On considering a letter I read by cellist Janos Starker in November's Strad issue, I thought it would be interesting what members of Violinist.com thought about the subject.
Starker disagrees with the vilification of versions of peices made by eminent performers which don't necessarily adher to the composer's urtext. He gives the example of Tchaikovsky's Roccoco variation and disagrees with the fact that the version cellists have been brought on for decades made by the original performer, Fitzhagen(which deviates radically from Tchaik's score), has in the wake of a new urtext suddenly become a "travesty" fit for the dustbin. He reckons that there is nothing wrong with a instrumentalist's attempt to make an opus better suit his instrument. I think I am inclined to agree with him.
I know it raises many opposing issues but a little (contained) artistic licence gives the performer a real confidence in the actualisation of the piece and makes them feel part of the creative process rather than just recreating another's intentions.
The first thing that came to my mind was the same composer's Violin Concerto. Looking at evidence, it appears that Auer's edition is no longer acceptible in some circles. It is well-known that this edition, advocated most famously by Heifetz and Elman, has been dubbed "easier" and therefore somehow lacking, and is no longer excepted at the Tchaikovsky competition. Even Oistrakh, Kogan and Milstein seem to mix the original with some of Auer's changes (esp. 1st movement).
I for one am performing this concerto in March and like to take Oistrakh's approach of interchange to the first movement (as evident in the recordings not the Peters edition violin score) but I like performing the whole uncut last movement. It would be interesting to see what other people think about the use of urtexts and alternative editions in their own study and performance. I just used the Tchaik as my example but I am sure that there are many other instances of changes made to works by eminent performers. So what do you think? Is it acceptable to use alternate versions or should only adher to urtexts as they indicate the original intention of the composer?
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