The elusive issue of spontaneity in classical music

Posted on: March 17, 2014

In Sunday’s (3/16) New York Times, Anthony Tommasini writes, “I will never forget hearing the great pianist Rudolf Serkin’s … stupendous account of [Beethoven’s] most audacious and difficult sonata, the ‘Hammerklavier.’ Here was monumental spontaneity born of utter mastery.… This elusive issue of spontaneity has been raised for me by a new Sony Classical recording of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro … being unabashedly promoted by its conductor, Teodor Currentzis, and Sony as the ‘no compromises Figaro.’ It was made over 11 consecutive days in sessions routinely lasting 14 hours with a cast of dedicated singers and the orchestra and chorus of MusicAeterna.… There are some splendid qualities to the performance … [but] another quality comes through, a kind of overpracticed spontaneity.… Last summer, Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival presented a Le Nozze di Figaro that was a miracle of seemingly effortless spontaneity … by Ivan Fischer with the Budapest Festival Orchestra and a winning cast … [seemingly] the result of involvement with this music over decades, not a crash session of intense rehearsing.… Arthur Rubinstein, one of the towering pianists of the 20th century, was a master of spontaneity. At its best, his playing combined insight, poetic sensitivity and brilliance.”

Posted March 17, 2014