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Interpretation of Mozart on the modern piano: Insights through practicing on the fortepiano

Dissertation
Author: Irina Nuzova
Abstract:
This essay addresses the question, "What interpretive insights can a performer on the modern piano gain from practicing Classical music on the fortepiano?" The author begins by introducing performance practice issues germane to this question (e.g., the "rhetorical" model of phrasing in Classical music), then compares recordings of two Mozart sonata movements (Adagio, K. 282 and Allegro, K. 284) played respectively on fortepianos and modem pianos. Performers include fortepianists Alexey Lubimov, Richard Fuller, Malcolm Bilson, Ronald Brautigam, and pianists Andras Schiff, Alfred Brendel, Mitsuko Uchida, Christoph Eschenbach, Walter Klien, and Walter Gieseking. Three additional areas are discussed: (1) the significance of the eighteenth-century score for contemporary performance practice; (2) the concept of "authenticity" with regard to the composer's intent; and (3) the re-creative process of performance as affected by historical changes in taste, technical capabilities of the piano, personal artistic interpretation, and variations in performing style vis-à-vis one's performance medium. The author concludes that performers must not adhere dogmatically to the score but argues, nonetheless, that fortepiano experience and study of contingent historical sources are requisite to any serious performance of the Classical keyboard repertory today.

Table of Contents Acknowledgement ii Introduction 5 1 The Liberation from Urtext Ideology by way of the Fortepiano 9 2 Analysis of Recorded Performances 24 A. The Adagio of K. 282 27 1. Passages Analyzed 27 2. Performers on Fortepiano 31 3. Performers on Modern Piano 45 B. The Allegro of K. 284 55 1. Passages Analyzed 55 2. Performers on Fortepiano 61 3. Performers on Modern Piano 75 C. Concluding remarks 88 3 Practicing Mozart on Historical Instruments 92 4 Conclusion 108 Bibiliography I l l Tables of Content Page 1

Images Image 1: Viennese action 25 Image 2: English action 25 Image 3: Double action 26 1. The Liberation from Urtext Ideology by way of the Fortepiano Figure 1.1, Mozart, Sonata in D Major, K. 284, second movement, m. 50 13 Figure 1.2, Mozart, Sonata in D Major, K. 284, third movement, sixth variation, 13 Figure 1-3, Mozart, Sonata in F Major, K. 332, first movement, mm. 1-4 16 Figure 1-4, Mozart, Sonata in F Major, K. 332, first movement, mm. 1-4 marked-up.... 16 Figure 1-5, Prokofiev, Gavotta, op. 32, no. 3, mm. 1-2 18 2. Analysis of Recorded Performances Figure 2-1, mm. 1-4 (First Subject) 27 Figure 2-2, mm. 4-8 (Transition) 28 Figure 2-3, mm. 9-15 (Second Subject) 29 Figure 2-4, mm. 16-20 (Development), m. 21 (Retransition) 30 Figure 2-5, m. 22-on (Recapitulation) 30 Figure 2-6, m. 1 31 Figure 2-7, m. 2 32 Figure 2-8, m. 9 32 Figure 2-9, mm. 1-3 32 Figure 2-10, mm. 19-21 33 Figure 2-11, mm. 1-4 34 Figure 2-12, mm. 9-10 35 Figure 2-13, mm. 11-12 36 Figure 2-14, m. 16 36 Figure 2-15, m. 19 37 Figure 2-16, mm. 1-3 38 Figure 2-17, mm. 4-6 38 Figure 2-18, mm. 9-10 38 Figure 2-19, mm. 1-2 39 Figure 2-20, mm. 16-21 39 Figure 2-21, m. 21 40 Figure 2-22, mm. 1-4 41 Figure 2-23, mm. 9-10 42 Figure 2-24, mm. 1-4 43 Figure 2-25, mm. 1-2 43 Tables of Content Page 2

Figure 2-26, mm. 1-4 46 Figure 2-27, mm. 9-10 46 Figure 2-28, mm. 1-4 47 Figure 2-29, m. 16 47 Figure 2-30, m. 9 48 Figure 2-31, mm. 11-12 49 Figure 2-32, mm. 16-22 50 Figure 2-33, m. 1 51 Figure 2-34, mm. 11-12 53 Figure 2-35, mm. 1-8 (First Subject) 55 Figure 2-36, mm. 9-21 (Transition) 56 Figure 2-37, mm. 22-29 (Second Subject) 57 Figure 2-38, mm. 38-51 (Closing Material) 58 Figure 2-39, mm. 52-71 (Development) 59 Figure 2-40, mm. 72-on (Recapitulation) 60 Figure 2-41, mm. 1-6 61 Figure 2-42, mm. 9-10 62 Figure 2-43, mm. 13-16 62 Figure 2-44, m. 18 63 Figure 2-45, mm. 22-29 64 Figure 2-46, mm. 40-41 64 Figure 2-47, mm. 29-30 65 Figure 2-48, mm. 30-33 65 Figure 2-49, mm. 52-60 66 Figure 2-50, mm. 1-8 67 Figure 2-51, mm. 22-26 68 Figure 2-52, mm. 45-46 69 Figure 2-53, mm. 52-70 70 Figure 2-54, mm. 1-6 71 Figure 2-55, mm. 9-10 72 Figure 2-56, mm. 17-19 72 Figure 2-57, mm. 21-23 73 Figure 2-58, mm. 52-60 73 Figure 2-59, mm. 60-68 74 Figure 2-60, mm. 1-6 75 Figure 2-61, m. 10 76 Figure 2-62, m. 18 76 Figure 2-63, mm. 21-23 76 Figure 2-64, mm. 22-26 77 Figure 2-65, mm. 52-60 78 Figure 2-66, mm. 60-68 79 Figure 2-67, mm. 1-6 80 Figure 2-68, mm. 9-10 80 Figure 2-69, mm. 51-54 81 Tables of Content Page 3

3. Practicing Mozart on Historical Instruments Figure 3-1, C. P. E. Bach, Keyboard Sonata in Eb major, Wq. 65/28, third movement, mm. 36-39 95 Figure 3-2, Mozart, Sonata in D Major, K. 311, second movement, mm. 1-6 (Bowen ed.) 95 Figure 3-3, Mozart, Sonata in D Major, K. 311, second movement, mm. 1-6 (Urtext ed.) 96 Figure 3-4, Mozart, Sonata in D Major, K. 576, second movement, mm. 1-2 (Urtext ed.) 98 Figure 3-5, Mozart, Sonata in D Major, K. 576, second movement, mm. 1-3 (Bowen ed.) 98 Figure 3-6, Mozart, Sonata in D Major, K. 576, second movement, m. 1 101 Figure 3-7, Mozart, Sonata in D Major, K. 576, second movement, mm. 1-2 102 Figure 3-8, Mozart, Allegro of K. 284, mm. 40-41 104 Figure 3-9, Mozart, Allegro of K. 284, mm. 29-30 104 Figure 3-10, Mozart, Allegro of K. 284, mm. 45-46 104 Figure 3-11, Mozart, Allegro of K. 284, m. 38 105 Tables of Content Page 4

Introduction My D.M.A. essay addresses the following questions: how much can be, or ought to be, carried over musically from the eighteenth-century fortepiano to the modern piano? And what can a modern performer learn from playing period pianos as regards the faithful rendering of dynamics, articulation and phrasing in music of this era? Two contrasting movements of Mozart piano sonatas, as performed on both historic and modern piano, provide data for detailed analysis and discussion of these questions. Shortly after commencing graduate study in music, I visited the E. M. Frederick Collection of Historic Pianos Collection in Ashburnham, Massachusetts. This unique institution owns about twenty period instruments whose dates of construction range from the end of the eighteenth to the early twentieth century. An important characteristic of this collection is that the pianos are kept in good enough condition that one can play them. I started with the earliest instruments (dating from ca. 1795). While playing the Adagio, the second movement of Mozart's Sonata in D Major, K. 576,1 was struck by how differently these instruments sounded and operated. I experimented with adjustments in finger-technique, tempi, and phrasing, and took note of the many expressive qualities one could realize in doing so. The experience piqued my interest in delving into the subject by making it the focus of this essay. The three chapters that follow treat, respectively: (1) the significance of the eighteenth- century score in contemporary performance of classical era piano music; (2) comparative analysis of recorded performances on both fortepianos and on modern pianos; and (3) my Introduction Page 5

own experience of practicing Mozart on fortepianos. The purpose of Chapter 1 is to provide the rationale for studying a composer's score and how it relates to its realization on the keyboard. I have chosen to do this by surveying historical sources on this subject and analyzing segments of the DVD Knowing the Score by the pianist and scholar, Malcolm Bilson. Bilson discusses how to read the articulation marks and note values of an eighteenth-century score as Mozart or Haydn would have intended. He also compares multiple readings of the same work on fortepiano and on modern instrument. The rapid evolution of the fortepiano within just a few decades during Mozart's lifetime saw a great increase in timbral richness, articulation, touch, and even keyboard range. Throughout his brief lifespan, Mozart was influenced by the specific characteristics of either improved, older, or newly constructed instruments. Should we think about those modifications as reflecting evolving musical tastes, or should we dismiss the modifications as mere evolutionary traces in outdated historical instruments? Chapter 2 focuses on articulation, phrasing, touch, and dynamics as conveyed in performances by well-known pianists. Several recordings are chosen to analyze and compare contrasting movements from two different Mozart sonatas. The performances are on fortepiano as well as on modern piano. Comparisons are made of differences and commonalities among the recordings in order to explore the interpretive possibilities of various instruments, including such details as dynamic levels, registral colors, reading of slurs, and pedaling. Introduction Page 6

My own experience of practicing on fortepianos and modern pianos is the subject of Chapter 3. As I grew more familiar with their differences in sound and touch, I realized that the translation of Mozart's compositional intentions into the sonic language of the modern piano requires personal decisions from the performer. The goal of this chapter is to arrive at an explanation of my own interpretational preferences when playing Mozart's music. Resourceful Mozart pianists can today reconstruct articulations conceived for the fortepiano on modern instruments and so play his music more like the way it was heard at the time. Yet the modern piano also offers a chance for casting an entirely new light on the composition. The central question then is whether the phrasing, dynamics and touch as originally conceived for historical instruments are the only means of conveying the essence and spirit of Mozart's music. Does Mozart's music in fact transcend what some musicians deem the limitations of the historical instruments? If so, one might by exploiting the particular qualities of the modern piano, draw nearer to essence and spirit that Mozart intended in the music he wrote. A further consideration is that each modern instrument, like any fortepiano, has its own, individual timbre. Modern instruments vary greatly among themselves in such expressive capabilities as "sustain," response to touch, and dynamic range. If the word "authentic" describes only a historic instrument, then performers have to adjust their technique from one modern instrument to the next in order to neutralize these variations. Such a Introduction Page 7

dogmatic approach not only seems unrealistic, but also brings with it the uninspiring prospect of uniform expression, leaving insufficient room for creativity. Introduction Page 8

1 The Liberation from Urtext Ideology by way of the Fortepiano In his DVD Knowing the Score,1 the pianist-scholar Malcolm Bilson discusses several aspects of music performance that are essential to consider for anyone who strives to understand a composer's performance indications and to translate these into actual performance. I will discuss those parts of Bilson's lecture-demonstration which best illustrate how to link the composer's score to its realization at the keyboard. In addition, I will elaborate on musicological concepts referenced by Bilson, quoting from various historical sources. Bilson begins by explaining why, in order to achieve the best performance of works written for early pianos, one has to be familiar with those instruments. He says that one learns to appreciate the musical expressiveness that lies behind the dots, slurs, upbeats and downbeats by playing historic instruments, and by studying treatises about performance practice. In his discussion, Bilson refers to sources contemporary with these old instruments, but also brings to bear his wide-ranging experience in performing on the fortepiano. He cites various composers whose compositions and writings are relevant to the discussion, such as Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Daniel Gottlob Turk, and Leopold Mozart. Bilson goes on to demonstrate the difference between the sustained tone of the modern piano and that of the more quickly decaying sound of the fortepiano. He suggests that 1 Malcolm Bilson, Knowing the Score DVD (Ithaca: Cornell University), 2005. Chanter 1: The Liberation from Urtext Ideoloev Page 9

early works may well sound different in their details when performed on modern pianos. For example, the tempi of slow movements need to be faster on fortepiano, whereas the longer, more sustained, singing tone of the modern piano allows, and perhaps even suggests, a slower pace. Whether one must generally play slow movements more slowly on the modern piano is, to some extent, at the discretion of the performer. Yet there is a limit to this discretion, because in Mozart's time adagio was not considered the slowest tempo. Various music theorists divided tempos into three to six basic groups. Adagio usually fell in the category of moderately slow tempi, whereas largo was the slowest.2 One might resolve to adjust the tempo of a slow movement based on mechanical and sonic attributes of the modern piano. That is, the sustained sound of a modern piano with damper pedal added allows the sound to last longer and therefore the tempo to be slower. However, doing so changes the character of the piece revealed in its shorter phrases, in the composer's slurs, and in the "speaking" quality of a melody. If the objective is to interpret Mozart from a historically informed posture, one can attack the key more incisively than usual,3 in order to replicate the quickly-decaying sound of the fortepiano. This also brings out the nuances, articulation, and note-groupings with greater precision, resulting in a faster tempo. Bilson also emphasizes context as an important factor in choosing articulation. He encourages musicians to study the meaning of the composer's intentions, that is, as shown in his use of slurs, the direction of phrases, and the intensity of melodic leaps. He stresses the significance of slurs, which are too often neglected in performance. He 2 Sandra Rosenblum, Performance Practice in Classic Piano Music (Indiana University Press, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988), 312-313. 3 The hammer on a Viennese-action piano rebounds instantly after hitting the string. This feature, combined with the preponderance of speech-influenced phrasing, made non legato the most widely-used touch during most of the eighteenth century. Chapter 1: The Liberation from Urtext Ideology Page 10

underlines their essential relation to the rhetorical origins of the music. Let us digress briefly to elucidate the important connection between rhetoric and music during the Classical era. Rhetoric and music share comparable elements such as accents, repetitions, rests, articulation, rhythm, and dynamics.4 It is essential to examine this connection in the context of transferring music to the modern piano that was written for, and performed on, the fortepiano. The connection between music and rhetoric has been known and exploited for centuries. The symbiosis of music and speech, as we know, reached its height in the Baroque era, rhetoric's "golden age," when theorist and composer alike had coined musical analogues for almost every technique of classical rhetoric.5 The concept of comparing music to speech dominated instrumental, as well as vocal, performance practice. In 1752 Quantz said ...musical execution may be compared with the delivery of the orator. The orator and the musician have, at bottom, the same aim in regard to both the preparation and the final execution of their productions, namely to make themselves masters of the hearts of their listeners, to arouse or still their passions, and to transport them now to this sentiment, now to that. Thus it is advantageous to both, if each has some knowledge of the duties of the other. 4 In speech, all those elements have to be syntactically organized by placing commas, periods, colons, semi-colons, and exclamation marks accordingly. Rhetoric, as an art, has long been divided into five major categories or "canons": (1) invention (what is to be said), (2) arrangement (how one orders speech or writing), (3) style (artful expression of idea), (4) memory (how to retain the speech), and (5) delivery (how something is said). In musical performance, we concern ourselves with (5), delivery. (http://rhetoric.bvu.edu/Canons/Canons.htm accessed July 30, 2009.) New Harvard Dictionary of Music (Cambridge: Belknap Press, 1986). Johann Joachim Quantz, On Playing the Flute. 2nd ed. (New York: Schirmer Books, 1985), 119. Chanter 1: The T.iheratinn from Urtext Ideoloev Page 11

In the same spirit, the composer and theorist Johann Mattheson in 1739 compared poetic feet, such as the trochee and iamb, to the rhythm of the smallest segments in music, and described them as "tone-feet" in music.7 The expression of the emotional content of music, also referred to as the "doctrine of affections,"8 played an important role as well in Baroque performance practice. The various emotional states of a human being—among them anger, sadness, happiness, and love-were called affections, and the purpose of music, it was felt, ought to reflect any of those affections. C.P.E. Bach states compellingly that "...performers must try to capture the true content of a composition and express its appropriate affects."9 In discussing the difference in note-lengths throughout a particular piece, Bilson cites Leopold Mozart, who urges the performer to recognize the affect(s) which the music purports to convey. Leopold Mozart's instruction, in musical terms, was quite significant, for notes of the same duration might well vary substantially in performance, depending on the affective quality of the music. The following examples show how differently contexts dictate the articulation of the same note-value. The first example illustrates a long quarter-note on the second beat of a measure in the Andante, the second movement of the Mozart Sonata, K. 284 (fig 1.1). The second example has a short quarter-note on the second beat of a measure taken from the third movement of the same sonata (fig 1.2). Though the tempo marking of both examples is Andante, in the second example the character becomes lively in the sixth 7 Sandra Rosenblum, op. cit. 9. 8 Ibid., 10. 9 Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Essay on The True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments (Norton & Company, New York, 1949), 153 ChaDter 1: The Liberation from Urtext Ideolosv Page 12

variation. Figure 1.1, Mozart, Sonata in D Major, K. 284, second movement, m. 50 Figure 1.2, Mozart, Sonata in D Major, K. 284, third movement, sixth variation, m. 103 W3 Van VI i M i * J ^fpfp^ I m m In the same vein, Bilson also reminds us to observe the distinction between "heavy and light execution." He mentions that both the length of notes is important, and their heaviness or lightness is significant, depending on the context of a particular piece. This expression ("heavy and light execution") addresses two problems of performance- dynamics and articulation. In 1774 Johann Schulz stated that .. .a work of grand and sad expression must be executed heavily... by marking and holding onto each note as if tenuto were printed above. Works of a pleasing and tender expression, however, are played in a lighter fashion, that is, every note is more lightly stated, and not held so Chapter 1: The Liberation from Urtext Ideolocv Page 13

long.10 Therefore, if we apply these rules to works of varied character, we should understand that notes of the same value would be interpreted differently, depending on the piece's affect. As a result, a more informed delivery of the music becomes possible. The fact that the fortepiano enabled performers to connect notes, thereby producing a singing legato sound, changed the aesthetics of keyboard performance. This change gradually occurred during the last decades of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth century.11 The actual expression of music inevitably changed in performance as a result. Bilson assures us that the rhetorical approach can and should be transferred to performance practice on the modern piano. In this context he draws our attention to the use of the damper pedal on the modern piano. He plays several recordings of modern pianists who, favoring a long, sustained singing line, cover the slurs with pedal. Bilson opines that much of the indicated and intended phrasing and articulation of the eighteenth-century and early nineteenth-century music is neglected by those who perform it on the modern piano. As newer instruments improved in their ability to sustain the sound, the singing quality of playing gradually superseded speech imitation as a guiding performance principle. This changing practice in touch-from the prevailing non legato to legato-is implied in a revealing letter by Czerny concerning Beethoven's comments on Mozart's playing: ...Beethoven also told me that he heard Mozart play several times and 10 Cited by Carol lei Breckenridge, "Rediscovering Classical Keyboard Style," www.encvclopedia.com/doc/lGl-144295601.html. Accessed June 15, 2009. 11 Carol lei Breckenridge, op. cit. Chapter 1: The Liberation from Urtext Ideology Page 14

that, since the fortepiano was still in infancy in his time, Mozart became accustomed to a style of playing on the more commonly used harpsichord that was in no way suited to the fortepiano. 12 Another source of the performance practice of those days confirms that ...for notes which are to be played in the usual way, i.e. neither detached not slurred, one lifts one's finger from a key a little earlier than the value of the note demands. Interestingly enough, in the late 1750s, the Italian composer and theorist Nicolo Pasquali foresaw the shift towards legato playing. He wrote that .. .the holding the fingers upon the Keys the exact length of the Notes, produces the good Tone; and the taking them off frequently before the Time, occasions the contrary. .. .All those Passages that have none of these Marks must be played Legato, i.e., in the usual Way.14 Returning to Bilson's discussion of phrasing, he demonstrates his point of view by turning to specific compositions. In his thorough analysis of the first movement of Mozart's Sonata K. 332 in F Major, he mentions the interdependence of slurs and note- durations. He uses various recordings to examine these features. (The recordings made by pianists from Wanda Landowska to Nelson Freire were randomly selected by Bilson's assistant.) Examining how the different pianists play the opening phrase, Bilson notes that none performs the slurs the way Mozart wrote them (fig 1.3) Rosenblum, op. cit. 24. TUrk, op.cit. 400 Nicolo Pasquali, The Art of Fingering the Harpsichord (Edinburgh: Bremner, 1758), Preface, 27 Chapter 1: The Liberation from Urtext Ideology Page 15

Figure 1-3, Mozart, Sonata in F Major, K. 332, first movement, mm. 1-4 They all pedal through the slurs in order to achieve a long line, and each pianist plays the third beats of measures 1-4 loudly in order to lead better into the next measure (fig 1.4). Figure 1-4, Mozart, Sonata in F Major, K. 332, first movement, mm. 1-4 marked-up Quantz noted that ...one should be just as careful not to separate what belongs together as to avoid linking together things which, because they are ambiguous, ought to be separated; for much of the expressiveness of performance depends on this.15 The principal differences among the recordings of this phrase are in the touch and in tempi. In touch they differ in terms of an articulated and quick key-attack, versus a slower key-attack and a singing sound. In tempo some performers opt for a flowing, others for a more relaxed one. As Bilson also comments, all these performers favor longer and less articulated lines than are written in the score. "The essence of his 15 Quantz, op.cit. 761 Chapter 1: The Liberation from Urtext Ideology Page 16

[Mozart's] music is in these slurs," says Bilson. He speculates whether it is possible to play this phrase on the modern piano without using pedal and while not making one big line from measures 1-4. Bilson criticizes various editors who claim that if only composers of the early piano period had had "better" instruments (i.e., more modern ones) they would have used different notation. As an example, Bilson reads the preface to the 1873 Mozart edition of Sigmund Elburz: ...the signs of phrasing and articulation, so necessary to correctly indicate the structure of a composition, are carefully amplified in this edition. The utter inadequacy of such notation in the manuscripts of Mozart's time was a deplorable practice of that period. This was undoubtedly due to instrumental limitations. This last sentence informs several questions central to this essay. Should we view modern pianos as improvements of the historical ones, or regard historical pianos simply as different instruments? And should we allow our habituation to the modern piano to color the way we articulate music that was meant for historical instruments? Bilson emphasizes that Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven composed for instruments that had a quickly decaying sound, a shallow action and a relatively narrow dynamic range. Therefore all the details of articulation, note-groupings, and rests in their works comport with the qualities of the older instruments. Yet as the piano evolved technically by extending its range, by sustaining its sound longer, and by offering wider dynamic possibilities, the effects on performance practice were far-reaching. These changes notwithstanding, Bilson points out that the composers' performance Chapter 1: The Liberation from Urtext Ideology Page 17

Full document contains 123 pages
Abstract: This essay addresses the question, "What interpretive insights can a performer on the modern piano gain from practicing Classical music on the fortepiano?" The author begins by introducing performance practice issues germane to this question (e.g., the "rhetorical" model of phrasing in Classical music), then compares recordings of two Mozart sonata movements (Adagio, K. 282 and Allegro, K. 284) played respectively on fortepianos and modem pianos. Performers include fortepianists Alexey Lubimov, Richard Fuller, Malcolm Bilson, Ronald Brautigam, and pianists Andras Schiff, Alfred Brendel, Mitsuko Uchida, Christoph Eschenbach, Walter Klien, and Walter Gieseking. Three additional areas are discussed: (1) the significance of the eighteenth-century score for contemporary performance practice; (2) the concept of "authenticity" with regard to the composer's intent; and (3) the re-creative process of performance as affected by historical changes in taste, technical capabilities of the piano, personal artistic interpretation, and variations in performing style vis-à-vis one's performance medium. The author concludes that performers must not adhere dogmatically to the score but argues, nonetheless, that fortepiano experience and study of contingent historical sources are requisite to any serious performance of the Classical keyboard repertory today.