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Title: Performing modernism : Webern on record
Author: Quick, Miriam Siân
ISNI:       0000 0004 2745 0263
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis examines performance style in commercial recordings of the works of Anton Webern. Considering style not as a ‘surface’ issue but one essential to questions of musical meaning, I explore the relationships between the sound of Webern recordings and the ways in which people have understood his music. This question is addressed from both historical and psychological perspectives and using both critical and empirical methodologies. In Chapter 1, I argue that Webern favoured a particular kind of pre-war performance style for his works, before moving on in Chapter 2 to an historical survey of Webern recordings and reception from the 1930s to the present day. I outline the idea, proposed by Timothy Day and others, that performers have moved away from the dry ‘pointillism’ of Robert Craft’s pioneering 1950s LP set towards a more ‘lyrical’ and ‘expressive’ Webern style. In Chapter 3, I analyse this trend in more detail and relate it to broader changes in twentieth-century performance styles and recording practices. Chapters 4 to 6 are case studies of particular passages or works by Webern based on recording data. Chapter 4 examines string quartet intonation in a passage from Op. 5 no. 5, Chapter 5 discusses timing in the first movement of the Op. 27 Piano Variations and Chapter 6 considers vocal portamento in recordings of the Op. 14 Trakl songs. The empirical results in each of these chapters are related to wider critical issues such as the ideological significance of equal temperament, the relationship between musical structure and expressive performance and the construction of a lyrical voice. Studies on music perception, record reviews and material from interviews with performers are used to inform discussions of the links between sound and meaning. An original and extensive Webern discography is included on the accompanying DVD.
Supervisor: Leech-Wilkinson, Daniel Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available