Vital performance: Historically informed Romantic Performance in Cultural Context
Taylor & Francis
Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts
Historically Informed Performance, or HIP, has become an influential and exciting development for scholars, musicians, and audiences alike. Yet it has not been unchallenged, with debate over the desirability of its central goals and the accuracy of its results. The author suggests ways out of this impasse in Romantic performance style. In this wide-ranging study, pianist and scholar Andrew John Snedden takes a step back, examining the strengths and limitations of HIP. He proposes that many problems are avoided when performance styles are understood as expressions of their cultural era rather than as simply composer intention, explaining not merely how we play, but why we play the way we do, and why the nineteenth century Romantics played very differently. Snedden examines the principal evidence we have for Romantic performance style, especially in translation of score indications and analysis of early recordings, finally focusing on the performance styles of Liszt and Chopin. He concludes with a call for the reanimation of culturally appropriate performance styles in Romantic repertoire. This study will be of great interest to scholars, performers, and students, to anyone wondering about how our performances reflect our culture, and about how the Romantics played their own culturally-embedded music.