chapter  IV
40 Pages

Performance Practice of Chamber Music

Ensemble ( = consort) is “that kind of cooperation in music in which each performer bears some share of responsibility for the general effect, as well as for the correct execution of the notes set before him.” While good ensemble must come from experience in playing together, Fuller-Maitland hopes to speed the process by reminding the reader of the basics. He begins in a remarkably archean manner, by discussing the fact that there was no need for ensemble in pre-Haydn and post-Brahms chamber music. Briefly (incorrectly), he tries to interpret appoggiaturas of the 18th century and makes a few general remarks on good ensemble. Mixed ensembles are easier than homogeneous ensembles because the important melodies automatically stand out and, in any case, important melodies should always be made to stand out and the other parts recede to accompany them. Fuller-Maitland pays tribute to Joachim and cites the violinist’s flexibility in interpretation in a performance of a Brahms’s Hungarian Dance in D when the author performed it with Joachim. He concentrates on how to perform Beethoven’s Op. 47 violin + piano Sonata, Brahms’s Op. 76 violin + piano Sonata, Franck’s violin + piano Sonata, Schubert’s B-flat Trio, Mozart’s Gminor Piano Quartet,

Beethoven’s Op. 74 String Quartet, Schumann’s Piano Quintet, and Brahms’s Clarinet Quintet. He discusses articulation, balance, rhythmic distortions, piano pedaling, dynamics, ornaments (even when written out), tempo, character, fingering, portamento, intonation, and so on. The slight emphasis on chamber music with piano and on the piano part itself is no doubt due to the fact that the author was a pianist. The interpretations are dated but nonetheless valid and worthy of imitation and study by modern ensembles-if for no other reason than to understand how chamber music was interpreted by competent performers c.1900. This chapter is especially valid for its comments on Brahms and Franck. Most remarks are very specific about a specific group of notes.