Daniel Leech-Wilkinson

Performance Style in Elena Gerhardt's Schubert Song Recordings

Abstract: Performance style is conceptualised as a collection of small ‘expressive gestures’ consisting of changes in frequency, loudness or duration within or between notes or phrases. Collections differ somewhat between individuals (personal style) and change in content over time (period style). The changing style of Elena Gerhardt (1883-1965), as documented in her recordings of Schubert Lieder (1911-1939), is analysed through her habits of timbre, vibrato, scoops, portamento, tuning, and rubato. Beneath the general impression of consistency throughout her career, more detailed analysis of the data, especially concerning vibrato and rubato, reveals a process of gradual evolution consistent with the hypothesis that performance style changes in unrecognisably small steps which accumulate rapidly across a musical culture.

© Daniel Leech-Wilkinson

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