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Mozart as Early Music: A Romantic Antidote

Author(s): Laurence Dreyfus

Source: Early Music, Vol. 20, No. 2, Performing Mozart's Music III (May, 1992), pp. 297-309
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3127886
Accessed: 26/11/2008 08:56

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Laurence Dreyfus
Mozart as early music: a Romantic antidote
How has the performanceof Mozart'smusic faredin the out that 1991has been spent celebratingMozart, not
hands of the earlymusic movement?In answeringthis Vanhalor Dittersdorf.
question there is a danger of ignoring the differences What has been forgottenis that the Mozartof the late
between many schools of playingand reducingthem all 20th centuryis inescapablya RomanticMozart.This is
into one 'historicaltendency'.'By relyingon generalities the Mozartwhose exaltedstatus in the historyof music
of potentially sweeping vacuousness,I run the serious was firstappreciatedby the Romantics,those literatiand
riskof misrepresentation.And yet thereis perhapssome philosophers who preached the metaphysicalvalue of
value in stepping back both from journalisticcriticism high artand the specialrole thatmusic, especiallyinstru-
and from scholarlynitpicking in an attempt to formu- mental music, played in creating this transcendent
late an admittedlyextremeposition that will contribute image.2An imagined return to an 18th-centuryunder-
to the debate about the overall directions of Mozart standingof Mozart-as in earlymusic'sprojectof resto-
interpretationtoday. ration-is thereforea returnto a culturethat essentially
Since I shall scarcelydwell at all on the successes of misunderstoodhim. This was the age that by and large
early music in interpreting Mozart but will proceed heard Mozart'smost profound works as too complex
immediatelyto voicing complaints about its inadequa- and mercurial-'too many notes' in the reputedwords
cies, let me cite at once what I taketo be some significant of Emperor Joseph.3Our own high-culture view of
achievements.First, this approachhas helped excavate Mozart can have nothing to do with such philistinism.
genresand stylesso thatmusiciansaremore awareof the We rathersubscribeto a view that firstarose at the turn
'horizon of expectations' within and against which of the 19th centurywhich beganto idealizeand canonize
Mozart worked:dance styles, for example, now have a greatworks of art. As E. T. A. Hoffmann put it in 1810,
lilt and grace when deprived of practices that turned 'only a deep Romantic spirit will completely recognize
them into Prussianmarches.Second,the revivalof 18th- the Romantic depth of Mozart;only one equal to his
centuryinstrumentshas introducedcertainnew musical creativefantasy,inspiredby the spirit of his works will,
timbresthat convey a sense of intimacyencounteredall like him, be permittedto express the highest values of
too infrequentlyin mainstreamperformances.Finally, art.'4Althoughit might seem that this RomanticMozart
the acceleratedtempos usuallyfavouredby earlymusic was a fancifulinvention of Hoffmannand his peers,it is
have done wonders for the weaker side of Mozart's just as easy to argue the reverse:that it was Mozart's
musical output, so that the routine Andantesand Men- music that createdits new Romanticaudience,an audi-
uets from many earlysymphonies,for example,are dis- ence that first understoodwhat he and Beethovenwere
patched with vigour and aplomb. up to. A performancestyle committed to a Romantic
On the whole, though, my senseis thatthe earlymusic Mozart is thereforeone that-putting it somewhattoo
movement has succeededin performingMozartonly to simplistically-subordinates the 18th-centuryidea of a
the extentthat Mozartamountsto no more than a mun- 'jolly good' entertainmentto the 19th-centuryrealm of
dane, if dextrous,representativeof his age. In putting it musical metaphysics.
this way,I thinkyou get my drift.The failureof the early Lionel Trillingproposed an elegant formulation of
music approach,as I see it, is preciselya failureto probe this new aesthetic in his Norton Lectures from 1970
deeply enough into what is so extraordinaryabout entitled Sincerityand Authenticity:'The artist-as he
Mozart.This is not to saythat earlymusic performances comes to be called-ceases to be the craftsmanor the
have not produced moments of exceptionalpower and performer,dependent upon the approvalof the audi-
beauty-which they certainlyhave-but that the overall ence. His referenceis to himself only, or to some tran-
sense of the composer portrayedby these performances scendent power which-or who-has decreed his
ignores the enormous gulf that separatesMozart from enterpriseand alone is worthyto judge it.'5This was the
his run-of-the-millcontemporaries.I need hardlypoint age, Trillingreminds us, that began by distinguishing
mere pleasureand beautyfrom the 'triumph'of the sub- able ones. I would ratherlike to imagine that one can
lime (as in Schillerand Burkefor example). While the arriveat an engaged interpretationof Mozartwithout,
initial effect of this philosophic shift denigrated the on the one hand, payingblind obeisanceto current-day
audience in favour of the artist-good taste ceding to mainstreamstandardsor, on the other,succumbingto a
genius-the 'new devotionnow givento art [was]prob- naive historicismthat arrogantlypretendsto 'speakthe
ably more ferventthan everbefore in the historyof cul- languageof the 18thcentury'.By a RomanticapproachI
ture ... Now that art [was]no longerrequiredto please, therefore mean an affectivestance toward performing
it [was] expected to provide the spiritualsubstanceof Mozart's works instead of, say, a historical method-
life.'6 ology-an attitude that evokes an aura of intimate
As regardsMozart,it is relativelyeasy to distinguish understandingwithout prescribinga set of performance
betweentwo receptions,one that greetedhim in his life- conventions.
time and another that accompaniedthe shift in values But what kind of Mozarteanperformancepractice,
shortly after his death. On the one hand it is Haydn's one may well ask, fulfils these demands?For I am not
sober high praiseof Mozartin his statementto Leopold speakinghere so much about traditionalsubjectsof his-
in 1785: torical reconstruction-tempo, articulation,phrasing,
BeforeGod and as an honest man I tell you thatyour son is the ornamentation,pedallingor vibrato-as much as about
more elusive yet entirely perceptible categories of
greatestcomposer known to me either in person or by name.
He has tasteand, what is more, the most profoundknowledge expressionwhich have traditionallydefined artistryin
of composition. the Romanticmode. I am thinkingaboutmusicianswho
take time to let the music breathe, for whom music is
On the other hand are the dyingwords given to a strug-
made alternatelyto speak, dance and think; musicians
glingcomposerin RichardWagner'sshortstoryEinEnde who risk agogic displacementsto effect an air of fresh-
in Paris from 1841:
ness, who are impatientwith any kind of routine, who
I believein God, Mozart,and Beethovenand likewisetheirdis- constantlyvaryattacks,note lengthsand dynamicsso as
ciples and apostles.I believein the Holy Spiritand the truth of to lend individualityto a musical utterance,and who,
the one, indivisible Art ... I believe that he who once has above all, subscribeto a pervasiveanti-literalismthat
bathed in the sublime delightsof this high Art, is consecrated sees the written text not as a sealedvessel of intentions
to Her foreverand never can deny Her.7
but as an invitationto enunciate,and in so doing ensure
Although it would be idle to imagine anyone today the communication of meanings that are the special
actually uttering this Wagnerian credo in polite province of music.
company, one must admit how much more appealing, In enumeratingthese values I am referringto prac-
though exaggerated, this Wagnerian formulation is tices realized essentially by individual musicians and
when comparedto Haydn'sdour restrictionof Mozart's copied only imperfectlyby largerensembles.Yetit is a
talentsto mere compositionaldexterityand good taste.8 curious fact that earlymusic'sMozartis predominantly
Our culturaldiscomfortwith late 18th-centuryaesthetic an orchestralaffair,embracingby and largethe sympho-
categories-with all due respect to Igor Stravinsky- nies and piano concertos and placing far less emphasis
thereforesuggeststhat, when all is said and done, most on sonatas and the string chamber music.9This is of
of us must admit to being confirmed, if sometimes course a curious situation concocted not only by enter-
lapsed, Romantics of an entirely traditional prising recording companies which have rushed into
denomination. marketingpopular works from the mainstreamreper-
Let me distancemy argumentfrom certainphilistine tory.Forthough one encountersin passinga samplingof
views that I do not hold. First, having used the word chamber music, the great quartets and quintets, for
'Romantic'I am not pledgingallegianceto current-day example, have played only a secondary role in early
performancesof Mozart by the musical mainstream, music's disseminationof Mozartfor the simple reason
which more often than not devolve into the routine, that these performancesand recordingshave not really
hackingor saccharine.Second,I am not arguingagainst said anythingsignificantlynew. This situation is, by the
the use of periodinstrumentsnor againstthe recoveryof way, precisely the reverse of the path by which early
historicalperformancepractices:quite to the contrary,I music approachedBaroquemusic: first came the solos
think these are excellent tools with which one can and chambermusic and only much later came the 'big
approachMozart,though perhapsfar from indispens- bands'.


The problem is that earlymusic's suppressionof the
Romantictraditionis doomed from the startto produce
bach~~~~~~~~? : inferiorartisticresults.For no matterhow many liber-
tine declarationsto the contrary,historicalperformers
are still in mortal dread of 'gettingit wrong'-playing,
that is, in a way that cannot be historicallyverified.The
chronicmistakehere is to imaginethat we cannot really
know Mozart until we rid ourselves of our modern
prejudices,an attitudethat leads to naysayingand reac-
Batc und tive thinking. It is as if the early music Mozartean
believesthat mainstreammusical trainingis the root of
,:die all evil, and that the musicalslatemust be wiped clean.?1
The so-called fresh start then pieces together scattered
London Oboe :Band bits of performancepracticesfrom scratch,pretending
all the while that the sum totalwill amountto a coherent
Tanzensemble Folia model of musical interpretation."But this incremental
Concerto Palatino, Bologna thinking,gearedas it is towardproducinga complete'f
implicit 'how-to' manual,is in fact a repressiveappara-
The Consort of Musicke tus. Instead of appeals to evocative metaphors and to
flashesof intuition, one observesa performancestyle in
Dresdner Kreuzchor which legato,sostenuto,rubato,portamentoand tempo
variation-signs pointing to Hoffmann'snotion of the
Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra Romantic sensibility-are considered 'later historical
developments'merelybecausethey do not figurepromi-
Niederlandischer Kammerchorf
nently in 18th-centuryperformance manuals pitched
Kuijken Ensemble chiefly at dilettantes.'2As a result, phrasing proceeds
piecemealfrom a patchworkof detachedgestures,a pro-
RIASKammerchor . nounced anxietydisruptsmusicallines, and a primitive
notion of topic freezesmusicalsigns into a stringof rei-
European Community fied units, effectivelystalling the interpretivemoment.
Baroque Orchestra The historicalenterpriseof early music need of course
not be likethis:it can, as I havearguedelsewhere,'3 rather
The Hilliard Ensemble
be an invitation to a renewed form of expression,but
Deutsche Kammerphilharmone only if musicians call a halt to puritanicalressentiment
and begin to entertainhow artists from the Romantic
Tragicomedia :und Timedance traditionsmade sense of Mozart.The chargeis therefore
that we reclaimMozart,not for the 18thcentury,but to
u .. . ensure that his musical insights speakto us anew.
One importantwayto undertakethis kind of rethink-
Berlin 3.-12. Juli 1992 ing is to discard the naive dichotomy that pits early
music performance against a monolithic mainstream
tradition.14I can think of no better approach than to
listen with an open mind to recordingsfrom the first
: part of the 20th century,a musical 'GoldenAge' (if ever
it ngen:
Mit teranstaltngen.
" '
Mikischer there was one) when the ideologicaldispute about his-
torical fidelity vs. subjective expression had not yet
reared its ugly head. In this connection, let me take a
Veranstaltungshinweise: Bach-Tage,
Bismarckstrap3e73, 1000 Berlin 12, 030 / 3 12 36 77 recording from this period-a 1929 recording of
Mozart's String Quartet in D minor, K421,by the Flon-
zaleyQuartet(sadlyunavailableat present)'5-and com-
Ex.l String Quartet, K421, i, bars 1-8

I, P. . tr
Vln I a be
>1 I -i 7rLtrtJ
4*. d 0 do
J I J 81 J
,do . #.sL # I I
sotto voce
A- . . . .
VlnlHwbj Y J J JJ

sotto voce
Via |Ub r r Jj j 7 JJ JJJ j
sotto voce
Vc b J -

. ft r- r r ,,br e '

? i
I 'b~ ' ' ' v l ' y1 , , I
f f

pare it with a 1977mainstreamrecordingby the Alban arms,delicatelyappliedvibrato,ubiquitousslidingpor-

BergQuartetand a 1985releaseby the Salomon Quartet tamenti, and above all their fertileimaginationsto imi-
on periodinstruments.'6Though all threerecordingsare tate the human voice, especially the great singers
appealingin differentways, I will try to explain in part contemporarywith them. When the melody jumps up
why the Flonzaleyperformanceis especiallyexemplary the intervalof a loth for the second time in bar 6, for
and the other two much less so. example,Adolfo Betti, the firstviolinist, delaysslightly,
The remarkablequalitiesof the Flonzaleys-whom I shiftingupwardswith a delicateand mournfulslide that
shall dub 'Romantic'for purposes of this discussion- speaksdirectlyfrom the heart.'7The sense of unaffected
are evident in their readingof the very first bars of this sincerityevokedby the such gesturesis perhapsthe most
great quartet:they are alreadyanticipatingthe height- touching aspect of the Flonzaleyperformanceand it is
ened pathos of the opening theme in bars5-8, so thatthe all the more moving to realize how these gestures are
sotto voce exposition in bars 1-4 begins with a hushed communicatedas if self-evident,without fuss or fanfare.
urgency(ex.i). This 'breathy'pathos comes about by an Upon first hearing of these three recordings, one
inspired local 'rushing' of the off-beat quavers in the might think-given the gut strings and more sparing
second violin and viola, a kind of minute rhythmicdis- vibrato-that the earlymusic performancehas more in
placementthat depicts,not just the subjectivedistressof common with the Romanticthan with the Mainstream
the melody,but the anguisheddisruptionof the musical one. Certainly,many early music devotees will be sur-
microcosm. prised to hear how articulationspractisedearly in our
Here is stringplayingattunedto nuance and gesture. own century,for example, are far more variegatedand
Ratherthan being hoodwinked by the demand to pro- interesting than those heard in mainstreamperform-
duce an unfailinglyeven tone-a feature shared, curi- ances today.On the other hand, it is strikinghow many
ously enough, by both the mainsteam and the early values the early music performance shares with the
music schools-the Flonzaleys use their nimble bow mainstream.Forboth the Salomonand Bergrecordings


takepains to preservethe effectof a damnably'Classical'
Chateau de la Garenne-Lemot
repose, a stylistic posture anxious to avoid Romantic
CLISSON(France) expressionand depth. The Berg playersachievethis by
avoiding rubato and slides, the Salomon by observing
the letter of 18th-centuryperformance practices, but
both emit a stifling air when compared to the wit and
14th International Music Course graceof the Flonzaleys.The liner notes on the Salomon
recording(writtenby StephenJohnson)even go so faras
to assurelistenersthat, althoughthe D minor quartet:
BAROQUE, maysoundmoretroubledthananyof its companions,[its]
stillhasanobjectivequality.. . a longwayfromthe
CLASSICALand expression
outpourings of someof thelaterromantics. The
openingtheme of the first movementis certainlyhighly
ROMANTIC expressive,but the music'seleganceandconcisionmakeany
attempt personaldramaticinterpretation
at sound faintly
20-26 July 1992 ludicrous.
This remarkablebit of propaganda,with its puritanical
KennethGILBERT, disapprovalof personalizedrenditionsof Mozart,makes
harpsichordmasterclass sorryreading.But can one takeseriouslythe implication
that the D minor Quartet is about 'eleganceand con-
cision'?Althoughit is dangerousto impose the viewsof a
writerof liner notes on the recordingartists,a reaction
27 July-2 August 1992 against 'confessionaloutpourings' and a decided pro-
hibition on 'personaldramaticinterpretation'is sadly
evidentin the recordingas well. One wonders,though, if
JaapSCHRODER,violin masterclass the musiciansapprovedsuch an explicitapologiafor an
Jaapter LINDEN,cellomasterclass anti-Romanticapproach,this in one of Mozart'smost
What prevents the Salomon and the Berg Quartets
from a more engageddialoguewith this profoundwork?
29 July-2 August 1992 For one thing they mostly play in strict time, another
sign of an anti-Romanticattitude:one can almost hear
QUATUORMOSAIQUES, the carefulcounting of the quaversthroughoutmuch of
the firstmovement.In the opening four-barphrases,for
ErichHobarth,violin-AndreaBischof, example, there is no 'give' in the semiquaverpassing
notes in bars 3 and 7-8; marching quaversdictate the
violin character of the accompaniment, and, predictably,
AnitaMitterer,alto-ChristopheCoin,cello expressiveportamentiareavoidedat all costs. When the
first violin in the Salomon begins the forte restatement
on the high d"' in bar 5, his instrumentcan only shriek
with the shrill insensibilityso often encounteredin the
furtherinformation: string playingof earlymusic. It is a moment that could
stand as an emblem for Nietzscheanressentiment: avoid
AcademieInternationalede Clisson too much sentiment or risk 'selling out' to Romantic
A.D.D.M. expression.18Elsewhere,though, the Salomon appear
fixated on a consort-likeensemble sound to the exclu-
Hotel du Departement-3,QuaiCeineray sion of vivid characterizationand fluid phrasing;as a
44041NANTESCEDEX(FRANCE) result they seem unaffectedby the emotive paths tra-
Phone:*Fax: versedby the music.
The Berg players also concentrate on their individ-


Ex.2 String Quartet, K421, i, bars 25-32


-rJ WO "J
1J'm J 7 C
r ^L^ ^

ij ; J r1JB

W Jp r J J r r r J I J t

25 p <}J 3 Stn
3 3- n3

cresc. p

' ur^ LI I LliJ L simile
cresc. cresc.
^i J tr f j < J r J r

3" J
rC] ~1 i I P

U^U UM UM ^-r LK ,.
9f j- K
f p sf

ually beautiful sounds, but their wide vibratos-which weight on every quaver and is closely allied with the
often mimic a saxophone-likewailing-preclude even dreadedportato ('wah-wah')effect that is the downfall
the possibilityof a confessionalsottovocethat opens the of any flowinglegato.The problemwith these frequently
piece. (And why else does one speak sotto voceif not to encountered mainstreammannerismsis that they can
confess?) This nervous intensity-so emblematic of only pose as signs of emotional depth ratherthan being
mainstreamstringplaying-makes it difficultfor them, supersededby a musicalitythat actuallyexperiencesit.
moreover, to vary the emotional temperature of the The resulting expression, exquisitely crafted as it is,
movement. They can scarcelyheightenthe dramaof the remainsdecidedlysecond-hand.
developmentsection if, from the very outset, they have The expressivedepth of the Flonzaleys,by contrast,
been speakingin hyperbole.Theirinterpretationsuffers lies with the changing moods that they portray so
as well from the baleful influence of metrical subdiv- insightfully. Consider the second theme group (bars
ision-happily absentfrom the Flonzaleyperformance. i5ff.) in F major (ex.2). Here the slight rubato in the first
This compulsivecounting placesan equallyoverbearing violin's semiquavers(bars 15-18) evoke a delicacy and


Ex.3 String Quartet, K421, bars 94-102

94 ~>

mf P

r : 9-; r i pi r ? ,trr _ L Li
LT ?rIteL
'-- 3 3 3 3 3

,^ss,^ I
|^b t8;J IJ cresc. p

9b r rj' r ( r rr r t

100 i -
~ T -. .r
rLLfi i fjEm~
ld 4 -I ..,
1. U
UIp . I
1 r.i I) I K I

{I 7 _f f
I =tr
._r _. "_ r r ; ! ; r - I_ m do I'
f _ _a I I
ll~ I r ru I fJ-.
Fr rI rFr
r Il

lf rP
?* ., I I '


wistfulness,while the ornamentedtripletfiguresand the miniature, heaven-bent preghiera.The foursome, in

pairedduplets in the second violin (bars19-22) suggest turn, react to this inevitable turn for the worse. High
playfulhigh jinks. The closing materialculminateswith jinks revertto frenzied struggle.The playersrush pre-
what the playersseem to hearas a brief buffapatter-song cipitously toward the close, taking time only momen-
sung, perhaps,by elfin-like spirits. tarilyfor the somber,concludingreflectionsby the cello.
When the recapitulatedtransformationof this very While this is surelynot the only way to play this move-
same materialoccurs in the minor (ex.3) the Flonzaleys ment, the vividnessof the Flonzaleyperformanceseems
effect a tone of unfathomable adversity.Betti refuses, to presagea warning:banishMozartto a remotestylistic
tellingly,to overplaythe moment; instead he introverts realm, and his works will speak only from a distance.
it. The gestureis personal,intimate, yet desperate(ver- It might seem from this discussionthat I am advocat-
zweifelt)in the manner of the Pamina's'Ach,ich fiihl's'. ing an intentionallyanachronisticperformancepractice
His airy legato phrase, sweet yet unsentimental,slides for Mozart,therebymounting an attackboth on recon-
dolefullyto the harmonic on a",creatingthe effect of a structivescholarshipand on performanceinformedby a


historicalconsciousness.This is not the case.What I am recital, behind all the incredible fascination and the music's
suggestinginsteadis threefold:(i) that researchon 18th- mysteryand awe;finallyshe was startledand shakenby how he
had casuallytalkedabout himself in the same vein. She had a
century performance practice has severe limits in
conviction, an absolute conviction, that this man would rap-
addressingthe most profound issues of musical inter-
idly and inexorablybe consumed in his own flame, that his
pretation-far less is known about alleged stylistic
anachronismsthan it often appears;(ii) that the appeal presence on earth was fleeting and ephemeral because this
worldwas, in truth,not capableof enduringthe overwhelming
to an 18th-centuryMozartmay inhibit an intimate rap- riches which he would lavish upon it. This and many other
prochementwithhis music;and (iii) thatwe look beyond things weighed on her heart after she had gone to bed that
traditionalmusicologicalsourcesfor nurtureand inspi- evening, while the echoes of Don Giovannicontinued to ring
ration-good ideas are welcome regardless of their confusedlyin her head.Only towardsdaybreak,exhausted,she
source. An inspired rethinking of interpretivefunda- fell asleep.'9
mentals,not a rote imitation of any particulartradition It is a commonplace of Romantic aesthetics that music
is the kind of agendaI am contemplating.This is why I does not merely imitate the world but rather penetrates
stress the implications of the Romantic idealizationof to the deepest cores of meaning without, as Wacken-
Mozart-still, in my view, the fundamentalbasis for his roder put it, 'any painstaking detour through words:
late 20th-century reception-instead of idealizing feeling, fantasy, and the power of thought are one'.20
Romanticperformancepracticeper se. Ratherthan par- Musical performance, according to this nearly inescap-
ticipating in the musicological debate about the prog- able model, amounts therefore to a cipher of meaning: it
nosis for-or the impossibility of-a 'historical paradoxically portrays musical sense while embodying it
performance'of Mozart, my aim is to suggest ways to at the very same time. Morike's dream-like account of
enhance and enliven these performances. Eugenie's experience aims not at containing the mean-
I shall conclude these polemical ruminations on a ing embodied in Mozart's music but rather tries to evoke
hopeful note by invoking one of the 19th-centurytexts its haunting power; only sleep, long delayed, furnishes
that captures so brilliantlythe aura of the Romantic respite and escape.
Mozart. Eduard M6rike's Mozart on the Journey to Why do I cite such a remarkable passage? Because I
Prague (1853) recounts the composer on the way to think the poignant experience it conveys is not limited
Prague,where he is to produce Don Giovanni.Takinga to some distant period of cultural history but rings true
breakfrom his journeyin an elegantgardenin the Mor- as an authentically Mozartean moment, a moment that
avian countryside, Mozart unthinkingly plucks an musicians of whatever persuasion can revive as they
orange from a tree and is immediatelyconfrontedwith make Mozart intelligible to us today. There is clearly no
his theft by the gardenerof the local Count von Schinz- one demonstrable path that will lead to this kind of
burg.The Count, once Mozart'sidentityis madeknown, genuine encounter, but I suspect that being attuned to
invites him and Constanzeto join an engagementparty its existence will enhance the incalculable value of play-
that will shortlybe under way at the castle.Mozartper- ing and hearing Mozart this way.
forms an excerpt from a piano concerto for the
assembled guests as well as accompanies the Count's Laurence Dreyfus, author of Bach's Continuo Group:
niece, Eugenie,who singsSusanna'sariafrom the garden Players and Practices in his Vocal Works, is Associate Pro-
scene in Figaro,in which, M6rikewrites, 'the streamof fessor of Music at Stanford University and performs
sweet passion breatheslike the spiced air of a summer actively as a viola da gambist and cellist.
night'.The young singer is herself'transfigured'by 'the
uniquenessof the moment' and is even more overcome Discussion
when, late in the evening, Mozart plays through the MALCOLM BILSON If I had time, I would try and refute
apocalyptic penultimate scene from Don Giovanni. almost everything you had to say, but the thing that has
Transfixedby this captivatingpersonalityand his artistic to be refuted at once is the accusation that those of us
vision, Eugeniereflectson her experienceat the veryend who play on period instruments think that great old
of the story afterthe Mozartshave departed. players should be dismissed. Who has said that? I have
She feels, M6rikewrites: worked with John Eliot Gardiner and Christopher Hog-
I know Steven Lubin and Melvyn Tan and
inwardly seized by a slight foreboding for the man whose wood and
charmingpresencegaveher such delight;this forebodingper- many others; I cannot think of one of them who would
sisted at the back of her mind during the whole of Mozart's say you should throw out Dinu Lipatti and Edwin


Fischer.This music is huge;it is big enough to takewhat [FROM THE FLOOR] Well, everygenerationasks different
we do to it and what Rachmaninovdid to it. questions,and one reasonfor the extremepopularityof
LAURENCE DREYFUS But even if you personallyadmire Mozartjust now is maybe that he provides answersto
players from earlier in the 20th century,Mr Bilson, I the particularquestionsour generationasks.Welook for
think it's fair to say that the musical insights of such what we want, and find what we get.
playershave been essentiallyignored in the ideological LAURENCEDREYFUS What I'm proposing is a kind of
pronouncementof earlymusic performanceas well as in paradigmshift that will reawakena traditionalaesthetic
its practice and pedagogy. My point is that the his- need and then help us fill it.
toricism of early music has no obvious way to incor-
'I wish to thank KarolBerger,LewisLockwoodand RichardTarus-
porate the audible refinementsof great musicians into kin for their helpful criticismsof this essay.
its imagined reconstructionof the i8th century. 'The alternativewould be to hear Mozart'sdeepest creationsas a
NEAL ZASLAW It's easy to parody the excesses of both brilliantlyexecuted game. Yet even a demystifying,ostensibly anti-
Romantic play like Peter Shaffer'sAmadeus (1981)or an ironically
sides and I would preferthat we only dealwith those on detached biography like Wolfgang Hildesheimer's Mozart (1977)
each side who make serious points about music. But I merelyservesto reinforcethe common perceptionthat Mozart'sgreat-
feel quite certainthat I am not the only one who strongly est musical works are removed from his bawdy and scatologicalper-
sona, that they are, in fact, manifestationsof another realm, that of
prefers Haydn's characterizationof Mozart's gifts as pure spiritualitymade accessibleonly by an old friend,Romanticism.
'taste and the most profound knowledge of compo- 3Thisis not to saythatMozartdid not haveadmirers-even passionate
sition' to Wagner'sromanticfantasizing. ones-in his own day,but thattheirregardlackedthe ecstaticenthusiasm
(Schwarmerei) of the first generationof Romantics.For althoughnew
ROBERT LEVIN Tastefor a human being is a completely notionsof both the sublimeandthe centralityof instrumentalmusicwere
randomlyassembledgroup of prejudices.Mozart'staste beingformulatednearlyunderMozart'snose,the actualcriticalreception
was randomly assembled from all those influences he of the composer's music during his lifetime never seems to have
embracedthe newly emergingaesthetic.As late as 1796the influential
heard around him, and those prejudicesof his turned criticJohannFriedrichReichardtbemoans the greatloss of Mozartat
into a style which we now think was one of the most such a young age, and yet views his music as lackingin proprietyand
remarkablehappeningsin Westernculture.I think Larry naturalfeeling:'Whoeverwantsto warm his hearton Mozart'sworks;
whoeverwantsto seeka connectivesequenceof feelings[Empfindungen],
Dreyfusis right,becauseat an earlystagein this process an organicallyemergingpassion;in short,whoeverawaitsin Mozartten-
therewerepeople who did saythat a performanceon old derness[and]sentiment[mustrealize]thatMozartis not his man.'Allthe
instruments was better than one on modern instru- limitlessmelodic invention and remarkableorchestration-everything
thatwe prizein Mozart-Reichardtseesas 'betrayingnothingotherthan
ments, period. These were not performancesat all, but a spirited,troubledgenius,who hurriesalongand tireshimselfout danc-
demonstrationsof what certainbow strokesand timbres ing, andbecauseof this finallycollapseswhenhis gluttedimaginationhas
and instrumentscould do. Now we have to formulatea wanderedabout long enough ... in the endlessrealmof possibilities'.
differentposition, and say that the deepest issue is, of im BerlinischenOpernhause',Deutschland(1796),ii, pp.363-7;cited in
course, whether our art is expressive and communi- H.-G. Ottenberg,ed., Der CritischeMusicusan derSpree:BerlinerMus-
cative. I believe that there are propitiousways in which ikschrifttumvon 1748 bis 1799, Eine Dokumentation(Leipzig, 1984),
to convey very specific rhetorical devices in Mozart's E. T. A. Hoffmann, Schriftenzur Musik(Berlin,1988),p.59
music on period instruments.I would saythat it should 5L.Trilling,Sincerityand Authenticity(Cambridge,Mass., 1972),
be possible on a modern instrument to realize those P.97
6Trilling, Sincerityand Authenticity,p.98
things too, but it may be significantlymore difficult in 7RichardWagner,Storiesand Essays,trans.Osborne(London,1973),
certainways! p.11i;Germanin Wagner,GesammelteSchriftenundDichtungen(Leip-
[FROM THE FLOOR] We cannot find a single traditionof zig, 1888),i, pp.114-35.While I do not mean to suggestthat all Roman-
tic attitudes,particularlythose heldby musiciansand composersin the
Homer that exhaustsall the possibilitiesof those texts, 19thcentury,were uniform in their idealizationof Mozart,it seems to
nor a singleproductionof a Shakespeareplay.Surelythis me that one can demonstratea more or less continuous traditiondat-
appliesto music, and suggeststhat all performancesare ing from the beginning of the 19thcenturythat placed the composer
definitivelywithin the pantheonof musicalgiantswhose metaphysical
valid views of the work. significancewas never in jeopardy.
LAURENCE DREYFUS But if all performanceswere valid 'Trilling,in a lengthyfootnote (p.98) goes so faras to assertthat 'the
views of the work, then music criticism of any kind is facultyof "taste"has re-establisheditselfat the centreof the experience
of art',which no longer can 'be said to make exigent demandson the
superfluous. In fact, I am not arguing for a uniform audience'.ThoughTrillingis rightto lament the loss of these 'good old
point of view nor suggestingthat earlymusic perform- days',there are surelymany for whom greatmusic still makes'exigent
ances of Mozart are invalid. Instead, I want us to re- demands'.
9My guess is that, given the little time devoted to rehearsalsin
examinethe assumptionsunderwhich the performance Mozart'sday,we would probablybe deeplydissatisfiedto hearorches-
of Mozart operatesand rethinkthem if we like. tral performancesfrom the 18thcentury;we would also be justifiedin


our dissatisfaction,especially today when the standards for audi-
tioning orchestralplayersnearlyapproachthose of soloists and when
the parleyof conductorsroutinelyappealsto the values and practices
of chambermusic. -~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
'"Acommonly encounteredsign of this reactivethinkingis the ped-
agogicalattitudethat presupposesan adversarialrelationshipbetween
period style, asserted as historically ascertainable,and mainstream
style, pitied as hopelesslyanachronistic.
"Examplesof such clean slates are notated accents and dynamic August 22 - 30, 1992
markingsthat are exaggeratedin an aggressivemannerirrespectiveof
characterand context, sforzandoand fp markingsthat are mercilessly
attackedwithout preparation,and sets of adjacentdupletslursthat are
uniformlyclipped and separatedregardlessof the overallshape of the INCATALONIA
"Neitheris there evidence that good musicians played with invar-
iable tempos, observedarticulationmarksuniformly,avoidedthe use
of the pedal, or resisted the temptation to slide for purposes of Director: Roma Escalas
'3L.Dreyfus, 'EarlyMusic Defended againstits Devotees' MQ, lxix
(1983),pp.297-322,esp. pp.300-304, 320-22
'4SeeRichardTaruskin'silluminatingcontribution in this issue on
the question of changing traditions and their transmission. I might
add that when earlymusic is thought of as an evolvingculturalpractice
in its own right-rather than merely a progressiveprogram of his-
torical reconstruction-it makes more sense to dip more freely into
neighbouringtraditionsfor inspirationand nurture.
'STherewas also an earlier 'acoustic' Flonzaleyissue (recorded in
1920) of the final movement of K421 on Victor 74652 (Matrix
B-23551-4).This equallyfascinatingperformancewaswith violist Louis
Bailley (1882-1974)rather than with Nicolas Moldavan (1891-1974),
who playsin the 1929release.The Flonzaleysalso recordedmovements
from K387 (1922), K499 (1923), K575(1918 and 1927). See J. M. Samuel, 'A Jordi Albareda:Vocaltechnique
Complete Discographyto the Recordingsby the FlonzaleyQuartet, MontserratFigueras:Vocalinterpretation
ARSCJournal,xix (1987),pp.28-62. (I am gratefulto RichardKoprow- Jean Pierre Canihac:Cornet
ski of the StanfordArchivefor RecordedSound for locating this dis- Roma Escalas:Recorder
cographyfor me). The other membersof the quartet,founded in 1902, Daniel Lassalle:Sackbut
included Adolfo Betti (1873-1950),Alfred Pochon (1878-1959)and AlfredoBernardini:Shawmand baroqueoboe
Iwand'Archambeau(1879-1955).Theylast appearedtogetherin public Josep Borras:Curtaland baroquebassoon
in March1929.See also anotherdiscussionof a Flonzaleyrecordingin HopkinsonSmith:Lute and vihuela(24, 25 and 26)
J.W. Finson,'PerformingPracticein the late NineteenthCentury,with Rolf Lislevand:Luteand vihuela(27, 28 and 29)
SpecialReferenceto the Music of Brahms'MQ, lxx (1984),PP.457-75, Jordi Savall:Violada gamba
esp. pp.468-73. Guido Morini:Harpsichord
'6Mozart,D minor String Quartet, FlonzaleyQuartet,RCA Victor VOCALAND INSTRUMENTALENSEMBLE
7607-A/7608B(Camden, N.J., 1929);Mozart, Die 10 gropen Streich- Jordi Savall,conductor
quartette,Alban Berg QuartettWien, Telefunken6.35485(Hamburg, Thosewho are interestedin takingpartin the vocal ensemble,
1977[1979]);MozartStringQuartets:D minor, K421-C Major,K465, shouldsend a curriculumand audio material
The Salomon String Quartet, HyperionA 66170stereo LP (London,
(Deadline:10thJuly 1992)
'7Theearly19th-centurytheorist J.-J.de Momigny (1762-1838)may Concertswill be held in Andorra
have overextendedhis hermeneuticlicence when, as an exampleof an and La Seu d'Urgellduringthe course
analysisof expression,he supplieda poetic text to the first movement Registrationdeadline:20th July 1992
of K421 with verse representinga scene between Dido and Aeneas,but
he certainlyunderstoodthe elevatedtragictone in which the musical Informationand registration:
discourseof the firstmovement is conducted.The analysisis found in Area de Musica
his Cours completd'harmonieet de composition(Paris, 1803-6), iii, Departamentde Cultura
Ramblade SantaMbnica,8 - 3r.
pp.lo9ff., and is cited in I. Bent, 'Analysis',New Grove,pp.348-9. 08002BARCELONATel. (34-3) 318 50 04
i8Thegut stringscannot be at fault, as one is often assured,since the
Flonzaleysplay on them as well. Indeed, early music players could
learn volumes from the Flonzaley'srefined use of gut strings, which
Generalitat de Catalunya
invariablysound sweet and human, and never harsh or strident.
'"EduardM6rike,Mozart'sJourneyto Prague,trans.L. von Loewen- Departament de Cultura
stein-Wertheim(London, 1957),pp.40, 91-92;originalGermantext in
GesammelteErzihlungen(Leipzig,6/1902) j Andorra
"'WilhelmHeinrich Wackenroder,Werkeund Briefe (Heidelberg, v Govern
1967),cited in L. Treitler,Musicand the HistoricalImagination(Cam- Conselleria d'Educacio i Cultura
bridge,Mass., 1989),p.184