Christine Labroche wrote:
>>I disagree. A cadenza can be (and I say can be) a totally vain act of
>>showing off virtuosity. Classical music can turn into a circus act (just
>>think of some of the stuff by Paganini). Thus the inclusion of a cadenza
>>has a pretty big psychological meaning [...]
>Even if so, would it really matter? Cadenzas can be so beautiful, and
>they always have one wonderful advantage which is that they allow us to
>hear the sound of the instrument solo. When I appreciate the concerto,
>it is an additional joy.
>Do you think it is rationally possible to generalize about such things?
In fact, cadenzas are often invaluable as a (unique) method of allowing
one composer to comment directly on the work of another. Beethoven on
Mozart; Britten on Mozart; Schnittke on Beethoven; Rachmaninoff on Liszt
(to the Hungarian Rhapsody no .2, which is a particularly interesting
example, being instantly recognisable as the work of the composer and
as an antidote to "flashiness") and doubtless others.
I also suggest that cadenzas were actually first written out to _stop_
"vain acts" - the infamous first performance of the Beethoven Violin
Concerto (which was enlivened by the violin being played upside down at
the strategic points!) was probably a catalyst. (Mendelssohn didn't
allow similar latitude).