If you’ve ever wondered why there are a thousand different recordings of some music, here’s Leonard Bernstein showing why: there are a thousand different ways to play it. Printed music can only tell you so much. Of course, some of those thousand recordings are copying one another, but with these guys you always got something unique. They had their off days like anyone, but when they were on…
3 Replies to “Decisions, Decisions”
Go Go Gould!
This made me think :
1) how funny and unreadable a score would be if the composer wrote little annotations next to each individual note
2) If I am a concert pianist and/or nominal lead guitarist, I’ll take Lennon’s vague guidance over McCartney’s micromanagement
Agreed. The Paul approach can certainly make great records, but it’s only enjoyable if you’re Paul.
As for point 1), some composers were generous with annotations, Mahler for example. But many of his annotations are open to interpretation, things like “not too fast.” Also, he was one the preeminent conductors of his day, so he got to conduct most of his own works. After conducting them, he’d make extensive changes to the annotations. Then he’d change them again. He never heard two of his most important works, so it’s certain that he would have changed many things had he lived to hear them. To what? We’ll never know. So even heavily annotated scores are just a starting point.