Wednesday, January 21, 2009


For Christmas, David got me a boxed set of more or less everything that Beethoven ever wrote. As I type this, I am listening to the ninth symphony and mentally comparing it to the other version I own.

How is it that one piece of music can sound so very different in the hands of another conductor and another orchestra? They all follow the same dots on the paper. They are all accomplished musicians (one hopes) or, at least, are accomplished enough to have produced a CD.

How can they sound different? And how can those differences be described? Answers on a postcard, please.

Actually, thinking about it, with all the variations that can happen in any performance, minor variations in tempo, loudness, balance of an orchestra and the positioning of microphones for the recording, it's probably amazing that any two recordings of the same piece of music actually sound anything like each other.

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