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CLASSICAL  March 2000

CLASSICAL March 2000

Subject:

Re: Repeats

From:

Satoshi Akima <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 14 Mar 2000 19:19:17 +1100

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Parts/Attachments

text/plain (93 lines)

With respect to my post and Jocelyn's commentary to it, there are points
which necessitate clarification:

>>Now, all one simply has to do is listen to older mono recordings to
>>realise that in the past greater musical freedom was the norm unlike
>>today, and this undoubtedly held true for many of the composers of the
>>past.
>
>...many of the historical recordings to which you refer were omitted not
>because of "interpretive" grounds, but, rather, due to the fact that there
>was not enough time on those old discs to accommodate a full recording.

In fact I had Furtwaengler in mind and some of his taped live radio
recordings which were not ever intended for publication.  So any commercial
consideration cannot have influenced the matter.  It is often clear that
this conductor has carefully thought through whether he will observe a
repeat or not.  I have heard one Brahms 3rd in which he omits and another
in which he observes it.  In the opening movement of the Beethoven 5th he
does but not in the 7th.  Once again Bruno Walter in his 1960's Columbia
Symphony omits the exposition repeat in the opening movement of the
Beethoven 5th, a habit he likely picked up from Mahler in the late 19th
century.

>>So even here [with Stravinsky] there can be no mindless formulae such
>>as 'stop interpreting and just play the notes of the score'.
>
>Perhaps that is why no one has made it.

Unfortunately this is PRECISELY what Stravinsky does say in his 'Poetics
of Music' and in doing so definitively sets the mood of the entire 20-21st
century musical performance Zeitgeist of textual literalism!

>The objection is over not playing ALL of them.  [my emphasis]

Correct me if I misrepresent you but unless I have misunderstood, the
argument had been that if a repeat sign is to be found in black and white
in the text that it MUST be observed in order to maintain the principle of
absolute textual fidelity, with the failure to observe this principle being
tantamount to vandalisation of the score.  Surely this concords PERFECTLY
with the principle of textual literalism of the sort outlined by
Stravinsky.

>>In any case why not take this literalism to even greater extremes? Why not
>>insist that elements such as vibrato, or rubato should not be permitted
>>unless they are so notated in the score.  One might then argue that to do
>>otherwise is tantamount to playing Bach on a synthesiser.
>
>No one has made such an argument.

I agree that nobody has said it in quite such terms but unfortunately if
one follows the logic of the argument then there is at least the DANGER
that one's reasoning must utterly unavoidably lead to just this sort of
conclusion.

>>Clearly then everyone must permit some degree of interpretative
>>freedom, the question is how much is too much.
>
>Again, no one has disputed this.

Why not dispute them? If one is to not to allow freedom with respect to the
observation of repeats why should it be any different with say, metronome
markings (or any other printed sign/instruction) OR the introduction of
extraneous of elements NOT notated in the score such as vibrato or rubato?
In any case why is it valid to argue that it is allowed to introduce
'distortions' such as rubato on the basis of 'convention', but INvalid to
permit the performer the discretion of observing/omitting repeats again on
the basis of an appeal to the principle of 'convention'.  After all one can
tell from a whole historical archive of recordings from the 1930's through
to the present day that just such a 'convention' has existed, and was
highly likely even more rampant in the more distant past.

Has Jocelyn's line of argument not been that repeats be observed because
they are there 'unambiguously in black and white.  If absolute, blindly
unquestioning literal observation of the very letter of the text of the
score were indeed all that mattered the above conclusion is indeed utterly
inescapable.  I do not recall Jocelyn prior to my last posting EVER freely
permitting EXTRA-textual 'convention' to freely over-ride the alleged
ABSOLUTE authority of the written text.  Now she seems to confess that
she too freely introduces extraneous extra-textual 'distortions'
(vandalisations perhaps) into the text whenever she performs one, and
what, on the basis of 'convention'!!

After all where did Schubert, Brahms, Beethoven ever say that non-textural
elements such as vibrato, rubato are allowed in performance of their
scores.  Mozart certainly hated vibrato for one.  And even if one composer
allowed it why is that proof that it is allowed with the next composer?

I appreciate that repeats may be justified on the basis of other
considerations but unfortunately Jocelyn's arguments have always sounded
to me like an appeal to the principle of textual literalism.

Satoshi Akima
[log in to unmask]

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