Tom Connor wrote:
>Is there too much risk for performers and recording companies to record
>performances other than the 'tried and true'. It's probably why I keep
>exploring older recordings not well known by me.
Of course there is a very valid perspective of the notion of letting the
music speak for itself. I am reminded of one of my favorite works...the
Barber Second Symphony. Listening to the composer's commercial recording
of the work, and thanks to a most generous friend, hearing the composer
rehearsing the piece with the Boston Symphony...I found it very odd how
little "interpretation" he put into his performances. They are clear
and let the music "speak for itself." Yet, when I listen, I will choose
the Koussevitzky broadcast, or the broadcast I have with Alsop conducting
the Minnesota Orchestra. Both are filled with incredible excitement.
Much has been written about musicians being so restrained in their
performances. There was, I believe, some attempt, in the early part of
the 20th Century, to rid us from the "excesses" of the interpretations
of the romantic era. What little of those performances that survive...well
I don't find them excessive. I think many went to extreme in the opposite
direction. And then, as many writers have suggested, there is the notion
that the recording has "set the standard." If you drop a note, or if it
doesn't "sound like it does on the record," you are, in the minds of
some, something less of a performer.
I am reminded of an evening spent with someone who was developing an
interest in classical music. Several of us brought our favorite recordings
of a work...can't even remember the work...but we listened, as group to
at least one movement...I think it might have been from a Shostakovich
Symphony. The "novice" was amazed at the diversity in the various
performances...from Koussevitzky, to Ormandy to Stokowski, etc.
I know generalizations aren't fair, and no doubt getting old has something
to do with it, but for me, "they just don't do it like they used to."