Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Violet's... 100 Meter Dash?

I found this video of Violet's Tango on YouTube recently:


Was the building on fire and they had to get through the piece as fast as they could before they evacuated?  Why in the world would you take this piece at breakneck speed?  It's a tango  - it says so in the title, for goodness sake.  A tango is a dance that requires a moderate tempo.  There's no way anyone could dance to this tempo.  Besides, I clearly wrote a tempo marking right there in the music:

Moderato.  As in "moderately."  As in "not fast."  Clear as day in black and white.  I even specified a metronome marking just to be even more clear - 120 beats per minute.  Consider that a speed limit sign.  This conductor was doing the equivalent of 70 in a school zone.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: just because you CAN play the notes fast, doesn't mean that you SHOULD play fast.  When you take music - especially dance music - too fast, you lose all the nuance and emotion, and you waste the opportunity to give the music expression.  Violet's Tango is a character piece with bold contrasts, nuanced harmonies, and a sly, flirtatious style.  All that is thrown out the window when you plow through it like a panicked cheetah.

When you race through a piece like that, you're not only playing it wrong, you're showing disrespect for the music, your audience, and your own growth as a musician.  So I once again beg conductors and orchestras everywhere: please please please please please pay attention to the tempo markings.  I put them there for a reason.

It should sound like this. 

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