CLASSICAL MUSIC: Comprehension of interpretation

Now I've never consciously tried, but I don't think I am capable of picking out a musical "personality" in the way mentioned. I tend to like what I like, for reasons often ill-defined, or not defined at all. It would appear that, after 30-odd years of classical listening, I still have a very long way in my appreciation of music. How do other classical folk feel about this aspect of comprehension? Are you all whizzes at detecting such things?

Another thought is something that Murray Johnson (I think) said in his piece about Quad ESLs and why he didn't like them. He wanted, he said, to hear when Brendel "did something humorous", and chose his speakers accordingly. I begin to wonder whether I am a non-audiophile because I am in fact a musical Philistine! Oh well, too late now...

2 thoughts on “CLASSICAL MUSIC: Comprehension of interpretation

  1. I certainly share the poster’s relative indifference to various performances of the same classical piece. But isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be? I would contend that, by definition perhaps, music that is classical is supposed to be represented almost entirely by the notes on the page and that the actual performance only contributes to it at the margins. Any competent musician, trained in a way consistent with the composer’s own training, is supposed to be able to understand the composer’s intentions and sequence the notes adequately to realise the piece, as a matter of course. The actual musical *ideas* are encapsulated in the notes on the page. If we become fixated on the finer details of the performance, are we, in fact, revealing ourselves to be more interested in ‘personality’ than ideas?

  2. Hello again Ray. We agreed with the sentiments expressed by you; and as is typical of your writing style we applaud the way in which your clarity of thought in conveyed in words in such an engaging manner. Candidly, on the subjects you comment on here we are of the opinion that we couldn’t do better ourselves. Truly!
    Inevitably we therefore invite you to write a regular column for us on any relevant topic you like. Being not-for-profit of course we cannot offer any financial reward. Might this be of interest? Incidentally, you are the first person in 2013 we have offered this too. We wondered if in this respect 2013 would be barren. Clearly not.

    Finally, re your ultimate sentence I’d not previously stopped to consider this aspect of my appreciation of music. For me the answer is ‘yes’. So now I’m figuring out what that means. Once again, we thank you for your contribution. Sincerely. Howard – on behalf of the OLC team.

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