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Authenticity in the interpretation of music


Pater already supported, since 1877, that all the good arts tend to acquire music's nature, which is nothing else than form. Music, situations of happiness, mythology, faces engraved by time, certain sunsets and places, want to tell us something, or have already told us something we should not let faint, or they are about to tell us something. This imminent revelation which is not coming, is, most probably, the aesthetic event.

Borges, The wall and the books

DURING the last decades an interpretative movement appeared, decided to show us where the composer stops and where the performers start, assuring us that it knows the single corresponding to a composer's will sonic form of a musical work, as well as the degree of the arbitrariness of all the previous interpretative traditions. The ensued performances have been called, with arrogance and inaccuracy, authentic, a term by which even today, we insist to describe them. Great composers like Bach, Mozart or Beethoven are known to have been respecting less the works, either their own works or the others', and more the will and ability that brought them to light. Since they had a powerful creative ability, they were not interested in strictly preserving the, at any rate, insufficient images of this ability, the specific works of theirs. The tendency to identify a work with those constitutive elements, of which we can be provably sure that, either the composer had suggested them or the epoch impelled, a tendency akin to the modern authenticists' choices, first appears with romanticism. Yet, it was not about a restoration of inherited masterpieces. Romantic composers themselves turned carefully to their musical tradition, to a past still present, because they did not see it to bring forth, or at least to prepare, an end full of truth and meaning, because on the contrary that past implied, and it implied as natural, the impending horrible domination of null in history and artistry. The turn to the past had been done in order to give a meaning to chaotic shreds, not to preserve any monuments. This is also the reason of some assimilation of the past in new compositions. Who, in our days, would dare to transcribe Beethoven's symphonies with the self-confidence of a Liszt? It does not seem like a simple coincidence that authenticists' movement counts the same span of life that separates us from Stravinsky's death.

     At the center of this movement's project lies the restoration of the musical text; they want a score free of interpretative and editorial interventions, and also accurate enough to reject new arbitrariness. This means that Walter, Furtwaengler, Cortot, Schnabel, Horowitz, Klemperer, and a lot of other irresponsible musicians, based on Bach's, Vivaldi's, Mozart's, Beethoven's, Haendel's or even Debussy's or Ravel's stupid inability to achieve a proper score, they have been for such a long time offering us masses of mistakes, abuses, misunderstandings, manifestations of their arbitrariness, from which at long last came the illuminated Roger Norrington and his comrades to set us free.

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