Concert Song as Seen: Kinesthetic Aspects of Musical Interpretation

Concert Song as Seen: Kinesthetic Aspects of Musical Interpretation

Concert Song as Seen: Kinesthetic Aspects of Musical Interpretation

Concert Song as Seen: Kinesthetic Aspects of Musical Interpretation

Excerpt

In The Interpretation of French Song, Pierre Bernac writes about the substantive value of the performer's presence in co-creating and constituting the musical art work. Perhaps to counter the absolute authority accorded to the musical score, he lends force to his argument by garnering not only the statement of another theorist, but also those of composers themselves, about the musical score's inadequacy to convey the living quality of the music:

The written text, however fully annotated, cannot contain the actual reality of the performance. Liszt, the very model of the composer-performer, said: "It would be an illusion to think that one can set down on paper the things that constitute the beauty of the performance." And Gustav Mahler went as far as to say that the essential elements of his music were not to be found in his scores.

To treat the work with respect it is, therefore, necessary to go beyond the text. "Musical performance," says Gisele Brelet, "is not material realization, but rather the spiritual function that this realization exercises." All the interest of the performance lies in the fact that, to be faithful to the work he performs, the interpreter has to give his personal vision of it. Only the performer's presence can give expression to his rendering (Bernac 1970, 2-3).

Bernac's argument seems self-evident: Of course it is vital to consider the performer's role in influencing the reception and perception of a musical work. It would be difficult to disagree that a musical score is not an equivalent of or substitute for the work as performed, but rather a limited . . .

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