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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000613.txt from 2003/10

From: (Tony Pay)
Subj: Re: [kl] Who speaks?
Date: Thu, 23 Oct 2003 13:11:30 -0400

On Thu, 23 Oct 2003 10:55:49 +0100, said:

> Tony Pays said:

> > That's the whole point of the discussion. Music is very often
> > played badly, even by pro players, because it's played
> > self-centeredly. (It's as though the performance is about the
> > player, rather than being about the piece.)
> Isn`t 'badly' a fundamental human constituent, and isn`t this what we
> fight to overcome? We all suffer, and we have to live with this to
> some degree. So a 'bad' performance may indeed be a wonderful learning
> experience and a 'good' way *to* learn, to enable us to eventually
> play with much more insight with regard to what the composer`s
> intentions *for the performer* are.

Yes, to play badly, and to recognise that you have played badly, may be
a learning experience.

But the aim is to play well, as I'm sure you agree.

> > Indeed, so inconsistent was he over the years that someone once
> > expressed a doubt that there ever was such a 'person' as Stravinsky.
> > There is little doubt that he wrote the music he wrote, however....
> I heard Stravinski`s arr. of The Grand Waltz from Les Sylphides
> (Chopin) a couple of days ago. Hadn`t heard it before - only the
> orchestrations by Alexandre Glazunov, Anatole Liadov, Nicolas Sokolov
> and Sergei Taneyev. I made a 'showman' remark to Dan in my previous
> reply, and I must make this aside to compare the Stravinski arr. to a
> fairground merry-go-round jangle. It was interesting to listen to, but
> in the context of this discussion, I would call it 'bad'. For this
> reason - considering how much more 'feminine' the femail ballet
> dancers were in Stravinski`s era compared to what we may see sometimes
> today, it could be viewed to have been wholly inappropriate. Maybe
> that`s why it`s now re-discovered all these years later?

He might now have agreed with you; I don't know the arrangement.

Stravinsky of course *deliberately* adapted others' music to his own
ends, claiming that it was a true 'act of love' to repossess and
re-express the music of the past.

That is different from seeming to be *performing* the music of the past,
whilst actually traducing it.

Many at the time denounced Stravinsky's attitude. But it was at least

If a performer were similarly to say: look, this isn't what the text
says, and therefore cannot be what the piece is; but it is my free
fantasy on it -- then that would be clear.

But they don't.

Perhaps if they did, they would be more convincingly musicians to
themselves, *and therefore to their audiences*.

> TW originally:
> > > Why then do we emphasise in colleges, in schools, in private
> > > teaching, in master classes and to a large extent on radio, the
> > > importance of searching for composers' intentions.

> TP
> > That wasn't his only reason. The deeper one was that what a
> > composer produces is the result of the interaction of all his
> > conscious and unconscious processes, and not the result just of his
> > conscious intention. The 'happy accident' might not have been so
> > accidental.
> TW
> Understanding that Stravinski's (Chopin) Grand Waltz was an arr. (not
> a composition) he surely must have had every intention of being 'up
> front', maybe enough to even intentionally upstage the dancers. A case
> of being a 'sod' I ask? (Excuse the wrong usage of my original
> wording).


> TP
> > And no, it's not that a composer's conscious intention isn't
> > important *at all*. It's that the deepest parts of much of the
> > world's greatest music are available only by exposing our *own*
> > conscious and unconscious processes to our only unequivocal sources
> > -- namely, the *texts* -- and that includes understanding the
> > conventions of notation and performance practice that were in force
> > at the time.
> TW
> "at the time" is so important to understand.

> TP
> > And people make mistakes, after all. Beethoven was said to have
> > sightread, in the work of some of his contemporaries, not what was
> > there, but what *had to have been intended*, and what had been
> > written wrongly by the copyist.

> TW
> We don`t seem to find too many whiz-kids named Ludvig anymore. Perhaps
> they are intentionally protected.

There are some -- genius will out, whatever they call you when you're
born (eg George Benjamin, Thomas Ades in the UK.)

> TP
> > What I actually do in a borderline case will depend on the degree of
> > refinement of my own understanding, and on the degree of flexibility
> > of my own inner instincts and processes.
> >
> > But for me as well as my students, I'd say that any refinement of
> > understanding, and any flexibility of instinct and unconscious
> > process that we may have, can only have arisen in the course of our
> > attempts to bring *faithfully* to life the great music texts of both
> > past and present. Those texts are our teachers.
> Yup!

Glad we agree.

Get better from your 'flu soon:-)

_________ Tony Pay
|ony:-) 79 Southmoor Rd
| |ay Oxford OX2 6RE
tel/fax 01865 553339

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