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Early Music

February 17, 1991

Concerning "A First for London's Taverner Consort" by Daniel Cariaga, Feb. 3: Andrew Parrott and others in the early-music industry might find "solving the mysteries of the composer's intentions" (as Cariaga put it) a good deal simpler with the use of any of the primary source materials readily available.

For example, C.P.E. Bach, in "Essay on the True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments," wrote, "Play from the soul, not like a trained bird." Yet Parrott (pun resisted) and his cohorts would have us believe "illumination" is achieved by re-creating the performances the composers themselves heard, performances that lead J.S. Bach to call his Leipzig orchestra "four town pipers, three professional fiddlers, and one apprentice." "Modesty forbids me," he wrote, "to speak at all truthfully of their qualities and musical knowledge."

"Bringing the music to life" results when imaginative, intelligent, sensitive musicians play instruments capable of meeting the demands of the music. Anything else amounts to little more than a gimmick.

DAVID M. SHERR

Santa Monica

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