As someone who moves between a percussion instrument (piano) and a wind instrument (pipe organ), I’ve long been conscious of how our sense of rhythm and tempo is affected by the presence or absence of attack, that split-second moment when a note begins to sound.
Torontonian Tamara Bernstein explains it all in an essay included in the competition programme, where Banff competition director Barry Schiffman recalls the day when he and fellow St Lawrence String Quartet founding violinist Geoff Nuttall listened to a recording of quartets by Joseph Haydn performed on period instruments by Austrians, the Quatuor Mosaïques.
Classical musicians are taught that, with any piece not attached to a living composer, there is a performance tradition to follow in each act of interpretation. Each composer, style and period imposes certain parameters of convention and taste — even in instances where all we have are diary entries and broad sketches to provide clues about the practices of yore.
The free download offers only 2 minutes of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, but that’s enough to get anyone with more than passing curiosity hooked on a new app from Britain’s Touch Press that brings together four great Deutsche Grammophon recordings of the full work from the last 55 years together with a pile of commentary, background and interactivity.