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Re: Internal evidence and editorial problems: Beethoven

Posted: 09 Aug 2019, 06:45
by benwiggy
liuscorne wrote:
06 Aug 2019, 23:59
that's for the musicologists to ponder. The practitioners can go on with their business as usual.

I wonder if by honouring Beethoven's notation we might, at times, do him a great disservice, because interpreting a score from that era doesn't simply involve READING the score but also knowing the context, the practice of the time etc.; it needs hermeneutical work, so to speak.
Musicology and Performance are not entirely unrelated. That's why there's a whole field of study called "performance practice", where musicologists and practitioners meet. Any serious performer of music from the past will study the context, the practice of the time, etc; and read valuable insights such as John's, in order to gain a better understanding of the notation, using the current scholarship.

Changing the notation to something more 'contemporary' would be to stamp one interpretation on it.

Re: Internal evidence and editorial problems: Beethoven

Posted: 09 Aug 2019, 13:04
by Anders Hedelin
In "the case of the missing staccato" I think there ar four kinds of argument presented here:
1. Structural analysis (pointing out the importance of the note C at the start).
2. Period practice.
3. Interpretation.
4. Respecting the composer's own notation.
After some thought, I'm less convinced by No. 1. In F minor, C is 'just' the dominant tone, important enough as such, but very likely to permeate any music based on traditional harmony, and especially that of the Classicist period.
The other points seem to me to be more significant. There I don't have much to add though, to what has already been very well said.

Re: Internal evidence and editorial problems: Beethoven

Posted: 09 Aug 2019, 13:24
by Anders Hedelin
I already feel that I have to nuance what I said in the previous post:
Especially with Beethoven the dominant tone generally takes on a greater significance than otherwise, since his harmony is so strongly dominant-oriented.
On the other hand, I'm not convinced that the beginning of this sonata is a very good example of this, nor by the reasoning about structure and articulation in this case.

(Examples of dominant-oriented, and dominant-tone-oriented, harmony are traditionally found in the closing sections of developments - in this sonata also, but not in any way as Beethovenesquely extreme as in the Waldstein fx.)

Re: Internal evidence and editorial problems: Beethoven

Posted: 09 Aug 2019, 15:24
by John Ruggero
Anders, my argument was not based on the upbeat being the dominant, but on the motivic use of this particular upbeat C, especially since it forms the basis for the long transition before the recapitulation. Making much out of little was Beethoven's speciality, and as a special feature of this particular work, I think this relationship deserves to be brought out in performance. I think that this is the kind of insight that will bring a performance to life. Beethoven's inexhaustible imagination makes every work he created a special case, and I think each has to be dealt with that way.

In any case, for me, generalities about style count for less than the special features of a specific work. For that reason, I trust what Beethoven actually wrote (and I don’t mean merely the surface details) over current ideas about what constitutes “correct” style, which tend to change according to fashion:

For example, at one point, many were convinced that several generations of musicians had been playing J. S. Bach’s trills incorrectly, and that they should all start on the beat and with the upper note. They could point to a lot of historical data to prove it. Then, a few courageous souls (most notably F. Neumann) showed through internal evidence that this produced absurd results in many cases, so that it seemed far more likely that the performance of every one of Bach’s ornaments is context-driven and must be played according to good musical sense, which was exactly what many musicians had been doing all along before and after the trill dogma struck.

To try to make my original case more focused, I didn't mention another important use of the opening note at the very beginning of the piece, but will do so here, since it has some bearing on my point as well as explaining why I think the C upbeat deserves special treatment:
op 2 no 1 upbeats.jpeg
op 2 no 1 upbeats.jpeg (68.21 KiB) Viewed 561 times
Note how the C upbeat provides the springboard for each of the following short phrases, which have as their goals A-flat, then B-flat, then a restart on A-flat, then again B-flat and finally to the main goal note C. The whole larger phrase constitutes the melodic progression A-flat, B-flat, C.

Understanding the function of the C as an upbeat launcher also suggests starting the appoggiaturas and the rolled chord before the beat, in contradiction to what many might feel is “correct” Classical style. But for me, since we don’t really know how Beethoven played these ornaments, what is actually in this one specific piece of music is more convincing basis for a performance than generalities about what we think "they" might have done back then, based only on secondary evidence.

Re: Internal evidence and editorial problems: Beethoven

Posted: 10 Aug 2019, 10:29
by Anders Hedelin
Thank you, John for your valuable explanation. I see now that the C is more than just a conventional harmonic choice. For me it gives the theme a decidedly 'dominantic' quality.

For me 'dominantic' isn't just a technical term - referring to a group of harmonies that interact with other harmonies according to a set of rules. It also signifies a quality with great expressive potential, as demonstrated first and foremost by Beethoven. 'Dominantic' - forward-moving or even forward-thrusting (plus a variety of other expressions). In my ear the repeated dominant 'springboard Cs' of the first theme grow more and more heavy, more and more impatient, or desperate even, up to the culmination - on the dominant-tone in the melody! Whether this speaks for the first upbeat being staccato or not, I'm not sure.

Re: Internal evidence and editorial problems: Beethoven

Posted: 11 Aug 2019, 21:39
by John Ruggero
"Dominantic" is a new one for me, Anders, but your description exactly describes what I hear in the opening of op. 2 no. 1. And the insistence of this obsessive C reaches its peak with the many repeated C's before the recap.

Anyone who captures the feverish, distraught quality of this piece convincingly in a performance has my admiration, with or without a long upbeat.