What is a good interpretation? I made some conflicting statements in the past few years in this direction: on the one hand I demand to understand what the composer had in mind when he wrote the music down. I am on the other hand not at all satisfied when I â€œonlyâ€ play what is written in the music, especially since I know from living composers that they expect us musicians to do something more personal than that with their works. This doesnâ€™t mean one should ignore the composers instructions in general, but we have to make them our own so that at the end we can make our own statement with it. But there is a third, more serious problem: listening habits and traditions of interpretation which developed by the consumation of recordings, especially so-called reference recordings.The problem with these reference recordings is that they have been recognized as the ultimate interpretation which already is sad, because there are so many possibilites to perform a piece. Listening to one and the same interpretation over and over again results often in teh fact that anything differing to it sounds wrong. My brother-in-law and me were listening last week to a live recording of the Carmina Burana in the radio. He didnâ€™t like one of the movements: â€œThatâ€™s far too slow!â€ â€“ he was right, it was slower than what I was used to from other performances. But I donâ€™t know the score, maybe the conductor chose a speed which was much closer to Orffâ€™s imagination and we just needed to get used to it? Maybe the slower and less flashy approach brought a deeper side out?
Shostakovich writes in his Second Cello Concerto the metronome marking of crotchets equals 100 above every single movement. The reference recording of the reference cellist Mstislaw Rostropovich, the â€œdediceeâ€, who as first performer and friend of the composer must know â€œthe truthâ€, doesnâ€™t seem to care much about it, practically ignores this pretty clear instruction of the composer. Most interpretations use this pattern and hardly any cellist tries to understand what Shostakovich really wanted. What does a composer intend by putting the same metronome marks above a
Whenever I learn a new piece I ignore any tradition. I treat any piece as if it is being performed for the first time. When I saw these metronome markings I understood them as instructions to feel the
Also the second movement looses any kind of joyfulness, also the suggestions of jazz get lost, instead we see a relentlessness and vulgarity (for example the octave glissandi) which gives this movement a completely different substance and message. The second movement bases anyway on a very banal Russian folkstune which Shostakovich takes as the synonym of the lowness and wickedness and which in the last movement fights its way up and destroys the good. The last movement itself just simulates a brave world â€“ the rather nervous cello accompaniment in speed 100 to the flute solo floats almost above the sick world, never connects with it and is always ready to crash into the sad and brutal reality.
Besides this, it’s heaven here in Mauritius, this morning we were swimming alongside a swarm of dolphins, yesterday we windsurfed and waterskied, and today there will be tennis and maybe some catamaran sailing. Greetings from Paradise! Alban