Lecture-recital ‘Romantic Lab: Experiments towards Late 19th- and Early 20th-century Performance Practice’, for the Perspectives on Historically Informed Practices in Music Conference taking place at the University of Oxford Faculty of Music, 10-12 September 2018.
Lecturers: Artem Belogurov (fortepiano) and Octavie Dostaler-Lalonde (cello)
Romantic Lab is an online video blog dedicated to the study of late 19th- and early 20th-century performance practice. In this project we seek to learn by ear how to play in a style now lost by closely studying and imitating a selection of early recordings. Many of the early recording artists were intimately associated with composers whose music constitutes today’s standard repertoire and therefore their recordings are an invaluable source of information. In addition to listening, comparing, and imitating early recordings, we incorporate contemporaneous written evidence and annotated editions. We are documenting our progress in the form of videos, texts, annotated scores, and group discussions.
The aim of this project is not only to learn how 19th-century performances differed from contemporary ones, but also to understand better how and in what context different expressive devices were put into practice. We will also address the important question of what can be learned from comparing recordings of the same pieces by different performers, taking into account individual approaches as well as common elements.
In this lecture we will focus on a number of expressive devices: portamento, vibrato, tempo and rhythm modifications, hand dislocation in the piano part, and vertical alignment between the soloist and the accompanist. We will compare and analyse the use of each device by different performers and will subsequently apply them in our own live performance of short musical excerpts. We will also play complete pieces as an example of a possible contemporary interpretation informed by our research.
At the end of the lecture, we will summarise the similarities of interpretation as well as the differences and eccentricities of a selection of individual performers in order to both establish a general sense of style and to deepen our understanding of the performance practice of that time.