Semantics of tonality … (part II)
Since we are talking about an authentic instrument system in the performance of music of the 18th – early 19th centuries, I will share some observations.
One of the pioneers of authentic performance, the Swiss pianist Edwin Fischer did not even think about how far his simple idea would come to play instruments and compositions of earlier times. He played the piano, the structure of which he did not change, just like the instruments of his orchestra: this is heard from the recordings of Bach’s clavier concerts. Some gag in the manner of execution, the nature of sound production there is not noticeable.
What do we have today? For authenticists, the pitch is lowered by half a ton, sometimes by a tone, in general, they do not play in the author’s tone, while the pieces are performed at much more lively, and even dance-bouncing paces and rhythms than was traditionally accepted, but what about the game without vibrato, I don’t even speak strings.
I’ll start from the end, with vibrato on strings. It seems to me that the whole point is that before the end of the 19th century there were much less musicians than later, and only those who had not just an absolute hearing, but an absolute one got into the string players. Therefore, there was simply no falsehood when playing string groups in orchestras. Perhaps the first to use vibrato was Niccolo Paganini, but he took root for a very long time even with concert soloists. Only starting with Eugene Isai began to take more and more string players into his technical arsenal. But one of the founders of the modern violin school, Leopold Auer, in his book “My School of Playing the Violin” wrote in 1921 (!):
“Unfortunately, singers and instrumentalists often abuse this effect <…> – and thus make it possible to take control of the ailment of the most anti-artistic order, of which ninety out of a hundred people become victims.
Having resorted to vibration, trying, like an ostrich, to hide from himself and from others a bad sound and intonation, the student not only worsens his shortcomings, but also commits an unfair act from an artistic point of view.
As for those violinists who are convinced that the secret of sincere play and the severity of execution is hidden in constant vibration, they are mistaken in the most miserable way.
There is only one way to counteract this nervous tension, addiction or lack of good taste – completely abandon the use of vibration. ”
Such an opinion about vibrato, in the opinion of the overwhelming majority of modern musicians, is quite controversial: we know that vibrato has become one of the most important means of expression when playing the strings. But L. Auer is right in exactly one thing: a musician can be hidden behind vibrato by his inability to accurately intonate as part of a modern large group of the same type of instruments (violin, viola, cello, double bass). Now imagine a modern orchestra, even a chamber (with even old instruments and copies of bows from those times), where people with inaccurate hearing came together to play without vibrato. Everyone’s inner rumor will tell him that he’s certainly playing as he should, but the others … Only poor listeners will hear such falsity on long notes … even bear the saints.
That’s why authenticists are so committed to fast play: fewer long notes with a fake. But they forget that the conductors in front of the orchestras did not gain a foothold on their elevations until the middle of the 19th century. Therefore, it was physically very difficult for musicians to play quickly without a conductor. And the bouncing dance pace of modern authenticists also nullifies the main thing in the music of the 18th-19th centuries – the melody.
But this is not enough for them! For strings and vocalists, they came up with the so-called “bubble game”: when a musical phrase is not played together, with a clear designation of its beginning and end, but with separate sounds, and for each sound, a designation of the beginning and end using crescendo-diminuendo. Where the authenticists got it from, why they justified such a sound production for Baroque music – for me it remains a mystery. Indeed, in musical texts signs of crescendo and diminuendo were still absent. A game of “bubbles” was common in the Renaissance (and before), that is, centuries before the Baroque. The forced need for such a game was connected with the shape of the bows of that time. From the eighth to the fourteenth centuries, the bow-shaped form of the cane (the wooden part of the bow, on the ends of which horse hair was pulled) and which replaced it almost straight, but not parallel to the stretched hair and existed until the second half of the seventeenth century, were not allowed to play except as “bubbles” “. But already in the 2nd half of the 17th century, on the initiative of A. Corelli, the bow took on a shape close to the modern one, that is, a cane and stretched hair became parallel, and a previously invented cremallier (a device for changing hair tension) and a screw that replaced it almost immediately (for for the same purpose) – made the bow very close to modern. Playing with “bubbles”, even on “long” notes, with such a bow has become simply technically inconvenient (unless rubbing only the middle of the hair bundle with rosin). And this happened before the birth of Bach.