Jocelyn Wang wrote:
>Wow. The composer's dead, therefore living performers have carte blanche
>to mess up their works any way they darned well please. Oh, yeah, that's
>some reverence for art.
A certain "degradation" in performance is inevitable over time in all but
electronically realized compositions authorized by a living composer. I
am in favor of informed scholarship in cases where we need to make a "best
guess" as to what should be done, realizing that such a best guess is what
it is. But the ultimate test is whether the music makes sense to us now
and gives us aesthetic satisfaction now. If it doesn't, it's of no value
to us other than as a historical curiosity.
I don't think anyone is in a position to say conclusively that the
custom of OBSERVING repeats lasted as long as the custom of WRITING
repeats. Sonata form is evolutionarily related to binary form, which had
repeats for both parts. Earlier sonata form movements often repeated the
development-recapitulation section as well; but later ones did not. This
suggests to me that the later omission may have reflected musical practice.
As I think I mentioned before, composers insisted less on compositional
control of their works in the 18th century than they do these days, so
strict adherence to the score makes less sense to me. What is important
is that performance judgments not be capricious, arbitrary, or perverse.
Another point is that some composers were really pretty sloppy about their
scores--opera seems to be full of such examples. Sometimes a guess is all
you can make in those cases.