Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Listening is as alive and changing as we are. Ideally we keep an open ear--open to different styles, interpretations, levels, and so on. The alternative is being narrow minded in a way we would hardly tolerate in relation to any other aspect of life.

I just had an experience of my own musical prejudice at work. Needing to check on a specific detail in Beethoven's Sonata Op. 31, No. 1, I realized that the only recording I had at hand was by Wilhelm Kempf, a pianist whose work I did not admire. Oh well! To my surprise the recording was excellent in every way -- okay, I might quibble about this and that, but the details of articulation, the source of my curiosity, were exquisite.

I must have changed.

Or perhaps the artist had changed. Perhaps this was recorded at a different time in his life than when I heard him live, also playing Beethoven--a performance I disliked intensely. If he were still alive I would definitely go hear him with an open ear.