I went on YouTube recently, looking for new videos to link to my website and, not surprisingly, most of the performance videos of my music are of Gauntlet. It's still my most popular piece and it gets a lot of attention. However, while I was looking, I found an odd trend and wanted to comment on it. YouTube allows viewers to post messages and quite a few of them looked like this:
"honestly, i thought this song went much faster...really slowish"
"why do you play it so slow ? we play it waaay faster at my school ."
"its suposed to be alot faster"[sic]
One of the most prevalent problems I hear with performances of Gauntlet is that they're too fast. Gauntlet isn't a race and shouldn't be played too fast. Some young musicians even brag about how fast they can go, but speed isn't the point of this piece. I'd rather hear a performance that's too slow where dynamics, intonation, and expressiveness are taken into full consideration than one where the orchestra rushes through it. In fact, rushing through Gauntlet ruins the opportunity for expressiveness and negates the "dark" quality that people find so appealing.
The recording by the Alfred Studio Orchestra (which you can hear here) is still the best I've yet heard. The tempos are spot on, the intonation and style are perfect, and I've never heard the "hard part" (mm. 56 - 80) sound better. Sure, these are professional musicians playing, but it's an ideal that student musicians can aspire to achieve.