Session 3

Saturday, 11th July, 9:15 – 10:20 am

Johannes Gebauer, Analysing String Fingerings in Early Recordings: Methods for Computer-aided deconstruction

In 1919 Joachim’s former student Tivadar Nachéz criticized the Joachim/Moser-edition of Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas as distorting Joseph Joachim’s intentions. In particular he took offence in a specific fingering: “If any of his pupils had ever attempted to play […] the end of the Bourée in the B minor Partita of Bach [arpeggiated] à la Moser, Joachim would have broken his bow over their heads!“[1] Joachim’s own recording of the movement, almost certainly unknown to both Nachéz and Andreas Moser, Joachim’s assistant in Berlin, allows for a unique comparison of the printed fingerings with what Joachim actually played himself. But while it is obvious from listening that Joachim does not in fact “arpeggiate” the chord “à la Moser”, it is much more difficult to know which exact fingering he had used for this difficult passage.

This paper will explore methods of deconstructing string fingerings in early recordings using software-analysis and -visualisation, making it possible in the above-mentioned instance to prove that Joachim does not in fact follow Nachéz’ fingering (as given in his 1919 edition) either, but uses a third fingering which only appears in one of his other students’ editions. 

Several aspects in the visualisation of fingerings will be examined in detail, using historical recordings by Marie Soldat and the Klingler Quartet, amongst others. It will be shown how the combination of computer-aided analysis and practice-based knowledge can accurately piece together details of string playing, which would otherwise remain an enigma.

Bio: Johannes Gebauer studied musicology at King’s College, Cambridge (UK) and baroque and classical violin with Simon Standage. After graduate studies at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, where he focused on chamber music studies with Christophe Coin, he pursued a busy career as a concert violinist. In 2007 he founded the Camesina Quartet, which specializes in Viennese classical and romantic music. The ensemble is a regular guest at international festivals, and has recorded several CDs. As a musicologist Johannes was assistant to Christopher Hogwood for several years and involved in numerous publications. In 2012 he returned to research joining Kai Köpp’s team at the Berne University of the Arts, and finished his PhD on Joseph Joachim’s Klassikervortrag (Performance of the Classics) in 2017. In April 2020 Johannes joined a major new performance research project at the Berne University of the Arts (funded by the Swiss National Foundation), concentrating on annotated orchestral material. He continues to divide his time between performance and research.

Vincent Andrieux, The Distant Echoes of La Mer’s Debussy: An Overview of the French Wind School at the Dawn of the 20th Century

Since the end of the nineteenth century, the French Wind School has benefitted from a unique reputation, especially the instruments of the wind quintet. Most of these illustrious musicians worked in Parisian orchestras, among them the Orchestre Lamoureux. Bringing together members from the Opéra and the Opéra Comique, this ensemble was one of the most renowned in the capital. This explains why many composers entrusted it with the first performance of their works—what Claude Debussy did in 1905 for La Mer. Sixteen years later, the Orchestre Lamoureux recorded several masterpieces from their repertoire, including the Prélude à laprès-midi dun faune. The same wind soloists from 1905 are featured in these precious recordings, allowing us to hear the musicians who first performed La Mer.

Due to the poor sound quality of most early recordings, these are not sufficient for the careful study of instrumental styles; in order to overcome this pitfall, it is necessary to consult written sources likely to contain detailed information on the playing style. The majority of the members of the Orchestre Lamoureux studied at the Conservatoire; they had to pass several exams at this institution for which there are existing reports. Our intervention will attempt to show how the cross-study of early recordings and the archives of the Conservatoire provides a relatively precise overview of the French Wind School at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Bio: After studying horn in Marseille, Paris and Geneva, Vincent Andrieux performed in various ensembles such as the Opéra de Marseille and the Pasdeloup and the Lamoureux orchestras. In addition to his professional experiences as horn player, he studied Musicology at the Sorbonne University. He taught the horn at a Conservatory for many years while also teaching in public schools. He has written numerous articles that have been published by The French Horn Association and The British Horn Society. He is currently pursuing a Doctorat at the Sorbonne about the French Wind School during the Belle Époque. As part of his research, he has recently participated in several international musicological seminars (Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris, Royal College Northern of Music of Manchester, University of Glasgow).


[1] Frederick Herman Martens, Violin Mastery. Talks with Master Violinists and Teachers, Comprising Interviews with Ysaye, Kreisler, Elman, Auer, Thibaud, Heifetz, Hartmann, Maud Powell and others (New York, 1919), p. 165f.