Performance Practice

Post date: Oct 1, 2009 2:41:40 AM


Regarding performance practice for the Monteverdi, a very interesting and amusing perspective on "historically informed performance" can be found in Dr. Denis Stevens' article On Performing Monteverdi's Vespers. Stevens edited one of the first modern editions of the Vespers in the 1960s, with a subsequent revision in 1995.


Regarding appropriate performance practice for Bach's cantatas, there is a lot of lively dialogue in the literature and on the internet. For an introduction, using youtube links on this site, it is interesting to compare Koopman's performance of Cantata 1, movement 1, with Richter's performance of Cantata 1, movement 1.

Koopman is known for using a limited number of performers, and his general approach to "historically informed performance" (HIP). Listen for Koopman's use of embellishments in the soprano part in the first movement (motivated by a corresponding embellishment in the orchestra). Richter, on the other hand, uses a large chorus with full orchestra.

Even Harnoncourt (who is known as an early and major advocate for historically informed performance) turns out a much larger, full-blooded performance of Cantata 61 than one would expect (this video also shows Harnoncourt's enthusiasm for conducting). The "Ensemble muasicale dell'Appennino marchigiano" performance of BWV 61 linked on this website is unusual, in that it is "pragmatic" (and borders on "hip", with one voice per part (OVPP)), but the singers perform with full near-operatic sound. The orchestra is also reduced to one per part, and soloists cover the entire cantata (the "correct" way to perform Bach cantatas, according to some "hip"-sters). The Herreweghe performance is very energized, and is typical of current performance practice with Bach cantatas.