Alban Gerhardt explains why it takes courage to fight tradition and forge your own interpretation – based not on what others play but on what the composer wrote – in the work’s third movement
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Saint-Saëns was a wonderful composer, but very seldom have I heard this concerto played in the way that he wrote it. Instead most cellists follow the traditions established by others before them, often because they have listened to too many recordings. It is far more difficult to break away from those traditions if you have heard the work played ten times in the same way. Pretend instead that the music has been written just for you and then interpret it on your own. It is fine to change things in the score, but only if that helps you to bring across the musical message that you want to share. Don’t do it out of laziness, bad habit or just because you’ve heard it played that way before.
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