Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Those crazy virtuostic tempo markings

Dear Flutists,

Update Jan 2023:
Wim Winters full length interview (video)

Original post and videos:

Not everyone has yet come across the crazy, ridiculous tempo markings that sometimes appear randomly on pieces of music that come from very old printings (and now are sometimes found on free old editions on imslp), but every now and then you may find one. They are madness! :>)

(I have a copy of Pessard's Bolero in a standard flute solo collection that's marked impossibly fast for a sultry dance. It's more like a banshee-hysterical-dervish medley. See below.)

Well, thank heavens for organists/historical keyboard specialists!
Finally someone has taken the time to fix history. Good going Wim Winters!

Crazy virtuostic metronome marking? Well it may be halved quite safely, and ur, um,....ur....and then add 30% for the hectic, speeding up of all tempi after the industrial revolution. There you go!

Learn all about it in two short videos:

The historical musical pendulum vs. mechanical metronome (video)
How fast did Beethoven, Mozart and Chopin really play their own pieces?

Proof in print:
Piano Magazine Editions from 1870-1910 containing both double single mm markings:

Here's a 1990's reprint of an example of the completely wrong metronome marking making it through multiple re-sellings of the same sheetmusic by different printers: Bolero by Pessard.

Click to enlarge (and play it at 100!). Use back button to return here.

All you have to do is play it at quarter = 100 and you get, not a Bolero, but a Bolerrrrrrrrrrrrro!

I would love to hear of Andersen Etude editions that have the same pendulum markings fossilizing our sheetmusic! Or perhaps some of the tempo markings in Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf might also come under discussion. (see below)*

Best, and enjoy your new "take it alot slower" freedoms!
Prokofiev Peter & the Wolf tempi of "The Bird":

Flute part marked quarter = 176
Note: Prokofiev was a pianist.
Piano versions of Peter and the Wolf playing as fast as the pianist can play:

Pianists play "the Bird"

1, pianist plays bird: mm 132

2, pianist plays bird: 144

3. pianist plays bird: 152

4. pianist plays bird: 152

Mind you, for me, it is not the Bird that is so problematic. In fact it is the SECOND excerpt, quarter = 92 that I simply cannot play fast enough, ever! See Andantino below.
I'll neeed to check all the standard orchestra tempi for this 2nd excerpt (rehearsal 8) I've even tried this all Eb3 arpeggiation with alternate fingerings, and it still doesn't "speak". Am I the only one who's noticed these non-happiness-causing tempi???

click on jpg to enlarge & back button to return here. :>)

Update Nov. 22nd 2019
Here are some of the tempi I found for Rehearsal 8 below. They are all set to play at the exactly right moment (sorry if you hit commercials; I hate 'em too.)

Vancouver SO mm = 72

As you can hear, the closest anyone gets is 88, and that sounds frantic by far!
And Bonus! Remember PDQ Bach and the play by play Beethoven's Fifth commentated like baseball? Well, just for fun, check out the newest orchestral podcast rating method from Stand Partners for Life. here

Comments welcome!

Comments (1)
Anonymous Suzanne said...

Thank you for this!

Monday, September 06, 2021 6:01:00 AM


Post a Comment