The Conductor’s Challenge: Finding Expressive Meaning in the Score
By Frank Battisti. ISBN 978-1-57463-133-3, $24.95.
This extension and expansion of Guide to Score Study, co-authored with Robert Garofalo, examines the various stages conductors traverse in arriving at an interpretation. Battisti emphasizes the importance of the conductor’s imagination, personality and on-going study—weeks/months/years—in developing an interpretation that is personal, well informed and faithful to the composer’s expressive intent. He examines the score analysis process including the role and function of a work’s musical elements; the need to balance intellectual understanding and intuitive feelings about a piece and the challenges faced by conductors when transforming an interpretation into a performance. As examples, he traces the procedures he used in forming interpretations of “Lisbon” and “Horkstow Grange” from Grainger’s Lincolnshire Posy, Copland’s Down a Country Lane and “Sinfonia” from Stravinsky’s Octet for Wind Instruments.
“We must defend the composer against the mechanical conception of life . . .Our duty is to give to the listener that inspiration that the composer had.”
“We believe . . . that it is the performer’s business to get out of the way of the music. His craft is to ‘reveal – not to interpret.”
“The only sensible advice one can give a performing artist [the interpreter] is to ask that a happy balance be found between slavish adherence to inadequate signs and a too liberal straying from the clear intentions of the composer…. a performance is both an exposition of the piece and an exposition of the personality traits of the performer.”
“The stronger the imaginative power . . . the more potent the final result.”
“ . . . interpreters/conductors [have] . . reconstituted. . .all the different phases which the author’s mind went through when creating his work, and in doing so, observe the reactions which they produce deep down in his own mind.”