A Case Study in Interpretation: Density 21.5 (Part 1 of 3)
April 25, 2011
Recently, IPAP’s esteemed founder and I were having a conversation about how much we enjoyed Laura Pou’s performance of Varese’s Density 21.5 for solo flute. One of the things that we both responded to was the real sense of personality and ‘expression’ that we heard in the performance, even going so far as to say that she made the music tuneful – an adjective not always ascribed to Varese’s music.
Underneath the video, one commentator says:
“The original is much more ‘mechanical’. She is trying to ‘sing it’ and did it very well, sounds a lot more human. This would be a good test to detect a T-1000 trying to pass for human.”
For those of you missing the reference, a T-1000 is the evil android played by Robert Patrick in Terminator 2 (see below). I infer three things from this comment:
- That other performances of this piece have struck the listener/commentator as robotic and inhuman
- That the inhumanity of those performances is rooted in the composition itself rather than any particular interpretative decisions and/or failings – the commentator states that it is the “original” that is “mechanical”
- By violating the composition’s supposedly robotic character, Laura Pou’s interpretation is somehow a counterfeit rendition even if the commentator finds her performance to be musically preferable to other renditions of the piece.