Today, performances of classical works become more and more beautiful.
While beauty as such is, of course, something very positive, it becomes, in my eyes, very dangerous indeed if it becomes the sole object and goal of a musical performance.
Most ‘canonized’ classical masterpieces, whether it’s Mozart, Haydn, Schubert, Beethoven or Brahms, not even mentioning Bruckner, Wagner, Tchaikovsy or Dvorák, in themselves run a huge gamut of emotions—and some, indeed: most of them get lost if the overarching goal of the players is to, well, play beautifully.
There are moments where beauty is not desirable, where sheer emotional impact can only be reached at peril.
Today I heard an extremely flawless performance of Schubert’s Trout Quintet, performed by some of the greatest names in the game (or is it: in the business?), and it wasn’t elegiac—exuberant—playful———it wasn’t anything, really, apart from flawless; it was just… nice.
It wasn’t music, it was streamlined, marketable muzak.
And that, of course, hasn’t anything to do with real beauty.