From: The Performer

I ran across this interesting quote that is very illuminating:

“In playing for contemporary composers, I’ve always felt that the ones I respected were not inflexible about what you did to their music. They permitted a certain degree of freedom. I’ve found that the lesser composers were the ones who insisted, no, I said mezzo piano and that’s not my conception of mezzo piano. I think the great composers believe their work will endure even if one does not adhere to the exact indications of the music.”
Isidore Cohen (quoted in Nicholas Delbanco, The Beaux Arts Trio: A Portrait)

This is not the first time I have written about the flexibility of scores (see “Who’s in Control?“), but it I thought it was worth bringing up again to post thoughts from a performer’s perspective. My wife commented on that previous post, pointing out this quote from Roger Norrington:

“…tempo indications, like all other expressive markings, are meant to guide and inspire the performers, not dictate to them.”

I do hope that composers will take this sort of thing seriously. Our art is an interesting one that requires multiple specialists. It is not the result of one person learning to sculpt clay or write a poem. Rather, it is the composer-performer collaboration in which two heads are truly better than one.

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