Martin Saving

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by Martin Saving March 28th, 2011

How fast shall we play?

Elias String Quartet invites its audience to share in its journey at as they work towards the complete cycle of Beethoven String Quartets.  Kicking off the quartet’s blog, viola player Martin Saving considers the difficult subject of tempo…

The subject of tempi in Beethoven’s quartets is a controversial one. These pieces have throughout the years entered the subconscious of professional musicians, amateurs and audience, and the tradition, handed down by the great quartets of yesteryear, has become a norm against which all subsequent performances are judged. The recordings and performances we grew up with and the interpretive choices the artists made have become an integral part of our outlook on the masterworks. And the choice of tempo in music that so many people dearly love can arouse strong feelings: When the Kolisch Quartet performed Beethoven’s opus 95 quartet in Paris according to the indicated metronome markings, presumably in the second quarter of the last century, a fistfight ensued.

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