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CLASSICAL  March 2000

CLASSICAL March 2000

Subject:

Re: Repeats

From:

Jocelyn Wang <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 16 Mar 2000 21:59:01 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (97 lines)

Steve Schwartz <[log in to unmask]> writes:

>Jocelyn Wang replies to me:
>
>>You are truly a master of self-contradiction.  Exactly how do we have no
>>"recourse to intent at all" if the score is "an excellent document of what
>>the composer wanted?" Did the composer intend something he did NOT want?
>
>I don't contradict myself at all.  I contradict *your* definition of
>intent, not mine, since for you intent=score.

Which you acknowledged, with your own words that come back to shoot down
your own argument:

>>And what better guide to to the composer's intent do we have?
>>
>Probably none.

And:

>..., I would rephrase it as "Did the composer write something he did not
>intend or want?"

It didn't get there by itself, and why would the composer put it there if
he didn't want it there? You're being absurd.

>If you don't see this as possible, then a composer has no reason to
>revise, and composers have done this.

Yes, but the piece is the composer's to revise, not that of any performer
down the line who wants to shoot down his intent.

>There is no middle ground to playing or not playing a repeat.  There is,
>however, a middle ground - indeed, many, many middle grounds - as to how
>to judge the result.

No one has any basis to say that he is a better judge than the composer of
the form the piece should take.

>I infer - wrongly? - you yourself have never heard the Jupiter taken with
>all the repeats.

Yes, wrongly.  Others have mentioned recordings which they say do observe
all repeats (Gardiner and Britten, to name a couple).  I'll add another:
James Levine.  Compare his to the recording by your exalted Bruno Walter,
who declared himself emotionally incapable of observing a repeat (and
therefore incapable of doing it right) and one finds that Walter deprives
us of about 11 minutes of Mozart.

>Other than your faith in Mozart's genius, what in the musical, as opposed
>to the formal structure, makes you believe that all those repeats work?

Trust (not faith) in Mozart's genius, as well as having heard the piece
with them and without them, is convincing.

>Do you have to be as great a genius as Mozart to make a valid criticism or
>are such criticisms a priori invalid?

Criticize all you want, just don't mess with it.

>>Do we remove a column from a piece of architecture on the dubious
>>rationale that it has another one like it?
>
>Your analogy doesn't really work.  Or, rather, I can twist your analogy to
>my view.  Of course you can remove it if (1) the building doesn't fall down
>and (2) the aesthetic result is better or at least not harmful.

It does fall down, or, at least, becomes less structurally sound.  And, as
I stated earlier, you are free to decide for yourelf what you like, but not
to make decisions for the composer.  It's his work.  Take it or leave it.

>Are you telling me that Mozart performances have become garbage because
>these repeats weren't followed?

Is it true that, every time you have something obvious explained to you,
an angel gets his wings?

>Most people don't know whether the repeats have been followed or not.

Most people are also unaware of the rat droppings in their frankfurters,
but that does not justify their existence.

>>The repeat is down there, on the score.  Thank goodness the composers
>>did not rely on the supernatural.

>We've had this out before.  The repeat is there.  Its meaning is
>unambiguous.  The intent of the composer is unknown.  Now it's up to you
>to justify taking the repeat and me to justify either taking or not taking
>it

The composer put it there.  That is all the justification that is
necessary.  If the performer doesn't like it, he should play something
else.

-Jocelyn Wang
Culver Chamber Music Series
Come see our web page: www.bigfoot.com/~CulverMusic

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