Early Music America Fall 2012 - (Page 15)

musings Listening Forward By Thomas Forrest Kelly Leslie Ross bass and tenor curtals baroque bassoon after Scherer and after Eichentopf classical bassoon after H. Grenser and after Bühner & Keller romantic bassoon after S.G. Wiesner opera; this was an attempt at historical and the pleasures, of early music is that we performance, and if it later led to the tradition we call opera, so much the better. have to listen backward. By definition, But at that point there was no opera, the music we choose is music of a time only plays. earlier than our own; so unless we have Lully’s adaptation of the Italian dranever listened to any music whatever matic style to France was one of the key before we hear early music, it is moments in French artistic history. His inevitable that we somehow have to music represents in some sense the perunlisten to the music of our time in fect balance between rhetoric and order to make the effort to take early music; and yet I know people who keep music on its own terms. We do this, as waiting for the tunes, for the dances— well as we can, but we always fail. The ideal of listening to Bach they wish it were more like Rameau. with the ears of Bach’s Corelli sounds like And Corelli! He who contemporaries is bound to be illusory, but it’s fun short-winded Handel? was such a famous violinist, whose progressive to keep trying. Well, maybe so. music was imitated all There is some music, it But Handel would seems to me, that suffers have no wind at all over Europe, who established the distinctions more than usual from the without Corelli. between church and unlistening problem. I chamber sonatas, between think of Monteverdi, Lulsonata and concerto, and whose clear ly, and Corelli, but there are plenty of style, enhanced with sequences, became others. What the music of these composers has in common—at least some of the hallmark of the High Baroque— it—is that it stands at the beginning of a Corelli sounds like short-winded Handel? Well, maybe so. But Handel would great development, and we know the have no wind at all without Corelli (who results of that development sometimes led the orchestra for much of Handel’s better that we know the origins. The Roman music). Handel’s energy, Hanresult is that Monteverdi’s operas don’t del’s clarity, Handel’s ability to make us seem musical enough, that in Lully we smile because we know exactly what is keep waiting for the tunes, and that happening and what is likely to happen Corelli sounds like juvenile Handel. next—all that is owing to the fact that But wait! If we could listen forward, High Baroque music is what it is we might be able to think differently because of Corelli. about these things. At the performances It may be that we can never actually of Monteverdi’s Orfeo, the audience thought they were going to a play; it was have the thrill that Queen Christina’s court had on hearing Corelli play his an unusual play, in that all the characmusic; he would probably not impress ters were to sing their parts—a strange us much nowadays. In fact, he failed to idea but one that was in keeping with impress the orchestra at Naples in his the attempt to re-create the power of Classical Greek drama. The Renaissance later years, even though they knew his fame and loved his music. humanists felt that power came in part So maybe music does progress; from the fact that the characters sang maybe things get better and better. But their roles to the accompaniment of the it depends on our point of view. kithara (and they invented a big kithara—a chittarrone—to play that Thomas Forrest Kelly is a professor of music role). A play heightened with pitched at Harvard University and a board member speech is a very different thing from an and past president of Early Music America. O NE OF THE TROUBLES, NEW: 18thC 3-piece Bajón (curtal) tuned to original Dorian scale Reedmaking Tools - Restoration & Repair Enquire about a selection of bocals for curtals, historical and modern bassoons 131 ESSEX STREET, 6TH FLOOR - NY, NY 10002 TEL: (212) 260 9344 E-MAIL: info@leslieross.net WEB PAGE: http://www.leslieross.net Bassoons René Slotboom bowed instruments I www.reneslotboom.nl Early Music America Fall 2012 15 http://www.leslieross.net http://www.reneslotboom.nl

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Early Music America Fall 2012

Editor’s Note
EMA Competition
Sound Bytes
Musings: Listening Forward
Profile: A Classical Playlist on Your Cable Television
Recording Reviews
Reconstructing Spanish Songs from the Time of Cervantes
Janet See: Traversist on Two Continents
Musical Mosaic Explores “Perspectives of Interspersing Peoples”
Book Reviews
Ad Index
In Conclusion: Conducting Early Music

Early Music America Fall 2012