Aspects of performance practice in works for recorder composed for Carl Dolmetsch between 1939 and 1989 (2 Volumes)

Mayes, Andrew (2008) Aspects of performance practice in works for recorder composed for Carl Dolmetsch between 1939 and 1989 (2 Volumes). Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.


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Carl Dolmetsch (1911-1997) is regarded as the first recorder virtuoso of the twentieth century, and the legacy of new music he commissioned and premiered was fundamental to the establishment of a contemporary repertoire for the instrument. The performing material for much of this music is preserved in the Dolmetsch archive, and contains not only his own annotations, but also those of his musical colleague of over sixty years, the harpsichordist Joseph Saxby. Careful examination of this material, together with a study of their extant recordings, and correspondence with the composers, provides evidence of Dolmetsch's performing practice related to alternative fingering, note alteration (for technical and aesthetic reasons), articulation, dynamics, tempo, ornamentation and cadenzas. We also gain insight into the use of two devices Dolmetsch developed and added to the recorder: the bell key, to complete and extend the instrument's chromatic compass, and the lip key, to enable greater dynamic contrast. Saxby's annotations in the harpsichord parts, relate mainly to registration. These and other performance practices must be seen in the context of the instruments originally played, since the manner in which these differed from those presently in use directly affected aspects of Dolmetsch and Saxby's performance and interpretation.

The annotations in the performing material and, to an extent, the recordings of these works, reveal a performing style that owed something to early music performance practice, no doubt inherited from Dolmetsch's father Arnold, a seminal figure in the early music revival. They also reflect a desire to concentrate first and foremost on communicating the shape and progress of the music rather than striving for the accurate reproduction of the musical text, a characteristic of performance practice from the first half of the twentieth century.

Performers coming fresh to this music will naturally arrive at their own interpretation. Nevertheless, an awareness of what is revealed by the original performing material and other primary sources can only serve to inform the modem performer - whatever their eventual interpretational decisions.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
October 2008Completed
Uncontrolled Keywords: Recorder music
Subjects: CAH25 - design, and creative and performing arts > CAH25-02 - performing arts > CAH25-02-02 - music
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > Royal Birmingham Conservatoire
Doctoral Research College > Doctoral Theses Collection
Depositing User: Carrie-Anne Bryan
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2017 13:59
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2022 16:54

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