Skip to main content

 Recording of the Week  Too much Mozart?

I've spent the past week in Frankfurt at an annual International Music Fair known as the Musikmesse. It is a big event where, amongst others, instrument manufacturers and music publishers all meet up and show members of the trade (and the public) what they're currently working on and why you should be so excited by it.

Mozart - over-represented
Mozart - over-represented

It gave me the opportunity to think about the closeness of the relationship between publishers and performers and where it is and isn't working so well. Musicians rely heavily on the printed score and, if it contains mistakes or inaccuracies, there is a reasonable chance that these will be repeated in performances or on recordings. The sort of mistakes vary widely from a wrong note or accent to a missing tempo indication or rhythmic error. Many scores (and orchestral parts) do contain many mistakes. In fact so much so that the great British conductor Norman Del Mar even felt it necessary to write a book in which he could correct some of the worst examples (Orchestral Variations - Confusion and Error in the Orchestral Repertoire, published by Eulenburg Books, London, 1981).

Couperin - loses out
Couperin - loses out

Thankfully these days the majority of new editions are carefully prepared 'Urtext' editions (meaning based on the original sources) and such problems are largely removed. However these editions are expensive to produce and as a result it is generally only the major composers who benefit from them. The rather frustrating result is that we now have four different Urtext editions of the Mozart Violin Sonatas (published by Henle, Barenreiter, Peters and Wiener Urtext) but still nothing for a whole host of other not insignificant composers such as the two French Baroque composers I discussed last week - Rameau and Couperin.