Frederic Chopin: Works for piano and orchestra
An experiment in interpretation: Chopins Works for Piano and ochestra in their original Tempi
1) The Question of this experiment
Chopin has given in the scores of all works for piano and orchestra detailed and precise tempoadvices not only with traditional musical termes but often with exact BPM Values (See the Paderewski-Edition based on manuskripts and first editions). The question, how far the traditional Interpretation of Chopins works follow those tempoadvices could of course not be answered by any static, mechanic application of those BPM-Valaue on the score. The necessity of a detailed reaction with tempochanges for nearly each meaningful detail of the music is most evident.
But on the other hand it reduces the coherence of an interpretation, if given tempoadvices were largely or completly ignored. The interpretation experiment therefore tries to make use of all tempoflexibility a romantic interpretation requires while it still tries always to keep the tempi demanded by Chopin audible.
To compare the intepretationlength achieved this way with those of other traditional interpretation could give a certain impression about how far Chopins tempoconceptions are allready covered by the interpretation tradition, or still deserve to be reminded on what Chopin himself wrote in the scores of his music, and how this could sound like.
2) The Durations of Intepretation based on a flexible observance of Chopins original tempoadvices
Chopins Tempoadvices are in general observed as upper limit with all flexibility to slow down for every musical detail which demands it. They are still kept insofar the tempo always comes back to the tempo Chopin demanded. (for more details see Tempocurves of all pieces recorded)
3) The durations of traditional interpretation indicates a remarkable slowdown compared with the original tempi demanded by Chopin
In an overall average all traditional interpretations do need more than 12 % more playingtime as even an flexible observance of Chopins Tempoadvices would take.
the strongest deviations are found in slow movements and the large headmovements of the both Concertos. The difference in playingtime makes here in average nearly 30 % more than with flexible observance of Chopins Tempi.
The greates correspondence of traditional interpretation with a flexible observance of Chopins Tempoadvices are found in works based on traditinal polish dance characters, like the Polonaise or the Krakowiaks in the last movement of the 1. Concerto and the Krakowiak op.14 while the latter have been even in average been played in shorter times what means faster than Chopins tempoadvices demands, what might rises the question, if the demanded more obviously moderate tempo could be perhaps important for the certrain character chopin originally intended.
4) The comparisondata in detail
The little inquiry for interpretationlength is based on 7 to 9 different traditional recordings of Chopins Works for piano and orchestra. This might appeare in terms of quantitiy of relative little statistical relevance, meanwhile the amount of recorded Interpretations Chopins works for piano and orchestra would scarcely ever reach any statistic relevant quantity. Its representativeness is therfor more based on the importance of leeding Interprets included in this comparison, which are themselve representing important Understandings of Chopins music. Moreover the general tendency for a remarkable slowdown compared with Chopins tempoadvices is often even in this small comparison is estonishing obvious.