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Period Instruments

September 10, 1989

The "period" instrument movement was supposed to tell us what the music sounded like to the composers. The trouble is, that's exactly what happened. Or, as Leopold Mozart said, "The best composition is often so miserably performed that the composer himself has difficulty in recognizing his own work."

Now, according to Herbert Glass (On the Record, Aug. 27), a new plateau has been reached. "(Lowell) Greer obtains a variety of tone and color from his valveless blunderbuss that might be the envy of many performers on the modern French horn. One feels not so much the arduousness of his task as his pleasure in conquering its exigencies."

Shouldn't we be experiencing the pleasure in the music rather than the triumph of a musician over a primitive instrument? And if the goal is a performance "that might be the envy of many performers" on modern instruments, why bother with the toy ones at all?

DAVID M. SHERR

Santa Monica

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