performance-practice, musical aesthetics of living composers, and the notion of authentic interpretation

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    kammersaxarts's Avatar
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    Default performance-practice, musical aesthetics of living composers, and the notion of authentic interpretation

    This sub-forum recognizes three defined schools of classical saxophone playing as French, American and German. Each of these schools of playing has embraced various composers whose music they tend to champion. The idea of this thread is to open a conversation about how the concert/classical saxophonist of today goes about locating the musical aesthetics of the literature she/he performs, especially in regard to the music of composers who are alive, or have left substantial record of their compositional ideas and artistic imaginations.

    Some questions this thread might deal with include:

    -When a composer was working closely with a specific saxophonist for the creation of a new work, how might subsequent performances of the music take in to account that relationship and what effect it had on the composer's imagination and definition of "saxophonistic" or "characteristic saxophone" playing?

    -What means might a player use to enter in to dialogue with living composers about subsequent, post-premier performances of their music?

    -When is dialogue or study with a living composer important, and why? What questions might be important and how would answers inform musical interpretation?

    -The same questions as above in regard to dialogue or study with the saxophone artist for whom a composition was written, if the composer was writing while working closely with that saxophonist?

    -What other means can be or ought to be employed in studying the compositional language and style or aesthetics of composers living and past?

    -If the music was written specifically for an saxophone artist who was foundational in a school of playing, whose own musical aesthetics highly informed the composer, what does that infer about the interpretation of that music?

    -As schools of classical playing cross-pollinate and converge, how does that impact for the good or the bad the authenticity of musical interpretation for literature that came out of a specific school of play?

    -whatever other questions or ideas that relate!

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    Default Re: performance-practice, musical aesthetics of living composers, and the notion of authentic interpretation

    I would think that if a piece was written for a specific player then their performance (live or recorded) would be an example of the composers wishes.

    Of course this area of thought/research has been mined extensively in regards to interpretation of all classical performance.

    An interesting aside (not applicable to sax): the Vorstser was the best player piano mechanism of late 1800's - early 1900's.

    The accuracy of recording a performance and reproducing it was unparalled.

    Rachmaninoff played for several recording of his own compositions, so we have a very good indication of his intended interpretation.

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    Default Re: performance-practice, musical aesthetics of living composers, and the notion of authentic interpretation

    I just listened to his 2nd concerto performed by him with orchestra from 1929.

    So no need for mechanisms there.

    Duke Ellington wrote for his individual band members.

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    Default Re: performance-practice, musical aesthetics of living composers, and the notion of authentic interpretation

    Please don't refer to the Rascher school of playing as the German school. He was never based in Germany, and fled from Europe. Calling it the German school implies that he was in, say, the Berlin conservatory, which he was not.
    Current setups:
    Yamaha YSS-875EX, Rousseau NC3 (refaced by Joe Giardullo), Ishimori lig,Hemke 3.5
    Yamaha YAS-875EXS, Rousseau RC4 (refaced by Brian Powell), Ishimori lig,Hemke 3.5
    Yamaha YTS-875EX, Rousseau NC4, Ishimori lig, Hemke 3.5
    Unison Black Nickel Bari, Rousseau NC4, BG Tradition lig, Hemke 3.5

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    Forum Contributor 2013 SimonJazzSax's Avatar
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    Default Re: performance-practice, musical aesthetics of living composers, and the notion of authentic interpretation

    Wait .... Wait ... there is such a thing as classical saxophone???



    ***before people jump all over me, the OP is a friend and this is a joke hence the smile***
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    kammersaxarts's Avatar
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    Default Re: performance-practice, musical aesthetics of living composers, and the notion of authentic interpretation

    Quote Originally Posted by adamk View Post
    I would think that if a piece was written for a specific player then their performance (live or recorded) would be an example of the composers wishes.
    Quite possible and also must take into account the extent to which player achieved her/his goal.

    Of course this area of thought/research has been mined extensively in regards to interpretation of all classical performance.
    In my experience, there is often a tendency to learn modern music without deep research into what could inform us about composers wishes, preferences, concepts

    Rachmaninoff played for several recording of his own compositions, so we have a very good indication of his intended interpretation.
    That's awesome!

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    Distinguished SOTW Member/Sax Historian paulwl's Avatar
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    Default Re: performance-practice, musical aesthetics of living composers, and the notion of authentic interpretation

    Quote Originally Posted by J.Max View Post
    Please don't refer to the Rascher school of playing as the German school. He was never based in Germany, and fled from Europe. Calling it the German school implies that he was in, say, the Berlin conservatory, which he was not.
    About the only connection is his early training in the German clarinet tradition. In any case, that took place in Stuttgart and didn't last long. On sax Rascher was entirely self-taught.

    To the OP: In the case of the sax, the issue of differing interpretations is often avoided by a tradition of passing down repertoire from a composer, to a soloist it is composed for, and then to that soloist's students. Many compositions cross over, of course, but many never do.
    "80 years passed before we heard the tenor...in the hands of cads with centre partings & co-respondent's shoes. They squeezed syrupy, farting, oleaginous sounds from their cavernous chambers & microscopic tip openings." –Captain Beeflat, 2013

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    Default Re: performance-practice, musical aesthetics of living composers, and the notion of authentic interpretation

    Quote Originally Posted by J.Max View Post
    Please don't refer to the Rascher school of playing as the German school...
    JMax, referring to Rascher as the iconic founder of a "German" school of playing was established by the OP, so take this matter up with him.

    A discussion of the merits of or problems with Rascher being categorized in this way is tangential to the topic of this thread, but I'm sure it's discussed elsewhere on SOTW.

    Any contributions you have to the topic of this thread will be appreciated!

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    Default Re: performance-practice, musical aesthetics of living composers, and the notion of authentic interpretation

    Indeed, and the topic for this post was born in my mind because of just this trend being broken as much of William Bolcom's music written for the Sinta-Teal ("American") school players has been taken up by the wider sax community. Bolcom's music, as with Albright's, is inextricably linked to the influence of Sinta on these composers. That's how this post topic came in to my head...

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    Default Re: performance-practice, musical aesthetics of living composers, and the notion of authentic interpretation

    Well, only when we play Mozart transcriptions ;-)

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    Distinguished SOTW Member/Sax Historian paulwl's Avatar
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    Default Re: performance-practice, musical aesthetics of living composers, and the notion of authentic interpretation

    Quote Originally Posted by kammersaxarts View Post
    JMax, referring to Rascher as the iconic founder of a "German" school of playing was established by the OP, so take this matter up with him.

    A discussion of the merits of or problems with Rascher being categorized in this way is tangential to the topic of this thread, but I'm sure it's discussed elsewhere on SOTW.
    Just for the record, Rascher was so often mischaracterized, misunderstood, and even misheard during his lifetime that it is an everlasting sore point for his devotees.
    "80 years passed before we heard the tenor...in the hands of cads with centre partings & co-respondent's shoes. They squeezed syrupy, farting, oleaginous sounds from their cavernous chambers & microscopic tip openings." –Captain Beeflat, 2013

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    Default Re: performance-practice, musical aesthetics of living composers, and the notion of authentic interpretation

    Quote Originally Posted by kammersaxarts View Post
    JMax, referring to Rascher as the iconic founder of a "German" school of playing was established by the OP, so take this matter up with him.

    A discussion of the merits of or problems with Rascher being categorized in this way is tangential to the topic of this thread, but I'm sure it's discussed elsewhere on SOTW.

    Any contributions you have to the topic of this thread will be appreciated!
    I wrote that original post. I included the name "German" because it was common parlance to do so at the time and I was trying to correct this. It was my intention to put that in there merely to correct and so I wouldn't get responses of "What about the German school?"
    Current setups:
    Yamaha YSS-875EX, Rousseau NC3 (refaced by Joe Giardullo), Ishimori lig,Hemke 3.5
    Yamaha YAS-875EXS, Rousseau RC4 (refaced by Brian Powell), Ishimori lig,Hemke 3.5
    Yamaha YTS-875EX, Rousseau NC4, Ishimori lig, Hemke 3.5
    Unison Black Nickel Bari, Rousseau NC4, BG Tradition lig, Hemke 3.5

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    Default Re: performance-practice, musical aesthetics of living composers, and the notion of authentic interpretation

    The big argument, and this actually speaks to the approach practiced in certain schools of playing, is whether a piece should be played in the manner that the composer intended or whether a piece should be played as the player interprets it. In reality, it's always going to be a combination of the two. It's impossible to separate the two.
    Current setups:
    Yamaha YSS-875EX, Rousseau NC3 (refaced by Joe Giardullo), Ishimori lig,Hemke 3.5
    Yamaha YAS-875EXS, Rousseau RC4 (refaced by Brian Powell), Ishimori lig,Hemke 3.5
    Yamaha YTS-875EX, Rousseau NC4, Ishimori lig, Hemke 3.5
    Unison Black Nickel Bari, Rousseau NC4, BG Tradition lig, Hemke 3.5

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    Default Re: performance-practice, musical aesthetics of living composers, and the notion of authentic interpretation

    Bored!

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    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: performance-practice, musical aesthetics of living composers, and the notion of authentic interpretation

    Quote Originally Posted by J.Max View Post
    In reality, it's always going to be a combination of the two. It's impossible to separate the two.
    I agree, and it is very subjective depending on how exacting or flexible a composer is. You could argue that there may be a difference depending on whether they are still alive to complain if they don't like a new interpretation, or whether "authenticity" is an unnecessary constriction of academia or something to be cherished and preserved. There are many contexts. When I have been commissioned to do something "classical" I have marvelled at how a great musician can add something that I hadn't envisaged. OTOH, if the performer is not so hot, that is when you might want to wield tighter reins. There are plenty of composers who give performers a lot of leeway. Terry Riley comes to mind, there have probably never ever been any identical (or maybe even similar) performances of In C.

    My wife works as a musicologist researcher and part of her research is to recreate authentic performances of renaissance music. She has found that a lot of the received wisdom of how this has been grossly distorted down the ages, so she has a performance group which brings back to life some of the lost performance attributes. Although this is an intensely important part of academia, I believe she also celebrates some freedom of interpretation as did the original composers.

    There are some interesting questions here that apply not only to classical or wester art music.
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    Default Re: performance-practice, musical aesthetics of living composers, and the notion of authentic interpretation

    I think that in through-composed music, when the composer is working to notate a precise musical and artistic idea, to graph, as it really is, the parameters of a specific sound-idea, the musician has an obligation to bring her/his most deep musical understanding to grasp the intent of the composers sound-idea and then do his/her best playing to get closer and closer to that idea.

    You've said that composer and player share, and that is right, but what they share is the desire to bring a sound-idea from ink and paper to life in a vivid and excellent way that is an authentic representation of the composer's sound-idea OR a replacement with a better sound idea, one that through research and learning one can be sure the composer would have agreed to.

    The guessing about composers intentions and preferences goes out the window when the composer is alive and willing to discuss the music behind the staff lines.

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    Default Re: performance-practice, musical aesthetics of living composers, and the notion of authentic interpretation

    I think many times a performer takes a piece beyond what the composer intended because the composer wasn't as conversive with the instrument.
    That certainly happens to me with many instruments that I've written for: ie the guitar and violin.

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    Default Re: performance-practice, musical aesthetics of living composers, and the notion of authentic interpretation

    Quote Originally Posted by kammersaxarts View Post
    I think that in through-composed music, when the composer is working to notate a precise musical and artistic idea, to graph, as it really is, the parameters of a specific sound-idea, the musician has an obligation to bring her/his most deep musical understanding to grasp the intent of the composers sound-idea and then do his/her best playing to get closer and closer to that idea.

    You've said that composer and player share, and that is right, but what they share is the desire to bring a sound-idea from ink and paper to life in a vivid and excellent way that is an authentic representation of the composer's sound-idea OR a replacement with a better sound idea, one that through research and learning one can be sure the composer would have agreed to.

    The guessing about composers intentions and preferences goes out the window when the composer is alive and willing to discuss the music behind the staff lines.
    It depends a lot on the composer too. I helped premiere a new piece for wind ensemble a couple of years ago and in the case of this composer, he said that he just wrote the notes and it was up to us to put "music" into it. Not all composers have an "intent" as such. Some are just content to write something and to see what can be done with it.

    For those composers where there is a very strong desire for a particular "sound idea"...they have increasingly been drawn to computers and electroaccoustic music because a a computer or electronic instrument can reproduce EXACTLY what they want every single time. These guys are few and far between though because computers don't typically commission new works.
    Current setups:
    Yamaha YSS-875EX, Rousseau NC3 (refaced by Joe Giardullo), Ishimori lig,Hemke 3.5
    Yamaha YAS-875EXS, Rousseau RC4 (refaced by Brian Powell), Ishimori lig,Hemke 3.5
    Yamaha YTS-875EX, Rousseau NC4, Ishimori lig, Hemke 3.5
    Unison Black Nickel Bari, Rousseau NC4, BG Tradition lig, Hemke 3.5

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