Author Topic: Modern Interpretation of Mozart's music  (Read 5960 times)

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LaciDeeLeBlanc

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Modern Interpretation of Mozart's music
« on: July 21, 2007, 02:09:09 PM »
Alright, I suppose I'll just jump right into this:  I was having a lesson with my teacher, and we began a discussion about Mozart.  I told him that when I thought of Mozart, I thought of "light", "free", "agile", "smooth".  Which I do.  However, this was his comment,"You're right. But actually that might not be the way it was during Mozart's time.  Today, instruments are perfected and much better made.  In Mozart's time the instruments might have been more coarse and belaborous.  Therefore, what we play today might not be how Mozart had heard it or wanted to hear it."

What'dya think?

Don

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Re: Modern Interpretation of Mozart's music
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2007, 02:43:39 PM »
I think your teacher is spot-on.

Heather Harrison

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Re: Modern Interpretation of Mozart's music
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2007, 02:48:16 PM »
I would tend to agree; I have found that, when the best of the "original instrument" groups get their hands on Mozart's music, I find a lot of raw energy that didn't seem to be there before.  The same is true for other composers of his time.

Heather

Offline Holden

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Re: Modern Interpretation of Mozart's music
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2007, 04:01:06 PM »
I also agree with your teacher. Mozart's piano sonatas have been played for aeons in just the manner you described and never appealed to me. When I heard Klara Wurtz play them, with her far more direct and may I say, earthy approach, I was hooked and I can imagine them being played in a similar fashion in Mozart's day. I also hold similar opinions about the music of Vivaldi.
Cheers

Holden

LaciDeeLeBlanc

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Re: Modern Interpretation of Mozart's music
« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2007, 04:10:02 PM »
I'm in a puzzlement because I don't know exactly which to pick: I actually enjoy the modern approach to Mozart. I like how clean and transparent it is. The music flows undisturbed. However, if Mozart preferred his music to be more gritty, then should it be performed as such, despite an evolution in instruments?  But the advancement in instruments is exactly that, advancement.  The instruments sound better. If the instruments sound better, shouldn't the music sound better? That was the purpose of engineering superior instruments, after all.

Offline Brewski

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Re: Modern Interpretation of Mozart's music
« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2007, 04:22:58 PM »
I agree with the others that your teacher probably made the right call.  That said, I grew up hearing Mozart played by, for example, Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic and recall liking it.  If you prefer an approach with a modern orchestra and instruments, fine.  That said, now that I've heard Mozart on period instruments (with HIP conductors), I prefer that sound, and I think everyone should experience both, just to observe the differences.

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Tancata

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Re: Modern Interpretation of Mozart's music
« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2007, 04:46:24 PM »
I'm in a puzzlement because I don't know exactly which to pick: I actually enjoy the modern approach to Mozart. I like how clean and transparent it is. The music flows undisturbed. However, if Mozart preferred his music to be more gritty, then should it be performed as such, despite an evolution in instruments?  But the advancement in instruments is exactly that, advancement.  The instruments sound better. If the instruments sound better, shouldn't the music sound better? That was the purpose of engineering superior instruments, after all.

Well, it's fine to perform and hear it on modern instruments and if you prefer it, that's cool. But, perhaps Mozart would have written the music differently if today's instruments were available. It might be that the "intended" character of the music can be brought out more easily with period instruments (Endless qualifications should be added to these sentences, I know...).

Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Modern Interpretation of Mozart's music
« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2007, 05:22:16 PM »
Well, it's fine to perform and hear it on modern instruments and if you prefer it, that's cool. But, perhaps Mozart would have written the music differently if today's instruments were available. It might be that the "intended" character of the music can be brought out more easily with period instruments (Endless qualifications should be added to these sentences, I know...).

Maybe not. The concept that the evolution of instruments was spurred on in order to play e.g. - "Mozart more smoothly", I think is wrong. Mozart didn't compose his music in order to go along with some conception he had that in the future instruments would be able to play it better than they could now. He composed it for the instruments that he knew about then, and what they sounded like and what their possibilities were.

Unlike some "HIPsters", I don't at all dislike old music on new instruments, nor do I subscribe to the idea that hearing it on period instruments is "hearing what Mozart heard". I think both of those views are extremist. That said, my preference is to hear music performed on the instruments (or modern replicas of them) that were current at the time the music was composed. The sound is far preferable to my ear.

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Tancata

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Re: Modern Interpretation of Mozart's music
« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2007, 05:27:03 PM »
Well Gurn, I agree, and some of the qualifications I alluded to are detailed in your post...  :)

Offline Brewski

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Re: Modern Interpretation of Mozart's music
« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2007, 05:27:16 PM »
The sound is far preferable to my ear.

8)

Yes...it's funny, how once you get used to that sound, it feels absolutely "right."  (And I don't find it "raw" or "harsh" at all, as some who don't like that approach suggest.)

--Bruce
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Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Modern Interpretation of Mozart's music
« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2007, 06:07:53 PM »
Well Gurn, I agree, and some of the qualifications I alluded to are detailed in your post...  :)

Yeah, I figured they might be  ;)  Been down this road before. :D

Yes...it's funny, how once you get used to that sound, it feels absolutely "right."  (And I don't find it "raw" or "harsh" at all, as some who don't like that approach suggest.)

--Bruce

Bruce,
Yes, that's exactly what I meant. I would say "it grows on you" but it isn't quite like a wen.  It's better, and far more sightly. ;D  Errr.. soundly.   :)

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Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: Modern Interpretation of Mozart's music
« Reply #11 on: July 21, 2007, 10:01:23 PM »
In my view it's not the instruments used but the heart of the performer(s) that best fleshes out musical 'truth'.

In fact, when it comes to Mozart, you can find HIP - or at least proto-HIP - as far back as a half-century ago. Ferenc Fricsay and Hans Rosbaud were early exponents of something akin to a "HIP" style in Mozart, which in my book means crisp, energetic, and multi-layered in concept. Though not forgetting the value of honest-to-goodness color and flexibility.

Yes the two used larger forces and modern instruments but it's the spirit they imbued into the music that gave the music meaning.

Same for present day if a performer so chooses.

However, I've never bought into this idea that it's the power of 'authentic' instruments that best delineates, or unlocks, Mozart's aesthetic, that somehow his music needs instrumental 'frizz' to give it sustance.

To me it only takes a sympathetic performer.
Veit Bach-a baker who found his greatest pleasure in a little cittern which he took with him even into the mill and played while the grinding was going on. In this way he had a chance to have the rhythm drilled into him. And this was the beginning of a musical inclination in his descendants. JS Bach

Offline Que

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Re: Modern Interpretation of Mozart's music
« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2007, 11:41:50 PM »
I'm in a puzzlement because I don't know exactly which to pick: I actually enjoy the modern approach to Mozart. I like how clean and transparent it is. The music flows undisturbed. However, if Mozart preferred his music to be more gritty, then should it be performed as such, despite an evolution in instruments?  But the advancement in instruments is exactly that, advancement.  The instruments sound better. If the instruments sound better, shouldn't the music sound better? That was the purpose of engineering superior instruments, after all.

I don't think modern instruments generally sound better. Does a modern violin sound better because it has no gut strings? Does a modern cello because it's standing on a pin and has different proportions? In the case of some instruments alterations served easier playing and/or the tonal range or dynamics. In most cases the sound of the instrument changed, which seems to me the crucial thing here because to composer wrote with that sound in mind. And sometimes certain possibilities in playing were simply lost when the instrument was modernised (keyboard instruments).

I have no objection to playing Mozart on modern instruments, but I must say that I too prefer HIP recordings by far. Several compostions by Mozart never interested me before I turned to HIP performances: the violin sonatas - basically all his chamber music, and his keyboard works.

Check our lingering HIP Mozart thread: HIP Mozart. :)

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