good example where an urtext edition will actually fail and mislead you, since beethoven had no intentions of creating the kind of "harmonic bluriness" which you get with a modern piano.

Shofir

[ October 14, 2001: Message edited by: shofir ]

[ October 14, 2001: Message edited by: shofir ]

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#394655 - 10/15/01 11:04 AM Re: Historical Accuracy: Absolute Necessity or Unneeded Nicety?
ryan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/04/01
Posts: 1995
Loc: Colorado
Netizen,

If Brendel couldn't finish Hoffman's Op. 31 No. 3, it is fortunate that he didn't hear Hoffman's live recording of Op. 53 from the Casimir Hall. I don't think any part of that performance follows Beethoven's instructions... \:\)

Brendan,

You stated early on that the damper pedal was used "to extremes that performers today would find unimaginable and even sickening." I am curious as to whether you were refering to performances on period instruments, or performances on modern instruments. I think the point about sustain that was made as a reply refered to the fact that you don't get nearly the wash of sound from a period instrument that you get from a modern instrument. On a period instrument, a performer may well be able to hold the pedal through an entire movement without sacrificing clarity.

I think that modern instruments demand less pedal overall than period instruments would have. I also think that pedal technique is more difficult on modern instruments - it can too quickly blur harmonies and blunt articulation to the point of rendering music nonsensical.

Part of the challange is to translate the a composer's instructions, which were written for an obsolete instrument, to a modern instrument, without losing the composer's original intent. (sometimes it seems like a challange just to understand the composer's original intent...)

I think that one common example of a pitfal is playing in an overly sentimental manner. On another thread, somebody wrote that Beethoven's music was often overly sentimental. I believe that is generally the fault of modern pianists and orchestras, and not the fault of the composer. Chopin, Rachmaninoff include examples of other composers that can suffer over-sentimental performances. That's just one example, and I am sure there are more.

Enough rambling, I've got to get some work done!

Ryan

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#394656 - 10/16/01 02:46 PM Re: Historical Accuracy: Absolute Necessity or Unneeded Nicety?
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18155
Loc: Victoria, BC
Thank you, Ryan, for that thoughtful contribution!
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190

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#394657 - 10/19/01 11:17 AM Re: Historical Accuracy: Absolute Necessity or Unneeded Nicety?
ryan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/04/01
Posts: 1995
Loc: Colorado
Thanks, Bruce! Glad to see that everybody is still around. I haven't even had time to lurk over the past several weeks. Hope I haven't missed anything good...

Ryan

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#394658 - 10/19/01 08:18 PM Re: Historical Accuracy: Absolute Necessity or Unneeded Nicety?
TomtheTuner Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/29/01
Posts: 806
Loc: Melbourne, Florida USA
All this talk about tone and mechanics...
I dare any of you Pedigodists to listen to
either and /or both of these disks:

Beethoven in the Temperaments
(Gasparo Gscd-332)

or
Six Degrees of Tonality
( Gscd-344)

Then get back to me , I'd love to hear your opinions..... \:\)
_________________________
Maker of the TCHAMMER
www.thomasccobble.com

BUSY IS BETTER THAN BORED

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#394659 - 10/19/01 11:52 PM Re: Historical Accuracy: Absolute Necessity or Unneeded Nicety?
ryan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/04/01
Posts: 1995
Loc: Colorado
I have listened to some of Beethoven in the Temperaments, but not the other. Beethoven in the Temperments has an interesting and thorough discussion of temperments by Ed Foote, who contributes to the PTG list. I can take or leave temperments - and when I play I much prefer ET. But then I don't have any trouble hearing different "color" in different keys even with equal beating between notes. But that is a different discussion \:\)

As to the performance, I would counter with the Wilhelm Backhaus cycle of Beethoven Sonatas as my current favorite. They are stylistic, engaging, energetic, thought out, and have some of the best concept of line and architecture that I have heard in these. Not to mention that Bachhaus had a phenominal technique to pull it off (unlike Schnabel). Backhaus studied with d'Albert, who studied with Czerny, who studied with Beethoven...

Ryan

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