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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000025.txt from 1993/12

From: Cary Karp <nrm-karp@-----.SE>
Subj: Re: Diana's comments on authenticity
Date: Thu, 2 Dec 1993 05:57:28 -0500

In Mozart's day one went to concerts quite specifically to hear the
virtuosi of the day parade their skills. Symphonies weren't performed
with all movements in sequence, but rather a protracted "break" was made
between the last two movements. During it, heavily embellished arias were
sung and pyrotechnically brilliantly spontaneously ornamented instrumental
pieces were played. Mozart wrote the Concerto for Stadler and, if they had the
opportunity, you can be sure that audiences went to listen to Stadler.

One of the things that we tend to lose sight of is the significance of
the virtuoso phenomenon. It goes way back before the 1650's, as does the
self-understood nature of spontaneously improvised embellishment. A
good deal of the fully written-out ornamenation that survives from the
Baroque and Classic periods appears to us to be garishly tasteless and is
often dismissed as having deliberately overdone pedagogic intent.

Although I've been a dyed in the wool "authenticist" for a good long
time, I'm not prepared to assume that I would regard a time-machine
version of the real thing as anything other that staggeringly alien.

And then the bit about the secondary importance of raw instrumental
sound -- surviving older musical instruments suggest that instrument
makers spent a lot more time worrying about fine details of sound than
they would have needed to if it weren't a primary (THE primary) musical
consideration. It sure seems to have been a more important design
consideration than, for example, intonation. This despite the fact that
our ancestors were a lot more concerned with subtlety of intonational
detail than we are. (We treat an Eb like a D# and have 12 tones to play
"in tune". For them the world was a lot more complex.)

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