Historical accuracy versus practical expediency: early instruments in the digital age

Lawson, C. (2013) Historical accuracy versus practical expediency: early instruments in the digital age. Early Music, 41 (1). pp. 27-29. ISSN 0306-1078 (print) 1741-7260 (online)

Abstract

The 40th anniversary of Early Music offers an ideal opportunity to reflect upon the many practical and philosophical aspects of ‘historical performance’ that have changed in a quite radical way. Early Music’s first decade of life bore witness to some extravagant claims as to ‘authenticity’, a term which was still enjoying widespread currency. An LP of Beethoven’s orchestral music from 1982 was reckoned to represent the music ‘in a form he would recognize’, attracting the notorious strap-line ‘the most original Beethoven yet recorded’. Shortly afterwards, Richard Taruskin’s claim that historical performance was in fact the most modern sound around was already articulated in the pages of Early Music a full decade before its reappearance in Text and Act (Oxford, 1995).

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