[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: The Bach Choral Dilemma

Tóth László wrote:

> Excuse my ignorance, but if performance can cause such a huge difference,
> then shouldn't it be denoted somehow in the music sheet?

The problem is that there was in the baroque a kind of unwritten
practice which got lost when everyone become interested in the newer
styles that followed. We don't know, for example, the tempo of any
of the Bach pieces because he never gave any
indication -- the metronome hadn't yet been invented. Nor are there
many indications about dynamic, and never any about expressivity
louder or softer). We don't know if you're supposed to hold a steady
or vary it (rubato). Also there are no indications about phrasing. The
is that in some pieces where it's really inobvious how to play them
-- the d minor toccata being one, which others have mentioned --
we have very very many different variants in performance.  Add to that
whole question of "ornamentation" where the player freely shapes lines
by adding all sorts of figurations -- trills, slides, turns,
-- which is the meaning of "baroque," ie, bizarre, that is, highly
ornamented. We know about this but we don't exactly know what the
approved manner might have been.

The result is that a good Bach interpeter is one who in essence is
required to take greater liberties than in almost anything else that
was written for the next 200 years.

-- eliot