Viñes’s recordings in relation to

historical performance traditions



We live in a classical music époque where the modern-day ideal is to perform and interpret past repertoire with the highest respect for composers - trying to evoke the traditions of the past, but also to reimagine the work through our own artistic capabilities. It is through our desire not only to keep alive, but also to protect classical works in an “authentic manner,” that we have arrived at what Daniel Leech-Wilkinson describes as classical performance norms: a belief system and an associated set of rules which help us to distinguish between what we deem to be good or bad performances, between good or bad taste.[1] What happens then, when our entire “belief-system” is challenged by historical recordings?





The field of Historical Informed Performance (HIP) has for over half a century expanded our knowledge of musical performance from the medieval ages far into the romantic period.[2] HIP revolves around a debate concerning how (or if) performers should attempt to recreate historical performance practices through the ideals of the past. This often includes re-thinking rhythm, articulation, phrasing, rhetoric, and tends to involve performances on period instruments. In reference to pre-recording-era musical history, researchers and performers rely on sources such as manuscripts, teaching materials (written sources and books), anecdotes, and testimonials. Critique against the HIP movement has been mainly centered around the question of “authenticity,” and figures such as Nicholas Kenyon, John Butt and Richard Taruskin have questioned whether historical authenticity is at all possible, or even desirable. 

It has by now become quite established both in the world of classical performance as well as in universities that there are some very different views on how to perform music from pre-romantic periods, and without necessarily having to “choose a side” or to be an expert in these debates, musicians from my generation are nevertheless expected to have some knowledge and insight into the matter. Although HIP research in romantic performance practices is becoming more extensive, I still generally find that fellow musicians, teachers, students and audiences are quite baffled when they hear historical recordings of pianists such as Ignacy Jan Paderewski, Alfred Cortot, Ignacy Friedman, Sergei Rachmaninov or Ricardo Viñes juxtaposed with modern-day performances. 


Because there is no recorded sonic evidence of performances by Bach, Mozart or Beethoven, either from the composers themselves or from fellow performers of their day, we can only imagine through the available written sources and scores exactly how they played. In addition to this, we can never be entirely sure that the intentions of a performance deriving from the sources are relatable to the actual performances. The invention of the phonograph by Thomas Edison in 1877 marks a fundamentally important shift in HIP research. Although the first attempts at recording sound were barely audible, the basis for a rapid technological development in the coming years was established. Alexander Graham Bell and Charles Tainter developed Edison’s concept further and thus the wax cylinder recording was born. Edison, who had abandoned his invention in favor of other projects such as the incandescent light bulb, regained his interest in sound recording after this and further developed Bell’s and Tainter’s work.[3] However, by now Emil Berliner had between 1887 and 1893 invented and developed a different system: the gramophone record. This medium was both capable of cheap mass production and afforded listeners a simpler mode of playback.[4] By the beginning of the 1900s, recordings of musical performances were becoming increasingly popular. Because of this, we can in HIP research separate pre-recorded musical history from the recorded. This means that it is possible to compare modern-day performances with recordings from the early 1900s, and this is where things get problematic – not because we have to play like the performers of the past, but because we sometimes claim to do so, or at least we regard this as a vital ingredient in the recipe for a “successful performance.” 

10 to 20 years ago, the lack of easy accessibility to historical recordings might have been a valid reason for their neglected status as important source material, but today digital restorations are available in large numbers through all kinds of musical distribution, both physical and digital. As we shall see, however, it is apparent that these historical recordings still seem too alien for us - that the gap between how we understand and appreciate modern-day recordings and historical ones is wide.



Establishing a Golden Age


Some two hundred years ago, the typical classical piano concert situation was quite different than what we encounter nowadays.[5] Works were presented in what modern audiences might consider a seemingly random order – only selected movements from sonatas or cyclical works, not even played “in order” (if the complete work was played at all), intersected by performances of other instrumental players or chamber groups. Works were often preluded,” where the performer improvised preludes at the piano to accustom the audiences with the key of a new piece. The audience would actively engage in the performance by loudly showing their appreciation or dissatisfaction, cheering, commenting, and demanding encores of works. Improvisation was a natural part of a concert, and the greatest improvisers would accept requests from the audience. This contrast to modern-day concerts, raises some interesting questions. Put in the words of Kenneth Hamilton:


From the perspective of earlier eras, we might ask ourselves why we hush people who clap between movements of a piece, why we usually expect pianists to perform from memory, and why we are so worried about wrong notes – the last an especially recent psychosis that scarcely troubled Anton Rubinstein or Eugen d’Albert, only two of the most illustrious splashy players of the past.[6]


Historical recordings from the early 1900s do not provide a window into this “golden age”. They do however show us the last traces of this tradition, with performers who studied with composers such as Liszt, Chopin and Brahms – performers who were born in the 1800s and taught by the masters of romanticism.


I believe that historical recordings as sources for historically informed performances can have two important applications. Firstly, by analyzing and comparing them with others from the same period, it is possible to objectively say something about which tendencies and practices are typical of the period and which are not. Having established these “general tendencies and practices,” one can do much the same with a collection of modern-day recordings. Finally, by comparing these tendencies and practices between historical and modern recordings, it is possible to establish a historical performance practice. This is indeed what several researchers have done, and that there are substantial differences between historical recordings and modern-day performances in general is a claim supported by existing research such as The Changing Sound of Music by Daniel Leech-Wilkinson[7], Performing Music in the Age of Recording by Robert Philip[8],  Off the Record: Performing Practices in Romantic Piano Playing by Neal Peres Da Costa[9] and the Mazurka Project at CHARM (Centre for the History and Analysis of Recorded Music).[10]

The second application I believe that historical recordings can have, is to teach us the “language” of romantic performance styles, and thorough this, they enable us to understand how and even more importantly why the musicians of the past played in the ways they did. Accessing this information, however, is in my opinion to a greater degree possible through artistic rather than scientific research methods, in my case via the recreation of historical recordings where extreme imitation is applied in order to embody a historical performance. I make the claim that the romantic performance practice we hear in the historical recordings of pianist Ricardo Viñes is part of a “forgotten language.” A comparison with how we learn new languages is thus relevant here: we can study a language as spectators, learning grammar and pronunciation in theory, but it is only when we apply the language and express our feelings through it that we are truly capable of appreciating its rich nuances. This is what I set out to do with Ricardo Viñes's recordings in this research project.[11]


Rather than thoroughly analyzing and comparing the Viñes’s recordings before engaging in the recreating process, I chose to do this as a part of the recreating method itself – observing and documenting the “general tendencies and practices” of his playing style while I imitated and applied them in my recreations, and then comparing these to what I heard in other recordings, both historical and modern. Following this, I compared all the recreated Viñes-recordings with each other in order to establish a “Viñes romantic performance style.” This was then compared to my recreated performances of three contemporaneous pianists from Viñes’s era (Sergei Rachmaninov, Ignacy Friedman and Jesús María Sanromá), with the aim of determining whether the “Viñes romantic performance style” was relatable to other pianists of the day. Finally, I recreated four recordings of Viñes playing Debussy, with the aim of investigating Viñes’s “romantic” playing style in the framework of “impressionistic” works - romantic style being seen today as thoroughly incompatible with impressionist repertoires. 

My work on recreating these historical recordings could be seen as a “journey,” where the artistic method was always at the core. However, to be able to recognize and identify which practices are relatable to a historical romantic performance practice and which ones are not, I first needed to roughly outline some “general tendencies and practices.” In doing this I listened to several historical recordings and focused on two things: 


  • Performance practices that are not marked in the score (“arpeggiation,” “dislocated attacks” and rushing/slowing the tempo)
  • Practices that greatly differ from modern-day performances


To clarify expressions such as arpeggiation, “dislocated attacks” and so on, it is best to hear them “in action” through historical recordings. I have therefore selected a few examples. Bearing in mind that the piano has since its conception been used to emulate other instruments as well as the human voice, it is important to note that these “romantic practices” do not necessary derive from piano playing itself. Rather, they could also be regarded as practices used to emulate effects that are impossible on the piano, such as portamento and glissando. 

The portamento effect is commonly heard in historical recordings of both singers and string players, and typically though not always involves sliding upwards or downwards into an "arrival" note. Two examples of this can be heard in the following recordings: Juliette’s Waltz from Romeo et Juliette (Gounod) sung by Nellie Melba in 1904,[12] and Ave Maria(Schubert) sung by Elisabeth Schumann in 1933.[13] In violinist Renée Chemet’s 1925 recording of Saint-Saëns’s Introduction et Rondo capriccioso, we hear both an extensive use of portamento, as well as a rubato in the violin part that both rushes and slows down freely above the piano accompaniment.[14] These practices are also very much present in Carl Flesch’s 1936 performance of Händel’s Sonata in A major.[15] This independence from the accompaniment can also be heard in orchestral works, such as the oboe part at the beginning of the Swan Lake Ballet Suite performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted by John Barbirolli in 1933.[16] These practices all come together in the Concertgebouw Orchestra's 1926 performance of the Adagietto from Mahler’s fifth symphony, recorded in 1926, and conducted by Willem Mengelberg.[17] When comparing these examples with solo piano recordings, we can look for many of the same practices. In Ignacy Jan Paderewski’s recording of Chopin's Nocturne in E Major Op. 62 No. 2 from 1911, we hear how the two hands are dislocated from each other – producing individual rubato in individual voices, something which is further exaggerated by rushing and slowing in the tempo, and even by altering and thus “re-arranging” the notated rhythm in the score.[18]

It is, without the need of a thorough comparison between historical and modern-day recordings, possible to claim that these above-mentioned tendencies and practices are atypical in modern-day performances. In my texts reflecting on the recreating process of the Viñes recordings, I go further into detail in this matter by making direct comparisons between them and relevant recordings of other pianists. 


The arrival of modernism 


Within the first three decades of the 1900s the demand for “precise,” “neat” and “honest” interpretation of scores was increasingly becoming the consensus. In the words of Rudolf Kolisch: 


Don’t listen to performances! That is not the right way, at least not for a musician, to get in touch with music. The right way is to read the text.[19]


Werktreue was becoming the highest ideal in the world of performing and “the old ways” were being rejected as a result. Singers and string players were “shamed into abandoning portamento, despite overwhelming evidence that it had for centuries been considered natural, even essential to the music they performed.”[20] Aspiring pianists where encouraged to stop delaying the melody from the accompaniment, as well as the unmarked rolling of chords. Neal Peres Da Costa illustrates this by quoting from How To Become a Pianist from 1922, where Mark Hambourg describes the use of “dislocated attacks” as something of a self-righteous behavior in stark contrast to good taste: 


Now comes along the temperamental student, burning with ardour for the beauty of the music, longing to make the noble chords of some fine melody speak its message! What special pitfall lies ready to entrap his zealous endavours? Why, in his enthusiasm that the melody in both hands should be properly brought out, he gets one hand playing after the other! Only a fraction of a second after the left hand does the right hand strike, but in that loss of simultaneousness of sound the whole grandeur after which the performer is striving will be dispelled in the irritating effect of one part of the harmony always reaching the ear at a slight interval after the other. This is the most frequent failing amongst very musical people who enjoy tremendously what they are playing; and especially does it occur with them in slow movements, when they will arpeggio the chords between the two hands so much that it sounds to me like drawling in speech, or even like stuttering. These enthusiasts lose their sense of symmetry of the sound in their intense pleasure over its component parts, and it is hard that the very virtue that lies in their love of the music can thus lead them into danger.[21]


The reputation of performers from previous generations was becoming devalued, as we can see in Edward Sackville-West's 1962 comments on the recordings of pianist Moriz Rosenthal: 


If one listens for instance to any of the Chopin mazurkas which Rosenthal recorded...the poetry and distinction seem to belong to another age. The pianist seems unconcerned - as if he were playing for his own pleasure, and did not care whether we listened or not.[22]


Prolific performers of the time who aspired to the more “modernist” way of playing, apparently also felt the urge to clearly differentiate between “the old ways” and the new, such as Walter Gieseking in 1930: 


A faulty and uneven rendering of chords is an error very often committed, even by well known concert pianists. How often in our concerts halls we hear pianists neglecting to sound their two hands exactly together. It is remarkable that even amateurs criticize an orchestra, if not chords are not played precisely together; whereas on the concert platform this grievous offence against all musical feeling is nearly always overlooked. Both hands must strike the keys precisely at the same moment. This may not be easy, but it is a means of enormous importance to expression; and the concert player would do well to study it clearly.[23]


The massive fame of conductors like Arturo Toscanini and Igor Stravinsky paved the way for a new standard in orchestral performance that made the efforts of conductors like Willem Mengelberg and Wilhelm Furtwängler and their “unsynchronized” performances fade into the past. As observed by Robert Philip: 


Recordings made after his departure show that, under his successor Eduard van Beinum, the Concertgebouw's style was rapidly modernised - cleansed of the heavy portamento that Mengelberg fostered.[24]


Music critics also reflect the transition from romanticism to modernism in classical performance, something George Barth illuminates in his article Effacing Modernism, or How to Perform Less Accurately Through Listening, by quoting a review where Arthur Schnabel is compared to Frederic Lamond.[25] The Scottish pianist Frederic Lamond studied with Liszt, who in turn studied with Czerny, a student of Beethoven himself. Lamond was for several decades regarded as the “preeminent interpreter of Beethoven.” However, in a column titled "Pianist of the Month" from the Musical Times of November 1934, a critic praises Schnabel for his “new attitude” towards the music of Beethoven, whereas as Lamond’s interpretations are deemed more satisfying to pre-war norms and tastes.[26]  



The situation today 


With regards to romantic performance practice, it seems to me that we are still rather stuck with the “modernist ideas” of the last century. I would argue that there is a clash between modern-day ideals, with their absolute devotion to the written score, and historical recordings. As we shall see in the case of Ricardo Viñes, written sources that give high praise to his artistic nature and capabilities tend to be accepted as “truths” by those who study his legacy, in contrast to his recordings which are treated as more problematic when regarded as valid evidence of his performance style. This paradox between written and sonic sources is not restricted to the case of Viñes. In his book Off the Record: Performing Practices in Romantic Piano Playing, Neal Peres Da Costa makes the conclusion that the gap between historical and sonic sources is too wide to rely solely on written sources:


In fact, a style of performance based on the advice alone would seldom approach the style of the recordings. Here the gulf between theory and practice is most noticeable. We cannot, therefore, assume that written texts convey clearly or meaningfully the practices that in previous eras were considered essential to artistic performance.[27]


Patrick Rucker's review of the release of Paderewski: The Complete Victor Recordings for Gramophone testifies to the confusion that arises between the “legend” of Paderewski (based on written sources) and his recorded legacy: 


Paderewski’s fame as a pianist was on a par with that of Liszt and Anton Rubinstein, a fact that has made squaring his recorded legacy with his reputation difficult. As Jim Samson has pointed out, Paderewski came late to the recording studio and was never entirely comfortable there, though he continued to record almost until his death at the age of 80. Deficiencies in his early training meant that he struggled with some areas of technique throughout his career. Yet musicians and critics who heard him in his prime, roughly from his 1888 Vienna debut through the first decade of the 20th century, found much to admire. In 1893, no less an authority than William Mason wrote that, in terms of touch, ‘Paderewski is as near perfection as any pianist I ever heard and stands more nearly on a plane with Liszt than any other virtuoso since Tausig’.[28]


Robert Philip points out a conflict between historical and modern norms with regards to the evaluation of historical recordings among modern musicians: 


Most modern musicians are, on the whole, grateful for the existence of editing. But many regret that the quest for perfection has gone so far. Asked to name their favourite records, many musicians will name recordings of the distant past, made when there was no editing, and when the performance of each side was reproduced warts and all. Yet those same musicians would be horrified if some of the inaccuracies heard in those famous old recordings were ever to appear in their own CDs. Musicians today live with something of a conflict between the need to be perfect and the desire to be real.[29]


It is not just historical recordings that are problematic to our modern-day “approved of” ways of playing, but generally any performances that challenge modern norms are viewed with suspicion. In the words of Daniel Leech-Wilkinson: 


As in most religions, WCM (western classical music) is hedged about by rules of behaviour, generally expressed in the directives Must, Should and Ought (Not), which seek to control what performers do with composers’ scores.[30]


Nicholas Cook too addresses this issue through what he calls “the paradigm of reproduction”: 


Performance is seen as reproducing the work, or the structures embodied in the work, or the conditions of its early performances, or the intentions of the composer. Different as these formulations are…they all have one thing in common: no space is left for the creativity of performers.[31]



The clash between Viñes’s recordings and modern-day tastes


What you cannot do (though many teachers try), is to argue on the one hand that early recorded performances are worse than modern performances, and argue at the same time that being faithful to composers’ intentions produces the best performances. You can’t have it both ways.[32]


In the chapter Truth and Contradiction: Written Texts versus Audible Evidence from Neal Peres Da Costa’s book Off the Record: Performing Practices in Romantic Piano Playing, he provides a range of examples where there is a clash between the sonic evidence and the written sources.[33] This paradox is central also in the case of Ricardo Viñes’s legacy. As we shall see, the written sources are challenged by our (modern-day) understanding of the historical recordings. Although relatively unknown to the general public of today, Ricardo Viñes’s position as one of the leading pianists in Paris one hundred years ago is acknowledged by several researchers, and most recently in the English language by Matthew Goodrich and David Potvin.[34] This position is supported by numerous contemporaneous (written) accounts and reviews of Ricardo Viñes in his day. Listed below are a few examples that together reveal the extent to which the Catalan pianist was revered:


No person has a sonority so varied, so nuanced, so singing, so clear, and when required, so incisive. And what nimbleness to his technique. So light and so lively at the same time. No one knows how to give a habanera or a tonada its proper rhythm like him. In his playing he displayed something that is sober and fiery and supremely elegant, he never falls into excesses of languor, and could not be more modest. His playing always remains extremely sensitive, but he only needs to do it lightly, without pressing. And he has an art of “finishing” a phrase which is extraordinary, without any affectation, nor marked insistence, and with a je ne sais quoi of captivating deliciousness and supreme planning. We have found emotion with the great rare pianist that we can love so much, who is always the same, true to himself. And with such simplicity! (Paul Landormy, review in La Victoire, July 1936).[35]


Viñes returned to us after an absence of six long years, a time while music was occupied, in France at least, with an offensive return to the dilettantism of virtuosity. The interpreters who came to us from the four corners of Europe, were, like the Italian proverb says, too frequently to music as translators are to literature. Each proposed to us his subjective view of the musical universe, particularly the Debussyist and Ravelian world. Certain ones have seduced us, Gieseking charms us. However, none unite absolute integrity to profound sensitivity like Viñes; none can preserve such magnificent unity of tone, while having such diversity of expression. (Alexis Roland-Manuel, review in Le Courrier Royal, February 1, 1936).[36]


It does not seem like he plays the piano, but the music itself. He’s more than a virtuoso, he’s an artist, and there are very few artists like him, possibly there is none like him among virtuosos. (Jean Marnold, review in Le Figaro, 1916).[37]


In Viñes in Paris: New Light on Twentieth-Century Performance Practice, Elaine Brody quotes private correspondence with a Berkeley professor who was one of Viñes’s students:


What made his performances different from other performances?... They were the inner sharing of a discovery he had made on his own, but in which nothing of his own self remained. He was the Pictures [Images], he was the Nights in the Garden of Spain, he was the Gallo Mañanero of Joaquin Rodrigo.... He was self effacing to the point of obliteration, but never quite. Viñes was always there, but always in good company.... His technique was there but only to be hidden. It was perfect in that it was never brought up.[38]


Even Ricardo Viñes himself concedes some praise in his diary:


Thursday, 27 October 1901: In the afternoon, Ravel came; Debussy told him that my manner of playing pleased him very much, very much, especially my sonority.[39]


Such quotes, alongside the events mapped out in the biographical background of Viñes, including his esteemed position in the artistic circles of Paris and the close relationship he enjoyed with Ravel and Debussy, all serve to provide us with an almost exclusively positive illustration of his legacy. It is very interesting, then, to observe how this comes into conflict with the same researchers' views on his recordings:


[…]Viñes didn’t leave a clear representation of his peak abilities. His recordings, though full of poise and color, do not fully showcase his universally praised technique or mystifying ability to inhabit the world of a piece.[40]


The Cambridge Companion to Debussy, too, states that, “La soirée dans Grenade is played rather quickly, and though the performance contains some subtle rubato it lacks the rarefied atmosphere that Debussy prescribes in the score and conveys on his piano roll.”[41]


In his 2020 dissertation Ricardo Viñes’s Pianistic Legacy: An Evaluation of his Articles, Recordings, Compositions, and Pedagogy, David Potvin sets out to analyze Viñes’s recordings. Though he should be credited for producing the first dissertation in English that thoroughly investigates these recordings and thus treats them as important historical sources, the following quotes are illustrative on how modern-day “truths” and conceptions of what defines a “successful” performance become the (unchallenged) criteria for how the performances captured by these recordings are evaluated:


His performance emphasized the nobility of the Habenera rhythm present in this piece, and his unsentimental interpretation of this piece reflects Debussy’s own piano roll recordings. However, Viñes did not bring out the sensuousness of the harmony that is such an integral part of a successful performance of this work.[42]


Viñes had a reputation of authority for Debussy’s music, having premiered many piano pieces by him. However, Viñes’s interpretation may have diverged from Debussy’s in the years between his performances during the first decade of the twentieth century and the time of his recording project.[43]  


The Scarlatti Sonata recording by Viñes (which I recreated as part of this research project) is probably among the performances in his recording catalogue that are furthest away from a modern-day “acceptable” interpretation. Not only does the recording challenge our conception of romantic performance practice, we are also faced with a rendition of an older work that is totally foreign to our understanding of Scarlatti. Once more, Potvin considers the recording in light of parameters that are supposedly understood without problematizing the aesthetic differences between 1930 and 2020:


In his recordings, Viñes’s playing never sounds laboured, but the lack of editing afforded by contemporary recording technology may have contributed to the large number of inaccuracies in his recorded performances. The Scarlatti has a surprising number of inaccuracies.[44]


At times, however, Viñes’s tempo changes seemed to indicate a lack of control, […] and especially throughout the Scarlatti sonata, where Viñes rushed so often and sporadically, his tempo was not clear at all.[45]


In these quotes concerning the Scarlatti recording, there is an assumption that Viñes a) makes several mistakes, b) that he was unhappy with the mistakes, and c) that he would have corrected them if there had been a possibility of editing the recordings. As we shall later see, I make the claim that several of these “mistakes” in the Scarlatti recording are intentional re-arrangements of the score, and that Viñes generally plays very few wrong notes in all the recordings I recreated. For all we know, it may also very well be, albeit difficult for modern ears to accept, that Viñes was indeed satisfied with the recording. Lastly, Potvin regards the tempo fluctuations of Viñes as a “lack of control,” and his seemingly sporadically rushing is deemed a negative factor, which makes it difficult to have a “clear” understanding of the tempo. These modern-day parameters are so widely and unconsciously accepted that many musicians and scholars would not object to this way of understanding a historical recording. Probably everyone who has played the piano will at some point in their training have been (negatively) accused of rushing – something deemed a “bad habit” according to modern classical music performance norms. What this illustrates is that we are generally incapable of understanding the structurally and complex nature of tempo fluctuations in old recordings, and rather than taking this seriously and researching it, we disregard it entirely as poor playing. 


The assumption that Viñes would have corrected his mistakes if it was possible at the time, also leads us into assumptions about the conditions in which these recording was made, and how they might have affected the performer. Typical arguments that are used to discredit historical recordings as valid sources revolve around the age of performers at the time of recording, as well as the psychological aspect of the recording process. Kenneth Hamilton writes that, “the fact that many of the first recording artists were well-established performers, and thus often relatively advanced in age (Paderewski was in his fifties and François Planté nearly seventy), has been used to argue that we hear them well past their best, in performances that are unrepresentative of what they may have produced thirty years before.”[46] Anna Scott also raises this issue in light of scholar Michael Musgrave's critique of Ilona Eibenschütz's 1952 recording of Johannes Brahms's Intermezzo in E Minor Op. 119 no. 2, in which he asserts that Eibenschütz’s “exaggerations” were due both to her old age at the time of recording, as well as to having been negatively influenced by hearing the work first performed by an aging Brahms in her youth: the conclusion of course being that, “Ilona's performances are thus exaggerations of exaggerations.”[47] Viñes made recordings in 1929, 1930 and 1936.[48] This means that he was 54, 55 and 61 years of age at the time. Because he died at 68 in 1943, Viñes’s recordings were made late in his career. Although it may be argued that his technical abilities possibly peaked at an earlier age, I do not find any strong reasons to discredit his recordings due to advanced age. Viñes was still actively playing concerts at the time of the recordings, and if we consider the leading pianists of the world today who are in their fifties and early sixties, their abilities and repertoire speaks for itself. Besides, even if Viñes was no longer at the peak of his abilities, he nevertheless left us a recording legacy deemed fit for commercial release both by him and by the recording companies he worked with (French Columbia and Gramophone). 


A method which could have potential in understanding the playing style found in historical recordings is to investigate the personal scores used by the performer (if available). However, the same method could also be used to make claims about the condition of the performer’s technique. Such research has to an extent become possible with regards to Ricardo Viñes. In their article regarding The Ricardo Vines Piano Music Collection at the University of Colorado at Boulder, David Korevaar and Laurie J. Sampsel shed light on the discovery of Viñes’s personal scores:

After Vines died in 1943, his music collection - including manuscripts, autograph dedications, and inscriptions - was scattered by his family. The bulk of his library, 836 pieces, was purchased by the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU) in the mid-1950s. Unfortunately, after the purchase it was divided up as a "seed" collection. The purchase has recently been reconstructed as the Ricardo Vines Piano Music Collection and is now located in the Howard B. Waltz Music Library.[49]


We do find fingerings, markings, and so forth in several of Viñes’s personal scores, and using these sources to make claims about Viñes’s technique and playing style is indeed something researchers like Elaine Brody, Michael Goodrich and David Potvin to an extent have done.[50] The interpretation of these notated sources is in my view problematic for the same reasons as with historical writings; making claims about Viñes’s technique via scores is just as ambiguous (and susceptible to modern tastes) an endeavor as doing so via anecdotes, observations and testimonials. A good example of such a claim about Viñes’s technique through a modern-day lens can be seen in Goodrich’s dissertation:

Viñes cultivated a touch where the fingers remain on the keys, which would have been in keeping with Beriot’s approach. This would have aided facility and enabled him to extend his fingers to ring the sound point. However, photos of Viñes sitting at the piano, although not quite as exaggerated as the caricature heading this chapter, exhibit marked anterior head carriage, and invariably, his wrists are prominently pressed down into constant flexion. Combining the French finger oriented 'independent action' with the depressed wrist, one can gain a certain kind of 'control.' However, we know today that this clearly comes at a mechanical disadvantage, as the lowered wrist puts constant pressure on the carpal tunnels and breaks the support of the whole arm.[51]


To be fair, I also make claims about Viñes’s technique in my research, but I do so with the aim of translating what I hear into how I play, rather than addressing the condition of his technique in the recordings with regards to deterioration of that technique due to factors such as old age. In the recreating process of this project, Viñes’s performances would need to be realized through my own body and mind. Because all bodies and minds are different, and because musicians have different backgrounds and thus different techniques, I believe that becoming too obsessed with playing physically exactly like Viñes (like using his fingerings, for example) based on these sources could be hindering rather than aiding the recreating process. An important aim of my research was to translate what I heard in the recordings through my own technique and capabilities. Because I have a different physique than Viñes and because I am playing on slightly different instruments, this implies that I might have to play technically slightly different than him to be able to produce sounding results as close to the original as possible. In fact, I believe that being open-minded about Viñes’s technique enabled me to be much freer when I experimented with different technical approaches in order to closely imitate his sound. 

In relation to the psychological aspect of making recordings, there are sources that indicate Viñes’s apparent dislike for the recording process. In the words of biographer Milder Clary: 


[Viñes] completely detested the concept of recordings and he thought they resulted in artificial interpretations. In his eyes, the public was the sine qua non for a good interpretation. Without them, inspiration was lost. Sadly, there exist few recordings that attest to his talent. He never played a piece two times in the same way. Each time, he made some sort of modification, his performances were always different. Freezing an interpretation by recording it made him nothing but uneasy.[52]


Viñes is not the only pianist to have had a “complicated” relationship to the recording studio. Contemporaneous pianist Sergei Rachmaninov spoke of this to his friend Alfred Swan: 


I get very nervous when I am making records, and all whom I have asked say they get nervous too. When the test records are made, I know that I can hear them played back to me, and then everything is all right. But when the stage is set for the final recording and I realize that this will remain for good, I get nervous and my hands get tense. I am very pleased with the Schumann Carnaval. It has come out very well. Today I recorded the B-flat Minor Sonata by Chopin, and I do not know yet how it has come out. I shall hear the test records tomorrow. If it is not good, I can always have the records destroyed and play it over again. But if everything has come out well, I am going back to New York tomorrow. You know how severely I judge myself and my compositions. But I want to tell you that I have found some old records of mine. They are very well played, without a hitch. There is some Johann Strauss, Gluck, I think. They are very good.[53]


If we are to question the value of historical recordings as sources in the light of the performer’s apparent dislike for the studio and the nervousness that might arise as a result, then we also need to ask ourselves: is this really any different from the situation of today? Between 2005 and 2009, Amy Blier-Carruthers conducted fieldwork observations of rehearsals, concerts, and recording sessions, and conducted interviews with the various parties involved. In her published conference paper How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Studio: A professional and paradigmatic approach to preparing musicians for recording Blier-Carruthers states:


In my fieldwork interviews with these musicians in which I asked them about their approach to and feelings about live concerts and recordings, I was surprised to find how stark were their comparisons, and that there was a considerable amount of tension in their feelings about recording. Many musicians working today express a fear of the process and a dislike of the product of recording. For them the recording process is far from the collective musical experience of the concert hall that gave the profession its allure in the first place. [54]


Leading back to the Milder Clary quote concerning Viñes’s recordings, she emphasized that, “he never played a piece two times in the same way. Each time, he made some sort of modification, his performances were always different. Freezing an interpretation by recording it made him nothing but uneasy.”[55] This brings up an important critique to the extreme imitation approach that was central to my recreated recordings: if the performances of Viñes in his day were spontaneous and varied, how then could imitating the one performance that exists thanks to the medium recording, down to the most acute detail, give insight into anything more than how Viñes played on that one specific occasion? I believe the answer to this could lie in the embodiment of his playing style – by meticulously copying all aspects of the performance as truthfully as possible and thus “becoming” Viñes, his artistic choices and technique can be understood at a deeper level. Through a focused awareness on how he played, it is possible to also imagine how he could have played. This is indeed something that became a relevant issue in my “extrapolated” performances of the fragmented Debussy recordings which Viñes made.[56]


Despite his hesitation towards recording in his early life, Ricardo Viñes did come around in his later years. We can always speculate on why – perhaps it was improvements in the recording technology (electronic vs. acoustic)? Perhaps growing older made him want to document traces of his vast performing career? Perhaps he was in need of money? Regardless, he made a total of 22 recordings in 1929, 1930 and 1936 (24 including the two fragmented Debussy-recordings). My personal view on this matter is that I find it unlikely that Viñes would have revisited the recording studio again and again if he so utterly disliked it. A highly intellectual artist such as Viñes would also in my opinion be quite aware that he was leaving his mark on history by documenting his performances – recordings had after all become quite popular by the time he went into the studio. 


Why Viñes chose to record several shorter works, rather than the more virtuosic large-scale works we know that he played in concerts, is also open to speculation. The limitations in recording time (due to the size of the discs) probably played a role in this, although it would have been possible to divide larger works onto several disks (and onto both sides per disk). The standard by the time Viñes recorded in the late 1920s was the 78 rpm disc, and starting from 1903, the twelve-inch disc side could hold up to 4,5 minutes of playing time.[57] Because most of Viñes’s recordings are well under this time limit, there does not seem to be enough evidence to make the claim that this limit affected much beyond his choice of repertoire - like his fast tempi, for example. However, just such a claim has been made in reference to contemporaneous pianist Sergei Rachmaninov, and because I chose to recreate Rachmaninov's recording of Chopin’s Waltz, Op. 62, No. 2 as a part of this project, it is interesting to observe the following quote from Philips’s Performing Music in the Age of Recording:


Writers and critics are sometimes too ready to assume that any exceptionally fast tempo on a 78 rpm record must have been influenced by the side-limit. One example was a claim by Joseph Cooper, in a review of Rachmaninoff's recording of his Second Piano Concerto, that he 'rushed' the ending of the finale to keep it within the time-limit. Rachmaninoff's tempo for much of the finale is, indeed, substantially faster than his metronome markings in the score. Edward Johnson (who has taken an interest in these matters) observed that the timing for the final side of the set was a mere 3 mins 25 secs, well under the limit. So he wrote to Stokowski, who conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra for that recording, and asked him whether he had indeed rushed the ending. Stokowski replied laconically, 'We did not take the ending faster for any reason other than that the composer wished.'[58]


An important critique where the use of historical recordings as valid sources of performance style is concerned has to do with their technical limitations, as well as the conditions in which they were recorded. The technical limitations of historical recordings vary greatly and tend to depend on the available equipment at the time of their making. For example, the acoustic recordings of Edvard Grieg have much more surface noise than those of Viñes. This is because until the mid 1920s, acoustic recordings, where a horn captured soundwaves which then moved a stylus etching onto a disc or wax cylinder, were the standard. With electronic recording, it became possible to use microphones which convert soundwaves to an electrical signal. The recordings used in my research project are all electronic recordings. It is also important to state that the recordings I used have all been digitally restored. This process stabilizes pitch, which is important because older recordings can have unstable pitch due to the condition of the disks/cylinders. The release by Marston Records was restored by Ward Marston. In an email correspondence in 2018, I asked Ward Marston about the original tuning of the piano Viñes was playing, because the digital recordings I used are close to “modern-day” concert pitch tuning, unlike older recordings that can have a 435 Hz tuning or lower. I was wondering if the restoration process had affected the tuning, and if the tempo we hear could also have been modified due to this. Marston replied: 


I do not believe that the slight pitch difference between the beginning and end of each side would affect the tempo of his performance more than one or two seconds over the four minute side which really is negligible. What we do not know and can not know is the pitch at which the piano was tuned. It is very possible that the piano might have been tuned as low as 435hz instead of the standard of today which is 440hz.[59]


This means that even though the piano was originally tuned lower, the difference in the total length of an original performance of four minutes and the digitally restored recording may in theory only differ between 0,4 and 0,8 percent. There is also another release available digitally (through iTunes and Spotify) labelled Ricardo Viñes: Enregistraments Històrics 1929-1936.[60] I have not been able to find out who did the restoration work here, but as a quick test, I superimposed the La Soirée dans Grenade recording of Viñes from the Marston release onto the one from Enregistraments Històrics 1929-1936 in an editing software programThey are both in the same pitch, but differ about one second in length (that’s 1/247 seconds or 0,4 %). This means that it was probably a different restoration, but in this case, the tempo difference over the span of four minutes and seven seconds it is not audible to the ear and thus in the words of Marston: “negligible”. In my opinion, the condition of the recordings used in this research project are of such quality that I was not hindered by their technological limitations.[61] As we shall later see, I also make the argument that by recreating them thoroughly as a performer, it is possible to extract information that goes far beyond the observations of romantic performance practices that we can reasonably make as only listeners. 


If we are to regard the historical recordings as performances, it is also important to consider the extent to which the recording was or was not a close approximation of what the performer sounded like in the room on the day, and more importantly if the conditions of the recording process required the musicians to somehow adapt or change their performance. We know from existing research that the technical limitations in early recordings would sometimes require the musicians to perform in awkward positions or to “exaggerate” their performances in order to achieve the best sounding result. Out of this comes a critique that implies that what the musicians were recording in the studio is not necessary mirroring their best live performances. In The Art and Science of Acoustic Recording: Re-enacting Arthur Nikisch and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra’s landmark 1913 recording of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony by Amy Blier-Carruthers, Aleks Kolkowski, and Duncan Miller, musicians, researchers and sound engineers from the Royal College of Music in London set out to re-enact and record two movements of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony onto wax discs through replicated recording technology from 1913.[62] Although the main intent was not to carefully imitate the historical performance practices heard in the original recording, as in my project, the musicians from the Royal College of Music nevertheless had the rare opportunity to experience a recording session in a “historical environment”. By using the original recording as a guide, the musicians, researchers and engineers experimented with different set-ups in the room of the recording, aiming to replicate the sound of the 1913 recording. For the musicians, this involved several ways in which they needed to “adapt to the environment.” This included positioning the orchestra in ways that for some felt unnatural, but also “exaggerated” playing, such as shorter and more focused articulation. Despite these adaptations and the distance between historical live and recorded performances it suggests, the musicians nevertheless seem to have come out of the project feeling that what they had gone through was indeed related to live performing:


But these changes do not affect the quality or essence of the performance heard on the discs, which comes through with the same energy and intensity. In fact, some of the musicians interviewed during the re-enactment found the experience of recording in this way more natural and honest compared to modern recording studio methods with all its possibilities of editing out mistakes or rebalancing in post-production. The necessity of having to record in one take also creates a feeling of exigency that is similar to performing live in public.[63]


In his book Capturing Sound: How Technology Has Changed Music, Mark Katz also points out that musicians reportedly had to adapt their performances in recording environments from the same period:


In 1913, a British sound engineer stressed the importance of understanding the nature of recording equipment, particularly the diaphragm: “Much depends on the manner in which the musicians sings or plays in intelligent rapport with the diaphragm before him, and by a little practice it is comparatively easy…to manipulate it for the production of first-class effects.”[64]


It is important to point out, however, the technological difference between an acoustic recording from the early 1900s and the electrical recordings through microphones that were common at the time of Ricardo Viñes’s recordings in the 1930s. However, despite the fact that recording through microphones is similar in principle today, musicians in the past also reportedly still had to “adapt” their performances to obtain the desired results:


Because the microphone was generally placed only inches from the performer, the dynamic range appropriate in a hall or club was generally too great for the recording studio. Performing for the microphone, therefore, required moderating one’s technique in a variety of ways.[65]


On the other hand, is this really so different from the recording studio standards of today? Do we not still find ourselves adjusting to the microphones and experimenting with placement/seating in the venue of the recording? And by adapting to a modern-day recording environment, does this result in a feeling of deviating from the intentions or ideals of a live performance? In her publication, Classical Sound Recordings and Live Performances: Artistic and Analytical Perspectives, Dorottya Fabian conducted a survey and collected responses from 39 recording artists from the USA, UK, Europe and Australia to a pilot questionnaire circulated by mail and email. In this survey, Fabian asked several questions regarding this relationship between recordings and the artists’ ideal interpretation. She states that “more than three quarters of the participants claimed that the recordings represented well or very well their interpretation (81.6%) and technical command (76.3%) of the pieces at the time of recording.”[66]


Although different recording eras have presented their own technical challenges, perhaps this process of “adapting” to the recording environment could be considered as something which is not dramatically more problematic in historical recordings, but rather more as a common ground shared by recording artists from all periods? Put in the words of Mark Katz:


The earliest technology was far inferior to its biological model; the latest is in some ways more sensitive. Yet for more than a hundred years recording artists have had to adjust to the special nature of these devices, whether insensitive or hypersensitive.[67]


The critical question here is of course whether Ricardo Viñes “adapted” his performances to the recording conditions he encountered, and if so, how. Because this is an artistic research project, where the aim is to “become” Viñes by embodying his playing style, I decided that the best way of addressing these issues was to expose myself to a recording set in “historical conditions”. By doing this, I would in the light of this discussion be able to reflect on my own experiences and whether or not I needed to adapt or in any way change my imitations of Viñes’s performances. A more detailed reflection about this can be read in the chapter "The Historical Recording and the Film".


Having looked at aspects including old age, nervousness, technical limitations and so on, which all serve to de-evaluate historical recordings as primary sources, we should ultimately ask ourselves if this critique is really relevant for anything else rather than “defending” what we deem to be the composer’s true intentions of a work. The vast distance between our understanding of written and sonic sources derives, in my view, from the lack of a deep understanding of the historical recordings. It is thus high time that Ricardo Viñes's recordings are researched thoroughly on their own terms - and evaluated by the standards and the aesthetics of the time in which they were made, or at least as close to these norms as it is possible to get. 



Viñes and Debussy – The paradox of the invisible musician


Ricardo Viñes was born during the “golden age” of romantic pianism and titanic keyboard performers. Franz Liszt was 64 years old, Anton Rubinstein 46, Clara Schumann 56, Ignacy Jan Paderewsky 15, and Sergei Rachmaninov – just two years old. Viñes was clearly a product of the romantic period, but he was also an avant-garde pianist of the early 1900s who championed a substantial part of the contemporary repertoire from France, Russia, Spain and Latin-America during his life. Most importantly is his role as the pianist who premiered almost the entire keyboard music of Debussy and Ravel. It is today a common belief that there is a distinct difference between so-called “romantic” and “impressionistic” playing styles: “Impressionism can be seen as a reaction against the rhetoric of Romanticism, disrupting the forward motion of standard harmonic progressions.”[68]  Indeed, impressionistic music is often subject to the term “20th century music” in pianistic pedagogy. On the piano “repertoire list” that should be prepared either for auditions, entrance exams or competitions, it is often expected that pianists should be able to play pieces from different musical époques and clearly differentiate between their respective musical styles. In relation to this, it is expected that repertoires by composers such as Debussy, Ravel, Prokofiev, Shostakovich or other “20th century composers” should be performed in a manner that clearly distinguishes them from repertoires by composers of the romantic era. Despite this, few scholars object to the influence romantic music had on both Debussy and Ravel. These issues have indeed been addressed by researchers such as Robert Philip, Roy Howat, Marguerite Long, Simon Trezise, Deborah Mawer and Roger Nichols. Although Viñes’s importance as the leading performer of Debussy’s and Ravel’s music is recognized, his “romantic” playing style within the “impressionistic” tradition has not been throughly researched. My contribution in this matter is therefore to investigate traces of the historical romantic performance practice tradition that we hear in the Debussy recordings of Ricardo Viñes. Although the aim of this research is not to challenge the composer’s authority as a performer of their own works, musicians and scholars who are seriously interested in the performance practice of “impressionist repertoires” cannot disregard the Viñes recordings. 


Modern-day interpretations of the music of Debussy (and indeed also of Ravel) rely on staying faithful to the complexly written scores. Anecdotes provided by French pianist Marguerite Long, who studied with both Debussy and Ravel, give insight to a view of the composer that was common at the time: 


In this sort of art one cannot exert oneself to put in what is not there - effects in particular. The one thing that matters is unity of tone. Anything that disturbs this - renunciation of rhythm, arbitrary rallentando or accelerando - is fatal […].[69]


She also illustrated this in contrast to romantic music: “[…] an objectivity in complete contrast to the romantic egocentric attitude […]”.[70] A quote from Debussy himself also gives insight to his own opinions about this: 


The possession of a good mechanism, backed by study of the independence of the fingers and of good, firm articulation, should always precede education in phrasing, taste and style. [...] There is confusion and danger in shaping young students too early to a style that, for them, is abnormal, the parody of feelings that they can neither understand nor explain. It incites them to affectation, to mannerism.[71]


It is with regards to this research project interesting to observe that Ricardo Viñes in his day received praise for being in service to the music and the score - this idea of the “invisible musician” operating between the composer and the audience: 


If there is a virtuoso who can be cited as the model for all others, it must be Ricardo Viñes. His mastery of the instrument is absolute, without equal, possibly, and one finds in him, in addition to his perfect incomparable technique, a reverence devoted to the work he plays. Virtuosity is for him no more than a medium he puts at his service and his mastery, a sensitivity that is touching and enthusiastic which is entirely consecrated to the faithful interpretation of a work of art. (Review by Jean Marnold in Le Figaro, 1916).[72]


We recognize the same praise in a much later review, in the period when he finished his last recordings, by Gustave Bret in L’Intransigeant, 1936: “His superior technique is never used for anything other than the passionate and selfless service of artistic and noble causes.”[73] Indeed, this notion of the “invisible musician” was something that Viñes himself believed in. One of his pupils, Joaquin Nin-Culmell, remembers Viñes telling him to “disappear, and the composition is born. Forget your own existence and Debussy or Ravel or Poulenc express themselves.”[74]


This ideal of staying true to the intent of the composers, which seems to have been at the core of Viñes’s artistic nature, is music to the ears of modern-day gatekeepers.[75] Such ideals are widely adhered to by most performers, scholars and audiences today. However, the looming elephant in the room is once again Viñes’s recordings. If his Debussy recordings are acceptable to modern ears at all, they are certainly regarded as very personal statements rather than reflections of Debussy's intentions as composer. This paradox make the recordings particularly interesting in an HIP “authenticity” perspective. In the words of Maurice Dumesnil, who studied Poissons d´Or with Debussy: 


With 'Poissons d'Or' it was indeed difficult to satisfy Debussy. 'Jouez plus librement,' he would repeat. I thought I did play with great freedom, but it was not enough. [...] Toward the middle he spoke again: 'Plus gracieux, plus élégant.' But when I complied, he said: 'Jouez plus simplement.' I came to the conclusion that the interpretation of Ricardo Viñes, to whom 'Poissons d'or' is dedicated, had become inseparable from his own conception; so I took it as a model and subsequently won approval.[76]


If we are to treat both the score of Debussy as well as the recorded performance of Viñes as authoritative sources, then we might have to acknowledge that what composers intended, and what they believed their notation to signify, was in fact extreme variability and licentiousness. In a letter to Manuel de Falla, who was to perform a piano version of Danses in Madrid 1907, Debussy responds to a request for advice on the performance of the work: 


What you ask is rather hard to give a definite answer to! It's not possible to write down the exact form of a rhythm, any more than it is to explain the different effects of a single phrase! The best thing, I think, is to be guided by how you feel...The colour of the two dances seems to me to be clearly defined. There's something to be got out of the passage between the 'gravity' of the first one and the 'grace' of the second; for a musician such as yourself that will not be difficult, and I am quite happy to leave the performance to your good taste.[77]


Although this last quote alludes to a seemingly spontaneous and highly personal way of interpreting Debussy's works (at least with regards to Debussy’s most trusted performers), aiming to understand how Ricardo Viñes was performing these works, through a method of extreme imitation and embodiment, could potentially produce new insights.




[1] Leech-Wilkinson 2020, 37

[2] Arnold Dolmetsch, Max Meili, Paul Sacher, Thurston Dart and Howard Ferguson were among the leading figures of the ”early music revival” of the 20th century.

[3] CHARM, A Brief History of Recording to ca. 1950, by Roger Beardsley and Daniel Leech-Wilkinson, accessed on October 25, 2021,

[4] Ibid.

[5] Kenneth Hamilton provides a fascinating insight of the customs and norms of concerts in the romantic period in his book After the Golden Age: Romantic Pianism and Modern Performance (Hamilton 2008).

[6] Hamilton 2008, viii (Preface)

[7] Leech-Wilkinson, 2009

[8] Philip, 2014

[9] Da Costa, 2012

[10] The Mazurka Project has documented a general difference in the tempo of Chopin mazurkas over the past hundred years where the trend is that early recordings have higher ones. Accessed on October 24, 2021,   

[11] An in-depth reflection on my use of the recreating method as well as relatable research projects is found in the chapter Introduction to the method of recreating recordings.

[12] Gounod, Charles. Roméo et Juliette, CG 9: Je veux vivre dans ce reve (Juliette's Waltz). Sung by Nellie Melba. Nellie Melba: London Recordings(1904), Naxos. YouTube, accessed on October 22, 2021:

[13] Schubert, Franz. Ellen's Gesang III (Ave Maria!), Op. 52, No. 6, D. 839, "Hymne an die Jungfrau". Sung by Elisabeth Schumann. Columbia, 1934. YouTube, accessed on October 22, 2021,

[14] Saint-Saëns, Camille. Introduction et Rondo capriccioso. Played by Renée Chemet. HMV,  1925. YouTube, accessed on October 22, 2021,

[15] Händel, Georg Friedrich. Sonata in A major. Played by Carl Flesch. Polydor, 1936. YouTube, accessed on October 22, 2021,

[16] Tchaikovsky, Pyotr Ilyich. Swan Lake Ballet Suite. Played by London Philharmonic Orchestra, Conducted by John Barbirolli. His Master's Voice – C.2619, His Master's Voice – C.2620. 1933. YouTube, accessed on October 21, 2021,

[17] Mahler, Gustav. Symphony No. 5  Ⅳ - Adagietto. Played by Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, conducted by Willem Mengelberg. Odéon, Issue_78_45: 120015, 1926. YouTube, accessed on October 21, 2021,

[18] Chopin, Frédéric. Nocturne in E Major Op. 62 No. 2. Played by Ignacy Jan Paderewski. Paderewski: His Earliest Recordings & The Complete European Recordings (Recorded 1911-1912). Naxos, 2008. YouTube, accessed on October 24, 2021.

[19] Barth 2018, 149

[20] Ibid, 152

[21] Da Costa 2001, 94

[22] Da Costa 2001, 3-4

[23] Ibid, 96

[24] Philip 2004, 75

[25] Barth 2018, 153

[26] Ibid.

[27] Da Costa 2012, 309

[28], accessed on October 25, 2021,

[29] Philip 2014, 43

[30] Leech-Wilkinson 2020, 37 

[31] Cook 2014, 3

[32] Leech-Wilkinson 2020, 22

[33] Da Costa 2012, 76-100

[34] Both researchers have provided an extensive amount if translated material regarding Viñes which was previously not available in English.

[35] Potvin 2020, 13 

[36] Ibid, 14

[37] Ibid, 15

[38] Brody 1977, 47

[39] Gubisch 1980, 198 

[40] Goodrich 2013, 163

[41] Trezise 2003, 263

[42] Potvin 2020, 47

[43] Potvin 2020, 48

[44] Potvin 2020, 46

[45] Ibid, 47

[46] Hamilton 2008, 28

[47] Scott 2014, 158

[48] See the chapter Ricardo Viñes – distilled biography concerning the dates of the recordings.

[49] Korevaar and Sampsel 2004

[50] Brody 1977, Goodrich 2013, Potvin 2020

[51] Goodrich 2013, 113

[52] Potvin 2020, 41

[53] Gabrielian 2018, 34

[54] Blier-Carruthers 2014, “Many musicians don’t love making recordings”

[55] Potvin 2020, 41

[56] These ”extrapolations” i.e. making recordings/performances based on the embodied knowledge attained from the recreating process is something which was central to the research projects of both Sigurd Slåttebrekk and Anna Scott (which I discuss in the chapter Introduction to the method of recreating recordings).

[57] Da Costa 2012, 20

[58] Philip 2014, 38

[59] Ward, Marston. Email, November 10, 2018

[60] Ricardo Viñes (piano) Enregistraments Històrics 1929-1936. Tritó, 2008

[61] Some researchers also challenge the conception that the limitations in historical recordings as opposed to the modern equipment of today is exclusively negative, like violist Emlyn Stam, who adapted a “lo-fi”-approach in his recreations of (acoustic) historical recordings as a vital part of his research project In Search of a Lost Language: Performing in Early-Recorded Style in Viola and String Quartet Repertoires.

[62] Blier-Carruthers; Kolkowski; Duncan 2015

[63] Ibid.

[64] Katz 2004, 39

[65] Katz 2004, 40

[66] Fabian 2008, 9

[67] Katz 2004, 37

[68] Adam Augustyn, ed., "Impressionism" Encyclopedia Britannica, February 4, 2020, accessed on October 26, 2021,

[69] Long 1972, 20

[70] Ibid, 45

[71] Timbrell 1999, 49

[72] Potvin 2020, 13

[73] Ibid, 16

[74] Potvin 2020, 15

[75] Indeed, we also find such performing ideals existing well before the time of Viñes, such as in the case of Clara Schumann, as Anna Scott illustrates in her dissertation Romanticizing Brahms: Early Recordings and the [De]Construction of Brahmsian Identity from 2014.

[76] Nichols 1992, 160

[77] Lesure; Nichols 1987, 176


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