Research Snapshots 2

  1. Dr. des. Cla Mathieu (independent researcher)

Summary: For my recently finished PhD-thesis at the University of Bern, Switzerland, I undertook an extensive analysis of the recordings of the Catalan guitarist Miguel Llobet (1878-1938). His recordings from 1929 display an idiosyncratic musician firmly rooted in the traditions of the late 19th century, all the while he was in contact with the musical avant-garde of his time. In this ‘research snapshot,’ I will briefly illustrate my approach to the discussion of tempo flexibility and portamento practice in these recordings.

2. Dr Christoph Flamm (University of Heidelberg)

Summary: Anton Rubinstein, who is usually known for his reluctance to have himself recorded on Julius Block’s wax cylinders, may nevertheless have left two recordings as an anonymous accompanist. This hypothesis was raised a few years ago by a German composer-pianist of Hungarian descent who let specialized technicians improve the spoken passages on these recordings. They remain fragmentary, partially incomprehensible. I have been trying to collect information from historical Russian sources, corrected the erroneous indication of one of the two romances in the CD publication of the Block cylinders, and we both together published a short article on the subject in the German-language journal of the Tchaikovsky society. Despite all uncertainties, the claim for Rubinstein is heavy, considering both the written sources and, above all, the incredible artistic quality of the piano playing. In my mini-talk, I would like to sum up the research methods for proving the hypothesis, and delineate the difficulties or even impossibility of getting more evidence.  

3. Carolina Estrada Bascuñana (Hochschule der Künste Bern)

Nightingale transforms the traditional approach to historically informed performance (HIP), developing and implementing a new methodology that embodies the evidence in practice with the assistance of historical instruments and digital technologies. Symbolically evocating the expressivity of the bird’s song, this project is the first-ever performance-based study of 19th-century Spanish pianists, whose interpretations, still unrecognised, expose noticeably stylistic divergences with modern interpretations.

4. Dr Ferenc János Szabó (Institute for Musicology, Budapest)

Summary: I would like to speak about one of my recent research projects, the sound recordings of the 1938 World Eucharistic Congress held in Budapest. These recordings were mostly unknown until the 2010s, but hopefully they will be published in 2021 on the occasion of the 52nd World Eucharistic Congress (which was intended to be held in Budapest this year, but it was suspended because of the COVID pandemic). I will describe the contents and the musicological aspects of these recordings and I will outline very briefly, what kind of research fields can use these recordings as sources.

5. Joanna Staruch-Smolec (Université libre de Bruxelles and Conservatoire royal de Bruxelles)

Summary: In my research on Eugène Ysaÿe’s recordings I combine artistic and scholarly approaches, seeking a methodology which would respect their highly different natures. I focus on analysing various cases of portamento, rubato and bow expression, found in both recorded and annotated evidence. The aim of my research is to better understand the phenomenon of Ysaÿe’s violin playing and to reflect on how this knowledge could be useful for a violinist today.