Wouldn’t it be fascinating to be able to hear a recording of Beethoven, Brahms or Chopin playing their own piano concertos? And would that, then, be the performance, the ‘correct’ interpretation, fixed for all time?
This week you have an opportunity to deliberate on this knotty aesthetic question for yourselves. Because while – for obvious reasons – we lack actual performances by the most of the great and good of music, our latter-day ability to record what happens in concert hall and studio means that there are rare opportunities to listen to distinguished composers interpreting their own music; Sergei Rachmaninov is one such.
Compare these two performances: one is a contemporary video of a well known (and well thought of) Russian virtuoso and the other the recording the composer himself made in 1929 with Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra.
[0,00] I. Moderato – Più vivo 5:40 – Maestoso 7:05 –
[11:33] II. Adagio sostenuto – Più animato 17:27 – Tempo I 19:38
[22:34] III. Allegro scherzando – Moto primo 26:33 – Moto primo 31:11 – Presto 32:31 – Maestoso 32:52
0:00 – I. Moderato;
9:46 – II. Adagio sostenuto;
20:21 – III. Allegro scherzando.