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Re: Live performance versus recordings
A few years back - before another Royal Albert Hall concert - the very great and much lamented Malcolm Macdonald gave a fascinating illuminating and utterly worthwhile lecture before the first performance in recent times of John Foulds' World Requiem. Now the big difference was the lecture (free as I recall if you had a concert ticket) was over the road in a lecture theatre and quite separate from the concert. So it was very easy to opt in or out as you saw fit - in this case, given the rarity of the work and the lack of detailed available documentation it was very valuable.
Personally, I like a good back story to a work - and I would doubt many listeners would not gain some nugget of information from such. I also think it can help bring the composers alive - rather than being dead purveyors of great art stuck on pedestals. But of course where informing ends and dumbing-down starts is a moot point. I am NOT so keen on actors dressing up, or picture book travelogues.
Each to their own - if it engages one person with a piece of music its valid for me.
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