THE PREPARATION Pieter Wispeiwey
Preparing these two concertos for a recording meant that I could study not only the scores but also the recordings of these pieces which had been conducted by the composers themselves. This was an obvious possibility for the Lutoslawski, but less so for the Elgar concerto, since Elgar’s own recording with Beatrice Harrison has only fairly recently become available. It was also fascinating to have an undeniably legitimate alternative to the legendary, inspiring Du Pr-Barbirolli recording, sounding very different although both soloists were young and impassioned female cellists. It is a great privilege and pleasure for a musician of today to be able to enjoy and analyze the innumerable recordings currently available of most musical masterpieces. The only danger is that one might be discouraged from making the attempt oneself (not unimaginable in the case of the Elgar Concerto in the post-Du Pr era); but in general, ignoring the wealth of recordings would mean denying that one always has, in one way or another, been influenced (even by random sources such as one’s grandfather’s record collection). Therefore it is better to keep one’s scope as broad as possible and simply hope that some traces of individuality will refuse to be denied. Fortunately, good music is immortal and interpretation just a matter of breathing new life into music, retelling the story, and translating it for a contemporary audience. Of course, musicians do this with the idea that a given interpretation is most successful if as much effort as possible is made to achieve the style of performance in which one imagines that the composer expected the piece to be performed. The results, particularly in the field of ‘early’ music during the past 20 years, have been incredible and imaginative, although, of course, the much discussed ‘authenticity’ is a relative quality. The intended authenticity, after all, can only have existed during the first week after the composition of a given work, or at most during the first 10 years (but in that case only in certain specific performances).
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