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CLASSICAL  May 2005

CLASSICAL May 2005

Subject:

Re: Barenboim Plays Chopin

From:

Santu De Silva <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 10 May 2005 20:09:03 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (39 lines)

Karl writes:

>...  ...I have a vague recollection of a video of a Szell rehearsal
>where he was telling the orchestra the inflection used in a tune Brahms
>had quoted in a work. He stressed that the tune had a specific significance
>and had been viewed in certain way.  OK, so maybe Szell did know what
>was meant, but what of the time when a conductor might not know the
>significance of the tune.  Certainly, I would doubt most of the audience
>would be aware.

Suppose a time comes when wooden violins are so expensive that it becomes
common practice to play plastic violins.  (Don't jeer; the art of making
natural wood violins may die out in a few decades.) On some day in the
distant future, imagine a 90- year-old Joshua Bell, now no longer able
to play, but become a conductor.  He insists that the 12 surviving wooden
violins in the possession of the orchestra *must* be used to play some
piece.  (You put in the appropriate piece.) "I know what the composer
wanted, and this will not sound right on plastic violins!"

"But maestro, how can you be sure?  And they're not plastic, they're
*resin* violins!"

"Resin, schmesin!"  etc etc.

(And furthermore, there are millions of recordings of the work using
wooden violins.  Who needs another wooden performance?)

I wonder what I mean by this little thought experiment!  Just *suppose*
that Szell had some rare insight into some particular Brahms tune.  Does
it make more sense to do it his way, or to ignore that insight on the
basis that if Szell was not around the insight would no longer be
available?

The best of all would have been to advertize the performance as having
a special Szellian insight that might pollute it.  ("Those who wish an
insight-free performance should not attend the Thursday concert, but
wait for the Friday concert; thanks.--Management")

Arch (S de Silva), possibly missing the bus.

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