Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Punk Beethoven

Terry Gross once interviewed a woman who was doing Beethoven on an electric guitar. This was the "Beethoven invented punk rock" performance, very edgy and out there. I loved it and tried to find a copy. If you know about this recording, let me know.

It harms the vitality of classical music that they are all so unimaginative, and eventually it all starts to sound like an endless stream of Vivaldi concertos. Classical musicians actually seem to be trying to make one performance indistinguishable from another. There is no evidence to support the idea that this is correct performance practice, that performers of the past all did this.

In the Neapolitan Opera school (A. Scarlatti to G. Rossini) they were all Mariah Careys, each one trying to out riff the other. There were even schools of harpsicordists that did this until there was no way to tell what the actual melody was or even if there was one. But when anyone modern tries to perform these same pieces all they can manage is precision. We expect the talents of a human being to exceed those of a machine. We want more than precision--we want expression.

I decided that a post titled Punk Beethoven need some kind of example, and I find this one excellent.

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