Clavier Companion - May/June 2017 - 51
to be played. It indicated that the first note of a slur
was to be slightly accented and the last note of the
slur was to be shortened.
there is potential that past composers' slurrings can
work well on today's instruments.
Beth P. Chen is a
pianist, recording artist,
and performance practice
researcher. She aims to
investigate the implications
of composers' original
intention for performance
practice, and to combine the beauty of the sound
of modern instruments with historically-informed
performance. This article relates to her paper on "The
Implications of the slur sign from Mozart to the first
half of the 19th-century's piano literature," presented
at the XIIIth International Congress on Musical
Signification in 2016.
Excerpt 6: Accented and unaccented notes in two-note slurs in Cramer's
Instruction for the Piano Forte, p. 43.
Evidently, composers' cutting-phrase and cuttingbeat slurs provided subtle performing guidance to
deviate from their more legato lines. It is, therefore,
the pianist's task to decide how much emphasis the
first note receives and the length of the last note,
taking into account the musical context and the
specific characteristics of the piano being played.
Many pianists today, professionals included,
tend to link or extend some seemingly musically
unrealizable slurs into a smoother and longer legato
line. Perhaps it is time to reconsider how to relate
past composers' unusual articulations to modern
grand pianos. Claudio Arrau's (1903-1991) beautiful
and fairly faithful rendition of Chopin's detailed
slurring in the Nocturne, Op. 9, No. 2, proved that
Biblioteka Jagiellonska [PL-Kj] . (2005). Mus.ms.autogr. W. A.
Mozart 279-284, 330, 455. Kraków: Biblioteka Jagiellonska [PL-Kj] .
Chopin, F. (1880). Nocturne, Op. 9 No. 2. Leipzig, Breitkopf und
Bach, C. P. E. (1753). Versuch über die wahre Art das Clavier zu
spielen. (William Mitchell, Trans.) Berlin: pp. 125-126.
Türk, Daniel Gottlob. (1789). Klavierschule. (Beth P. Chen, Trans.)