Sunday, August 03, 2008

Vibrato-less String Playing: Pro and Con

An article in today's Observer looks at the current fracas over Roger Norrington's decision to forego vibrato in the performances of Elgar he conducts. On the pro side, Roger Norrington, one of the pioneers of the early movement and a staunch advocate of a historically informed lack of vibrato in most orchestral music:

'Here come the ouches and squirms, the fuss and hubbub,' he said. 'I was expecting it, I'm throwing a hand grenade at musicians who simply have to accept they must transform their way of playing if they are to play as composers intended.' He added: 'Vibrato can be amazingly destructive to an orchestral expression. It is acoustic central heating.'

On the con side, Keith Harvey of the Gabrieli Quartet:

'Roger is alienating a large part of the musical profession,' he said. 'He has been incredibly insulting about the professionalism of those who use vibrato, while at the same time reducing the sound of his orchestra to that of a bad amateur performance, producing a sound often referred to as "grade three failed".'

Ouch. For those who can't get out to the Royal Albert Hall, the BBC is offering comprehensive online and radio broadcasts of all the proms concerts.

(Via Jessica Duchen)

1 comment:

  1. We have recordings of Elgar conducting his own pieces. Surely that would put a stop to this nonsense. I remember a quote by violinist Rachel Barton-Pine in relation to her recordings of the music by Maud Powell. She had to encourage the violinists to put some schmaltze into it - she wanted to hear those slides - because it was part of the style of the 1940's - just after Elgar's time. Surely it was at least pretty close during Elgar's time.