From HT@21:1/5 to All on Tue Jan 3 13:50:56 2023
    Mandryka, her is one of Pace's posts:



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  • From Herman@21:1/5 to Ian Pace on Tue Jan 3 17:18:29 2023
    this one, about LvB performance practice, is perhaps a little more interesting? On Saturday, December 6, 2003 at 3:53:39 AM UTC+1, Ian Pace wrote:
    "Lena" <lena_r...@yahoo.com> wrote in message news:4b8442bf.03120...@posting.google.com...
    cc1...@hotmail.com (XYZ XYZ) wrote (in a couple of posts):

    [Op. 111]

    Or is this one of the few pieces by Beethoven where we've a
    good idea as to metronome markings, etc.?

    The only piano sonata where we have "a good idea" about metronome
    markings is Op. 106 (we have Beethoven's). The rest are guesses.

    Ian probably means metronome marks in B. sonata editions/guides by
    by Haslinger, Czerny, Moscheles. It's true that H/C/M did work
    with Beethoven at various points (one was Beethoven's publisher, one a student, one an admirer/musician (and one-time collaborator in a transcription)), but it's still a stretch to conclude that they had intimate knowledge of Beethoven's metronomic wishes in this sonata...
    (not that Ian is necessarily implying anything that strong).
    There is also the study by Rudolf Kolisch ("Tempo and Character in Beethoven's Music", in Musical Quarterly XXIX (1943)), in which he attempted to extrapolate tempo markings for most of Beethoven's works based on those that Beethoven actually provided. I don't have a copy of this article, and
    I believe it was unfinished at the time of his death, but I gather he argued that the tempos commonly taken by performers in his time denied much of what he perceived to be the character of the music. Hermann Beck also made an in depth study of Beethoven tempos, and came to similar conclusions ("Bemerkungen zu Beethovens tempi" in Beethoven-Jahrbuch (3d Series) II (1955-56), and "Die Proportionen der Beethovenschen Tempi" in Festschrift Walter Gerstenberg zum 60. Geburtstag (1964))

    All of these editions/guides were published in the 1850's. What
    a metronome mark given out 3 decades after the work and almost as
    long after the author's death says about original intentions is iffy. AFAIK, none of the above gentlemen had anything to do
    with this sonata when it was actually being composed/published.
    Beethoven was deaf at the time and didn't play or hear Op.111 in performance.

    Of the above, Czerny's "On The Proper Performance of All
    Beethoven's Works for the Piano" gives the most detailed information
    on interpretation. It's pretty obviously a valuable document, but
    taking it as the absolute truth on Beethoven's wishes in every matter
    would probably be foolish (it's known to contain deviations from Beethoven's own indications). And it's also known that Czerny was no always-ultra-faithful Beethoven interpreter.
    All those sources should of course be taken with a degree of scepticism, as should all studies, but nonetheless they are worth considering as an alternative to simply accepting whatever the common practice of our own era was. They may not have always had the most intimate knowledge of all of Beethoven's metronome marks, but certainly they had a degree of first-hand experience of knowing and working with the composer that no-one in later
    eras could ever claim. The veracity of Czerny's claims, and those of Schindler are exhaustively explored in George Barth "The Pianist as
    Orator" - a book I highly recommend. Other excellent studies of Beethoven
    and tempo (and much else), with reference to the piano music, are contained in William S. Newman - "Beethoven on Beethoven: Playing his Piano Music his way", Sandra Rosenblum - "Performance Practice in Classic Piano Music", and Charles Rosen - "Beethoven's Piano Sonatas: A Short Companion".
    One of the many interesting things that Czerny points out concerns the articulation of the last movement of the First Piano Concerto - he is emphatic that the recurrent two note semiquaver figuration in the opening theme should not be slurred onto the following quaver (Beethoven knew full well how to notate that other type of slur if he chose so). When Czerny's suggestion is taken, the semiquavers assume a quality more akin to an on-the-beat acciacciatura, which seems to relate to the later passages in F

    minor and G minor where Beethoven actually does use a grace note (though in this case I think it should be played before the beat, which seems to have been the convention Beethoven worked with, and thus makes for a contrast
    with the opening).

    A simple question -- in terms of duration, how fast should the Arietta >sound? Most recordings take about seventeen minutes, I think. I think >Fischer on

    There is no unequivocal 'should'... The metronome question is
    quite complicated, see David's very good post. (Also, the metronome
    thing has been discussed here, there, and everywhere so many times that nobody can quite perk up sufficiently when it shows up again. :) )
    David's post repeats the typical anti-HIP platitudes. The ways in which the predominant metrical values develop throughout the piece, decreasing in value, would be made all the more powerful were the underlying pulse to remain relatively constant. To me, the effect is diminished when
    performers, in such standardized manners, make not merely rubato and natural tempo flexibility, but wholescale tempo shifts at particular places. As for such things as the reverberance of the hall, that's of course a vitally important thing in any music, but it would be nice of the choice of the most appropriate types of halls for certain types of music was based on factors other than maximum bums-on-seats economics.
    I have enough experience of working with a wide range of living composers to be able to draw some conclusions regarding metronome markings, tempos (and other factors). There are a few composers (I don't want to mention names here) whose metronome markings are completely at odds with that for which they are adamant in rehearsal, but overall I have found that in the majority of cases few things bother a composer more than a tempo quite at odds with that they indicate. Mauricio Kagel has the most acute ear for precision of tempo; in his piece An Tasten, which moves continuously between different metronome markings, often with transitions via accel or rit, he was always able to know if the tempo reached was even a few notches out. This is an extreme case of fastiduousness, granted (Kagel is equally meticulous about the differences between ppp and pppp, for example, and the tiniest details
    of articulation), but in most cases composers have been extremely concerned that the performer take the fine details of the score very seriously. This
    is not just a modernist conceit, I believe: everything I read about accounts of Beethoven and Schumann, to take just two examples, suggests that tempo
    was paramount for them, one of the reasons that in some cases they wished to indicate metronome markings as a safeguard against cavalier performances. Beethoven's first question when someone had been to a concert of his work
    was usually 'Was the tempo right?'. As regards many other aspects of the score, not least articulation, we would do well to take a different view of notation: instead of simply indicating a result (a positivist view), notational precision is a way of channelling the performer away from merely adopting the familiar approach, the 'natural' (this is more of a structuralist view). Notation serves less to tell the performer what to do than to channel their creative imagination into new directions, which can be a stimulus rather than a limitation. The first movement of the
    Hammerklavier Sonata is extremely fast, faster than might seem idiomatic, even on a period instrument, but I think that was an expression of Beethoven's desire to push the medium to its very limit. Similarly for the 12/32 section of the Arietta of Op. 111. As for the fact of this possibly causing great difficulty to the performer, possibly to the point where the result will rarely sound comfortable and fluent, I don't think that's something that would have bothered Beethoven at all.
    Like so much music, the Arietta from Op. 111 is generally played in a late romantic manner. In this case a very slow tempo gives an affected 'profundity' to the music. An interesting take on the piece? Certainly,
    but there's plenty of reason to think that this reflects a much later
    musical aesthetic, which is fine were it not so absolutely ubiquitous. With so many recordings that set even further into stone such a convention, it's perhaps not so surprising that one gets the typical kneejerk reaction to any suggestions that there are other possibilities as well. So many musicians
    and music lovers are so rigid and narrow in their conceptions of how music 'should' be (it is the anti-HIP people and the anti-modernist people who exhibit this much more so than the proponents of either movement), they seek refuge from the complexities of contemporary life in a hopelessly idealized notion of the past, any questioning of which brings out an almost neurotic reaction (as many of the threads here will amply demonstrate). I wouldn't argue that pre-war recordings of baroque music are wholly devoid of merit by any means, though they generally aren't my personal preference.
    Nonetheless, it seems that the same sorts of reactions that we encounter in these sorts of debates were equally present in the earliest days of a reappraisal of baroque performing practice, about such questions as considering quicker tempi and exploring features such as overdotting, to
    name just two attributes. The type of group think that a little while back Tom Deacon rightly pointed out exists in this newsgroup is never more apparent when discussing these questions, or opinions on pianists. It may give a few weak-minded individuals a sense of collective identity, but here and elsewhere only contributes to the notion (widely held outside of musical circles) that classical music is a dead art.

    (Many people have no trouble with a slower speed in the Arietta, provided the pianist doesn't. That's not to say that performance practices
    be 'wrong', but the question is really pretty complicated...)
    Because that's what they've heard time and time again - the comfort of familiarity. I don't have a problem with it per se, I have a problem with
    its almost universal application. This is one of so many examples of the inertia and saminess that afflicts so many supposedly diverse interpretations.

    However, much more of a 'should' does exist on the other issue that Ian talks about - the observing of articulation marks in Beethoven.
    Beethoven wrote some fairly unequivocal words about his own slurrings
    (in a letter to Karl Holz, 1825, regarding mistakes in a late quartet score):

    [Numerous meticulous corrections are followed by this:]

    "The slurs just as they now stand! It is not a matter of indifference whether you play [three notes all slurred together] or [two first
    notes slurred only]."

    I've quoted this once before but it's so emphatic maybe it deserves
    a re-quote. So not all performance practice carpings are total
    nitpicking. It's just that the speed issue can't be treated as a matter
    of blindly following an injunction of a metronome mark; there is no injunction...
    See the above. That distinction between two note and three note slurs
    occurs throughout Beethoven's music. Most recently I was thinking about
    this in context of the last movement of the D major Cello Sonata, where the fugal theme uses two note slurs continually, but later (Bars 153-183) he develops this into three note slurs. It's extremely rare to hear this distinction, indeed to hear such distinctions made anything of throughout Beethoven's music. An equally important articulation question (which Rosen writes quite a bit about) is the distinction to be made depending whether a slur exists or there are simply a series of unslurred notes. For the most part, players (especially those legato fetishists of the Russian schools) will totally equalize these, but there is reason to think that the unslurred notes, while not being detached, suggest a different type of touch.
    It's commonly argued that Beethoven was a haphazard notator and editor, and for this reason all sorts of rather easy conclusions are drawn about the meaning of his articulations. I think the case for this has been
    overstated, and actually Beethoven's notation is quite a bit more subtle
    than often realized. In the last movement of the Hammerklavier Sonata, most quavers are usually played staccato whether marked as such or not. This is based on the assumption that Beethoven just forgot to put the dots in, or worked with the tacit assumption that because a performer sees that some of them are marked staccato, they will extrapolate that all should be played that way. In the Gb section, bar 85 onwards (at least according to the
    Henle edition, which is still generally accepted as one of the best), the first four bars have no dots over the quavers, then dots appear in bar 89. I'd suggest that one might consider the possibility that Beethoven intended the quavers of these first four bars to be played more in a slightly non legato manner, or even a little legato, then the articulation changes at bar 89, adding an extra dimension to the drama.
    But with both tempo and articulation, I come back to the old argument - the faster tempos and the finely detailed articulations are much more difficult to execute on modern instruments with their vastly increased sustaining
    power and broader tone. This doesn't mean that they are necessarily impossible to execute on a modern piano (I will remain agnostic on that question), but certainly the performer's task is made more difficult. A lot of the norms of performance practice in the 20th century are, I believe,
    much to do with big compromises being made in order to be able to play the work on a modern concert grand. That the character of the music might be significantly changed in the process is something that all playing or listening to the music should seriously consider.

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  • From Herman@21:1/5 to All on Tue Jan 3 21:28:27 2023
    And here is Pace on Bartok performance, also from 2003

    "There are discrepancies between Bartok's notated durations and the durations on his recordings, but they aren't huge, I think. There is a study of this
    I have somewhere, I'll try to bring it out. Bartok was one of those composer-performers who was able to combine a large amount of notational
    detail with a great freedom in performance (in some ways he was as
    'romantic' a pianist as any). My own teacher, who studied with him, related various interesting things: his insistence that all of his music was tonal
    (he abhorred the terms 'bitonal' or 'atonal'), and an understanding of the relationships of all harmonies to the tonal centre was paramount, however strange some harmonies might be. In the Allegro Barbaro he suggested that
    some of the bars of alternating chords could be repeated a few more times
    than notated if so desired. As for the incredibly precise articulation markings, Bartok apparently said that the level of detail was really a way
    of suggesting to the performer that a high degree of variety and imagination
    in articulation was desired; if it didn't correspond always to the very
    letter of the text, this wasn't necessarily a problem. In this sense, as
    I've suggested elsewhere in other contexts, his notation served a negative purpose, to safeguard against something like an all-purpose articulative similarity which was to be found from many performers of his time. The last movement of the 3rd Piano Concerto stood almost complete in terms of pitches (Tibor Serly completed the final section from short score), but Bartok
    marked very little in the way of articulation for this movement, which was
    very unusual for him. There's every reason to believe that he wanted a high degree of articulative variety throughout this movement (not done in an arbitrary manner, of course); it is quite often not the case that performers make the most of this."

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