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Thread: What Is Your View On Authentic Performance?

  1. #1
    Midshipman, Forte Hildegard's Avatar
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    Question What Is Your View On Authentic Performance?

    WHAT IS YOUR VIEW ON AUTHENTIC PERFORMANCE?


    It's Mozart's Year and some musician choose to perform his music in the authentic way. Give your view!

    Hildegard
    Last edited by Hildegard; May-21-2006 at 15:54.

  2. #2
    Midshipman, Forte Hildegard's Avatar
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    Issues in authentic performance

    In rough terms:
    • The transparency of the music score.
    • Increased dynamic contrast.
    • More rhythmic energy.
    • Authentic performance instruments. (Other sound. Different technic.)
    My question is: What is the point of doing all this? To make it more real? Authentic?

    How can it be authentic when played in a big concert hall? They didn't have that on the time of Mozart. The sound is complete different when played in a concert hall, including the sound of the authentic performance instruments. So the sound can never be fully authentic. Also because of our ears. We don't hear the music in the same way as they did at Mozart's time.

    Therefore: authentic performance can never be authentic. So what is the point of doing it?

    Hildegard

  3. #3
    Commodore de Cavaille-Coll
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    Hi Hildegard,

    Hildegard von Bingen is a favorite muse of mine

    Here's my 0.03 cents worth on authentic performance and I shall be very brief:

    1. Period Instruments - wonderful if you have them but not the end of the world if you don't - copies of period instruments are not *verboten*.

    2. Dynamic contrast and rhythmic energy are *tools* in the trained musicians toolbox.

    3. Any true musician and for that matter, conductor, should inform themselves of all the facts pertaining to the composer - pretty self evident, eh?

    Lastly, *Period* performance is one of the many ways to perform music. When done correctly and tastefully it can be a revelation. I also understand that one should not have to constrain *period* music only to *period* instruments.

    I have donned my flame-resistant Nomex suit - those of you who wish to *flame* me for any heresy I have commited in this post - Fire Away

    Cheers,

    Giovanni

    p.s. If my memory serves me, Joshua Rifkin in his performances of Bach's Cantatas, Masses and Passions uses only one voice per part in the choir - thats WAY too minimalist for me - the sound becomes *sterile*, even in a reverberant hall.

    p.p.s. My brother Thom Dressler will probably turn white when he reads this post
    Last edited by giovannimusica; May-21-2006 at 21:46.

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    Midshipman, Forte Hildegard's Avatar
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    p.s. If my memory serves me, Joshua Rifkin in his performances of Bach's Cantatas, Masses and Passions uses only one voice per part in the choir - thats WAY too minimalist for me - the sound becomes *sterile*, even in a reverberant hall.
    Hi Gio, yes that really sounds minimalist! And really awful! As awful as when some play Mozart without any vibrato at all. It doesn't sound right, it sounds unatural. A human voice also has a vibrato.

    Don't have more to fire away. I agree pretty much with you.

    Hildegard
    Last edited by Hildegard; May-22-2006 at 16:14.

  5. #5
    Commodore de Cavaille-Coll
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    Hello Hildegard,

    I was trying to elicit a response from my forum brother Thomas Dressler in regards to *flames*. He is IMHO one of the most capable American interpreters of music from the German Baroque Period. I come from the school of *color* in music e.g.(facetiously) hear a sound and see colour.

    Seriously, I have heard Bach's St. Matthew Passion and B-Minor Mass conducted by von Karajan and went away with a feeling of *WOW*, this is musicianship of a very high order. Ton Koopman, Masaaki Suzuki and Phillipe Herreweghe have taught me much about appropriate use of *forces*(singers and instrumentalists) in musical interpretation.

    Lastly: There is no reason to have a *fetish* for any one singular way of performing a piece. Granted, one should do one's homework in regards to everything about the composer and really think through, stylistically, what would be most appropriate for the performance. As a *true* musician, whether you are a singer, instrumentalist or a conductor you should have an innate sense of the best for the music. The public will sense that and thank you for it.

    My 0.03 cents worth,

    Giovanni

  6. #6
    Seaman, Mezzoforte Brad Stark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by giovannimusica

    p.s. If my memory serves me, Joshua Rifkin in his performances of Bach's Cantatas, Masses and Passions uses only one voice per part in the choir - thats WAY too minimalist for me - the sound becomes *sterile*, even in a reverberant hall.

    p.p.s. My brother Thom Dressler will probably turn white when he reads this post
    I own a CD with the aforementioned Rifkin performance using one voice per part; and I believe I read that there is documented evidence to support that his approach to Bach is incorrect. I guess there is a moral in there somewhere which coincidently pretty much nicely summarizes my view on "authentic performances".

    I'm fine with them, but there is always the danger that in pursuing the authentic performance, the best intentions don't always lead to the best (or more importantly "correct") results. In the final analysis the only thing that matters is that if the performance is good. That's all I really care about.

    p.s. I thought the Rifkin Performances were good

  7. #7
    Midshipman, Forte Hildegard's Avatar
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    Lastly: There is no reason to have a *fetish* for any one singular way of performing a piece.
    As Brad Stark wrote: The only thing that matters is if the performance is good. Yes, I agree vety much. But as a learner conductor, the performance effect on the sound do interest me a lot, and as I've only had few good experience (very few! ) of sound in connection with authentic performance, I'm not extreme happy about this performance style.

    The Rifkin performance of couse gain something other than for examble the Karajan performance , but it also loses a lot by its minimal choir. The sound.

    Cheers
    Hildegard

  8. #8
    Seaman, Mezzoforte Theodor Ulieriu's Avatar
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    I think it is absurd to think that we can perform one piece exactly as it was performed 300/400 years ago. We don`t even know how XIXth century music sounded, in terms of tuning, voices etc. !!! But all this is for catching the spirit of the music, as a fruit of its time. It would be innapropriate to play Couperin on piano, as it would be to play Ravel on harpsichord...

  9. #9
    Seaman, Mezzoforte Theodor Ulieriu's Avatar
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    I think it is absurd to think that we can perform one piece exactly as it was performed 300/400 years ago. We don`t even know how XIXth century music sounded, in terms of tuning, voices etc. !!! But all this is for catching the spirit of the music, as a fruit of its time. It would be innapropriate to play Couperin on piano, as it would be to play Ravel on harpsichord...
    I think an "authentic" performance should have in mind the purpose of giving a possible performance, that is, one that wouldn`t have shocked the composer. Well, we don`t know how Bach`s cantatas were performed in Leipzig, but it is clear that nowhere were they sung with a 100 choir.
    I think it was William Christie who said in an interview that authenticity is a crude target; we are looking for the true spirit of these artists.
    I would also like to point the fact that the authenticists have brought to light some a lot of excellent composers that the classical repertoire simply ignored. Or were so denaturated that nobody could really bear listening to them.
    Try to listen to Lully or Charpentier recorded in the 60s and one good modern performance and you will understand what I`m talking about.

  10. #10
    Commodore of Water Music Gareth's Avatar
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    I heard this really good recording a few months ago. It was using a harpsichord that was 400 years old, and a bassoon that was 250 years old, a cello (I think) that was 150 years ago. It sounds just like they do now. So if you don't call that authentic...well it is very close to authentic anyway.
    What Passion Cannot Music Raise and Quell -- John Dryden (1631-1700)

  11. #11
    Captain of Water Music Thomas Dressler's Avatar
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    Wow, I just came across this thread! LOL Yup Giovanni, this kind of discussion is "right up my alley!" I was, however, dealing with a lot of stuff and was spending very little time on the internet when this started. Thank you very much for your too kind compliments!

    I only have a couple minutes, because I have to leave for work very soon, but I just can't leave this one alone! So I'll make a brief statement and maybe come back to this.

    My opinion is that yes, it's impossible to actually RECREATE a performance of the past, and I actually think it's not very desirable to try. Even Bach himself probably changed his approach to his own pieces as his life progressed. We all do this, at least one would hope we change and grow as we progress through life. So to try to RECREATE a given performance is to take away the vitality and life of the music, and this is, I think, one path that leads away from the mark of true communication in performance. HOWEVER

    HOWEVER

    I believe very strongly that it is our job as performers to honor the intentions of the great composers of the past. To ignore what can be learned of the assumptions any composer made about how his music would have been performed is, to me, intolerable and gross misrepresentation of the work of great musicians. As an example, when I was younger, it was common for pianists to ignore the articulations in Mozart's piano sonatas, saying he didn't know what he was doing and got carried away with violin bowings. ?????!!!!!!! It was also common for conductors to ignore Beethoven's metronome markings, saying either his metronome was broken or he was just crazy. ??????!!!!!!! All I have time to say at the moment is that this is remarkably selfish.

    In general, I agree with what Theodor says in his posting, that the idea should be to come up with a POSSIBLE performance that the composer would have recognized. As far as the Rifkin one-on-a-part performances of Bach, well, yes Bach may have been forced to perform his cantatas that way sometime, but we have hard evidence that he DID NOT like it. So I see no reason to keep doing something that we know Bach did not like. (I don't like the sound of one on a part, either. But I also don't like 20 on a part in Bach cantatas, or the B minor Mass for that matter. That's like teaching a hippopatamus to dance ballet.)

    Unfortunately, I can't write more at the moment, but this is, to me, a very important subject (one that I get emotional about, obviously)

    I have a some performances coming up in a couple weeks, so I will not be on all the time, but I definately want to continue with this topic.

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