Sunday, January 18, 2009

Day 1: Reactions to the Record II

Reactions to the Record started with a student session, with four undergraduates presenting their research on early recordings from a new Stanford class taught by Profs. Arul and Barth. I almost did not go, because the session started at 4 p.m., but I left work early and missed only part of the first session. I must say, these students did a fabulous job working with a wide range of source material.

Cynthia He talked about "Rachmaninov's Third Piano Concerto and Horowitz's Authority;" Rachmaninov was a great and famous pianist in his own right, and Horowitz one of the great interpreters of the Third. Their interpretations were very different, but the composer admired Horowitz's style. What does this mean?

Kevin Koai discussed intention in the recordings of Josef Hoffmann; I very much liked a distinction he made between what performers know unconsciously and what they intend (if I'm remembering that correctly), but his terminology seemed inaccurate. I asked about it during the Q&A for his paper and he agreed, saying it was the best he could come up with. I want to contact him and chat about what terms might work better.

Justin Solomon gave a talk about the recorded history of the Elgar cello concerto, the variety of stylistic approaches, and how Jacqueline DuPre's recording had come to be regarded as definitive despite great recordings by Casals and others before hers. Fascinating, especially since we heard the very different style of Beatrice Harrison, the cellist who premiered the piece and recorded it twice.

Lastly, Andrew Zhou presented a paper on "Brechtian" performance in the political songs of Hanns Eisler. Great stuff and performances, especially the varied performances over many years by one singer of the same song.

In the evening, organist Robert Huw Morgan played improvisatory works by French composers. I cannot tell if it was his style or the style of the composers, but I wish they'd been played with a stronger metrical profile.

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