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<<  -- 3 --  Angela Lear    THE INTERPRETATION OF CHOPIN


Technique as an end in itself is worthless and should only be the means to a musical end. Too much of pure music is sacrificed in favour of meaningless dexterity, the flashiness of excessively fast tempos and exaggerated dynamics that demean the music in a bid for self-aggrandisement. 'A well formed technique, it seems to me, is one that can control and vary a beautiful sound quality' (Chopin). Wayward performances and an ambivalent attitude towards his score markings must be challenged. Textual adherence is often claimed, but the evidence to support it does not generally manifest itself in performance. Extolling praise on interpretations that are, at best, diluted shadows of an original masterpiece - even if deemed to be 'definitive versions' is seriously misleading to the public and untruthful in all aspects.

In a commercial age where artistic considerations are not always given due regard - and certainly not prime importance - there is a regrettable tendency to accept/praise a performance which simply panders to popular tastes at the expense of artistic integrity. No valid argument can be put forward to exonerate those who dismiss the importance of a composer's texts, even when such performances are masked under the dubious guise of an 'imaginative approach' or 'great interpretation', no matter how 'virtuosic' the execution might appear on the surface to the less discriminating listener. Such distancing from the composer, more apparent perhaps in Chopin than in other composers, renders any interpretation invalid.

Even if some members of the public are temporarily dazzled and impressed by displays of virtuosity for the sake of it, the ear-jarring monotony of relentless fortissimo and attendant mannerisms, does this truly speak to the heart? Measuring comparative performances by duration or decibel level is a saddening sign of the times. Music should surely ennoble the spirit, create a moving experience and provide a lasting impression to reflect upon after the final notes have been played. To allow the composer to be revealed through the recreation of his music must be the ultimate and continued aim of an interpreter and 'personalised' versions must finally be regarded as the grave disservice they are to the composer and to the public.


Details of Angela Lear's recorded series 'The Original Chopin' (vols I-V)
are available on request from Libra Records Ltd,
tel +44 20 6590 7380; email
and Libra's new website
CDs are offered at the special price of 10 pounds sterling (inc pp).

Vols IV and V include a second gratis CD with spoken commentary
on interpretative aspects and comparative illustrations.
Vol V features the Op 28 Preludes and Barcarolle etc.,
and is due to be issued in mid-October.


Copyright © 10 September 2000 Angela Lear, UK




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