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Performance of Bach’s Vocal Works
General Discussions - Part 4

Continue from Part 3

Geminiani; and The Problem With Misunderstanding "Baroque"

Bradley Lehman wrote (June 1, 2003):
Thomas Braatz wrote: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/5231

Ah, where to begin?

With elementary formal logic. The following principle is taught to beginning students of mathematics: when an argument is based on a premise that is false, all conclusions are (by definition) unreliable.

What have we here in Thomas Braatz' posting? Not just one, but at least THREE false premises:
- One may dismiss a writer's work without reading it.
- A writer's value and relevance to performance of other people's music are based on how well we like the writer's own musical compositions.
- Rococo style is more elaborately ornate than Baroque style.

Treating each of these in turn:

FALSE PREMISE #1: One may dismiss a writer's work without reading it. *** We've been through this several times, but it hasn't slowed Mr Braatz down at all. He is evidently as content as ever to dismiss things by hearsay (from commentary in secondary and ternary sources), or merely because he doesn't like them, but not having troubled to read them directly.

Side point: I have the Quantz, CPE, and one of Geminiani's books right here on my desk. The Geminiani is a facsimile edition of the original print, originally in English. Quantz and CPE are in the standard scholarly translations. Quantz is translated by Reilly, working from both the German and French editions, and Reilly noted any differences in his footnotes. The CPE is by Mitchell, working from both the original and the revised 18th century publications. Braatz claims that "Brad seems to be relying upon a bad translation of CPE Bach, or perhaps he is scraping the bottom of the barrel for evidence that â?~pianoâ?T markings often do not mean what Walther indicates in his lexicon. There is no sense here that the performer must ignore dynamic markings, because there are other solutions to the problem which are more commonly used." I'll agree that "there is no sense here" but it's not in a way that Braatz would probably wish to hear.

An example from Braatz' posting: a writer in _MGG_ says "Baroque music seems to Quantz to be 'boring'" ("Die »gearbeitete Musik« des Barocks erscheint ihm wegen der gleichbleibenden Affekte und instrumentalen Klangfarben langweilig.") Wouldn't it be better to go read Quantz' book oneself to see what Quantz actually said, than to rely on a dictionary writer? It appears to me the person who thinks Baroque music is boring is the MGG writer, and/or Thomas Braatz; and based on a misconception of Baroque music (see point #3 below)!

FALSE PREMISE #2: A writer's value and relevance to performance of other people's music are based on how well we like the writer's own musical compositions. *** We've also been through this one before. Braatz tried this technique to dismiss Friedrich Niedt several months ago, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/4445
and more recently now with Quantz, Geminiani, and CPE Bach. (And Uri Golomb has also rightly pointed out the fallacy of dismissing Quantz' musical and critical ideas _a priori_ based on examination of his compositions.)

In Braatz' view, evidently, no one is worthy to write about musical style or performance practice unless he first prove his compositional acumen. So, let's once again issue the challenge that was issued several months ago: let's see some representative compositions by Thomas Braatz, to prove that he has any competence to pronounce stylistic judgment on others. Or, is he going to "pull a Marchand" again like he did when this challenge was put up the first time, and when I showed some of my compositions?

FALSE PREMISE #3: Rococo style is more elaborately ornate than Baroque style. *** No; Mr Braatz has these reversed! Baroque style (predominantly the 17th century, in music) was the extreme, overly passionate, intense, wild, crazy, extravagant manner: blood, sweat, and tears, maximum contrasts from moment to moment, and specific musical devices to move people. Rococo style was a reaction against this: a more classical balance, reserved emotions, with details merely decorative rather than functional; an emphasis on light pleasant entertainment rather than storming the heavens. Read these definitions from Nicolas Slonimsky's Lectionary of Music: http://www.vaix.net/~bpl/baroque/baroque.htm

Braatz is so severely misguided because somewhere he has been taught, or picked up, a reversed premise about the character of Baroque music (perhaps from listening to bad recordings for too many years?--but, I shouldn't speculate). Wherever he got it, this fundamental reversal colors everything he writes (as I've noted, reading him online for two years). And, being a false premise, it renders all his conclusions about performance practice meaningless.

I agree that Bach was old-fashioned, that he wrote music in a conservative style (this is one of the Braatz premises that is true). His contemporaries criticized him for being behind the times. That is to say: Bach's music was a culmination of the Baroque, the 17th century manners, bringing the style and substance to its highest perfection. And it "should be" performed that way: with the excesses and extremes as a basic manner, and only mildly tempered by rationalism and formalism etc (but not letting it fall into Bach-worship where no notated details in his music may be played in a free, true Baroque, manner!).

Braatz would evidently have us start from the opposite premise (and an ahistorical one!), that Bach's music is formal and structural, anti-emotional, anti-Baroque, and designed NOT to move the passions but merely to entertain. Bizarre. This does, however, explain his habits of rationalizations and misquotes and pronouncements that make no sense to a trained reader.

When Baroque music is performed in a stiff, literal manner (pedantically), I'll venture the artistic jugdment: it IS boring. It's totally anti-Baroque in spirit and in content. Baroque music, when performed correctly as the people of the time said it was performed, is a continual thrill, everything in flux, unpredictable, fantastic. If some people don't understand that...well, it's their loss!

CONCLUSION ABOUT BRAATZ' LOGIC: Any one of these premises is sufficient to render all of Braatz' conclusions unreliable; that's what false premises do. Put three of them together, and we really have something. Conclusions from false premises are a waste of everybody's time, and (one would think) an embarrassment to the person who writes them. All they do is mislead people, and Braatz himself.

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Some more tidbits about Geminiani and his milieu:

I mentioned above that I have one of Geminiani's treatises right here. In it, Geminiani tells us explicitly that he did not originate any of these expressive ideas he's putting forth, but got them from his teacher, the celebrated Corelli [(1653-1713)]; and he discussed his (Corelli's) music with him. Who is a "bigger gun" of the high Baroque than Arcangelo Corelli?

By the time Geminiani wrote his treatises, he was already into his 60s. He had got the license to publish them as early as 1739, but they were not issued until 1749 and later. Geminiani was (like Quantz) already looking back on a full life of music; he was not echoing new fashions. He was telling us how things worked in the first years of the 18th century, as Bach was starting as a composer and performer! After his training with Corelli, Geminiani moved to London in 1714: London being one of the most cosmopolitan cities for a musical career.

Furthermore, as to Geminiani's own music: his own concerti grossi are finely worked compositions, worthy to stand with (and be confusable with) those of Vivaldi, Corelli, and Händel. It's the same style. It's also this same concerto grosso style that Quantz lauds throughout his book. And Geminiani taught it to his own student, Charles Avison, who fashioned concerti grossi from themes by Domenico Scarlatti. This is the conservative taste of these men: true Baroque spirit. (Incidentally: I also wrote a paper once, for university credit, reviewing the principles in Avison's own treatise, and have performed one of these concerti grossi in an ensemble conducted by a Baroque specialist, and am familiar with the others of his. I assert that, to my judgment, it's pretty good music and it's clearly Baroque in style; and that Avison knew what he was talking about in his own musical judgments.)

Doesn't it make sense to perform Baroque music as the people of that day say it was performed: with extravagance of passions and contrasts?

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One other thing, a comment about Braatz' professional insults: once again he has impugned my teachers and me, claiming that "It would appear that Brad was trained INSIDE the specific style called ‘galant’ a language that he speaks easily and naturally because it is in this stylistic period the expression of the musical gestures comes easily (...)." No; I am trained in Baroque music as my primary focus, and had lessons in fortepiano and the rococo/classical eras merely as required cognates. Furthermore, I am clever enough to recognize 'galant' music, and to know which source material applies to what. That's what certification means. That's the purpose of going to university specifically in music: to get all this stuff straightened out, in verifiably correct perspective. Should I go demand my money back?

Does not a certified electrician or plumber or mechanic know the tools and techniques required to do his job properly? Does Mr Thomas Braatz stand there instructing a plumber about the differences between PVC and copper pipe, from a premise that has PVC made of metal and copper made of plastic?

There's just no way to have a rational, civilized conversation with a person who builds rationalizations on top of false premises. I've been encouraging Mr Braatz to fix his premises so we can converse like rational men. But it seems not to have had any effect. He just keeps scurrying to his reference books but applying wrong premises to their use and to his understanding of them.

Ivan Lalis wrote (June 1, 2003):
< When Baroque music is performed in a stiff, literal manner (pedantically), I'll venture the artistic jugdment: it IS boring. It's totally anti-Baroque in spirit and in content. Baroque music, when performed correctly as the people of the time said it was performed, is a continual thrill, everything in flux, unpredictable, fantastic. If some people don't understand that...well, it's their loss! >
This is soooo true. I happen to like baroque opera and that was actually a direction from which I approached Bach vocal music. I am lucky, because we live in times when baroque is "in" and we have a lots of recordings and this music gets performed a lot. But I noticed it can have very different impact on me. As I wrote to a friend of mine just yesterday - I listened to McGegan's recording of Haendel's Atalanta and he sent me to sleep. Then I listened to Minkowski's Ariodante and he woke me up :-) Minkowski's approach seems to be rather his philosophy how any music should be performed than having a special recipe for each period. I heard him playing L'Incoronazione di Poppea, lots of Haendel, Beethoven symphonies and it was always something exceptional. I may be a bit ignorant when it comes to get into a particular music piece, but he has no problem to communicate it to me and keep me busy. I'd really love to hear him playing Bach (after he records complete Händel operas recordings :-) BTW his new Giulio Cesare should be released in June. I do not want this to sound as an advertisement, but it's a must for anybody who likes a baroque opera.

Uri Golomb wrote (June 1, 2003):
< Braatz would evidently have us start from the opposite premise (and an ahistorical one!), that Bach's music is formal and structural, anti-emotional, anti-Baroque, and designed NOT to move the passions but merely to entertain. Bizarre. >
If I may venture a guess, that's only partly correct. Certainly, there is a traditional position about Bach -- which I think Braatz shares, but I wouldn't to speak for him! -- which, on the one hand, believes that Bach's music is strongly emotional, but on the other hand believes that Bach performance should not be. The expressiveness "is all there in the music". It's certainly meant to move, not merely to enetratin -- but the performers should keep their hands off. Here's a quote from one proponent of this position, Arnold Schering:

"Der Affekt Bachs ist jederzeit identisch mit einer melodischen Geste. Diese Geste ist so deutlich, daß sie niemals mißverstanden werden kann, ob sie nun klanglich von einer Orgel, einer Flöte, einer Violine, einer Menschenstimme ausgeführt wird. Unterstreicht man diese an sich klare Geste durch übermäßige Gefühlsexpression, so wäre das ähnlich, wie wenn ein Schauspieler jede seiner Bewegungen noch mit einem Rollen, Blinzeln, Funkeln der Augen, mit einem Lächeln, Zucken, Verkrampfen des Gesicht o. ä. begleiten würde." (Arnold Schering, Johann Sebastian Bachs Leipziger Kirchenmusik. Leipzig: Breitkopf & Hartel, 1936; p. 188)

My German is not nearly as good as my English, so I'll paraphrase this rather than translate (and I'll be grateful for any corrections from German speakers out there): Bach's affect is always identical with a particular melodic gesture. This gesture is so clear that it can always be understood - regardless of the particular instrument or voice which performs it. A performer who over-emphasises such clear gestures through exaggerated emotional expression is similar to an actor who accompanies every movement with exaggerated facial and bodily expressions. [Schering sounds here a bit like Hamlet instructing an actor in his play-within-a-play not to "saw the air too much with your hand"; Hamlet, Act 3, scene 2]

In short: in Schering's view, Bach's music is gestural, but it should not receive a gestural performance! I don't quite buy this -- ignore a gesture and you stand in good danger of erasing it, rather than "letting it speak for itself" -- but the idea is not unique to Schering; it has been very influential, and explains much about Bach performance and reception in the 20th century.

Ivan Lalis wrote (June 1, 2003):
< Braatz would evidently have us start from the opposite premise (and an ahistorical one!), that Bach's music is formal and structural, anti-emotional, anti-Baroque, and designed NOT to move the passions but merely to entertain. Bizarre. >
Just a few silly thoughts after I read this paragraph. There's an interview with JE Gardiner on his Bach DVD(now I do not know if it's on Cantatas or Christmas Oratorio) where he said there is actually no evidence if Bach's audience, ordinary people from congregation, expressed any appreciation of his music. It may mean nothing, we do not have much information on more important topics, but still, even Bach must have had an ego, and he may have made a note that people liked this or that. On the other hand I read there is an evidence people were complaining that they cannot sing along when he's playing an organ, because he likes to improvise which confuses them. So I wonder if they realised at all they are witnessing something special :-) Or if they thought, "Oh no, not Bach again".

Alex Riedlmayer wrote (June 1, 2003):
The Problem With "Understanding" Baroque Music

Bradley Lehman wrote about the flawed premises of Thomas Braatz, but left one highly dubious premise of his own:
< Bach's music was a culmination of the Baroque, the 17th century manners, bringing the style and substance to its highest perfection. And it "should be" performed that way: with the excesses and extremes as a basic manner, and only mildly tempered by rationalism anformalism etc (but not letting it fall into Bach-worship where no notated details in his music may be played in a free, true Baroque, manner!). >
Here is a false dilemma between two performing styles, which Brad perceived in direct opposition. Brad has shown little tolerance for criticism of his preferred "true Baroque" style, with accusations of bigotry. On the other hand, he has casually dismissed other modes as anathema, proclaiming their sterility to be self-evident.

Then Brad proceeds to command performers, with inane quotation marks, to make his right choice, presenting imposing obligations as liberating, and practices gleaned from centuries-old treatises as vital and exhilarating. Some people will doubtless object to the onerous responsibilities, but Brad hints at their doom in a later paragraph:

< When Baroque music is performed in a stiff, literal manner (pedantically), I'll venture the artistic jugdment: it IS boring. It's totally anti-Baroque in spirit and in content. Baroque music, when performed correctly as the people of the time said it was performed, is a continual thrill, everything in flux, unpredictable, fantastic. If some people don't understand that...well, it's their loss! >
Here, Brad boldly uses his own feelings and tastes to assess the emotional impact of Baroque music on all listeners. Some people will not surrender their own feelings so easily; perhaps Brad has gone a bit too far? Now Brad does not proclaim his resolution of this contradiction openly, as it is extreme and harsh: the music of Bach and other Baroque composers will be removed from those who do not appreciate the rewards of the style which Brad has linked to the music!

Rational argument cannot excuse such dictates. Music is to be appreciated honestly, not worshipped deferentially.

Thomas Braatz wrote (June 1, 2003):
Brad stated:
>>- One may dismiss a writer's work without reading it.<<
By relying on a translation, as Brad does in regard to Quantz and CPE, Brad is already working with an interpretation which is not as good as reading the books in the original language.

It is possible to form an opinion about a work by examining how it reflects the period in which it was written (who wrote it and when and for which particular audience.) You can determine this without having read the entire work or only having heard a few compositions by a certain composer. It is dangerous to assume that a book written and printed in Berlin after 1750 on the matter of performance practices reflects what took place a quarter of a century earlier in the Leipzig churches (not in opera houses of Dresden and other places!)

BL: >>- A writer's value and relevance to performance of other people's music are based on how well we like the writer's own musical compositions.<<
This is a legitimate consideration, albeit not the only one, since compositions and the performances practices thereof were very intimately connected with each other in the 18th century.

BL: >>- Rococo style is more elaborately ornate than Baroque style.<<
To which Brad states: >>Read these definitions from Nicolas Slonimsky's Lectionary of Music: <<
Who “just keeps scurrying to his reference books but applying wrong premises to their use and to his understanding of them?”

It is obvious that it is Brad!

The OED quotes from an article from “Early Music” April, Vol. 173/2 “The organ sonatas of C. P. E. Bach from the 1750s are a good match for the rococo organ in Midwolda (1772).” where ‘rococo’ in the OED definition means “meaningless decoration; excessively or tastelessly florid or ornate.”

The MGG confirms this with a discussion of what occurred in Germany (we are talking about Germany here and German composers) in the period beginning roughly after c. 1750:

Und dennoch wurde Bachs Sohn Carl Ph. Emanuel der Wegbereiter für das klassische Zeitalter, da er der freien Empfindung in der Musik Geltung zu verschaffen wußte. Das neue Klanggefühl ging Hand in Hand mit einem subjektivistischen Empfinden, dem die Theoretiker des »galanten Zeitalters« in ihren Schriften breiten Raum gaben.“

[„And, nevertheless, Bach’s son CPE prepared the way for the Classic Period [in music], since he knew how to assert [procure recognition for] the free reign of feeling in music. This new feeling about what things should sound like went ‘hand in hand’ [was a perfect fit, side by side, at very close quarter] with a subjective perception [artistic sensibility], which the theoreticians of the ‘galant-style’ period [CPE Bach, Quantz, Geminiani, Leopold Mozart, etc.] gave free reign to [expanded upon to a large degree] in their books, treatises/articles, etc.]

Bradley Lehman wrote (June 1, 2003):
Underplaying gestures (a 20th century phenomenon)

Uri Golomb wrote:
< (...) In short: in Schering's view, Bach's music is gestural, but it should not receive a gestural performance! I don't quite buy this -- ignore a gesture and you stand in good danger of erasing it, rather than "letting it speak for itself" -- but the idea is not unique to Schering; it has been very influential, and explains much about Bach performance and reception in the 20th century. >
I agree, Uri. Such a manner of underplaying the music's gestures is not at all unique to Schering; in the 20th century it was widespread. (And that's part of the dissertation topic of Bradley Brookshire, for the next few years--same guy who's on the BRML. I for one am eager to hear his findings; and yours, Uri.)

Impassivity raised up as a standard with impartial scientific perfection! Reproducibility valued above the unpredictable and fleeting moment! Music somehow existing outside the real time and space of its performance, better studied by science than by direct perception! Imagination, emotions, and intuition are not to be trusted! We humans are (supposedly) too advanced for the direct lessons music might teach us, when directly perceived; therefore the music must not be allowed to speak with its own voice, its full range! These are all 20th century ideals, more than 17th/18th century ones, and they neuter (maybe even kill) the music.

An impersonal monotone is a perfect goal if we've been assimilated into the Borg--but until then, resistance is not futile.

And as Bach himself told us through Die Kunst der Fuge (where actions speak louder than any words): Kunst trumps Wissenschaft. Irregularity and irrationality trump regular structure (**). Practical human limitations (physical playability by two hands) trump abstract scientific perfection. The acts of playing and listening are more important than words about music. I agree with Bach.

(**) Last week I re-read Kathryn Bailey's article "The Art of Fugue: A New Explanation" (Studies in Music [Ontario] #1: 1976). She points out how atypical all these contrapuncti are, against Bach's fugal habits. They are all foreshortened in some way or another, condensed, each movement filling in something that is allowed to be omitted from another (expositions, development, episodes, presentation of a new theme, etc.).

Bailey's research suggests to me the further point: Art has the most to tell us when it gently confounds our expectations, forcing us to see things in a new way, focusing our attention. Vignettes, distillations, models, x-rayed analyses of small sections can have more to say than full normal lectures do: they force us to confront things that are more vivid than we'd notice in everyday perception. And the closer we look, the more irregular and chaotic and colorful it all is, even when there's a bigger scheme of order. That's some part of Bach's message here.

Bradley Lehman wrote (June 1, 2003):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
BL: >>- Rococo style is more elaborately ornate than Baroque style.<<
To which Brad states: >>Read these definitions from Nicolas Slonimsky's Lectionary of Music: <<
Who ‘just keeps scurrying to his reference books but applying wrong premises to their use and to his understanding of them?’
It is obvious that it is Brad! >
No, Tom; I only brought forth that Slonimsky scan: http://www.vaix.net/~bpl/baroque/baroque.htm because it seems to be the only way something can get across TO YOU: you have to see something in print, from an authoritative writer, to even begin to consider it as maybe true.

Bradley Lehman wrote (June 1, 2003):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
>>- One may dismiss a writer's work without reading it.<<
It is possible to form an opinion about a work by examining how it reflects the period in which it was written (who wrote it and when and for which particular audience.) You can determine this without having read the entire work or only having heard a few compositions by a certain composer. It is dangerous to assume that a book written and printed in Berlin after 1750 on the matter of performance practices reflects what took place a quarter of a century earlier in the Leipzig churches (not in opera houses of Dresden and other places!) >
A simple example should suffice here:

Suppose someone asserts that Athanasius Kircher was full of shit, and that his 1650 book is worthless.

- A scholar runs to read Kircher from cover to cover, to find out what's really going on; and he tries to find out as much as possible about the milieu around the work; and he examines the broadest range of opinions about the work, to formulate a balanced and informed opinion for himself.

- A dilettante simply assumes the assertion was correct, especially if this supports his wishes about the truth of something else; and he uses it as "evidence" in other discussions, having never given the book even an hour's study. Hearsay is good enough for a dilettante. The dilettante is completely at the mercy of someone else's opinions and agendas, but does not see this as a problem!

Yes, it is possible to form "an opinion" about a work without reading it, but not an informed one that respects the work.

Thomas Braatz wrote (June 1, 2003):
Uri Golomb quoted and translated Arnold Schering’s statement correctly. Our interpretations of it differ, however:

As I read it, Schering is saying that the ‘gestures’ are already written into the music. Any attempt to ‘overdo,’ ‘exaggerate,’ or ‘overemphasize’ what is already there amounts to a misrepresentation of Bach’s musical intentions. This does not mean that such an ideal performance of Bach’s music as envisioned by Schering has to be lifeless and boring. Schering is still reacting against the excesses of Late Romanticism in matters of performance practice: operatic traditions still being applied to Bach’s sacred works. It is easy to see how some, even in the subsequent HIP tradition may have taken this to mean that the player or singer may remove practically all emotion from a performance and call this ‘authentic’ Bach. [Singing instrumentally is one such phenomenon that has become more prevalent in recent years.] But there are many in the HIP and Post-HIP tradition who have reacted vehemently against such a deadening practice and have taken just the opposite tack, one leading right back to the extremes of Romanticism by advocating the mutilation of Bach’s scores (the closest things we have to knowing what his intentions for a performance really were) by allowing free reign to the liberties (and the accompanying excesses) of rampant subjectivism while attempting to bolster the authority for doing so with a misreading of the historical record concerning performance practices. There is, however, a way of allowing the music ‘to take you there’ when it is genuinely felt in the heart. A performer should feel the music inside without distorting substantially the composer’s intentions (cutting short the values of notes, substantially changing the articulation, dynamics, etc. applying overly strong accents, etc., in general introducing 'chaos' into the music, 'rough edges, 'irregularities' of various sorts, imprecision, etc. etc.)

As I have frequently pointed out in my discussions of the Bach cantatas, any attempt ‘to bring out’ the gestures with a conscious effort directed at trying to get the audience’s attention or approval is doomed to failure because it is sensed by astute listeners as being artificial and not genuine in emotion. The disingenuousness of a singer quickly becomes quite obvious in a Bach aria or recitative. I am certain that this type of ‘underlining’ the cantata text through ‘gestural’ singing or playing was the very reason why Bach took such pains in writing out exactly what he wanted. He had already personally experienced what could happen that would turn his music into something that he might hardly recognize, let alone something that would be anything but sacred in nature. Such deliberate ‘acting-out’ of bits and pieces of a cantata mvt. detracts rather than adds to the musical message. If we can assume from the J.J.s and SDGs that Bach most often wrote on the score that he believed that the music he was creating was for the glory of God, then we can easily assume that he did not envision an operatic performance in church. Whatever compositional techniques he learned from operatic performances (he absorbed the best of music wherever it was to be found), he would have ennobled them, lifted them to a much higher level. There was a distinct line to be drawn between the opera house and the church. This was a stratified society. Different ways of comportment (and performance practice) were expected in different places and under different circumstances. The treatises of the period, Mattheson, Heinichen, Agricola, etc. draw a distinct line, for instance, between sacred recitatives of church cantatas and those performed in the opera. It is important for us to respect differences of this sort, if we are to hear Bach the way he would want us to hear his music. One way to do this is to avoid the numerous excesses that have been mentioned here without falling back into the other extreme of sheer, mechanical ‘deadness’ which is just as bad.

Bradley Lehman wrote (June 1, 2003):
Extrapolation

Thomas Braatz wrote:
< It is possible to form an opinion about a work by examining how it reflects the period in which it was written (who wrote it and when and for which particular audience.) You can determine this without having read the entire work or only having heard a few compositions by a certain composer. >
If you've heard only half a dozen of Arvo Pärt's "tintinnabuli" works, would you even recognize his three symphonies (stylistically) upon hearing them? They sure surprised me.

Even more so, pick any handful of works by Ligeti and try to extrapolate him.

Or Bach, from only the cello suites.

Tom, from your own premises: we're still waiting to see representative compositions of Braatz, so we can examine just two or three of them and decide if Braatz has a musical brain in him, to judge the value of his writings. And if none are forthcoming, we are to assume automatically that he hasn't any compositions and is unfit. If you don't like this outcome of your premises (judging by compositions, and extrapolation from few examples plus hearsay plus milieu), it would seem you shouldn't use these premises.

 

The Problem of Misunderstanding Expression, Notation, and History

Bradley Lehman wrote (June 2, 2003):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< (...) But there are many in the HIP and Post-HIP tradition who have reacted vehemently against such a deadening practice and have taken just the opposite tack, one leading right back to the extremes of Romanticism by advocating the mutilation of Bach’s scores (the closest things we have to knowing what his intentions for a performance really were) by allowing free reign to the liberties (and the accompanying excesses) of rampant subjectivism while attempting to bolster the authority for doing so with a misreading of the historical record concerning performance practices. (...) >
"Back to the extremes of Romanticism"? No; it's back to the documented extremes of the 17th century, and the 'stylus phantasticus' (check Kircher and Mattheson!), and all the fallout of the 'seconda prattica' sparked by Monteverdi and his successors. There was a multiplicity of trends, styles, and pockets of influence; good practitioners in this field sort those out, recognize the elements, and treaeach composition with the appropriate techniques and degree of freedom (especially in the area of rhythm). We bring out the extremes because the extremes quite often are the prevalent character of that music. The degree to which this is done is not subjective, and/or random, and/or at the whim of the performer. The degree of intensity (and freedom beyond the notation) is determined objectively, through analysis and research; once that has been determined, with those correct goals in mind, we then play as imaginatively and vividly as the music demands--finding some way to make it just as vivid today. This is not about being "Romantic", it's about playing/singing the music's own character, taking the music seriously enough, allowing it to speak with appropriate intensity!

For example: this morning first thing I was working on a Reincken suite for an upcoming performance, analyzing its irregularities and surprises and quirks: figuring out what distinguishes this piece from Boehm or Buxtehude or Froberger or Bach or Fischer or (indeed) other works of Reincken, as there are many similarities among the suites of all those composers. It's not just generic "oh, how pretty" keyboard music. Texturally, it would be confused most easily with Buxtehude's. Once I've determined this piece's own character, I need to find ways to bring that out in my performance. This is serious work, and not arbitrary. The expressivity is objective and empirical craftsmanship, not an indulgence of the performer's own feelings (as Tom and probably some others here evidently believe)! The performer's feelings do come into it: in the conviction that the work is worth presenting at all. That conviction must be strong and convincing. But the point of the performance is to move the listeners.

Or, if I get lazy or run out of preparation time, I could just play it under-characterized, generically, and fool most of the people most of the time (and probably bore them). The notes are easy enough as given, it wouldn't take much rehearsal. That's my main objection to under-characterized performances: (1) it's dull, and (2) it sounds as if the performers haven't done the work beyond practicing the notes and rhythms they see. A mediocre, half-assed, approach to anything may be admirable (to some), but the music can always be presented better than that, and I feel it's worthwhile to try to do so. Not as "deferential worship" of the music itself (as Alex Riedlmayer has accused me of, although he's never heard me play harpsichord), but as respect for its ability to move people today. How much intensity does each piece need, individually, to come across now and sound non-generic? In practice this means testing the performance on different people to see if it moves them or not; and if not, crank it up another couple notches.

The music's character, in large part, is its "excess." That's what Baroque music is, extravagant! To perform it well takes hard work, far beyond the notes and rhythms. Here's another of my earlier essays, about the things a performer has to think about: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bpl/performance-preparation.htm

=====

"Mutilation of Bach's scores"? No; it's reading them with the notational conventions Bach and his contemporaries knew, which often differ from the modern notational conventions (a more rigidly fixed system, where signs have fewer divergent meanings) that Thomas Braatz knows. Our more scientific age has regularized things that were all over the place. To take a work seriously enough, and to find out what's in it, we have to read its notation on its own terms, not our terms.

=====

"A misreading of the historical record concerning performance practices"? No; it's a direct reading of that historical record, and its context, rather than reliance on the body of early- to mid-20th century hearsay (and revisionism, and "neo-Baroque", and neoclassicism) about it.

University courses in historical performance practice are available; so are courses in music history, historical music theory (counterpoint, tuning, and other theoretical texts by 16th-18th century writers), aesthetics and reception history (Kerman, Meyer, Dahlhaus et al). Take some. The courses I took (lectures, guided research, hands-on work with original manuscripts and facsimile prints, and huge amounts of assigned reading) certainly helped to shape the views I hold today, and to replace some of the views I had gone in with. The historical record is open to those of us who have actually studied it.

Bradley Lehman wrote (June 2, 2003):
< I wrote: How much intensity does each piece need, individually, to come across now and sound non-generic? In practice this means testing the performance on different people to see if it moves them or not; and if not, crank it up another couple notches. >
By the way, that last phrase is NOT to be taken as any form of "terraced intensity"--I was simply using the cliched English phrase "crank it up a notch" as a figure of speech! I don't have any specific number of notches of intensity in my style; it's a continuum. :)

Stepwise gradations are for people who would rather be literal and rigid (with scientifically measured "facts") than musical (presenting the music as art). Oscilloscopes don't listen to music; people do.

Alex Riedlmayer wrote (June 2, 2003):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< We bring out the extremes because the extremes quite often are the prevalent character of that music. >
How can these aspects be extreme, and also the normal character of the music?

< The degree to which this is done is not subjective, and/or random, and/or at the whim of the performer. The degree of intensity (and freedom beyond the notation) is determined objectively, through analysis and research; >
By subordinating the performers' desires to scholarship, you will have eliminated their freedoms.

< Once I've determined this piece's own character, I need to find ways to bring that out in my performance. This is serious work, and not arbitrary. >
On the contrary, the character of the music is determined by your arbitrary judgment of its distinctive features, not some reflexive attribute of "music itself".

< The expressivity is objective and empirical craftsmanship, not an indulgence of the performer's own feelings (as Tom and probably some others here evidently believe)! >
You seem to state that people not skilled in musicology cannot perform expressively, and I have perceived that this is not the case. Also, how can music be performed both vitally, as you advocate elsewhere, and dispassionately, as you assert here?

< The performer's feelings do come into it: in the conviction that the work is worth presenting at all. >
It is your own intolerant doctrine, Brad, by which you condemn performers who do not submit to your dogmas as unworthy of the music.

< That's my main objection to under-characterized performances: (1) it's dull, and (2) it sounds as if the performers haven't done the work beyond practicing the notes and rhythms they see. >
If they have actually done the work, could you still consider it under-characterized?

< it's reading them with the notational conventions Bach and his contemporaries knew, >
But you cannot be really doing this, as you can only read Bach's music with your own knowledge. Despite what they say, the records do not contain the minds that produced them.

Johan van Veen wrote (June 2, 2003):
[To Alex Riedlmayer] With all respect, but having read this message I am stunned and flabbergasted. I cannot believe this reaction to what Brad has written. I leave it into the more capable hands of Brad to answer the message point by point, but I cannot resist adding some comments below.

<< Bradley Lehman wrote: We bring out the extremes because the extremes quite often are the prevalent character of that music. >>
< How can these aspects be extreme, and also the normal character of the music? >
I seriously can't believe that you don't understand what is meant: contrasts can me moderor extreme. Some music contains extreme contrasts, that means: sharper than other music. But those extreme contrasts can perfectly be normal in music by a specific composer. I wonder if this is just provocation.

<< The degree to which this is done is not subjective, and/or random, and/or at the whim of the performer. The degree of intensity (and freedom beyond the notation) is determined objectively, through analysis and research; >>
< By subordinating the performers' desires to scholarship, you will have eliminated their freedoms. >
It needs scholarship to discover what freedoms the performer has and how far they go and in which direction. Your comment shows a strange anti-scientific mentality.

<< Once I've determined this piece's own character, I need to find ways to bring that out in my performance. This is serious work, and not arbitrary. >>
< On the contrary, the character of the music is determined by your arbitrary judgment of its distinctive features, not some reflexive attribute of "music itself". >
You are suggesting every analysis of a piece of music is subjective. Doesn't that imply that musicology is a contradiction in terms?

<< The expressivity is objective and empirical craftsmanship, not an indulgence of the performer's own feelings (as Tom and probably some others here evidently believe)! >>
< You seem to state that people not skilled in musicology cannot perform expressively, and I have perceived that this is not the case. Also, how can music be performed both vitally, as you advocate elsewhere, and dispassionately, as you assert here? >
What makes you think Brad does imply this? There have always been performers creating expressive performances without having been educated in musicology first. The only thing one may ask from a performer is that he is doing some homework. Is that too much to ask? And since when does a performance based on a thorough analysis of the music imply a 'dispassionate' performance?

<< The performer's feelings do come into it: in the conviction that the work is worth presenting at all. >>
< It is your own intolerant doctrine, Brad, by which you condemn performers who do not submit to your dogmas as unworthy of the music. >
What makes you think he is saying that? This seems nothing but a deliberately malignant suggestion.

<< it's reading them with the notational conventions Bach and his contemporaries knew, >>
< But you cannot be really doing this, as you can only read Bach's music with your own knowledge. Despite what they say, the records do not contain the minds that produced them. >
You seem to deny the remote possibility that the music itself is giving its character away and could contain some clues as to how it should be performed.

Having read your comments I seriously doubt whether you are really interesting in any discussion about performance practice at all. I wonder how many of them are really serious objections to what others - Brad in this case - are saying, or whether they are deliberate attempts to attack the integrity of those you don't agree with. On the basis of this message I find it very hard to take you seriously.

Johan van Veen wrote (June 3, 2003):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< "Back to the extremes of Romanticism"? No; it's back to the documented extremes of the 17th century, and the 'stylus phantasticus' (check Kircher and Mattheson!), and all the fallout of the 'seconda prattica' sparked by Monteverdi and his successors. There was a multiplicity of trends, styles, and pockets of influence; good practitioners in this field sort those out, recognize the elements, and treat each composition with the appropriate techniques and degree of freedom (especially in the area of rhythm). We bring out the extremes because the extremes quite often are the prevalent character of that music. The degree to which this is done is not subjective, and/or random, and/or at the whim of the performer. The degree of intensity (and freedom beyond the notation) is determined objectively, through analysis and research; once that has been determined, with those correct goals in mind, we then play as imaginatively and vividly as the music demands--finding some way to make it just as vivid today. This is not about being "Romantic", it's about playing/singing the music's own character, taking the music seriously enough, allowing it to speak with >appropriate intensity! >
Why are people thinking that things which look identical, must be identical? Take 'rubato', for instance: if we agree that the rubato used in romantic music isn't appropriate in baroque music, why would that imply that all rubato is romantic rubato? The romantic rubato is something created by the performer, because he feels like it. Baroque rubato is a tool to increase the strength of the message the music and its composer want to communicate. Quite a difference.

 

balance of musicology and theory and performance

Bradley Lehman wrote (June 3, 2003):
Alex Riedlmayer wrote:
< You seem to state that people not skilled in musicology cannot perform expressively, and I have perceived that this is not the case. Also, how can music be performed both vitally, as you advocate elsewhere, and dispassionately, as you assert here? >
If I "seem" to state that, it's your misreading of me; perhaps I wasn't clear enough, or perhaps you're just yanking my chain by misreading/misrepresenting me deliberately.

As I was trying to say: the expressiveness is not merely the performer's passion. (Some people evidently think that passion in music is ONLY a performer letting it all hang out, fooling around with the music for his own agendas. That's what I'm saying is a misconception.) There can also be an objective side of craftsmanship to it, an empirically-formed judgment about HOW intense (and how 'distorted', although that term sounds negative) the detailing should be. The objective part works along with everything else; it doesn't replace everything else!

That paragraph makes it sound stuffier than it is. Let me try again to describe the process, step by step:

- 1. Find out as much about the piece as possible. For performers with zero musicological interest or acumen, this will usually be a lot of guesswork: looking at the composition's title, and bringing in maybe a few ill-digested habits about similar music, and maybe copying someone else's performance, and divining its content in other ways.... Performers with musicological acumen will still have to fill in any missing portions in other ways, but can at least settle the things that are not wild
guesswork. (And it's deadly if they refuse to fill in missing portions, relying only on positivistic facts!)

- 2. Learn the piece, figuring out the notation and translating that into the physical motions of performing the piece. For performers without musicological interest or acumen, "figuring out the notation" will be more guesswork than anything, or mimicking someone else's work.... Performers with a musicological background will at least be aware of a broader range of options, informing their practical choices: for example, earlier methods of fingering, tongueing, bowing, or vocal pronunciation. (And once again it's deadly if they refuse to fill in missing portions, relying only on positivistic facts!) Performers who have a strong background in theory and composition have an edge here, knowing how to explain and construct the music, thinking like composers. Others just pick up the interesting features of a piece as they go along, with luck and experience.

- 3. Decide somehow (with analysis and/or intuition and/or experience, preferably a healthy balance of all three) how far the piece MAY be bent out of its notated shape, and indeed SHOULD BE bent according to its own features and its style and genre. The performance venue (the hall and the nature of the audience) also affect this: more bending for a bigger space, and more bending if the audience are not already familiar with the music. For some performers this chosen level of bending will be zero: either because they are not capable of any sort of bending (in which case this point is moot), or because they have decided the composer and/or the woare Written In Stone And Must Not Be Messed With Under Any Circumstances. If the music is merely supposed to be a pleasant background, not listened to closely, that argues for less bending: make it blander, more generic.

- 4. Practice bending the music (making it flexible), and in various ways, to find out what works up to the degree decided in #3. Improvisational techniques contemporary with the composition help here, immensely....

- 5. Try it on various types of listeners to find out if they are moved or not. If they are not, go back to #3 (and perhaps also to #1 and #2) to find out what's wrong, and to turn up that decision about bending to a higher level.

- 6. Play. (Sing.) It's play.

People who are not skilled in musicology can sometimes perform expressively, and VERY well. Their vitality and imagination are essential. A good show tends to be carried by the strength of the performer's own personality and ingenuity. (Example: Glenn Gould.)

People who are skilled in musicology but who know zilch about performance will deliver terrible results: the performance fails because they're incompetent performers. The results are pedantic, rigid, stumbling, or worse. (Example: <names withheld!>)

People who are skilled in performance and musicology can bring the best of both worlds to the work. The musicology side delivers understanding and options that would not be immediately obvious otherwise. The performance side delivers vital, well-informed, imaginative, convincing choices among all the options. (Examples: Jordi Savall, Edward Parmentier)

Additionally, I agree with Johan van Veen's comments (just arrived) at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/5266

=====

Alex, your questions today also remind me of the exchange a month ago when you asked similarly snide-sounding questions about functional harmony, tuning, etc:: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/4839
To which I responded: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/4844

DO you understand functional harmony, the type taught in music theory courses? Does Tom Braatz? I'm thinking back to Tom's naive-sounding questions about the double sharps inthis exchange about BWV 116: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/4725
To which I responded: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/4738

How many people in this forum, in addition to myself, have any solid grounding in functional harmony of tonal music? And 18th century counterpoint? (I'd wager that some of the other performers here do, at least. It's part of performance training.) By reputation among his peers and successors, and as seen in his music, Johann Sebastian Bach was one of the all-time greatest masters of harmony. (And so was his son CPE.) And as for counterpoint, Bach Was Da Man; nobody disputes that.

Harmonic analysis is a great way to get to know JSB's music. And it's just as important as all the historical stuff spinning around the works. Why don't we talk about harmonic analyses in the cantatas more often? But the ideas I've presented here in that direction (and in tuning and temperament) seem to have thudded like a handful of oatmeal on a wall, so I stopped with them. Was I just wasting my time? Is scientific knowledge about the music (historical and theoretical) just a waste of breath here?

Harmony and counterpoint can deeply inform performance choices: that dispassionate analysis suggests specific points in the music where the performer should bend things more or less, to make the compositional construction clear to people who aren't looking at a score. Knowledge is good. The more knowledge a performer has immediately at his fingertips, the more likely it is he'll do things that fit the composition naturally, things that bring out its features vividly, that do not sound AT ALL artificially imposed, and that sound like (and maybe are) immediate passion. Are we disputing that?

Philippe Bareille wrote (June 4, 2003):
[To Johan van Veen] It shows blatant contempt for musicians or scholars who have devoted years of research and hard work to music and to improving performances (e. g: by rediscovering old instruments, rhetoric, scores and practices of the time, etc...).

Alex Riedlmayer wrote (June 4, 2003):
[To Philippe Bareille] No, I do not blame them for being bad musicians, even if their scholarship is sometimes corrupt. I only blame them for 'improving' their practice in such ways that it makes the music sound worse to my ear, not to the ears of their poorly defined audiences. I do not find evil in their discoveries of old treatises, as long as they do not insist that those documents describe inherently more "practical" conventions than more recent innovations. I disown modern musicology because the only possibilities it considers in the future is its most probable guesses at the past.

I misinterpreted Brad in insinuating him of denying to deny the music to those who could not discern the virtues of performing it "correctly". After several correspondents have defended his words against my hasty decision, I have revisited his statements. The belief I now draw from them is that emotions reside in the musical work itself, and uncovering them is the performer's duty. But the meaning of a piece of music does not remain static after it is set to paper, not even after the composer and his contemporaries pass on. The musicologists have not, should not, and will not succeed in removing undesirable meanings to isolate what they call the "music itself". What good they have done for music is by adding new layers of significance to music.

 

Gestural prose

Bradley Lehman wrote (June 7, 2003):
Here's an interesting recent example of gestural prose:: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/5274

Note the vigorous, expressive strokes; the firm and colorful articulation; the lack of any halfway measures about anything. And that virtuosic long sentence that goes beyond the capabilities of a single human breath...wowzah! Clearly, this writer wants us to get his points. Strangely, he says he wishes we would NOT perform the music in the same way that he writes. It's an enigma.

 

"Letting the music speak for itself"

Bradley Lehman wrote (July 8, 2003):
Neil Halliday wrote [from: Helmuth Rilling – General Discussions - Part 3]:
Johan van Veen wrote:
<"I have never understood what exactly this concept of "let the music >speak for itself" really means".>

It is best understood by refering to the fugue form, of which Bach is undoubtably the greatest exponent.

It is the logic of the structure of the various elements of a Bach fugue that is always so admirable, apart from any appreciation, at an emotional, 'musical' level, derived from listening to this music.

If we look at the score the '48', we can see the contrast between the improvisatory (not always, of course) nature of the preludes, and the logic of the structure, sometimes very complex, of the subject and counter-subject, with all sorts of devices, such as augmentation, diminution, stretto, inversion, etc,etc, in the fugues.

In the former case (preludes), where there is often no apparent logic to the structure, more 'musicianship' is required in the realisation of the music; in the latter case, the structure of the fugue itself is a highly significant aspect of the music - and needs less of the "language of the performer", (but not less of his skills!) for its realisation, hence the expression "let the music speak for itself". (...) >
As I said about a year ago on the BachRecordings list, the more rationally composed a piecof music is (by that I mean "mathematically structured", more or less), such as a Bach fugue, the more it can withstand (and benefit) from a tasteful bending into slightly irrational shapes, for even clearer presentation. The structure is already obvious, and doesn't need to be over-emphasized architecturally in performance (that is: bashing out the subject entrances and minimizing everything else; and keeping the tempo absolutely strict). In a fugue, it is rather the details which delight the listener, the way the relatively strict form is filled out with the UNpredictable elements. The structure is just the skeleton that holds it together.

The performer of a fugue can focus on bringing THOSE out, secure that the listener will pick up the structure. I have found this to be true, empirically, in presentations: by playing fugues in various manners (several times in succession) and listening to the listeners' reactions after each performance; and of course by listening to many other people's performances of familiar and unfamiliar contrapuntal works. The
contrapuntal strands, and the overall structure of the piece, are CLEARER when the details are brought out and when they don't line up exactly; the listener can more easily follow three or four things at once that way. Any elementary listener already knows it's a fugue and there will be the imitations and other contrapuntal devices employed. It's the FREE stuff in a fugue that makes it engaging, the melodic and rhythmic ideas that the composer puts up against the subject, that give the music its life!

That is, more emphatically: a fugue is a place NOT to "let the music speak for itself" (i.e. exactly as on the page) but is fertile ground for tasteful irrationality. When a fugue is bent gracefully, in plastic motion like Silly Putty, the contrapuntal structure becomes richer and easier to hear on multiple levels. We already know the subject is there many times and we don't need to be beat over the head with its appearances.

A terrific forthcoming example is Bradley Brookshire's recording of the Art of Fugue, to be released later this year. I've been involved in production assistance during its gestation, with plenty of close listening in recent weeks; it's terrific. He brings out the details with beautiful flexibility, while the contrapuntal integrity is still there: there's so much to listen to! There's also one movement (#9) in which his performance (more than anyone else's I've heard) hides the so-familiar subject; it's there, we know it's there and can pick it out, but it's a ghostly "cantus firmus", merely a structure on which to hang several minutes of fresh music. Overall he makes these fugues and canons sound brilliantly improvisatory.

By contrast, the more improvisatory forms you mention (preludes, etc) can do with LESS emphasis of detail (comparatively) because--again--the form itself is more rhapsodic and unpredictable. Such pieces already have more obvious drama and irrationality built into them, and the performer can do well to focus a bit more on giving them coherent structure. For example, the unmeasured preludes of Louis Couperin, notated entirely in white notes with no rhythm specified: they become a lot clearer if the performer groups them in ways that sound almost measured. (Otherwise they just degenerate into amorphous noodling.)

Neil, what I'm saying here is: I used to believe as you do now, that rhapsodic music needs the most "musicianship" and fugues need the strictest presentation of all. But, through years of experience playing them in many different manners, and gauging reactions, and listening to countless examples myself, I've come to believe the opposite on this topic. Fugues benefit from plenty of irrationality in performance, the opposite of just chugging along strictly like a mathematical exercise; and wilder forms benefit from being reined in a bit. Fugues need the deepest and most involved musicianship, because there are so many interesting things going on at the same time, so many more things to bring out. (Analogy: character-study movies need the best acting and most concentrated direction, as every little detail of a scene or a character can mean something important to the development. And those details have to be projected strongly enough so the viewer picks up their importance, their dynamics. By contrast, action movies play themselves out and are more one-dimensional: the story moves along without needing much subtle attention from the cast and crew. In an action movie, get the visceral effect delivered accurately enough and you're done.)

An effective performance--of any music--brings out features which were not immediately obvious on paper. It brings a complementary richness to the music, revealing the invisible. I'm talking about the highest echelons of performance here, not the generic skilled hackwork that often gets recorded and praised, elevating mere physical competence (and a lack of mistakes) to "greatness." In preparation, a performer should first be skilled in bringing out the obvious features as vividly as possible; and then be able to push that part of the delivery to a background layer. The foreground layer can then bring out the less-obvious features, again with as much vividness as possible. In this way there are multiple layers for the listener to enjoy and resonate with, within the same performance...much to come back to in repeated listening, finding something different every time. This, again, is the opposite of "letting the music speak for itself" which is just a euphemism for laziness, a hands-off and mind-off approach (efficient, monochromatic sight-reading--and only one layer of attention) that delivers all the notes but brings out nothing.

Music can only "speak for itself" if the performer has enlivened all the layers of interest, so it seems to be moving under its own power and will. A performance that is mechanically regular gives no impression of internal life; it's only a model being moved around stiffly by an external agent.

Another analogy: a cat is one of the best-designed mammals on the planet, for grace and strength and flexibility. A beautiful mathematical structure, the cat's skeleton. But in loving a pet cat we don't focus on its skeleton; we focus on its personality and its actions and the features that make it this particular cat, not any other cat. The skeleton is there, sure, performing important functions. But when we watch a cat make a perfect leap, we don't marvel at its skeleton. We marvel at the whole package. The only way to look at the skeleton directly is to kill the cat first, and then there's no more motion, skeletons are for museums. So it is with a fugue. The structure of subject entrances is just a skeleton, only academically interesting, far down in the mix. It is the whole package that moves us. The joy is in watching everything (including the skeleton, but especially the muscles and fur and overall shape, and the music's/cat's own thoughts and emotions!) move gracefully and purposefully. Who wants to see a stuffed model of a cat being moved around with wires? It might be mildly entertaining, but it won't be convincing.

Francine Renee Hall wrote (July 8, 2003):
[To Bradley Lehman] Perhaps playing strict fugues somewhat 'irregularly' is why Barthold Kuijken's improvisatory embellishments and trills not on written score are so pleasing to the ear (at least to me)? I'm referring here to Bach's Flute Sonatas on the Accent label. And maybe this is why jazz and Bach go well together? (as Dave Brubeck and the Swingle Singers attest)

The Brookshire project seems like an exciting artistic journey indeed!

 

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