Franz Schubert And Bob Dylan- The Interpreter’s Workshop

Further to yesterday’s post, I would like to share a little compilation of videos showing how it is possible to play the same song in very different ways.

One thing I find particularly frustrating about classical music magazines (and the general culture of the recording industry, at least as it has been in the past) is the constant desire to find a “definitive” recording. There is no definitive recording- everybody plays, or should play, things differently, and the more variety is the richer our collective musical experience will be.

This is something Glenn Gould pointed out very well. The advent of recording technology should invite more variety, not less- why record Beethoven’s Emperor concerto the same as everyone else if there are already recordings that out there that do that? Let us enjoy his rather unusual version for what it is, even if we would prefer it to be played more “normally.”

Here is Alfred Brendel playing the Schubert Impromptu, Opus 90 number 3. This is a rather “normal” performance, insofar as the average student is probably aiming to play it something like this.

Here is Vladimir Sofronitsky, a rather more forceful musical personality.

And Erno Dohnanyi, quite bizarre, but fascinating in it’s own right. Schubert’s time signature in this piece is quite unusual, and it’s entirely possible this is what he wanted.

Now, to follow through on my reference to Bob Dylan yesterday, here are three versions of his song, Shelter From The Storm.

Here is the relatively standard version:

Here is a rather different version:

And one that is quite unusual, almost experimental:

I contend that there is as much difference in the three pianists performing Schubert as there is in Dylan’s three versions of his own song. Nobody is seeking a “definitive” version. They might be seeking their definitive version at that particular time,¬†and that is all we can hope for. The better they are at delivering their convictions the richer our musical world will be.

Enough with “definitive” recordings!

5 thoughts on “Franz Schubert And Bob Dylan- The Interpreter’s Workshop

  • January 21, 2015 at 9:41 am

    It’s like trying to find the definitive human being, or the definitive language or even the definitive pasta recipe. That’s what is so wonderful about live music – you never know what you’re going to hear. And at the moment it is played, it is “definitive.” For that moment, not for all time.

  • January 21, 2015 at 10:29 am

    Just had time for the Emperor before dashing off to instil some wonder, variety – and discipline – into BMus 4’s idea of a Final Recital! What a wondrous, inspirational way to start my day.

  • January 22, 2015 at 6:51 pm

    You must be quite a Dylan fan, 3 of my favorite versions amongst 100’s.

    • January 22, 2015 at 7:08 pm

      Full disclosure: my father is the expert. I am an amateur fan who has grown up listening to Bob and admiring his work, but I don’t know anywhere near as much as my father. He pointed me in the direction of these three vids- the examples I could think of weren’t nearly as good.

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