Musil, Bartolo (2021)
The Big and the Small: Tempo Choice and Other Decisions in the Interpretation of Schubert’s Winterreise
[Das Große und das Kleine. Tempowahl und andere Entscheidungen in der Interpretationspraxis von Schuberts Winterreise]
Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft für Musiktheorie 18/Sonderausgabe [Journal of the Society of Music Theory, Special Issue], 479–491.
The substantial measuring data presented by the PETAL research project (Performing, Experiencing and Theorizing Augmented Listening, Graz, 2017–20) as well as studies based on them draw a differentiated picture of performance strategies in recordings and performances of Franz Schubert’s Winterreise – especially concerning the choice of tempo. On the one hand, tempi and other interpretative choices are based on conceptional considerations – either purely musical or related to a ‘theatrical’ narration. On the other hand, they are shaped by practical and physiological circumstances ranging from the artistic profile of the performers and their condition on the day of performance to the choice of venue and instrument. In the case of Winterreise, the performers’ focus may oscillate between the single song and the cycle as a whole; consequently, an additional dividing line can be drawn between determining factors affecting particular songs and those that have an impact on the entire cycle. The present article sets practice-related considerations in context of the research findings by PETAL and concludes by posing the question if there is such a thing as a “subjective tempo”.