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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000190.txt from 1996/04

From: "Dan Leeson: LEESON@-----.EDU>
Subj: Re Jonathan Cohler on "Interpretation"
Date: Mon, 8 Apr 1996 13:48:01 -0400

I think Jonathan has done us all a great service by being so very
clear in his discussion of how many students and professionals
assume a role within their understanding of "Interpreation" that
is simply synonymous with signing the composer's name to their
own ideas. This is done under the assumption that the composer would
agree with that person if s/he were alive. So the startling sentence
is heard again and again "If xxx were alive, I am sure that s/he
would agree with me on this matter." And soon such horse turds become
part of the tradition of playing a work, and before you can blink
an eye, it becomes the "right" way to perform it.

How players can enter into performances of a work from a particular
era without an understanding of what was expected of a performer
of that time is always something that amazes
me. It is such colossel ego to presume that one needs to know
only the notes of a composition in order to perform it, that whenever
I hear remarks (or performances) of that nature, my respect for that
individual decreases in a quantity equal to the demonstration of

We spoke on this list just about two weeks ago if passion comes from
the heart or from the crotch, and somebody correctly said, "Neither
place. It comes from the head."

But the head also contains something besides passion. It contains
a space where there is supposed to be knowledge about how to perform
works from this or that epoch. And when it is empty of everything
but the notes, as if often is, what one gets is a seriously
superficial, childish, unmusical, and stupid presentation of a
work. And then this desecration is offered to us as that party's
"vision of the Mozart concerto."

Have you ever seen poster's that announced: "BARYSHNIKOF'S NUTCRACKER"?
That's funny, I always though it was by Tchaikowsky. Same ego problem.

Three rules of life:

1. Don't eat in any restaurant called "Mom's"
2. Don't play cards with anyone named "Doc"
3. When someone wants to tell you of their "vision" of
a certain composition, sell your stock and
get out of town as quickly as possible

A potential fourth rule:

4. When someone tells you that they are a simple country
boy, grab for your wallet

Dan Leeson, Los Altos, California

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