The Rambler :: blog

Thursday, December 04, 2003

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This review of Charles Rosen's Piano Notes: The World of the Pianist, which I've just come across, gives some indication of what I'm talking about, although for my money, Rosen hasn't gone far enough in his analysis of the situation:

"Rosen's overall objection to the cult of authenticity is deeper, and has more to do with his conception of what music and music interpretation has to be, if it is to remain as a living art. He attacks this issue from more than one direction. Consider recording. Rosen argues, 'When recordings replaced concerts as the dominant mode of hearing music, our conception of the nature of performance and of music itself was altered.' His view is that the works of the classical tradition were, pre-phonograph records, vehicles for artistic performance - the piece of music was something only experienced on an ephemeral occasion. Once works could be recorded, they became 'historic monuments or objects in a museum.'"

Yes, recordings changed everything to with our our concept of music and performance; but the issue is more than just the archiving of musical performance - it is to do with a profound epistemological difference between two modes of musical creation. Rosen's reviewer here (Denis Dutton) also avoids the issue, though to be fair, the issue is actually performance authenticity and not the aesthetics of recording.

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