Baroque

For many years I dedicated myself almost exclusively to the interpretation of the music of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Baroque music for the recorder presents itself in the form of solos, duets, virtuosic concertos, sonatas with basso continuo, trio-sonatas, with oboe, traverso, bassoon, violin, viola, viola da gamba, etc. Recorders can also be found in the suites by Telemann (Wasser Musik, Suite in a minor) and in the famous Brandemburg concertos Nr.2 and Nr.4 by Johann Sebastian Bach. Recorders are also used as part of an orchestra in operas by Lully, Charpentier, Purcell and Haendel.

Recorder players do interpret not only the repertoire written for their instrument, but also arrange pieces written for other instruments. The adaptation of compositions for instruments other than the original ones was a very common practice in Baroque period. Nevertheless, some technical problems have carefully to be taken into consideration. One of my favorite practises is the use of the tenor recorder in D, so called voice flute or “flûte de voix”, to interpret pieces written originally for the traverso, which is also in D. For instance, Bach’s Partita BWV 1013 for traverso solo can be played with the voice flute in its original tone, A minor. Furthermore, many compositions for traverso by Haendel and Hotteterre can also fit just perfectly when played with the recorder in D. On the other hand, it is not recommended to adapt pieces for the recorder which have been originally written for string instruments (violin, cello, gamba). The reason is because it jeopardizes, to an unacceptable degree, the state of the original composition. It is necessary, for example, to change the octave of a lot of phrases so that it can fit in the range of the recorder, which is smaller than the one of the string instruments, and also to play arpeggios instead of chords.

My point of view of originality is based on aesthetic coherence and not related to a respectful reverence to the past. We have to acknowledge that in all periods of music history, good and mediocre compositions existed alongside of several instrumental techniques which were sometimes even contradictory between themselves. As an example I can mention a personal experience. When still living in São Paulo, Brazil, in my early twenties, I became very radical in the interpretation of baroque music and decided not to use diaphragm vibrato at all, because there was no proof that such a technique was used in the eighteenth century. In order to give different colors to the sound I started to exercise the shading of holes to obtain crescendos and decrescendos and applied a broad diversity of alternative fingerings to my playing. Later on, already in The Netherlands, I re-introduced the use of vibrato in my playing; apparently experience made me more flexible and less dogmatic. This time I used vibrato in a very conscious manner, always with the function of supporting the rhetoric context of the phrase, not as an inherent part of the sound and never as a megalomanic expressive artifice. I can imagine that there were players in the baroque period who also abused of the “show” factor when interpreting those extremely virtuosic concertos, making use of incredible amounts of ornaments, vibratos, rubatos and many artifices alien to the original idea of the composition.

Finally, the music stipulates limits that the interpreter should respect. Inside those limits the playing ought to be free, relaxed and honest so that the flowing of affections happens in a clear and balanced manner. The idea of the original interpretation is based on the equilibrium between the interpreter and the composition. To fully exercise his/her function, the interpreter needs a good control of the instrumental technique, the ability of understanding and controlling affections, to abstract ideas and to communicate them in an inspiring way to the audience through the use of sound.