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Transmission vs Interpretation

             The Trial of Texts and Acts by Michael Talbot.
             Opening the essay was an imaginary scene of an orchestra preparing to play Vivaldi's The Four Seasons. Along with it came four different listeners -a musicologist, a critic, a fellow musician and the soloist's wife -- who were also preparing themselves for the performance. .
             The musicologist, having written the programme himself, was expecting nothing less than the murder of "authenticity of music" by the orchestra. Being the undisputed scholar, he feels he knows should the piece be played exactly. The orchestra he thinks, however, will not be able to deliver a piece with such perfection. The critic was less sceptical about the performance, anticipating more for the musicians to show off their playing skills and interpretation. The more virtuosity from the performers, the more things he has to write about. For him, it was boring to continually dissect each piece with music analysis that he looks forward to the spontaneity of the players themselves.
             The soloist's friend, a fellow violinist who knows the piece well, wonders how his friend is going to play it, if he has been putting effort in mastering the technical aspects of the piece. He briefly swims in confusion about getting the notations over smoothly or sounding good. The wife of the soloist, like the musicologist, knows exactly what she wants from the concert. The difference being she cannot put it into words what is it that she really wants. In fact, she seems scornful of the fact that people take so much pride in being intellectual over music when quiet appreciation is sufficient.
             Michael Talbot uses the four different listeners to realise the war between transmission and interpretation. Listening to a performance can take on to extremes of black and white, which is either a strict literal translation of the piece or a freedom of playing it according to what the musicians feel. And despite the tension of the two different expressions, he also points out that one cannot live without the other.

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