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CLASSICAL  March 2000

CLASSICAL March 2000

Subject:

Re: Repeats

From:

Dave Lampson <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 3 Mar 2000 10:36:36 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (81 lines)

Ulvi Yurtsever wrote:

>I am slightly puzzled here: I agree with the argument you outline, however,
>to the extent that "we can't hear music the same way as listeners of the
>past" is an argument (call it A) against the idea that "performances of old
>music should sound as close as possible to what they originally sounded
>like" (call this idea B), your argument provides further support to the
>opposition to B, even if that support is different from what A provides.
>In other words, by arguing that A is meaningless, you are at the same
>time arguing that B is meaningless or at least unattainable.

Evaluating statement A certainly does not imply anything about statement
B.  Further, I never said A was meaningless.  In fact I admitted that it
was obviously true, but I believe I showed fairly clearly that it has no
application in making decisions on performance practice, provides no
insight, and therefore is meaningless to the discussion.  I see no conflict
with this idea and B as a reasonable goal (though of course not the only
goal) of a particular performance.

 [Agreement on the unnecessary politicization of the issue deleted.]

>I just don't see how this broad criticism of the "if it sounds good, do it"
>philosophy (one which I subscribe to, by the way) follows from (or is even
>connected to) a refutation of the "anti-HIP" viewpoint.

I must apologize for being unclear, and for broadening the discussion
without explanation.  I honestly don't have time to go into great detail,
but let me see if I can at least spark some thought on this.  There are
many who believe that the tradition of classical music is important - not
all-important mind you, but important enough to preserve.  A fundamental
part of this tradition is the relationship between composer, score,
performer, and listener.  It can be argued that we've seen an ever-growing
imbalance in this relationship as we have ever more intensively deified
the performer this century.  Certainly it started last century with the
virtuosos (Paganini, Liszt, etc.) but this century has seen the focus shift
almost entirely to the performer.  One of the more brilliant contributions
of John Cage was to demonstrate clearly what happens when the focus moves
to any of the extremes.  His works at various times either devalued the
composer, the score, the performer, or the audience.  In any case, this
shift in focus to the performer, epitomized in your philosophy of "if it
sounds good, do it", resulted in performances that over time progressively
departed from the score and the composer's intentions.  This, among many
other factors, has helped kill (or at least severely wound) classical music
as a tradition.  After all, if the participants themselves don't have
respect and perhaps even a dash of reverence, then how can any of it be
taken seriously.  Nearly all of the anti-HIP sentiment I read in the press
can be traced to a reaction against a restoration of balance.  It's rather
ironic that an investigation of the past might be one of the best bets we
have to re-establishing a living classical music tradition.

>Do you really want to live in a world with less choice (in records and
>performance practices) than what we have now?

I'm certainly not advocating less choice.  I'm advocating a more rational
approach to deciding what might be worth trying.

>Do you really prefer a world where you cannot find a recording or
>performance which omits repeats, for example, to one where both kinds of
>performance are available?

Nope, never said I wanted all repeats to be followed.  But what is
interesting is that the anti-repeat arguments so far have barely even
touched on the real problems of the "all repeats, all the time" approach.
I believe strongly that the score should carry great weight, and that it
is arrogant to assume that it's just a guideline.  But there are too many
practical problems for me to want to make any blanket statements about what
always should happen.

>It appears that a broad segment of the art-music community has bought
>into the "if it sounds good, it is good" viewpoint, judging from the
>extraordinary variety of interpretation that exists in record and
>performance, especially of the deeply-loved works of the past.  Do
>you really see this as a disagreeable state of affairs?

Experimentation is a good thing.  Question authority and all that.  But the
anything-goes mentality is not the only way to go.

Dave
[log in to unmask]
[log in to unmask]
http://www.classical.net/

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