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Inventing Tradition: Webern's Piano Variations in Early Recordings

Inventing Tradition: Webern's Piano Variations in Early Recordings Anton Webern's Piano Variations Op. 27 present a classic case of the entanglement of performance tradition with history, and more specifically with the aesthetic and ideological shifts that took place around modernism in the aftermath of the Second World War. Composed shortly before the war, in 1935–6, the Piano Variations were published by Universal Edition (Vienna) in May 1937 and premiered in October that year by the young Viennese pianist Peter Stadlen, whom Webern – as was his established practice – coached prior to the performance. Despite a few repeat performances, there was not time for the work to become established in the concert repertoire before the war intervened, and a month after the armistice Webern was mistakenly shot by an American soldier. When performances resumed after the war, with the first commercial recording being made in 1951, it was largely in the context of a postwar modernism very different in its aesthetic assumptions and performance practices from those of pre‐war Vienna. And this dislocation of the Piano Variations from contemporary performance practice was reinforced by the appearance of the music on the printed page. As Aaron Copland (, p. 70) wrote the following year, Webern's piano music ‘has a curious way of rebuffing you; it – so to speak – defies you to read it’. If the score thus became something of an enigma or sphinx bequeathed by an already distant pre‐war world, some light was thrown on the kind of performance Webern envisaged – at least as understood by Stadlen – by the survival and publication in 1979 of the score used in the coaching sessions. With annotations by both Webern and Stadlen, it played a role in shaping subsequent performances. This singular conjunction of circumstances makes the Piano Variations an exceptionally revealing case study in the genesis of interpretative style.There is an affinity between the situation of Op. 27 after the war and historically informed performance: in each case, notations from one historical context are interpreted in another. But there is also an obvious difference. Leading performers from the Schoenberg circle, including Rudolf Kolisch and Eduard Steuermann, attended the Darmstadt Ferienkurse (annual summer schools), which were initiated in 1946 and became the principal anvil on which postwar musical modernism was forged; Stadlen – who had by then settled in London – attended from 1948 to 1951, and it was there, on 31 July 1948, that he gave the German premiere of Op. 27. Fortunately a private recording was made, and although it is of poor quality and was commercially released only in 2006, it reveals a performance bearing all the marks of the pre‐war style. As Christopher Fox (, p. 11) remarks, however, ‘it was Webern on the page which became the great touchstone for younger composers’, and in this context a new performance style developed that ostensibly owed little to pre‐war traditions. Stadlen was vocal in his opposition to this new style, insisting in a number of publications (the best‐known of which is ‘Serialism Reconsidered’, published in 1958) that Webern's intentions had been quite different. All this made the Piano Variations a key arena within which postwar modernist values were negotiated. It also resulted in an unusually extensive recorded heritage: as of 2012 there were 65 commercial releases, falling into two groups separated by a six‐year break (1948–77 and 1983–2012). I shall suggest that by the 1970s Op. 27 was not only firmly ensconced within the modernist canon but had also acquired a well‐established performance tradition; for this reason it is the first group – consisting of 30 recordings – with which I am concerned in this article. They are listed in Appendix .Building on Timothy Day's (, pp. 178–85) brief but perceptive account of how performances of Webern's music have changed over the years, Miriam Quick (, p. 103) writes in her doctoral thesis, which includes a chapter on Op. 27, that there were ‘in the late 1940s, 50s and 60s […] not one but two Webern performance styles: the Viennese tradition and the avant‐garde “Darmstadt” practice that rejected – or more accurately, perhaps, ignored – this tradition’. In this article, which focuses on the first movement, I explore recordings of Op. 27 that represent both these traditions, relying on recently developed techniques of computer‐assisted close listening. I also consider relationships between recordings and the contexts from which they emerged, including other recordings, critical and analytical writings and the aesthetic ideologies that informed them. Woven into the story is the development of theoretical approaches that have understood performance style to be a function of compositional structure – something which, borrowing a term from Susan Melrose (, p. 215), I call page‐to‐stage theory. If, as Nicholas Mathew (, p. 61) writes, Stadlen's annotated score represented ‘a serious blow to the Darmstadt image of Webern’, it also problematises some still current assumptions about the relationship between scores and performances.The Presence of the PastIn 1964 the leading pianist of the Schoenberg circle, Eduard Steuermann – to whom Webern dedicated his Piano Variations – told Gunther Schuller (, p. 28) that ‘Webern himself was the freest interpreter of his own music that could be imagined’. He added (with specific reference to the Concerto Op. 24) that ‘[h]e played so freely that I hardly could follow the music, but it was extraordinary’. And in this context ‘free’ does not mean unconsidered – as is evident in a letter that Webern sent to the conductor Hermann Scherchen in 1938, in which he described how the fugal subject should be played in his arrangement of the Ricercar a 6 from Bach's Musical Offering: ‘from g via f♯ to f faster, then holding back a little on the e♭ (accent given by the harp) and again rubato on the trombone progression (including the tied e♭ of the horn where the trombone has a crotchet rest in bar 6)’.The intricate performance style current in pre‐war Vienna is fairly represented in Stadlen's 1948 recording, which I shall describe at some length. But in order to do so I need to sketch out the compositional framework represented by Webern's original score of 1937, as well as the annotations in Stadlen's score. Because the small rhythmic values used in the movement – particularly its central section – make the usual bar:beat citations unwieldy, I often refer to particular points by event number (preceded by E). These correspond not only to the score at Appendix , but also to the Sonic Visualiser session files through which the majority of the recordings in the public domain may be accessed (see Appendix ); fortunately this includes most of those I discuss in detail. The session files include a piano‐roll representation that further simplifies cross‐references between sound and score, together with tempo graphs aligned with playback. These graphs are more perceptually salient than is often the case in post‐tonal music because so much of this movement is isochronous, and they will make my observations easier to follow. There are also dynamic graphs, although their usefulness is more limited. In short, my analyses will make more sense – and be much more interesting – if read in conjunction with playback using Sonic Visualiser.It is hardly necessary to point out that the first movement of the Piano Variations falls into three symmetrically disposed sections, which I shall call A1, B and A2; the outer sections match one another exactly apart from the serial derivation (which means the pitch characteristics and patterns of hand crossing are quite different), dynamics and an alteration to the final two attacks that gives A2 a stronger cadential quality. Each of the A sections consists of a series of rhythmically defined gestures (e.g. bars 1–2, 3–4) – what I shall call groups – that are made up of isochronous semiquavers. The first part of A1 (bars 1–7) comprises four groups each of four attacks notated in the form of enclosed pairs of notes and separated by semiquaver rests; it is an exact palindrome, with the mirror axis (what Webern scholars call Spiegelbild) in bar 4. Webern's original score marks it pp, but Stadlen's annotated score adds a few further markings in Webern's hand. The melodic and expressive thread is brought out through diagonal lines and arrows between the notes to be connected, together with tenuto signs and tiny – though not literally playable – pairs of hairpins; there is also a ‘tpo’ marking on the last beat of bar 4 (E9), implying a preceding ritenuto. The other annotations are added by Stadlen, based on his recollections (which may or may not have been accurate but at least represent his impression of how the music should go), and fill out this picture. Stadlen writes ‘subdued plaint’ at the opening (putting it in inverted commas, which should mean it is a verbatim quotation from Webern); circles the principal melody notes, which are in each case the highest pitch; adds a pp marking at the beginning of the last of the four groups (E13), implying some kind of dynamic arch; and at the same point also adds ‘Echo’, again in inverted commas.That last instruction might be thought redundant, but in his recording Stadlen observes it to the extent that for a moment the music becomes inaudible. Otherwise the main feature of his playing of this passage is the irregular and curiously – perhaps plaintively – halting way he plays the semiquavers. The first lasts fully 82% longer than the second; the unexpected prolongation of E7 (73% longer than the previous semiquaver) creates an oddly limping effect that turns into a kind of lilt at E9–12. The effect is less of projecting structure than of searching for meaning, and in this way it projects agency. You have the sense that Stadlen is trying to say something, even if you don't quite know what it is. At the same time a traditional scheme is in operation: he plays the opening seven bars as an antecedent, a question, to which the rest of the A1 section – the consequent – provides a series of answers in the form of more sustained gestural groups. A three‐bar group begins at bar 8 (E17), where Stadlen not only writes in ‘new vigour’ but also replaces the printed p with mf; all of this underlines the stretto composed into the music through the overlapping of the paired attacks. A climactic group of four bars follows at bar 11 (E26), where Stadlen adds ‘more!’ (this time in inverted commas), together with huge hairpins centred on the Spiegelbild (bar 13, E31–32). A wavy line over bar 14, as Stadlen explains in his preface, indicates ‘a modest holding back’, which, in combination with a caesura added in bar 14, turns E35–37 into a closing gesture within this four‐bar group. Two shorter groups (E38–42 and E43–45) conclude the A1 section: added ‘tpo’ markings in bars 15–17 imply unnotated ritenutos in the preceding groups, matching the notated one in the final group. The annotations, then, generally flesh out the implications of the dynamic markings in Webern's original score: an overall rise and fall of intensity through bars 8–18, matching the group lengths.As might be expected, Stadlen's recording of these passages is more or less in line with the annotations, though not completely so, and of course any performance contains details that are not captured by verbal or graphic annotations. (John McCabe [, p. 17], who made his own recording of Op. 27 in 1969, writes that ‘all those little interpretative nuances that simply cannot be written down, are what brings the music to life’.) At the beginning of the three‐bar group, in bar 8, Stadlen hurries through E17–19 and then makes E20 dramatically longer (the semiquaver at E20 is 88% longer than that at E19), creating the same kind of halting effect as earlier. By contrast, he abbreviates the rest before the next four‐bar group (bar 11, E26), almost knitting the two groups together and in this way creating a clear linear continuity from the a2 at E24 to the b2 at E26 (you can imagine him thinking of those circled notes). He accelerates from E27 to E29, to which he gives a dynamic emphasis, and from where there is an overall decrease of both tempo and dynamics to the end of the group, though it is complicated by the prolongation of E31 (of which more shortly). Perhaps it is to avoid an excessively disjointed effect that Stadlen completely ignores the caesura he marked into his score before E35, instead playing through it with the legato articulation that characterises his performance of this section in general. Whereas – as we shall see – later recordings shape these groups through the principles of temporal and dynamic phrase arching that spread rapidly in the aftermath of the war (Cook , Ch. 6), Stadlen shapes them more in the form of a decrease from fast to slow, loud to soft, intense to serene. And he follows the same general pattern for the rest of the A1 section, though in a less exaggerated manner.A further element in Stadlen's expressive armoury is what was already in 1948 the old‐fashioned practice of hand breaking or dislocation (spreading the notes of a chordal attack), often employed as a signifier of intense feeling. Stadlen's purpose, however, seems to be different. He employs it at E18, E21 and E24, and again at E39, which is to say at all the points where the pattern of interlocking pairs of notes changes. The piece has begun with one‐ and two‐note attacks, but the first three‐note attack is at E18 and the first four‐note one at E21; at E39 the rests between the pairs of notes disappear, representing a further tightening of the stretto. In textural terms, then, the group at E38–42 is the most intense point in A1, but at the same time it is enclosed within a process of dynamic winding down from the climax of the previous phrase that results in a kind of expressive bottling up. Yet the hand breaking at E39 has no obvious part in this process: rather, it belongs with the previous hand breaking, the intention presumably being to mark an aspect of textural design that Stadlen thought it important to bring out. At such points his playing both expresses and induces in the listener (or analyst) a kind of hermeneutic approach – as if meaning is to be found beneath the immediately perceptible surface of the music – which is perhaps not surprising in an interpretation shaped through intense coaching by a composer who, as Julian Johnson (, pp. 186 and 202–3) says, ‘hardly ever wrote a piece which did not have, for him, significant extra‐musical associations’. (Op. 27 is no exception.) The ‘for him’ is crucial: the associations were private, hidden from view. And here a link might be made with a curious ambivalence in Stadlen's relationship to the Piano Variations.Stadlen claimed a position of authority in postwar debates about musical modernism because of his inside knowledge of Webern's conception of this serial composition. But at the same time he used his position to further a polemic against serialism, writing in his 1958 article of the ‘fundamental errors and contradictions’ of Schoenberg's system (p. 22). He squared this circle by insisting that in the coaching sessions, Webern ‘acted as if he himself were not aware of the serial aspect of his work’ (p. 16) – in other words, as if, like the extramusical associations, it were a private matter. Instead, Stadlen emphasised what in an interview with Hansjörg Pauli he called the ‘pre‐classical shapes’ of the music, the palindromic patterns into which Webern fashioned the music, patterns that are afforded but not mandated by the serial organisation. In the preface to his edition Stadlen calls the palindromes ‘autark’ structures, presumably meaning that they appear self‐sufficient, and his recording suggests an almost obsessive concern with them. The most obvious example in the A1 section is at E31, which he prolongs in such a way as to emphasise the Spiegelbild (E31–32) – an effect that, as I put it, complicates the decrease of tempo and dynamics at this point. More obviously than E39, this is – as Naomi Schor () would call it – a ‘bad’ detail, one that is not synthesised or sublated within the larger context but rather intrudes upon the listener's experience. It is this intrusiveness that turns it into a hermeneutic marker, an invitation to interpretation akin to Lawrence Kramer's (, p. 12) illocutionary ‘breaking points’: once more you have the sense that Stadlen is trying to say something. And while this point in the annotated score is marked ‘molto espressivo, particularly the repeated notes’, there are other, unmarked points where Stadlen's playing is apparently shaped by the palindromes. Indeed one of them is the matching dyads at E7 and E10, the prolongation of which creates the oddly limping effect I described as searching for meaning, and which comprise the same pitches as E31–32 (c1 and d2). It is as if Stadlen wanted to bring out anything except the serial structure.In terms of organisation – and despite the curiously opaque appearance of Webern's rhythmic notation – the B section (bars 19–36, E46–132) looks more straightforward in the score than it sounds in Stadlen's recording. Successively longer groups of isochronous demisemiquavers (E46–51, E58–66 and E73–84) alternate with groups of six slower notes of varying lengths centred on the Spiegelbilder: Stadlen marks the first of these ‘particularly intense’. These groups of six notes involve prominent melodic tritones in contrasted registers, while the hand crossings that are scripted in the score – and that during the A sections create an effect of visual and kinesthetic interweaving – here take on the overtly dramatic quality that leads the pianist Claude Helffer (, p. 146) to speak of the two hands as theatrical personae engaged in dialogue. (Stadlen's annotation at bars 20–21, supposedly quoting the composer, indicates that Webern himself had drama in mind, if of a different kind: ‘right hand replacing left not until the last moment, almost too late’.) The hand crossings are perhaps the most immediately striking feature of Op. 27 in performance, and the reason I do not focus on them in this article is that I have done so in another (Cook ): it is based on two televised performances by Glenn Gould, analysed in relation to his four audio recordings, and addresses the issue of how physical action can be encoded in recorded sound.All of these groups – both the isochronous and the non‐isochronous ones – are marked ‘rit. … tempo’ in Webern's original score, and within every pair of groups the same major seventh dyad acts as a terminus for both, with the ‘tempo’ marking following it (for example f♯1/f♮ 2 at E52 and E57). This parsing is made explicit by the brackets Webern added in the annotated score, which suggest that Stadlen had trouble with the passage. And although in the original score the second and third groups of demisemiquavers are given a dynamic arch from p to f and back to p, the annotated score adds a crescendo to give the same shaping to the first group, which is how Stadlen plays it: a flurry of notes slowing from E48 to target E50 before coming to a stop on E52, with dynamics closely following tempo (as may be seen in the Sonic Visualiser session file). Of the ‘tempo’ marked in Webern's score at E53 (or at E68 or E86), however, Stadlen's recording carries no trace. At the note‐to‐note level the extent of the flexibility – the demisemiquaver at E50 is 160% longer than the one at E47 – is in line with the annotation at the beginning of the B section (‘freely improvisatory’, in inverted commas). But the following six‐note group is taken slower, averaging around dotted quaver = 20, that is, half the notated tempo; Stadlen accidentally foregrounds the hand crossing by mis‐hitting E53. The next two pairs of groups are played in much the same way, perhaps the only detail that calls for comment being the separation of E73–75. This results in a gesture which is rather convoluted but corresponds precisely to the annotation Stadlen ascribes to Webern at this point: ‘in parentheses’.The increasing length of the three demisemiquaver groups gives them a directional force that culminates in the much more extended passage of demisemiquavers from E91; Stadlen's only intervention during these three groups is slightly to increase the tempo of his initial flurries of notes from one to the next. It is the remainder of the B section – E91–121, and after a short rest a briefer passage of similar material from E122 to E132 – that prompted my comment about the music sounding less simple in Stadlen's recording than it looks on the printed page. It is again not hard to parse the passage. There is first a group of eleven demisemiquavers (E91–101), modelled on the previous demisemiquaver groups and again marked as a dynamic arch, with the last note overlapping a group of three tritone‐related notes (E101–103) that coincide with the Spiegelbild and are distinguished from the rest of the section by being marked staccato. This in turn overlaps with a group of twelve demisemiquavers (E103–114), now reaching ff and overlapping with a further group of three staccato notes (E114–116); then comes a group of six demisemiquavers (E116–121), again reaching ff but torn off mid‐phrase. Finally there are five demisemiquavers (f diminishing to p) overlapping with the third and last of the groups of three staccato notes (E126–128) – which in turn overlap with another five demisemiquavers (diminuendo to pp) that peter out into a pause before the A2 section. The rhetoric of building to a climax, tearing it off, completing what was left hanging (but in a fragmentary or desultory way) and concluding with a pregnant pause is familiar from any amount of nineteenth‐century piano music conceived within a broadly narrative or dramatic paradigm. As Robert Wason says (, p. 99), ‘the musical meaning of this stormy passage is clear’.To my ear Stadlen's recording confuses this basically simple and legible design for reasons that are indicated in his edition. In these thickly annotated bars Webern adjusts or adds dynamics, adds sforzandi at E112 and E117 together with an accent at E120 (in the left hand) and, most important, specifies caesuras before E100, E113 and E125 – that is before each of the groups of three staccato notes. It is at the first of these caesuras that we see perhaps the most famous of all these annotations, in Stadlen's writing but supposedly quoted verbatim from Webern: ‘left hand like a mysterious drum’. The annotation continues, now in Stadlen's words, ‘ditto bars 33 and 36. Sharply set off against what comes before and after’. That is what Stadlen does, but the result is problematic. It is as if, at E100, Stadlen suddenly turns aside to deal with other business in the middle of the gesture before resuming it at E105. (Think of a cat breaking off in the middle of playing to clean itself.) And though the effect is less extreme from E113, here a further problem arises: after the interruption there is not enough time to develop sufficient momentum for the end of the phrase at E121 to sound like a tearing off – or for E122–132 to sound like a completion of what was left hanging. Finally, the breaking up of the sustained passage indicated in the original score means it no longer sounds like the climactic block towards which the previous, increasingly long demisemiquaver groups have been directed. A certain effect of splashy rhetoric does not altogether make up for the lack of interpretative direction, and though later pianists also struggled with this section, it is hard not to wonder whether it was in part Webern's coaching that confused the issue.After a gigantic pause (Webern added a pause sign in Stadlen's score), Stadlen plays the A2 section in a manner that does not exactly replicate the nuances of A1 but embodies the same general features. That is in line with the annotations (‘tone of voice as at the start’ in bar 37, ‘onward’ in bars 44 and 47 and ‘very warm and heartfelt’ in bars 48–49), which amount to much the same as those at the corresponding points of A1. To leave it at that, however, would be to ignore a massive discrepancy between the score – either score – and almost all the recordings of Op. 27, Stadlen's included. Other than the frequent ‘rit.’ and ‘tpo’ signs, the only indication of tempo in Webern's score is at the beginning of the movement (dotted quaver = ca. 40). Stadlen's score adds nothing to this, though in his preface he says that Webern's metronome marks in this piece ‘seem to me considerably faster than the tempi he wanted’ and instead suggests semiquaver = 96 (i.e. dotted quaver = 32). In practice he plays still slower, with the average tempo of the first section being dotted quaver = 28, and that of the movement as a whole being dotted quaver = 26. Such figures have to be interpreted with caution: they impose a spurious regularity upon Stadlen's highly mobile tempos. I have cited occasional percentage deviations to make the point that Stadlen gives nominally the same note values wildly different interpretations at different times – in other words, that he plays with constant rubato. But the massive discrepancy to which I referred is something else.Stadlen uses tempos that may not be constant but are obviously different in order to characterise different materials, such as his tempo of around 20 for the groups of non‐isochronous notes in the first part of the B section: this is the principle behind the multi‐tempo plans adopted by early twentieth‐century pianists for movements built out of strongly contrasted materials (see e.g. Cook , pp. 115–16). Despite this, his average tempo for the B section is just a fraction faster than that for A1 (29 versus 28). By contrast, he plays A2 much slower, at an average tempo of 24. Other than the serial derivation and its consequences, as explained earlier, the two A sections are close to identical – except in terms of affective expression: played slower, A2 takes on a quality of serenity or resignation that makes it quite different from A1. And it's not just Stadlen who does this. Playing A2 significantly slower than A1 is standard practice. There are just three out of the 65 recordings in which it is played faster, one from 1977 and the others from the 1990s. In the absence of any notational or other documentary basis, this is a purely aural/oral tradition, and I know of no reason to suppose that Webern envisaged it. Yet it is a basic determinant of Op. 27 as we know it. Symmetrical on the printed page, the form of this movement as heard traverses an emotional trajectory that is wholly the creation of its performers.Continuing TraditionWe know from Neil Boynton's research () that Webern also coached Else Cross in the performance of Op. 27. Like Stadlen, she emigrated in the late 1930s and subsequently taught at the Royal Academy of Music, where a prize for performing contemporary piano music is named after her. Although she did not record the work, there is a recording from 1954 by the French pianist Jeanne Manchon‐Theis, another contemporary music specialist who is supposed to have been coached by the composer. Hard evidence of this appears to be limited to the statement on the record sleeve that the pianist ‘gives us an authoritative interpretation approved by the composers themselves’ (the disc also includes works by Schoenberg and Berg), but, in an occasionally acerbic correspondence with the composer William Bolcom, Anthony Stadlen – Peter's nephew – referred to it as established fact: in a letter dated 14 February 2012, he recounted how moved Peter had been on hearing Manchon‐Theis's playing of the Piano Variations ‘because he knew immediately that she must have studied them with Webern’. And in her thesis, Quick (, pp. 198–9) pursues a comparison between Stadlen's and Manchon‐Theis's recordings, writing that ‘[t]heir approaches are quite similar: both are very expressive, with very wide fluctuations in tempo and lots of sustaining pedal’. Other shared features include a generally lyrical tonal conception with a consistently legato articulation, a focus on detail and some indications of the multi‐tempo plans adopted by the previous generation of pianists.There is, in short, enough similarity in basic approach for the differences to be telling. For instance, where in the A1 section Stadlen begins the groups at E17–25 and E26–37 at a faster tempo and then slows down, Manchon‐Theis shapes both as tempo and dynamic arches (though they are beginning‐weighted rather than symmetrical). And whereas in the B section Stadlen begins E46–52, E58–67 and E73–85 with a flurry of short notes, Manchon‐Theis smooths their profile into something closer to arches, again mirrored by dynamics, thus creating a more measured effect reminiscent of recitative: her playing is less impulsive than Stadlen's, more classical. (Like Stadlen, Manchon‐Theis takes no notice of Webern's ‘tempo’ markings in bars 20, 24 and 28.) And while the isochronous and non‐isochronous groups are treated without any obvious hierarchy, Manchon‐Theis creates a certain sense of direction throughout this passage by building on something Stadlen did, but more systematically: whereas each of his flurries of notes peaked a little faster than the previous one, Manchon‐Theis increases the tempo of her arch‐shaped groups in line with their increasing number of notes, so that the sustained demisemiquaver passage from E91 to E121 becomes the fastest of all. Although the first part of the B section has never settled down to a consistent tempo – itself a characteristic of early twentieth‐century pianism – there is a clear sense that a quite different tempo, around 40, has been established during the climactic passage.Manchon‐Theis handles this passage differently from Stadlen, and perhaps more successfully. Whereas Stadlen breaks up the continuity, in line with the caesura Webern pencilled in after E99, Manchon‐Theis continues at full speed; only at the second of Webern's pencilled‐in caesuras – after E112 – does she momentarily hesitate before resuming motion and breaking off more strongly at the notated rests after E121. In this way she avoids Stadlen's premature loss of motion at E99 and throws extra weight onto the points that, in his pencilled annotations, Webern marked sff: the matching B♭ /D♭ dyads at E112 and E118. (I know of no reason to think that Manchon‐Theis had seen Stadlen's score, so this could conceivably offer some confirmation of the story that Webern coached her.) She takes the average tempo of the A2 section down to 23 and flattens the tempo and dynamic profiles in a way that Stadlen does not. I described Stadlen's playing of the A2 section as serene; Manchon‐Theis's is even more so. Johnson (, p. 233) describes serialism, in Webern's hands, as ‘the means of a music that does not trace a narrative of the subject’, and in Manchon‐Theis's playing of this section there is a hint of the objective or inorganic quality that modernist critics attributed to Webern's music through the use of terms such as ‘geometrical’ and ‘crystalline’. All the same, her historically conditioned playing can hardly be said to embody the same values as the sleeve note, by the composer Alexandre Spitzmueler: in Op. 27, he writes, serialism is ‘pushed to the extreme point of contrapuntal rigour. Every ornament is excluded, and the composition is governed entirely by logic’. One wonders whether Spitzmueler ever listened to the recording.Manchon‐Theis was born in 1902, which makes her the earliest‐born performer to have recorded Op 27. Born in 1910, Stadlen was the fourth earliest. The second and third earliest were both American pianists born in 1908, and both were known for their playing of Beethoven and Schubert rather than as contemporary‐music specialists: Webster Aitken, who recorded Op 27 in 1961, and Beveridge Webster, whose recording dates from 1967 (by which time he was 59, the oldest pianist to record Op. 27 during the period covered by this article). Both, as it happens, trained with Artur Schnabel, while Aitken also studied with Emil von Sauer – himself born as long ago as 1862. Given the extent to which performers are generally believed to internalise stylistic practices around their late teens or early twenties (Leech‐Wilkinson , p. 250), one might expect to hear aspects of pre‐war performance in their recordings, despite the dates, and this proves to be the case. Both share obvious features with Stadlen or Manchon‐Theis, ranging from legato articulation and use of pedal to hand breaking: Aitken uses the latter sparingly, for example to bring out the Spiegelbilder, but Webster uses it so frequently that it becomes an audible expression of Webern's manual choreography. Both recordings exhibit the unsettled tempo in the first half of the A sections that, in Stadlen's performance, I described as searching for meaning. At the same time, in the second half of the A sections, both follow Manchon‐Theis in consistently shaping the groups as beginning‐weighted arches.As usual it is the B section that offers the greatest interpretative contrasts. Sapp's similarity analyser detects an extremely close correlation in timing between Stadlen's and Aitken's playing of E46–53 and E58–67 – but the aural effect is quite different, presumably a reflection of the perceptual salience of absolute tempo. Aitken's average tempo during the B section is an exceptionally slow 22, which means that Stadlen's flurries of initial notes turn into vocalistic declamation; the effect is that much stronger in the corresponding group E73–85, where the tenor melody intensifies the recitative‐like quality I observed in Manchon‐Theis's playing of this passage. In contrast, Webster adopts a strategy different from that of any of the other pianists I have discussed so far: he consistently arches all the groups from E46 to E90 – not only the isochronous but also the non‐isochronous ones (though in the latter case the effect is less perceptually salient). He also parses the f♯1/f♮ 2 dyad at E57 differently from the other pianists. I referred to the dyads at E52 and E57, E67 and E72, and E85 and E90 as the terminus points of their respective groups, corresponding to Webern's ‘tempo’ markings (and confirmed by his brackets in the annotated score): Stadlen, Manchon‐Theis and Aitken all treat them this way, reducing speed and volume as they approach them. By contrast, Webster creates a perceptible break between E56 and E57, leaving the latter oddly hanging. Perhaps it was because Stadlen was doing the same that Webern parsed this passage in his score.Equally variable is the treatment of the climactic group of the B section, from E91 to E121. Aitken builds up speed at the beginning of the passage, like everyone else, but slows perceptibly to E99, almost as if he had seen Webern's annotation at this point. He picks up speed and slows again at E105–106 (this time contrary to Webern's annotation). Then he attacks E107 and maintains a tempo of around 40 – the highest sustained tempo of the performance – up to E116, at which point he slows down drastically to the end of the group: this and the following group (E122–132) in effect become a transition to the tempo of the A2 section. But whereas in Aitken's performance, like Manchon‐Theis's, there are at least patches of sustained tempo, Webster's tempo during this passage is continuously mobile. The same might be said of Stadlen, who rendered this passage as a series of discrete gestures, and the effect in each case is the same splashy rhetoric. Yet the mobility of Webster's tempo is different. There is a sense of rapid motion underlying it – and hence of the climactic block I missed in Stadlen's performance – but it is articulated around a series of events that require particular attention and are given extra time: the passage from E101 to E103 that Webern linked to a mysterious drum, and the registral high points at E107 and E112.This means it makes sense to compare Webster's recording with that of the other three earliest‐born pianists to record Op. 27, not because they share particular interpretations of the score, but because of similarities in their handling of time, in their essentially dramatic conception of the music's unfolding and in their lyrical and melody‐driven approach to musical expression – in short, because of similarities in style. But there are two respects in which Webster's recording combines aspects of performance practices from pre‐ and postwar modernism. One is the systematic use of phrase arching to which I referred, a feature that became widespread in the performance of the common‐practice repertoire: while tempo and dynamic arching are found individually in recordings from before the Second World War, only after 1945 did the coordination of these parameters with one another, and with composed phrasing, become the systematic phenomenon that such researchers as Neil Todd have documented in more recent performance. Manchon‐Theis, Aitken and Webster retain the very high level of tempo and dynamic inflection found in Stadlen's performance, but in every successive recording the tempo and dynamic arching becomes increasingly rationalised, with the arches coinciding with the gestural groups.The second and more crucial respect concerns absolute tempo. By comparison with Stadlen's and Manchon‐Theis's recordings, Aitken's features the fastest average tempo for the A1 section (31 as against the others’ 28), but the slowest for the B section (22 as against Stadlen's 29 and Manchon‐Theis's 27); he speeds up only slightly for A2 (24, much the same tempo as the others’). Webster retains the distinction between A1 on the one hand and B and A2 on the other, but he plays everything much faster: his average tempos (35, 31 and 30) are much closer to those of the postwar modernists I describe in the next section. This affects the expressive character of the performance and has other consequences too. For example, the lack of interpretative definition over the dyad at E57 might be more problematic in a slower performance, where coherence would be more of an issue, while the strong effect of tearing off which Webster creates at E121 is more easily made effective at his tempo than at Aitken's (and Aitken handles this point quite differently). In short, perhaps unsurprisingly considering its late date, Webster's recording represents something of a stylistic hybrid.But you would never guess that from the original LP, which, as in the case of Manchon‐Theis's, couples Op. 27 with works by Schoenberg and Berg and comes with an insert containing analytical notes by the American critic and composer Eric Salzman. Here, even more than in Spitzmueler's sleeve notes for Manchon‐Theis, we have the Op. 27 of postwar modernism: Salzman speaks of the work's ‘symmetrical quality – the musical objects have almost the character of tangible, geometrical objects’. Critical language lends itself to such simplifying characterisations: that is how it can be so responsive to fashion. By contrast, the grounding of performance in tacit knowledge and overlearned physical schemata makes it more resistant to change, and we shall see in the next section that the much younger pianists who came to maturity during the immediate postwar years struggled to express in their playing the qualities that tripped so easily off the critics’ tongues.Zero HourPerformance is evanescent, and as a result the narratives that cluster around it easily become entrenched. One such narrative turns on the impermeable division that Stadlen sought to draw between those musicians – such as himself – who had first‐hand experience of the Schoenberg circle, and the postwar avant‐garde whose enthusiasm for Webern he saw as matched only by their failure to understand him. It was as if, on the strength of his coaching sessions, he was licensed to speak with the delegated authority of the composer. This becomes particularly clear in a conference paper given by Stadlen in 1972 but published only in 2004, and in French translation: pointedly entitled ‘The Pointillist Misunderstanding’, it dismissed interpretations of Op. 27 by a range of analysts from Friedhelm Döhl to Peter Westegaard through the simple stratagem of demonstrating that they did not conform with the annotations in Stadlen's score – which, on its publication seven years later, turned him into ‘the composer's representative on our music stands’ (Mathew , p. 66). In essence, Stadlen accused postwar performers such as Leonard Stein (of whom more shortly) of ignorance. In the letter from which I have already quoted, Anthony Stadlen – quoting Peter – writes that ‘Stein “could not be expected to divine” the nuances which could only be learned from “direct, detailed tradition”’.This is the dislocation to which I referred in my opening paragraph. Yet, even allowing for the cultural fault line of the war, it is hard to imagine that pre‐war performance practices had been forgotten quite so completely as Stadlen implies. After all, Stein made his recording of Op. 27 in 1954, just seventeen years after Stadlen premiered it. And, as I said, performers of the Schoenberg circle – including Stadlen – attended the early Ferienkurse, forming part of a representation of pre‐war modernist music that, as Fox (, p. 11) observes, was more extensive and significant than is commonly recognised. Equally significant was the presence of Theodor W. Adorno, as a result of which critical theory became a lasting component of avant‐garde musical thinking in Europe. On the other hand there was strong opposition to what Fox (, p. 2) calls ‘Adorno's commitment to the continuity of development in the European art music tradition’: this commitment is illustrated, for example, by the analytical lectures Adorno gave at the 1955 Ferienkurs, which emphasised the roots of Schoenberg's twelve‐note thinking in late Beethoven (Borio , pp. 64–5). The same commitment to continuity was shared by Schoenberg‐circle performers such as Kolisch and Stadlen – and by Webern himself, whose Path to the New Music sets out a teleological progression through tonality to atonality and serialism.Quick (, p. 103) refers to ‘an ideological and stylistic clash between pre‐war and post‐war strands of modernism’, and that is the context within which Webern was received at Darmstadt. The point is neatly made by juxtaposing the comparison between Schoenberg and Webern that Adorno drew in his Philosophy of Modern Music, first published (in German) in 1949, with another that appeared six years later in Die Reihe, a journal widely if inaccurately seen as the house organ of the Darmstadt avant‐garde. For Adorno (, pp. 85–6), the originator of serialism subordinated compositional technique to artistic expression: ‘Schoenberg assaults the row. He composes twelve‐tone music as if twelve‐tone technique did not exist’. By contrast, Adorno continues, ‘Webern brings twelve‐tone technique into reality and no longer composes […]. [T]he material is itself vested with the capacity to posit musical meaning’. And as usual, Op. 27 (along with the String Quartet Op. 28) is in the front line: ‘They feature nothing more than monotonously symmetrical presentations of serial marvels that, in pieces such as the first movement of the Piano Variations, come close to a parody of a Brahms intermezzo’ (Adorno , pp. 86–7).Writing in the second (1955) issue of Die Reihe, which was dedicated to Webern, Herbert Eimert – six years older than Adorno but arguably the leading ideologue of postwar serialism – says the same but draws the opposite conclusion. ‘Schoenberg thematises his series’, he writes, whereas ‘Webern de‐thematises it; Schoenberg uses it for that “composition” from which Webern frees it […]. The thinner, the leaner Webern's music becomes, through its compulsion to extreme refinement, the more structure is manifest in it’ (Eimert , pp. 33 and 35). Henri Pousseur (, pp. 52 and 60) makes a similar point in his contribution to the same issue, but the argument had been made most notoriously three years earlier in Pierre Boulez's article ‘Schoenberg Is Dead’ – and in his own contribution to the issue Boulez summarised it: ‘Whereas Schönberg and Berg ally themselves to the decadence of the great German romantic tradition, [Webern] reacts violently against all inherited rhetoric, in order to rehabilitate the powers of sound’ (, p. 40). In short, what Adorno criticised in Webern was precisely what attracted the Darmstadt avant‐garde. When he spoke of twelve‐note technique being ‘infinite in its ahistorical stasis’, Adorno (, p. 53) intended it as criticism, but for the Darmstadt avant‐garde that was exactly the point. The brief period of Webern obsession memorialised in the pages of Die Reihe was based on seeing his work as a new start. Returning to Stadlen and Op. 27, it was not then a matter of simple ignorance but rather a highly selective, scriptist, even fundamentalist appropriation of Webern's music (recall Fox's comment about Webern on the page being the touchstone for postwar composers). The aim was not to continue but to repudiate a history perceived as hopelessly compromised.That is what lies behind Eimert's (, p. 32) strikingly positivist claim that ‘Webern uses only the proved and the provable; everything else is rigorously excluded, and rightly, since it has no firm foundation’. It lies behind Armin Klammer's (, p. 87) claim – in yet another article from the Webern issue of Die Reihe, on the third movement of Op. 27 – that ‘traditional relationships are eliminated when tonality is replaced as the basis of the composition by the serial principle. We are thus compelled to seek fundamentally new possibilities which must arise from the series itself’. It resonates with such diverse cultural and intellectual movements of the time as existentialism, with its emphasis on individual freedom and choice, and structuralism, with its insistence that human thought and action are not determined by nature but culturally constructed. And when Ernst Krenek (, p. 10) writes that, in Op. 27, ‘the composer […] withdraws more and more into the detached, cool, miraculous, and exciting world of the musical patterns, where the abstract spirit of music seems to have its own enigmatic life, sufficient unto itself’, it is not hard to detect an echo of the controversies over the ‘inner emigrants’ – those who remained in Germany but withdrew from public politics into a private, non‐political world – that erupted as the programme of denazification began. It is this cool Webern, the Webern of the late instrumental music, that dominated Anglophone musicology and theory until it was overturned in the 1990s by the combined efforts of Kathryn Bailey, Anne Shreffler and Julian Johnson. In this context there is considerable irony in Eimert's (, p. 34) claim – in the same issue of Die Reihe – that the Webern constructed by the postwar avant‐garde was ‘the “real” Webern’. It is not so hard to understand Stadlen's exasperation.However, this black‐and‐white interpretation of traditionalists versus radicals, or pre‐war versus postwar modernists, has been both contextualised and challenged by Morag Grant and masks a more complex picture. As Grant explains, the idea of Zero Hour (Stunde Null) – a rebuilding of culture from the ground up, analogous to what happened in heavily bombed cities such as Darmstadt (Fox , p. 9) – is less credible than it once seemed. Even if those who attended the Ferienkurse believed they were creating something quite new, continuities between the pre‐war and postwar periods – in which the ‘inner emigrants’ played a pivotal role – make 1930–60, as Grant (, p. 17) puts it, ‘a much more significant periodisation’. Referring specifically to Webern, Gianmario Borio (, p. 87) agrees: ‘behind the diffuse notion of a radical rupture there emerges a fine line of historical continuity’. A symptom of this is that, as Bailey (, pp. 647–8) has pointed out, the representation of Webern in Die Reihe by no means conformed to the Zero Hour image of Webern. In the 1990s Shreffler complained that Webern's solo music had been ignored and sought to rehabilitate ‘Webern as champion of the lyric genre’ (1994, p. 4), but the Webern issue from 40 years earlier began with a note by Hildegard Jone, whose poems furnished the texts for so many of Webern's songs, while Eimert's article – perhaps the most comprehensive in its reconstruction of the composer as a postwar modernist – emphasised not only Webern's songs but also the ‘scanty, undecorated, unrhetorical lyricism’ of his music in general (, p. 31). Then again, by 1955, when the Webern issue of Die Reihe appeared, the critique of Schoenberg advanced by Boulez, Pousseur and Eimert was beginning to be applied to Webern himself: Klammer (, p. 92) writes that even in Webern's work ‘serial thought is contradicted by the remnants of thematic thinking’. In short, there were shifting and competing currents within the ostensibly monolithic modernism of Darmstadt and Die Reihe. And it is this more complex picture that emerges from the recordings of Op. 27.As I mentioned, the first commercially issued recording of the Piano Variations dates from 1951 and is frequently cited as epitomising what Nicholas Mathew (, p. 58), quoting Richard Taruskin, describes as the ‘text‐centred, hence literalistic’ performance ideologies within which Op. 27 became entangled. It was made by the French pianist and conductor Jacques‐Louis Monod and appeared on an all‐Webern LP released by the New York–based Dial label. Monod, who was 24 at the time of the recording, attended a number of the early Ferienkurse: according to Wikipedia he was present in 1948, in which case he could have heard Stadlen's performance of Op. 27. He was in this way very much part of the Zero Hour generation, and yet there were significant connections with the past. As documented by David Hoek (), the recording project was masterminded by the Polish‐French composer, conductor and writer René Leibowitz, who had studied with Webern and whose book Schoenberg and his School, published in French in 1947 and in English translation two years later, was the first comprehensive introduction to atonality and serialism. Leibowitz also played a significant role in transmitting the performance practices of the Second Viennese School to the postwar world, and the performances he directed on the same Dial disc – of the Symphony Op. 21, the Quartet Op. 22 and the Concerto Op. 24 – illustrate his concern to extract the maximum expressive charge from these spare scores, if only in the very non‐pointillist shaping of individual notes. The more traditional textures of Schoenberg's First Chamber Symphony, which he conducted on a radio broadcast in 1962, allow a better insight into his performance values, which – despite the date – are much of a piece with Stadlen's recording of Op. 27.Leibowitz's sleeve notes for the Dial LP draw on his book and conform to the Zero Hour conception of Webern in a way his performance practices do not. Taking his cue from Leibowitz's claim that the Piano Variations dispense with orchestral colour and so ‘crown Webern's evolution in the direction of musical “nudity”’, Mathew (, p. 59) summarises that conception as ‘[n]aked music; colorless music; pure music’. And that is what Mathew hears in Monod's recording. He discusses it in the context of a persuasive critique of Stadlen's assumptions concerning the authority of the text. Stadlen is just as much of a literalist as Monod, Mathew says; it is just that for Stadlen the published score of Op. 27 is defective, an inadequate embodiment of Webern's intentions. By contrast, Stadlen treats the annotated edition he published in 1979 as the comprehensive prescription of what is to be done. As Mathew explains, this way of thinking about scores leaves no room for the historically situated knowledge that enables performers to make sense of notation by supplying what is implied but not stated. Stadlen speaks in the preface to his edition of the ‘perplexing sparseness of expression marks in [Webern's] late instrumental works’ (p. v) – though that hardly applies to Op. 27, the original score of which is as full of dynamic markings and instructions to slow down or speed up as late Beethoven. As Fox (, p. 11) says, ‘Webern marked all those rallentandi […] because he came from a musical tradition in which rhythmic suppleness was a hallmark of expressive sophistication’. And that is precisely Mathew's point. Scores do not attempt to spell out everything that is to be done, which is impossible; rather, they reference a performance tradition in which their users are assumed to be enculturated. Stadlen's perplexity, then, is the result of a literalist mind‐set that is not just unhistorical but unrealistic.It is this mind‐set that Mathew sees as leading to performances like Monod's, in which the text is literally translated into sound. Monod decodes Webern's score, Mathew (, p. 60) says, in the manner indicated by the general foreword to Karlheinz Stockhausen's Klavierstück V: ‘depress the key for the duration indicated’. And the result is ‘unmediated, un‐interpreted Webern’, a ‘style of self‐negating anti‐pianism’. The problem with this is that Monod's recording is by no means literal – or, better put, there is nothing literal about its literalism. This is illustrated in miniature by the opening bars, where Mathew (, p. 59) notes that Monod ‘observes the rests with the kind of punctiliousness that can only lead to abrupt musical punctuation’. There is more to this than Monod's brisk tempo (his average tempo for the A1 section is 39, which is 40% faster than Stadlen's and almost exactly what Webern indicated). But it is not quite what Mathew describes. As the tempo graph shows, rather than playing the rests literally, Monod consistently shortens them: each group begins just before you expect it to. As I said, tempo is a salient parameter in this isochronous music, and if you listen analytically you can hear what is happening – but in normal listening the effect is precisely the abruptness that Mathew refers to. Rather than being punctiliously metronomic, then, Monod is deviating from literal execution in order to create the abrupt and inflexible quality that Mathew calls literalism.Mathew also complains of the ‘meticulous metrical rigidity’ of Monod's playing: ‘there is little sense of the give and take that might follow from local articulation or a sense of phrasing’. That may be a fair comment up to and including the beginning of bar 15 (E37): it is as if Monod goes out of his way not to give the end of the phrase the quality of expressive inwardness that Stadlen drew from the music at this point. But from E38 there is a very perceptible softening of the profile of Monod's playing as he homes in on the end of the section, slowing down in a manner that is conventionally ‘musical’, though of course understated by comparison with Stadlen. And in the A2 section the change of quality is that much more obvious. Though – contrary to the score but like almost everyone else – Monod takes A2 at a slower tempo (average 35) than A1, he again plays its first part (E133–148) more or less metronomically. But from E149 to the end he plays with increased flexibility and range in both tempo and dynamics. Indeed there is clear, if again understated, tempo and dynamic arching in the groups E149–157, E158–169 and E170–174, while the final notes (E175–177) are subsumed within another conventional rallentando. And when he wants to give E169 the same inexpressive quality that he gave E37, he does so through a staccato articulation that is nowhere to be seen in the score. While he is not, obviously, in the business of milking the emotion out of expressive moments in the manner of Stadlen, he plays with greater or less flexibility according to how he wishes to shape different parts of Webern's score. In Stravinsky's terminology, he is not executing but interpreting it.As usual, it is the B section that best reveals Monod's interpretative strategies. Actually they are rather straightforward and not so different from those we have seen in Stadlen, Manchon‐Theis, Aitken and Webster. Monod has clearly taken note of Webern's ‘rit. … tempo’ markings and incorporated them within his interpretation: Quick's (, p. 115) observation about Webern performance in general – that ‘[t]he Darmstadt avant‐garde could not have been unaware of the notated tempo changes’ but ‘chose to ignore them for aesthetic reasons’ – does not apply in this instance. Monod clearly conveys the parsing implied by Webern's ‘rit.’ and ‘tempo’ markings, not through literal execution but by incorporating them within tempo and dynamic arches that correspond to each of the groups, slowing down to the cadential dyads. That is to say that, in the terms of Mathew's critique of Stadlen, Monod interprets Webern's markings as referencing established pianistic style and gesture: he does not share the literalist mind‐set that Mathew identified in Stadlen. As for the sustained group from E91, Monod creates some light and shade through careful attention to Webern's p markings at E100 and 113, and by keeping the speed up almost until E121 and not prolonging the rest, he not only conveys the torn‐off effect we have already seen but also creates the impression that E91–132 is a single block with a slight hesitation near the end. Beyond that, there is not much to say, because at this tempo (36 averaged over the B section) there is not much to do other than to play the notes.I do not deny that, compared to Stadlen's and many more recent recordings, Monod's creates a certain effect of literalness, to which the businesslike quality of his tempos, the abruptness of his silences and the understating of potentially expressive moments like E37 and E169 all contribute. My point is that it is just that: an effect of literalness, artfully constructed to play on expectations engendered by received performance practices. Pursuing a comparison between the ‘consistent, and consistently hard, timbre’ of Monod's playing and brutalist architecture, Mathew (, p. 60) – who has more faith in the tonal fidelity of mid‐century recordings than I do – cites Rose Subotnik's suggestion that ‘Stravinsky's professed formalism […] evokes “not the conceptual […] but the stylistic attributes of objectivity”’. Much the same might be said of Monod's literalness. And it follows from this that Monod's playing sits more squarely within the performance practices of his time than either Mathew's description or the recording's general reputation might suggest. At some points Monod may be playing against tradition, but most of the time he conforms to it, though in an understated way. It is rather like what happens when pianists are asked to play deadpan: they play as usual, only less so (London , p. 176). As the tempo and dynamic graphs show, Monod shapes gestures, articulates groups and slows down at the end of sections in a quite conventional manner, only less so. And his understatement is like his avoidance of the hand breaking that by the 1950s was becoming a signifier of old‐school performance: a matter of aesthetic fashion, in other words – Subotnik's words – of style rather than conception. In short, the traditional codes of expressive performance persist in Monod's playing. It may be cool, but it is not a new beginning.Darmstadt PianismAn informative comparison can be made with a recording which – like Monod's – is generally seen as epitomising Darmstadt literalism, and which I have already mentioned: Leonard Stein's, recorded in 1954 (the same year as Manchon‐Theis's and probably one by Glenn Gould, of which more shortly). There are some obvious similarities to Monod's recording, perhaps because Stein had heard it, and Stadlen (, p. 37) described Stein's playing of the A sections rather as Mathew describes Monod's: ‘neutral and therefore distorting’. (In his radio review of Robert Craft's box set of Webern's works, in which Stein's recording of Op. 27 appeared, Stadlen said that Stein played it in a way that ‘Webern would have regarded as a mere spelling out of the notes’.) At an average of dotted quaver = 41 across the A1 section, Stein's tempo is even more businesslike than Monod's – and, like Monod's, far closer to what Webern indicated than Stadlen's. Stein plays the opening bars without obvious inflection, and plays even more metronomically in the first half of the A2 section, where the still‐fast average tempo – 38, only a little slower than that of A1 – robs the performance of the serene, emotionally washed‐out effect of Manchon‐Theis's relatively uninflected playing at the same point. Nevertheless Stein introduces a degree of tempo and dynamic arching from E17 and E149, like Monod creating the sense that each section thaws a little as it continues; more puzzlingly, he also abbreviates E19, creating the kind of apparently arbitrary nuance familiar from Stadlen's recording, and does the same at the corresponding point of A2 (E151). And there are conventional rallentandi at the end of A1 and A2.Stein takes the B section substantially slower than Monod (31 as against 36), so he faces more pressing problems of coherence. Like Monod, he arches the groups of demisemiquavers – or at least he plays them faster than the surrounding notes – and, again like Monod, he gives careful attention to Webern's ‘rit. … tempo’ markings. He too decelerates as he approaches the terminal dyads of each of the groups, though unlike Monod, to whose handling of these dyads I shall return, Stein gives them all equal weight: this parses the groups clearly enough but offers little interpretation of the relationships between them. Once more like Monod, he creates the sense that E91–132 is a single group with an interruption at E121. From E91 to E121 the only significant inflection is the prolongation of E99, coinciding, as it happens, with Webern's annotation of Stadlen's score; this is one case where the apparent mobility indicated by the tempo graph does not translate into listening experience – probably through lack of coordination with other parameters such as dynamics and articulation – and at this tempo the demisemiquavers acquire a chugging quality they do not have in Monod's recording. Finally, like Monod, Stein embraces E122–132 within a sustained rallentando, with a caesura before the A2 section that is much more modest than Stadlen's gargantuan silence at this point but still unmistakably rhetorical. Literalism, then, is relative.But it is less through its inherent properties than through its background that Stein's recording adds to the emerging picture of Op. 27 in early performance. As we have already seen, Stadlen said that Stein ‘could not be expected to divine’ the nuances that could only be learned from ‘direct, detailed tradition’. But while Stein did not study with Webern, he was studying with Webern's teacher at the very time when Op. 27 was being composed: from 1935 he was taught by Schoenberg at the University of Southern California and subsequently at UCLA, and from 1939 until Schoenberg's death he acted as his assistant. And like Stadlen, Stein traded on his first‐hand experience of the Second Viennese School. In the proceedings of a 1995 conference, he wrote that ‘[m]y own insights into Schoenberg's music came from direct contact with the master himself’ (Stein , p. 62) and went out of his way to mention occasions on which he had played for Schoenberg. More than that, he developed an argument reminiscent of Stadlen's claims concerning the inadequacy of scores to communicate composers’ intentions in the absence of a complementary oral tradition. That is the context of the remark about his own insights, but he set out the argument more fully in an earlier article: ‘In twentieth‐century composition’, Stein (, p. 63) wrote, ‘no […] norm of common notational practice seems to exist that might lead to an immediate recognition of the composer's intention’. The value of such arguments for purposes of career development is self‐evident.In later life Stein returned to USC, where he completed a DMA in 1965 (at the age of 49) with a thesis entitled ‘The Performance of Twelve‐Tone and Serial Music for the Piano’. This provides a further perspective from which to approach his recording (though we must remember that it was by that time eleven years old). In a chapter on Webern's Piano Variations, Stein (, p. 82) insists that through analysis it is possible for the performer to ‘arrive at a convincing presentation of the contents and shape of the composition, rather than to allow the notes to fall where they may indiscriminately’. But he provides little guidance on how exactly this is to be done. For example, he emphasises the ‘structural significance’ of textural density in Webern's music, explains that simultaneities represent ‘verticalizations of row‐cells’ and concludes that they demand ‘special attention’ – but he does not suggest what the performer might actually do about these things, nor does his recording. Despite the title of his thesis, Stein's emphasis is overwhelmingly on analysis of the printed notes, and he is thinking more like a theorist than a performer when – following the Boulez party line – he writes that ‘Webern eliminated the expressive rhetoric of Romantic music in his search for an essential underlying structure’ (Stein , p. 72). You only have to compare Stadlen's and Stein's recordings of Op. 27 to appreciate the degree to which such rhetoric is the work of performers rather than inherent in the notation. Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, there is at times a disconnect between what Stein says and what he does, between his explicit and tacit knowledge. When in his thesis he parses the first part of the B section, for instance, one of his groups is a ‘phrase b consisting of a four‐note syncopated mirror’. This is E53–56, which, as we saw, Webern parsed – implicitly in his original score, and explicitly in Stadlen's – as the first four notes of a group that terminates with E57. Stein's parsing reflects a mathematical conception that is expressed through visual symmetry, whereas Webern's is based on a more traditional sense of motion towards a cadential point. And the point is that, in his recording, Stein plays it Webern's way. I imagine he did the same when he played Op. 27 in his 1963 DMA recital (Stein , p. 195).What is most revealing about Stein's thesis, however, is the evidence it provides that – more than a decade after his recording – he was still thinking of Op. 27 in terms of pre‐war analytical categories. He divides movements into sections, periods, phrases and groups, which he relates to the forms and processes of Classical music, in much the same way as Leibowitz or – more particularly – the composer, theorist and Webern pupil Leopold Spinner, whose very traditional analytical contribution to the Webern issue of Die Reihe rubs shoulders awkwardly with the articles by Boulez, Stockhausen and Pousseur. Like Spinner, Stein calls A2 the recapitulation; and though he simply refers to the central section of the movement as the B section (Spinner calls it the elaboration), Stein describes the build‐up to the climax towards the end of that section as ‘a familiar developmental device’ (Stein , pp. 83–5 and Spinner , p. 10). Here, then, is direct evidence of what I deduced from Monod's playing: the extent to which performances within what Quick called ‘the avant‐garde “Darmstadt” practice’ were based on traditional thinking, their literalism being a matter of style rather than conception. As a pianist, Stein retained pre‐war habits of thought even as he took on board the products of postwar modernism: he apparently attended the Ferienkurse and in his DMA recitals played music by the same Boulez, Stockhausen and Pousseur. In short, like Monod, Stein illustrates the continuity between pre‐ and postwar culture to which Grant referred. And in this way, the most ostensibly literal of all recordings of Op. 27 represents a more complex and perhaps conflicted historical, aesthetic and ideological position than could ever be deduced just from listening to it.There are two later recordings that might equally be seen as exemplary of what Mathew calls ‘Darmstadt pianism’: one by the Juilliard‐trained American Paul Jacobs, recorded live at the 1956 Cité Radieuse festival in Marseille, and the other a studio recording by Yvonne Loriod, who trained at the Paris Conservatoire. Both pianists were more centrally involved in the European new‐music establishment than either Monod or Stein – Jacobs through a close association with Boulez (though he also worked with Leibowitz) and Loriod through Olivier Messiaen, whom she married in 1961 – and both performed regularly at the Ferienkurse. Jacobs's recording might be seen as the first clear sign of a crossing over between the hitherto distinct styles initiated in the recorded repertoire by Stadlen and Monod. He plays the outer sections with the same kind of careful understatement as Monod, which extends to the interpretation of Webern's notated slurs (most obviously at E26–37); again like Monod's, his playing thaws as both A1 and A2 proceed, with increasingly well‐formed tempo and dynamic phrase arches. The element of crossing over comes in the tempos of the A sections, which at respective averages of 29 and 25 are close to Stadlen's (28 and 24). At that tempo, what would be relatively imperceptible nuances when played faster generate the effect of cool expressivity – the expressivity of the pre‐war style coupled with the coolness of the postwar avant‐garde – at which many later performers aimed.By contrast, Jacobs's average tempo for the B section (34) is only slightly slower than Monod's (36) and distinctly faster than Stein's: as a result, while nine out of the 30 recordings made up to 1977 take B faster on average than A1, the differential is more marked in Jacobs's case than any other (apart from an altogether eccentric recording by Jean‐Rodolphe Kars, of which more later). Jacobs's performance of the B section resembles Monod's – which I imagine he listened to – not only in its tempo and overall shaping but also in a telltale detail: the handling of the terminal dyads of the paired groups, at E52 and E57, E67 and E72, and E85 and E90. We have seen that, in his coaching sessions with Stadlen, Webern clarified the parsing – with the dyads terminating each group – and that Stein also played the music this way, even though the diagram in his thesis parsed it differently. But parsing is not all that is at issue. Stein expresses the parsing by prolonging the terminal dyads: as I said, his playing is clear, but the groups remain disconnected. Monod, by contrast, has a more subtle approach. He consistently prolongs the note that precedes each dyad but shortens the dyad itself: this makes the parsing equally clear but means that each group presses on into the next. Jacobs's strategy is identical to Monod's, and the effect is that much more articulate at his slightly slower tempo.As for Loriod's recording, it is in some ways a compendium of Darmstadt pianism. Her no‐nonsense tempos are close to Monod's – a little faster in A1, a little slower in A2 – while once again there are front‐loaded tempo and dynamic arches in the second half of the A sections. And on Sonic Visualiser the tempo and dynamic profiles of the B section exhibit the familiar arching for each group from E46 to E90, the same sustained tempo from E91 to 121 relieved by the piano passages from E100–104 and E113–117, the same slight tearing off at E121 and the same decelerando and diminuendo to the section break after E132. But all this is thrown into the shade by the clipped articulation, lack of pedal and aggressively dry recording acoustic that perhaps led Borio (, p. 95) to call her playing ‘virtuoso’ and Peter Hill to describe it as ‘completely unemotional and even rebarbative, you know, really fearsome and forbidding’ (Siepmann , p. 24). At the beginning of both A1 and A2 Loriod consistently plays the third and fourth pitches of each group staccato, breaking up the residual sense of more or less legato melody that is present in almost all the other recordings I have discussed: in doing this she is of course disregarding Webern's slurs. In the B section, the light, dry touch of her performance of the isochronous passages perhaps draws on the jeu perlé style associated with the Paris Conservatoire – she studied with one of its leading exponents, Isidor Philipp – while she plays the non‐isochronous groups (E53–57, E68–72 and E86–90) as a series of stabs. The lack of flow is enhanced by the fact that – like Stein rather than Monod or Jacobs – she prolongs the terminal dyads rather than the notes preceding them. In short, Loriod intensifies the effect of literalism that Mathew complained of in Monod, and like Monod she achieves it through deviating from literal execution. The result is the kind of pointillism that Stadlen condemned in the playing of the younger generation – even as, in terms of tempo and dynamics, Loriod adopts the same coherence‐building approaches as other representatives of her generation.For Hill and others, the dry, apparently disengaged pointillism of Loriod's recording makes it the paradigm of Darmstadt pianism. The odd thing about this is the date, given on the record label as May 1961. (The sleeve is as ascetic as Loriod's playing, with no image, the same sans‐serif lettering that Universal Edition used at this time, and a note by the Bulgarian‐French composer André Boucourechliev that stresses the rigorous and athematic nature of Webern's serialism.) This, after all, is long after the moment of what Bailey (, p. 648) called ‘Darmstadt madness’ – which she dates to 1951–2 – while for composers pointillism was passé after around 1955. And this chronological disjunction prompts the question of what it really means to speak of ‘Darmstadt pianism’ in relation to recordings of Op. 27. If the term is not clearly focused in terms of time, it is hardly more so in terms of place. Darmstadt is in central Germany, but, as the international nature of the Ferienkurse might lead one to expect, recordings of Op. 27 were not centred there or even on the German‐speaking countries more generally. The one recording actually made in Darmstadt was Stadlen's – of all the recordings the most conspicuously opposed to Darmstadt pianism – while of the three recordings from the 1950s that are most often associated with it (Monod, Stein and Jacobs), one was made by a French pianist in America, one by an American pianist in America, and one by an American pianist in France. A fourth, made for radio in Canada and probably dating from 1954, might have been considered equally emblematic of Darmstadt pianism had it been released at the time, and had there been any documented link between the pianist and Darmstadt: Kevin Bazzana (, p. 100) remarks that Glenn Gould was isolated from the contemporary music scene even in Canada. And though Gould could always have heard Monod's recording, there are no particularly compelling links (for example, his treatment of the telltale dyads in the B section is not like Monod's). It probably makes more sense to look for the sources of Gould's particular take on literalism – which is no more literal than Monod's – in the performance practices he had developed in relation to the seventeenth‐ and eighteenth‐century music that was already in his repertoire before he started playing that of the Second Viennese School (Bazzana , p. 89).And this pattern of geographical dispersal continued. During the period up to 1977 there is a total of six recordings by performers from France, six from Canada (all by Gould), five from the United States, three from Italy, two from Japan and one each from Austria (Stadlen), Poland, Russia, Turkey, Spain, and the United Kingdom (McCabe). It is remarkable that Germany comes in with just two: Franzpeter Goebels (1964), whose playing carries echoes of Stadlen's, and Christian Zacharias (1973). All this means that, if the idea of Darmstadt pianism is to stand for anything, it must be a way of playing or the aesthetic ideology that informed it. Some common features among the recordings of Monod, Stein, Jacob and Loriod can be identified, most of which are also found in Gould's. Tempos tend to be fast (though that is not true of Stein's performance of the B section, or Jacobs's of the A sections, while the fastest come from Gould – especially the live recording he made in 1957 at the Moscow Conservatory). There is a general quality of understatement, though even at its most extreme it does not preclude traditional rhetorical features such as caesurae or tempo modification, particularly in the B section: the effect ranges from the cool expressivity of Jacobs's performance to the alienating dryness of Loriod's. But the most distinctive feature is a negative one: in one way or another, all these pianists distanced themselves from the overtly expressive playing inherited from the pre‐war years, as represented by Stadlen, Manchon‐Theis (whose recording of Op. 27 dates from the same year as Stein's) and Aitken (the same year as Loriod's).It may be more productive, then, to identify key features of the Darmstadt aesthetic and map them onto the recordings. In her book Serial Music, Serial Aesthetics, Grant locates a fundamental characteristic of Darmstadt serialism in the swerve away from thematicism that is exemplified by Klammer (who, as we saw, complained about the vestiges of thematic thinking in Webern) and Boucourechliev (who insisted that his music was free from any such taint). An early advocate was Leibowitz (, p. 241), who argued that in Op. 27 ‘everything is theme’, which is to say that nothing is more thematic than anything else – from which it follows in an apparent paradox that ‘Webern's piano variations are […] a basic contribution to the “athematic” method of composition’). This idea was taken up by Eimert, Boulez and Pousseur, thus becoming part of Darmstadt orthodoxy. And on this basis Grant (, p. 163) makes a key distinction between traditional thematic hearing, which is based on a kind of causality that results in specific expectations, and a ‘serial hearing’ orientated to processes of ‘continual change and continual non‐directed expectation’. She also sees as essential characteristics of serial aesthetics a ‘conscious concentration on the internal structure and character of individual events’ (she calls this ‘microaesthetics’) and the use of silence for ‘indicating the boundaries between groups and textures, […] throwing elements into focus and then, contradictorily, leaving them hanging in space, as if to question their significance’ (Grant , pp. 161 and 164). Loriod comes closest to this in the way she breaks up melodic continuity in the A sections and disrupts musical causality in the non‐isochronous groups of the B section (what I described as a series of stabs): again, it would not be unreasonable to say that through her use of silence she leaves these notes hanging in space, as if to question their significance. It is only Loriod's recording to which this applies, however, and as I have said, such effects – created primarily by articulation – run alongside a quite traditional concern for parsing, pacing, the balancing of elements and the creation of direction. And to these ends Loriod incorporates strategies and rhetorical features comparable to the other ‘Darmstadt’ recordings I have analysed.It is however the series of live recordings made by Gould between the 1950s and the 1970s that best illustrates these concerns and strategies in action. In the article I have already mentioned, I trace the stages through which his interpretation developed by focusing on the telltale dyads in the B section. In 1954 Gould played them like Stein, parsing the groups but offering no interpretation of the relationships between them. They sound much the same in his 1964 film, but here you find an additional element: he can be seen to create a sense of overall direction though increasingly energetic physical gestures. In his audio recording of 1970, by contrast, Gould made each pair of dyads shorter than the previous one, maintaining the same overall tempo but in this way creating an audible analogue of the motion towards the extended, climactic group at E91 that he had previously created through visual means. This illustrates precisely the kind of musical causality that Grant associates with thematic rather than serial hearing, the sense of continuous temporal entailment that Heinrich Schenker (, vol. 1, p. 291) vividly evoked when he wrote that ‘harmonies appear to be linked more intimately and with seemingly greater necessity the more drastically and obtrusively a tone of one harmony hooks into the flesh of the following one’. And it is by transforming ‘before’ and ‘after’ into ‘because’ and ‘therefore’, so creating a sense of logical sequence independent of the time of performance, that such causality gives rise to musical narration. In this way, while the narrative paradigms inherited from nineteenth‐century music may be more deeply buried in the playing of pianists such as Monod, Loriod and Gould than in Stadlen or Manchon‐Theis, they are still there. The conclusion is obvious. In his article on composers at the Ferienkurse, Fox (, pp. 13–14) questions ‘the extent to which there ever was a “Darmstadt School”’ and concludes that it was ‘really an amalgamation of a number of quite different projects’. Much the same might be said of Darmstadt pianism.Or maybe it would be better to say that, when it came to pianism, there was no project. In the Webern issue of Die Reihe, Stockhausen (, p. 38) spoke of the value of analysis to performers, advancing the idea that there is – or should be – a commonality of purpose across the domains of performance, composition and discourse. But this claim is hardly substantiated by Klammer's analysis, later in the same issue, of the final movement from Op. 27. It is not simply that, in his quest for ‘fundamentally new possibilities which must arise from the series itself’, Klammer begins by dismissing such performable dimensions of the music as thematicism as irrelevant, and instead – in Grant's words – ‘dissects every possible angle of the piece into a series of neat but mostly meaningless numbers’ (, p. 119). Whereas ‘in traditional music determining applies mainly in a forward direction’, Klammer (, p. 92) says (he gives the example of antecedent and consequent), ‘with Webern we find it working retrospectively as well’: the structure depends on different groups having different intervallic attributes, but their significance can be known only when all have been heard. Musical logic, in other words, reverses the flow of time. And Borio makes a similar point about Dieter Schnebel's analysis of Op. 27 (which dates from 1952 but was not published until 1984). When he speaks about motivic transformations, Borio (, p. 95) observes, Schnebel does not talk about their chronological development but rather their formal derivation. The contrast is with the Schoenbergian analytical tradition in whose terms Stein conceived Op. 27, and which continued after the war in the publications of Leibowitz, Spinner, Walter Kolneder () and Friedrich Wildgans (): designed to emphasise the continuity of serial music with the Classical tradition, such analyses adopt a narrative, diachronic stance that allows at least a degree of mapping from analysis to performance. But in analyses like Klammer's or Schnebel's the narrative axis is no longer that of time: the music is rationalised in terms of what Iannis Xenakis () called ‘outside‐time structure’. Such synchronic analysis is more or less untranslatable into the quintessentially temporal practices of performance – or, indeed, listening.But there is more to it. Shreffler (, p. 238) speaks of Webern's vetoing performances because they could never be good enough, and of ‘a kind of “cult of rehearsal”, which was actually used to limit outside performances’. Again, Schoenberg's notorious quip that the performer was ‘totally unnecessary except as his interpretations make the music understandable to an audience unfortunate enough not to be able to read it in print’ (Newlin , p. 164) is echoed in Kolisch's insistence as late as the 1970s that he ‘no longer believed that performance was important or useful at all’ (Satz , p. 207). In short, there was within the Second Viennese School a tension between composition and performance, and this continued into the postwar avant‐garde – most obviously through the translation into practice of Schoenberg's (, p. 326) pre‐war fantasies about mechanical instruments making it possible to do away with performers. But at Darmstadt a new element was added to the mix: a celebration of the contradiction between the composition and its actualisation. Pousseur (, p. 95) wrote that ‘the divergence between serial procedures and the perceptible result is sought after and exists effectively’. And citing an analysis of Stockhausen's Klavierstück III by Christoph von Blümroder, Grant (, p. 66) concurs: ‘the tension between the predisposed order and the individual's interaction with it […] can indeed be seen as its raison d’être’.The result of this way of thinking was to leave performers outside the charmed circle of ‘mystical idealism’ (a term that Quick , p. 39, applies to Webern but is even more applicable to the postwar avant‐garde). Because abstractly conceived new music relied so heavily on translation into viable performance practice – a point to which I shall return at the end of this article – those who actually played it occupied an increasingly vital role in the production and dissemination of new music. Yet at the same time they were increasingly elbowed out of the official discourses of musical modernism. In the long term this gave rise to the untheorised culture of what Brian Ferneyhough calls ‘the “gig” musician […] who, in a couple of rehearsals, is justly proud of producing a “professional” realization of just about anything’ (Ferneyhough and Boros , pp. 6–7). Theory had become the preserve of composers.New MainstreamsEven if ‘Darmstadt pianism’ designates less a way of playing than a reaction against overt expressivism, the Piano Variations bear out Quick's claim about there being two broad approaches to Webern performance after the war. From the 1960s up to the six‐year break in recording after 1977 and the publication in 1979 of Stadlen's annotated score – which effectively closed the first chapter in the history of Op. 27 on record – the broad narrative is one of convergence. I shall provide an overview so brief that it might best be seen as a listening guide. There is on the one hand the tradition that stems from Stadlen and Manchon‐Theis, the echoes of which are to be heard in the recordings not only of Aitken and Webster – who belonged to the same generation – but also of younger pianists such as Carlo Pestalozza (1961) and Franzpeter Goebels (1964): in Pestalozza's, for example, there is the same sense of searching for meaning that I identified in Stadlen's and Manchon‐Theis's recordings, while there is enough similarity between Pestalozza's and Goebels's recordings – in the slow tempos, the rather disjointed B section (echoing the Stadlen tradition) and the noticeably more tranquil playing of the A2 section – to suggest that Pestalozza's recording formed part of Goebels's preparation. Both pianists were born in 1920 but made their recordings before Webster made his; that prompts questions of how far their recordings (or indeed Webster's) should be regarded as either the continuation of a pre‐war tradition or as a revival of it – and of the criteria on which the distinction might be made. I shall not attempt to answer these questions but will simply refer to these six recordings as representing one wave in performances of Op. 27. On the other hand there is the tradition of Monod, Stein, Jacobs and Loriod, supplemented by Gould's six recordings from 1954 to 1974, which span almost the entire period in question. I refer to these ten recordings as the second wave in performances of Op. 27, while recognising the extent to which the two waves overlapped chronologically. Between them, these two waves account for all the recordings up to 1967, in addition to Gould's later ones (1970 and 1974).By the early 1960s these two approaches had developed their own momentum as performance options. Whereas in the 1950s to play Op. 27 one way or the other amounted to a statement of aesthetic or ideological affiliation, a decade later they simply represented stylistic alternatives from which performers could choose. As I suggested, it is Jacobs's 1956 recording, with its combination of first‐wave expressivity and second‐wave cool, that most tellingly anticipates the accommodation that was eventually reached between the two styles. In essence, Jacobs maintained the stylistic features of second‐wave performance while adopting first‐wave tempos; eight years later Goebels did something similar, combining first‐wave tempos with something akin to Loriod's staccato articulation on the third and fourth beats of the groups in the opening section (though he artfully sustains certain notes behind the staccato ones, creating a kind of halo around the sound that results in a much less aggressive effect). And as we saw, with Webster it is the other way round: I placed him with Goebels in the first wave because of a preponderance of backward‐looking stylistic features – the most obvious being his generous use of hand breaking – but he combines these with tempos closer to those of the second wave. These hybrid interpretations might suggest a looseness of entailment between available stylistic features, and hence the viability of a rather free kind of mix‐and‐match approach.In practice, however, that is not what happened. Rather, a kind of standard or default interpretation emerged around the end of the 1960s, in which the overtly gestural playing characteristic of the first wave was accommodated to a greater or lesser degree within a framework defined by the relative – though not literal – compliance with the score characteristic of the second. A typical performance in what might be called the third‐wave or ‘consensus’ style would feature tempos somewhere between those of the first and second waves; the opening A section would begin more or less metronomically but become more expressive as it continued; there would be strong tempo arching of at least the isochronous groups in the middle section, with continuity across them perhaps being achieved through the same handling of the terminal notes as in Monod's and Jacobs's recordings; E91–121 would be projected as a single group enlivened through attention to Webern's p and staccato markings at E100–104 and E113–117, with something of a torn‐off quality at E121 and a major rallentando and caesura at the end of the section; and the final section would be taken at a significantly slower tempo than the first one, though in other respects a variety of approaches could be adopted (it might be handled similarly to the opening section, be played more expressively throughout or become increasingly sublimated as it continued). After decades of verbal and musical debate, a tradition had been invented.It is not, of course, that all recordings in the consensus style are the same, but that they are easily classified in relation to this hypothetical norm. For example, the pattern of beginning the A section metronomically but becoming increasingly expressive is found in the recordings of Claude Helffer (1968), Marie‐Françoise Bucquet (1969), Charles Rosen (1969), Alexei Lubimov (ca. 1971) and Bruno Mezzena (1973), while the Monod‐Jacobs strategy for the terminal notes in the B section is adopted by Helffer, Lubimov and Yuji Takahashi (1977). On the other hand, there are idiosyncratic elements. In a singularly accident‐prone live performance from the Fourth Cliburn Competition, Christian Zacharias (1973) repeatedly abbreviates the first notes of the four‐event groups in the A sections, while Andrzej Dutkiewicz (1975) prolongs the third notes; again, Zacharias accelerates rapidly around E109, rips off E121 like a strip of cloth, and lunges viciously into an unnotated fortissimo at E124–125, whereas – equally contrary to prevailing norms – Dutkiewicz breaks up E91–121 into a series of discrete gestures (rather like Stadlen, though the breaks fall in different places). Both the degree of consensus and the occasional striking deviations from it suggest that pianists were by now increasingly playing with reference to one another, encouraged no doubt by the increasing circulation of recordings. One might say it was at this time that Op. 27 ceased to be a Second World War orphan, subject to contested interpretations and mainly the preserve of contemporary music specialists. As in all invented traditions, its performance was naturalised, as if the way it was now played were simply the way the music goes (Hobsbawm and Ranger ). And in this form it increasingly entered the repertoire of generalist pianists. It became part of the modernist mainstream – a development that might be dated to Eric Salzman's claim, in a December 1973 review of the Turkish pianist İdil Biret's recording, that ‘a sensitive performance of the by‐now classic Webern Variations completes an impressive American recording debut’.Of no less interest, however, are the outliers, four recordings that cannot be sensibly classified in any of my categories. One is the recording that prompted Salzman's claim, which has something of the hybrid quality of Jacobs's, Goebels's and Webster's. Biret's tempos, especially in the A section, are slow even by first‐wave standards. Yet she plays the B section with a striking pointillism that sounds so anomalous in this context as to suggest a deliberate intertextual reference to – again – Loriod's recording of twelve years earlier, perhaps reflecting its symbolic status as the high point of Darmstadt pianism. (At Biret's much slower tempo any link with jeu perlé disappears.) Biret also slows down gradually during the second half of the final section, creating a particularly intense version of the sublimated narrative I first identified in Manchon‐Theis's recording. I spoke of pianists playing with reference to one another, but Biret's recording sounds like something more than that: a personal commentary on established discographic repertoire. A second outlier is Maurizio Pollini's recording, from 1976, which is individualistic in several ways. In the first seven bars of the A1 section, for example, he creates a single arch encompassing E5–16 through a combination of tempo, dynamics and articulation that welds the separate groups into a single gesture, while at the opening of A2 he plays almost metronomically but uses dynamics to shape the grouping pattern. There is a kind of simplicity to his playing, as if the answers to the interpretative problems pianists had been grappling with over the previous quarter century had really been obvious all along – which is perhaps why this recording became one of the poles in relation to which interpretations were formed and evaluated during the second chapter of Webern's Piano Variations on record.More obviously calculated to controvert existing norms is Carles Santos's recording from the following year, the basic strategy of which is to do everything differently from everyone else. He begins at a very slow tempo, with exaggeratedly metronomic and dynamically even playing, but arching the group from E17 and again at E26 – this time so violently that it sounds like a sudden change of tempo. In the first part of the B section he consistently plays the repeated notes at the palindrome points (E55, E70 and E88, all of which Webern marked sf) much more softly than the preceding note, controverting the idea of symmetry. In the same section he adopts Monod's and Jacobs's strategy of prolonging the notes before the dyads at E52, E67 and E85, but at E57, E72 and E90 it is the dyads that he prolongs, and the effect is to pair the groups in a quite different but equally logical way. He breaks up E91–121, like Stadlen and Dutkiewicz, but at points that do not fit with Webern's indications. And he breaks the first rule in the book by playing the A2 section faster than A1: Santos's is the earliest of the three recordings in which the average tempo for A2 is faster than for A1. Even more idiosyncratic is the way Santos holds on to one or more notes of a chord while playing others staccato. A kind of reverse version of the hand breaking that persisted up to the 1970s in the recordings of Rosen and Zacharias, this technique had already been tried by Goebels, but Santos uses it in a systematic manner that borders on the perverse. The first clear example is E20–21, where Santos sustains the C♯ and G; because E22 is a single C♯, the result is to underline a palindrome axis that Webern's asymmetrical texture camouflages, and Santos does the same at E40–42 and elsewhere, including in A2. Once again the strategy is transparent: where Webern makes the symmetry obvious, Santos disguises it, while where Webern disguises it, Santos makes it obvious. As with Biret, this is as much a commentary as a performance in the conventional sense, but here the commentary extends beyond other recordings to the composition itself. In short, Santos handles the piece more in the manner you might expect of a composer than a performer – which makes sense, as within a few years he had moved on from his initial career as a pianist to become a composer, filmmaker and sculptor.There is one final example, as it happens by a protégé of Manchon‐Theis, that is equally subversive of standard performance practice. Jean‐Rodolphe Kars's recording, from 1969, stands out by virtue of its tempos: his A sections, in particular, are not just slower than anyone else's, they are far slower. His average tempo for A2 is 17, and during E133–148, where Kars consistently prolongs the third attack of each group, the sense of musical motion practically disappears. The result is something that might also be said of the reverse hand breaking in Santos's recording: the focus of listening is directed away from musical causality and onto the quality or microstructure of individual sounds. The same might be said, if to a less extreme degree, of the Takahashi siblings’ broadly similar recordings, which are the slowest within my consensus category – and it is not irrelevant that Aki's recording was part of the famous three‐disc Piano Space album, which coupled works by composers of the European and Japanese avant‐garde as well as Cage. Morton Feldman (, p. 55) wrote of her performance of his Triadic Memories that ‘Takahashi appears to be absolutely still. Undisturbed, unperturbed, as if in a concentrated prayer […]. The effect of her playing to me is that I feel privileged to be invited to a very religious ritual’. That resonates with Kars, who credits Messiaen for his conversion from Judaism to Catholicism and gave up public performance in 1981, becoming a priest five years later.And this spiritual, even New Age conception of the Piano Variations has its own roots in Darmstadt. The focus away from causality and onto the microstructure of sound better illustrates Grant's ‘microaesthetics’, and more generally her definition of serial hearing, than any of the second‐wave recordings. But it also reflects an idea of space that resonates with the synchronic quality of Schnebel's and Klammer's analyses. Takahashi's album title echoes the Darmstadt idea of musical space that Ligeti specifically ascribed to Webern, whose music, Ligeti (, p. 16) says, ‘brought about the projection of the time‐flow into an imaginary space by means of the interchangeability of the temporal directions, provoked by the constant reciprocity of motivic shapes and their retrogrades[…]. Webern's structures seem to circle continuously in their illusory space’. Similarly, in his contribution to the Webern issue of Die Reihe, Stockhausen (, p. 65) says that when in music ‘we realise […] that we have “lost all sense of time”, then we have in fact been experiencing time most strongly’ – an idea that gave rise to his later conception of forms that ‘cut across horizontal time experience into the timelessness I call eternity’ (, p. 65). Representing what Fox (, p. 14) describes as the Darmstadt composers’ ‘desire to make other‐worldly music’, Stimmung was published the year before Kars's recording of Op. 27 was released. That recording, together with those with which I have associated it, demonstrates the possibility of moving beyond traditional narrative paradigms – in a way the second‐wave pianists did not – towards a performance practice more deeply imbued with Grant's serial aesthetic. And Kars's basic stratagem for achieving this is to perform the music at an average tempo of just half Webern's metronome marking, and the final section even slower. As in the case of Santos's recording, this takes non‐literalist interpretation to a level that begins to challenge the very idea of performance as conventionally understood within the tradition of Western classical music.The Shadow of MeaningIf the Piano Variations became mainstreamed during the 1960s and ’70s, the same might be said of music analysis and theory, at least in North America. As Grant (, p. 2) has explained, dissatisfaction with the European music journals’ neglect of American developments was one of the factors behind the establishment in 1962 of Perspectives of New Music, the first volume of which included the computer scientist John Backus's withering attack on Die Reihe’s pseudo‐scientific mystification of new music. As usual, Op. 27 was in the front line, although it was the twenty‐two‐bar second movement on which attention focused. Christian Wolff had made this movement the topic of his contribution to the Webern issue of Die Reihe – the only article by an Anglophone writer – and the 1960s brought a spate of writing on it to which leading figures in American music theory contributed: authors included Milton Babbitt (), David Lewin (), Wilbur Ogden (), Peter Westegaard (), Roy Travis () and James Rives Jones (). The aim was to move away from the European analysts’ numerological obsession with imperceptible underlying systems and towards a more pragmatic focus on contextually defined and perceptible structures: several of the American writers focused on the intricate relationship between the serial structure and the contrapuntal design of the movement. But there was still a general process of abstraction from surface to system, which is to say from temporal unfolding to atemporal structure. Hence the problems of translation from analysis to performance that I identified in Stein: his DMA thesis cites the writings of Lewin, Westegaard and Ogden, among others, but they appear in footnotes rather than being thought into the main argument.Whereas the European modernists of the immediate postwar years were content to celebrate the contradiction between idea and actualisation, however, their American counterparts (who were more securely embedded in the higher‐education system) made a determined attempt to bring performance within the academic orbit – a development aided and indeed mandated by the requirement that teachers of performance in American universities should possess doctorates. (Hence Stein's DMA.) The particular form this took reflected something that American theorists shared with their Zero Hour predecessors: a social‐constructionist distrust of the traditional idea that the tonal system is given in nature and hence uniquely privileged. This idea is nowadays mainly associated with twentieth‐century conservatives from Schenker to Pfitzner, but it was equally an article of faith for Webern (, pp. 12–13), for whom the historical modes and scales were ‘a manifestation of the overtone series […]. [A]s a material it accords completely with nature’. And for Stadlen (, p. 19), tonality was not a ‘phase or a style, but […] the nature of music’. Like the postwar avant‐garde in Europe, American theorists, who were often also composers, were determined to reconstruct music – whether through composition or analysis – on the basis of explicit, artefactual principles.Whereas performers had ended up outside the magic circle of Darmstadt serialism, in America the constructionist ideology was pursued to its logical conclusion. In effect, performance was thought of as an extension and supplement to composition. And if that composer‐centric view echoes Schoenberg's disparagement of the self‐importance of performers, there was also a parallel to his distinction between style and idea, between presentation and the essential content that was presented – which in 1960s and ’70s America meant structure. Within this context, as Westegaard (, p. 71) wrote, ‘style’ became a dirty word, admitting an unacceptable element of historical contingency. In this way the page‐to‐stage approach – as it evolved through key texts by Edward T. Cone () and Wallace Berry (), both composers as well as performers, and became part of the music‐theoretical mainstream – was at heart radically anti‐historical. It sought to rationalise and discipline performance, giving it a subordinate place within a value system centred on composition. Its hegemonic nature has been widely criticised (Mathew , p. 58, refers to ‘Edward T. Cone's authoritarian notion that “analysis is a direction for a performance”’), not least for leaving little room for performance as a creative practice.Although it came from the other side of the Atlantic, a study by Christopher Wintle () of the second movement from the Concerto Op. 24 – the main title of which is ‘Analysis and Performance’ – provides a good illustration of what is at issue. The article is an exploration of how Webern organises his music hierarchically – that is, creates relationships between musical surface and underlying structure – without drawing on traditional tonal formations. Despite the title, no discernible theoretical model for the relationship between compositional structure and performance is in evidence. There is simply a slippage from the one to the other via the notion of interpretation: after explaining what he sees as the movement's atonal background structures, Wintle (, p. 91) asserts that ‘[a]n awareness of these articulations is essential to a properly balanced interpretation of the movement’. In other words, the musical structure – if correctly interpreted – entails the manner of its performance. That puts the analyst in charge, and by the end of the article – though he has made no reference to any particular performance of the work – Wintle is in a position to conclude: ‘it is striking that in the available commercial recordings of the Concerto, so little comprehension of structure is evinced. Dynamics are ignored, phrasing is under‐articulated, tempo gradations are over‐ridden, and the whole deprived of the sense of directed motion that alone can bring this music to life’ (p. 98).Bald value judgements of that kind are rarely encountered nowadays, but the underlying thinking has left its mark within the music‐theoretical mainstream. And as I said at the beginning, such thinking was problematised by Stadlen's evidence of how Webern expected Op. 27 to be performed. This emerges most clearly from an article by Robert Wason that was published in 1987. The trouble starts with Webern's insistence, which Stadlen records in both his edition (p. v) and his 1958 article (p. 16), that performers need not understand the serial structure: Wason (, p. 62) suggests that Webern was unthinkingly parroting Schoenberg's statements to this effect, and adds, ‘we cannot but wonder whether his advice is to be taken at face value’. Then there is the matter of the melody lines, which – as Stadlen (, p. 12) records – Webern said must be ‘as telling as a spoken sentence’, and which Stadlen dutifully circled in his score. The problem is that these notes cut across the serial structure, which leads Wason (, p. 95) to observe that ‘[t]he derivation of these “melody” notes is itself an interesting phenomenon for further study, although […] it has so far eluded systematic explanation’. The implication is that analysis is still a direction for performance; it's just that in this case we don't yet have the right analysis.But the central standoff concerns the nature of the relationship between musical content and its realisation in performance. Stadlen addressed this in his interview with Pauli: after referring to the ‘very artistic mirror forms and retrogrades’ composed into the first movement of Op. 27, he said that in performance Webern wanted ‘not only something additional […] but something that occasionally even contradicts the construction, something that destroys it, so that […] the listener […] must – or should – be misled now and again’. This dialectical conception, familiar from Adorno's writings on performance, is reduced in Wason's (, pp. 102–3) article to the idea that the performer may on occasion play against structure, ‘although obviously one must have a clear understanding of just what one is “playing against”’. And a few lines earlier, Wason speaks – with specific reference to the B section – of the possibility of playing ‘against the structural segmentations, while certainly assuming their existence’. It's a lawyer's argument: if there is no sign of the structure in a performance, that only proves how deeply embedded it really is. Mathew (, p. 61) refers to theorists such as Wason as ‘so entangled in the poietic fallacy that they proceeded from the premise that Webern's performance instructions must somehow be linked to the serial structure of the Variations’. In other words, for theorists who think this way, the assumption that phenomenal surfaces – what we play and hear – are generated by underlying structures is too deeply embedded to be questioned, and that gives rise to the further assumption that explanation must mean derivation, as in what Wason says about the ‘melody’ notes (or for that matter what Schnebel says about motivic transformations).At the same time, Wason (, p. 64) does recognise that ‘twelve‐tone “structure” is not the only structure going on’ in Op. 27. He cites the formal plans of all three movements as ‘examples of traditional thinking that Webern transports into the twelve‐tone domain’, and adds that ‘such notions as “motivic structure” […] reveal significant structural aspects of Op. 27, despite the fact that these “structures” are not per se twelve‐tonal’. Just as in his reference to the ‘stormy passage’ at the climax of the first movement – where, he says, the meaning is clarified by traditional climax‐building techniques such as phrase compression, rapid dynamic alterations and registral expansion – Wason is circling around something that almost breaks the surface when he mentions Webern's own comparison of the B section to a Brahms intermezzo: the extent to which this movement draws on the familiar rhetoric of tonal music. Wason's reluctance to articulate this may reflect the social‐constructionist ideology to which I referred, but it also has to do with the valorisation of structure rather than style. Here again Wintle's article illustrates what is at issue. Wintle builds on Webern's (, p. 54) remarks in The Path to the New Music about how effects of tonal excursion and return can be created by purely serial means. In Op. 24, Wintle argues, Webern creates pitch hierarchies that are in essence structurally isomorphic with those of tonal music, yet do not entail the stylistic practices of tonal music: ‘Schenkerian tonal operations’, Wintle says (p. 98), need not be invoked. In this way the historical dimension is acknowledged, but on terms that hold nature at bay.Performers, however, have not shared such qualms. Kolisch and other musicians of the Schoenberg circle believed that the same principles applied to the performance of contemporary and earlier music. Lowell Creitz (, pp. 162–3), who joined Kolisch's Pro Arte Quartet in 1955, writes that ‘[t]he procedures we used were common for all music, not just that of the 20th century’ and cites Webern's remark that his Quartet Op. 28 should be interpreted in the same way as ‘many of the piano sonatas by Beethoven in three movements’. Creitz goes on to describe how the Pro Arte Quartet developed its interpretations, saying, ‘The goal at all levels of structure is to discover the gesture of the motif, the theme, the section and the movement’ (p. 166). Given the Schoenberg connection, it is not surprising that the approach resonates with Stein's thesis, and this is the context within which Stein makes reference to the tonal tradition. It is not only his use of terms such as ‘recapitulation’ and ‘elaboration’, or his reference to the building of the climax in Wason's ‘stormy passage’ as ‘a familiar developmental device’. It is also, for example, when he says that the periodic construction of Webern's themes and in particular his use of mirror forms – Stein cites the opening of Op. 27 as one of several examples – ‘suggest harmonic movement of the order, I–V, V–I’ (, p. 73). In this way Stein invoked tonal models as he sought out the musical gestures in the music he played, while Stadlen (, p. 18) talked about the tonal shaping of serial music more generally: you can imagine him thinking with his hands when he says that ‘we instinctively group the notes of a pitch‐set according to chords that are, however vaguely, suggested by its outline and according to possible metric analogies whose rhythmic emphases again allocate harmonic priorities’. On the same page Stadlen speaks of atonality as ‘reminding us of our shady past’ and questions whether atonality has any real existence other than through these historical references. And Adorno (, p. 87) extends the argument to performance when, following his complaint about Op. 27's ‘monotonously symmetrical presentations of serial marvels’ and comparison of it to a Brahms Intermezzo, he adds that ‘for its performance to give the monotonous tone groups even the shadow of meaning, it must distance itself infinitely far from the rigid notation, especially of its rhythm’. In other words, Op. 27 should be played like Brahms.But the best evidence of the persistence of tonal ways of thinking within the performance of Op. 27 is provided, of course, by the recordings. I have hardly mentioned tonality in my descriptions of them, but really I have been talking about the practices of tonal performance all the time. It is particularly in the B section that performances of Op. 27 embody modes of temporal and dynamic shaping – the kind of gesture Creitz was talking about – that are conditioned by the nineteenth century. All the recordings I have described in detail are consistent in shaping isochronous groups into distinct gestures, usually involving some degree of tempo and dynamic arching; articulating relationships within non‐isochronous groups by means of agogic and dynamic accentuation, though in very different ways; using tempo and dynamics to build the second half of the section towards climax and collapse; and separating off the section as a whole through more or less extended silences. The opening bars of the outer sections, too, form a storehouse of ways in which different patterns of emphasis can be created through the interaction of duration, dynamics, and articulation. These are the standard techniques of expressive performance as analysed, for example, by Eric Clarke (), and – to follow up Webern's, Stadlen's and Adorno's hints – could be illustrated just as readily by recordings of any Brahms intermezzo. It is as if the crystalline Piano Variations of the lecture hall and the shadowy Piano Variations of the concert hall – the serially and the tonally conceived pieces known by the same name – existed in parallel universes. That explains why Webern thought it unnecessary for performers to know about serial design and said his music should be played in the same way as Beethoven's. It also explains a sense of disconnect between performance and the institutionalised music theory of American academia that is particularly obvious in the case of serial music but hardly unknown in relation to common‐practice repertoire: only a handful of professional performers – Murray Perahia is the outstanding example – have seen deep structures such as the Schenkerian background as offering an indispensable insight into the music they play. If academics and performers have in recent years moved towards a more productive alignment of interests, the reason is not that theorists have discovered the right analyses to direct performance, as Wason envisaged, but rather that they have become more pragmatic, more open‐minded, and more sensitive to the different purposes that analysis can serve. It is also worth pointing out that such moves have tended to occur in countries, such as the UK, where theory has never been as fully institutionalised as in the US, and where the divisions between theorists and historical musicologists are more permeable – and moreover where collaborations between performers and academics have been incentivised by research‐funding regimes.And if performers of Op. 27 have played Webern's serial music as if it were tonal music, then the same can be said about how their performances have been heard. That might seem a perverse claim given the critical emphasis on the geometrical, crystalline – in short, objective – aspects of Op. 27, which has still not disappeared from view: in a 2007 review of Mitsuko Uchida's recording, Steve Schwartz remarks that ‘[s]he doesn't play Webern like a mathematical proof, but in the same way she plays Schubert and Mozart – clearly, simply, with an adult's point of view and experience’, and then adds, ‘Webern purists may hate this approach, excoriating her for a “non‐objective” view of the score’. But I can evidence my claim. As we have seen, the objective qualities that Schwartz associates with ‘Webern purists’ have been repeatedly attributed to the second‐wave performances of the 1950s and ’60s. I cited Mathew's characterisation of Monod's recording as ‘unmediated, un‐interpreted Webern’, while Wason (, p. 101) broadens the critique to ‘the mechanical rhythm and flat, emotionless dynamics heard all too often in performances of Op. 27’; Malcolm Hayes (, p. 223) extends it to Webern's music in general (‘when it came to performing Webern, a dispiriting species of metronomic soulfulness was the order of the day’). Yet the fact is that recordings of Op. 27 – even second‐wave recordings ‐ embody a degree of expressive nuance that, in simple quantitative terms, is quite comparable to what might typically be found in performances of a Brahms intermezzo. The point can be made by comparing recordings by the same pianists of Op. 27 and Brahms's Op. 116 No. 5, though I am consigning the details to an endnote. And this contradiction between fact and perception need not be put down solely to the stubborn persistence of outmoded aesthetic ideologies, or to musicologists’ failure to listen. Even recordings like Monod's and Loriod's draw on deeply internalised codes of expressive performance that have developed over the years around the tonal repertoire, and it is because these codes are also internalised by listeners – because of what Bruno Repp () calls listeners’ ‘timing expectations’ –that they are not perceived for what they are. The result is that the objective qualities attributed to the composition are incorrectly ascribed to the playing as well. And the reason this happens is that performances of Op. 27 are being heard on the model of tonal music.Seeking to circumscribe but not wholly eliminate the role of the natural, Fred Lerdahl ( and ) has argued that atonal music lacks what he calls the acoustically grounded stability conditions of tonal music. As a consequence, what in tonal music would be understood as purely surface features plays a key role in generating perceptual hierarchies. Cadences provide a good illustration. In an article that amongst other things applies his idea of the structural downbeat to the second movement of Op. 27, Cone (, p. 183) succinctly defined the nature of a cadence in tonal music: it is ‘the point in the phrase at which rhythmic emphasis and harmonic function coincide’. In non‐tonal music one half of this equation is absent, since without stability conditions there can be no harmonic function. Therefore other means have to be found to create cadential effects. There is an example in the last bars of the A1 section of Op. 27's first movement: both Wason (, p. 97) and Bailey (, p. 192) comment on the introduction of various irregularities into the palindrome (octave transposition creates a registral descent in bars 14–15; rhythmic adjustment separates out bars 17–18), the purpose being – in Bailey's words – ‘to serve as a cadence’. Viewed in terms of tonal theory, the point is that a cadence like this does not emerge from the underlying structure. It is simply a sign, an example – as Quick (, p. 205) puts it – of ‘the goal‐directed, harmonically‐driven rhetoric of tonal music – even in the absence of such an organisational system’.But this has wider ramifications than the creation of cadences. In an article designed to debunk the European avant‐garde's attempt to portray Op. 27 as a precursor of total serialism, Westegaard (, p. 30) argued of the second movement that the patterns in its various ‘nonpitch’ parameters – by which he meant rhythm, articulation and dynamics – make no sense in themselves: they ‘are still playing their traditional role of differentiation. They interact with one another and with pitch to clarify pitch relationships, sorting out for the ear those pitch relationships which are to shape the movement’. That might equally be said of the first movement, where the gestural shaping to which I referred normally involves the coordination of pitch, rhythm and dynamics. And in assigning a primary, shaping role to pitch Westegaard was drawing on the traditional distinction that Schenkerians have made between structure and design – what Leonard Meyer () later called the distinction between the syntactical and non‐syntactical parameters of music. But, as Lerdahl argued, that is just the distinction that is undermined in non‐tonal music, and so there is a major difference between the tonal contexts from which these distinctions derive and the serial context of Op. 27. In tonal theory, what Meyer called syntax is defined by the conjunction of pitch and other parameters, with rhythm and metre playing an essential role (Cone preceded his definition of the cadence with a reference to ‘the importance of rhythm to the establishment of tonality’). In serial theory, by contrast, syntax inheres only in the sequence of pitch classes and the groupings that result from it. In that sense serial theory is far more reductive than tonal theory, and the result is the gap between serial theory and broader musical significance that leads Christopher Hasty (, p. 285) to complain that ‘pitch‐class relations per se offer us little insight into the totality of musical organization. Meticulously crafted details of duration, accent, contour, and instrumentation can rarely be rationalized by the serial structure, and when they are treated by analysts, they are generally relegated to the “musical surface” – a surface curiously detached from the serial “background”’.The conclusion Hasty draws from this is that serial organisation is in itself a much weaker determinant of what he calls ‘the true structure of the work’ than its tonal equivalent, and for this reason he urges analysts to devote much more attention to the role of non‐pitch parameters in ‘the creation of musical gesture and form’. But if this article has demonstrated anything, it is that analysts are not the only people who devote attention to the role of non‐pitch parameters in the creation of musical gesture and form. Composers do this within the limits of notation, of course, but it is the essence of the performer's job description. It is telling, then, that early performers from both camps agreed in emphasising the formative role of non‐pitch parameters in the performance of Op. 27: Stadlen (, p. 14) wrote that for Webern ‘the notes had become almost incidental and were only regarded as carriers of expression’, while Stein (, p. 71) give the same idea a positive spin when in his thesis he spoke of ‘duration, dynamic, touch, register […] acquiring equal importance with the pitches themselves’. It was also Stein (p. 173) who spelled out what this meant for the performer's role. Because such music ‘is usually bereft of the form‐building tendencies of harmony and meter’, he argued, ‘the performer must begin from scratch and gradually build up the various levels of formal relationships which are characteristic of each new composition’. That illustrates what I meant about performers playing an increasingly vital role in new music. Pousseur (, p. 82) made a similar observation, again based on comparison with common‐practice repertoire: in the works of Webern's late period, he wrote, ‘you feel (hear) that the performers are there (much more than in tonal music, which seems to perform itself), that they produce tones and meanings which they define’. And so we end up with a paradox. As we have seen, it was within a context largely conditioned by serialism that North American music theorists developed the page‐to‐stage approach – an approach that sought to embrace performance within a value system centred on composition and thus left little room for thinking of performance as a creative practice. Yet it was precisely in serial music that the detachment of ‘musical surface’ from serial ‘background’ to which Hasty refers created new opportunities and indeed requirements for performers to co‐create the music that listeners heard. The agency denied in theory was asserted all the more strongly in practice. That is the story of Webern's Piano Variations in early recordings.The reception at Darmstadt of Webern's serial compositions represented in its most extreme form the resistance to history and search for meaning in the text which have underpinned the disciplinary identity of music theory. I have attempted not only to trace the history of Op. 27 through recordings, but also to show how the recordings are themselves permeated by history. Perhaps all I have really done is unpack and illustrate Mathew's (, p. 67) pithy statement that ‘Webern's music is made of the kind of themes, topoi, and gestures that we are familiar with – things that we know how to sing and play’. That historicising claim reflects and contributes to the critical reconstruction of Webern that has taken place over the years since Zero Hour – from arch‐structuralist to arch‐expressionist, from composer of extreme autonomy to composer of extreme referentiality, from the symbol of a new beginning to a figure deeply entangled in history. It has taken musicologists half a century to accomplish this 180‐degree reversal in critical interpretation. But that only illustrates once again the oblique relationship between talking about music and playing it. For all the time, the new – or old – Webern was there to be heard in concert halls and on recordings. Even in the moment of Darmstadt madness, those who performed Op. 27 were also performing their own embeddedness in tradition.1AppendixRecordings of Op. 27 from 1948 to 1977, with Basic StatisticsPerformerDate of recordingPerformer's date of birthAverage tempoAverage tempo (A1)Average tempo (B)Average tempo (A2)Peter Stadlen1948191026282924Jacques‐Louis Monod1951192736393635Glenn Gould1954193237394033Jeanne Manchon‐Theis1954190226282723Leonard Stein1954191635413138Paul Jacobs1956193029293425Glenn Gould (Moscow)1957193241454635Glenn Gould (Leningrad)1957193239424235Webster Aitken1961190824312224Yvonne Loriod1961192435413532Carlo Pestalozza1961192024272125Franzpeter Goebels1964192024272222Glenn Gould1964193232373428Beveridge Webster1967190831353130Claude Helffer1968192229303327Marie‐Françoise Bucquet1969193728332628Jean‐Rodolphe Kars1969194720192417John McCabe1969193932323430Charles Rosen1969192728312726Glenn Gould1970193237423834Alexei Lubimov1971194434353731İdil Biret1973194123252421Bruno Mezzena1973192730342831Aki Takahashi1973194426292724Christian Zacharias1973195032363331Glenn Gould1974193236443831Andrzej Dutkiewicz1975194227292726Maurizio Pollini1976194230332932Carles Santos1977194025242726Yuji Takahashi1977193826282624Average303331282AppendixScore of Op. 27, First Movement, with Event Numbers3AppendixAccessing the RecordingsThe project website (http://www.mus.cam.ac.uk/directory/shadows-of-meaning-webern2019s-piano-variations-on-record) provides convenient access to all recordings of the first movement of Op. 27 in the public domain at the time the research for this article was carried out; it excludes Gould's 1957 recording from Leningrad (which became available only later) and Pestalozza's 1961 recording, the rights to my copy of which are held by the British Library. It is unfortunate that a recent European Union directive means that recordings subsequent to these are likely to enter the public domain only after 2037; some but by no means all are, however, available commercially via Spotify or on YouTube.A zip archive at http://www.mus.cam.ac.uk/nick-cook-extra-material/Archive.zip (30 MB) contains the following recordings of the first movement of Op. 27, together with associated Sonic Visualiser session files.Peter Stadlen1948Jacques‐Louis Monod1951Glenn Gould1954Jeanne Manchon‐Theis1954Leonard Stein1954Paul Jacobs1956Glenn Gould (Moscow)1957Webster Aitken1961Yvonne Loriod1961Franzpeter Goebels1964Glenn Gould1964Available for all major platforms and operating systems and freely available on the web, Sonic Visualiser allows flexible navigation of the recordings; the associated session files include event numbers keyed to the score at Appendix , which make it easy to go to any particular point in the recording and hence follow the account in the text. Session files also include tempo graphs (heavy line), dynamic graphs, piano‐roll notations that correspond to the notes in the score and spectrograms, all of which move in time with the music.Brief instructions for downloading and installing Sonic Visualiser, and for playing the sound and associated session files, are provided at http://www.mus.cam.ac.uk/directory/sonic-visualiser-session-files-and-linked-mp3s-for-use-with-2018inventing-tradition2019.NOTESThis article is an output of the project ‘Shadows of Meaning: Webern's Piano Variations on Record’, funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, whose assistance is gratefully acknowledged. The recordings on which it is based were collected jointly with Miriam Quick, and more collectors helped us than can be named individually. I am also grateful to Kathryn Bailey and Daniel Leech‐Wilkinson for their comments on a draft version of this article.1As explained in Quick (, p. 79), it had for some time circulated among experts, in particular through a copy held by the British Library Sound Archive.2Discographic details of these and all other recordings up to 2012 may be found on the project website, http://www.mus.cam.ac.uk/directory/shadows-of-meaning-webern2019s-piano-variations-on-record.3Timing onsets for every note of each recording were captured and associated dynamic values computed. These were graphed and incorporated, along with associated dynamic values, piano‐roll notation and event numbers – all derived from the captured data – within Sonic Visualiser session files, creating a playback environment optimised for close listening. I also made use of a web‐based facility that, for any given segment of any given recording, ranked all the other recordings based on correlation of timing, dynamics or both, and which extracted an annotated sound file containing just that segment from each recording; the aim, which was only partially realised, was to generate paths for navigating the corpus that were likely to yield productive comparisons. I refer to this overall approach, in which technology extends the scope of close listening and facilitates work at the corpus level, as ‘augmented listening’. The similarity analyser and event extractor, along with the programming and data capture, were the work of Craig Sapp, of Stanford University's Center for Computer Assisted Research in the Humanities, without whose collaboration this research could not have been undertaken; it made use of the Humdrum Toolkit, and I am grateful to David Huron, who developed the Toolkit, for introducing me to the idea of corpus analysis of performance. I am also indebted to Miriam Quick and Georgia Volioti for data collection. The complete data set may be accessed via the project website.4Translated in [Webern et al.] (), p. 19.5One reason for this is auditory streaming, which makes perceived intensity a function of the musical texture: by contrast, the dynamics indicated in the session files are measurements of overall intensity. Another is that assigning a single dynamic value to an event is inherently reductive. The conjunction of tempo and dynamic graphs can nevertheless make broad relationships between the two parameters visible at a glance.6Translations taken from the appendix to the annotated score.7Translated from Pauli () and discussed in Quick (), p. 190.8These average tempos are simply calculated; because of the mobility of tempo, especially in the B section, it is often not practical to identify what Repp () calls the ‘basic’ and Gabrielsson (, p. 540) the ‘mean’ tempo. Section tempos are measured up to the final onset of the section (E45, E132 and E177), thus excluding the caesurae between sections. The caesurae are however included in figures for the whole movement.9As stated in Peter Hill's notes to his recording Schoenberg – Berg – Webern: Piano Music (Naxos 8.553870), p. 4.10The entire correspondence is transcribed on Bolcom's website (‘The End of the Mannerist Century’, http://www.williambolcom.com/in-the-media/blog/the-end-of-the-mannerist-century). Stadlen apparently said this in 1959 in the course of a BBC radio review of Robert Craft's 1957 box set of Webern's works. All websites accessed 7 November 2016 unless otherwise stated.11Pearson correlation, on which Sapp's similarity analyser is based, is scale‐independent; if two performances have the same internal relationships but one is twice as fast as the other, the correlation will still be perfect. The suggestion is that, for this purpose, a scale‐dependent approach might be more productive.12Stein's recording was issued in 1957 as part of Robert Craft's complete Webern box set, but the booklet says that the majority of the recordings were made in 1954: according to Naxos Music Library, Op. 27 was recorded on 10 September of that year (http://ml.naxos.jp/album/9.80273). My thanks to Miriam Quick for this information.13A series of lectures delivered in 1932–3 and published in 1960 (English translation, Webern ).14As detailed in e.g. Garland and Garland (1997), p. 415, this term was coined in 1945 by Frank Thiess in response to Thomas Mann's writings on German guilt for the war: the ‘inner emigrants’ who remained in Germany, Thiess argued, had shown more courage than those who had left and now claimed to speak for the German people. This sparked off an enduring controversy that overshadowed critical responses to the cultural productions of the war years.15Entry on Monod, accessed 12 January 2014; this claim has since been removed.16On 10 March 1962, with the Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma della RAI; a transfer by Emilio Pessina was until recently available on YouTube.17In fairness it should be noted that the Dial LPs engineered by Doug Hawkins, of which this was the last, were widely praised for the quality of recording (Hoek , pp. 77 and 79).18Stein (), p. 83; curiously, his explanation seems to be contradicted by his own music example (p. 84).19As stated in ‘Darmstadt International Summer Courses for New Music’, http://self.gutenberg.org/articles/eng/Darmstadt_International_Summer_Courses_for_New_Music.20Thanks to Daniel Leech‐Wilkinson for this suggestion.21Nancy Canning's Gould discography places it in 1950, apparently based on examination of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation archives, but the 1 January 1950 date looks like a placeholder (Canning , pp. 120 and ix). The 1954 date is taken from Bazzana (), p. 276, and is consistent with the claim Bazzana (, p. 89) makes elsewhere that Gould started playing Op. 27 in 1953.22This development is confused by the misdating of the 1970 recording: as explained in Cook (), p. 135 n. 5, the liner notes to Sony Classical's 1995 release (The Glenn Gould Edition – Berg, Krenek, Webern, Debussy, Ravel, SMK 52661) incorrectly say it was recorded in 1964.23Ironically, as Williams () has shown, performance thrown out the front door promptly re‐entered at the back: when working on Gesang der Jünglinge, Stockhausen and Koenig started out by chopping up tiny bits of tape but rapidly resorted to real‐time improvisatory practices to create the desired effect.24Confirmed by Sapp's similarity analyser for the A1 and B sections, and for both tempo and dynamics (the analyser's results are useful in this case because of the pianists’ similar average tempos).25From Stereo Review, as cited on dil Biret's website (http://www.idilbiret.eu/en/?p = 51).26The others are Pollini, in a live recording from Berlin (1990), and Christoph Eschenbach (1996).27As stated on the sleeve of Kars's recording.28The similarity analyser shows these to be closely related in both tempo and dynamics across the movement as a whole, a finding consistent with Quick (), p. 197.29EAA‐85013–15 (Angel Records, 1973).30Information from his Wikipedia entry.31Translated from vol. 1 of Stockhausen's Texte, 1963, in Hasty (), p. 297.32Translated in Quick (), p. 190.33The source of this, as Wason (, p. 97) notes, is Stadlen: it appears in both ‘Serialism Reconsidered’ (, p. 12) and his annotated edition (p. v). As we have seen, Adorno – speaking of the movement as a whole – made the same comparison in his Philosophy of Modern Music, but because that first appeared in 1949, the source was not Stadlen's writings.34Of those pianists who have recorded Op. 27, two have also recorded Brahms's Intermezzo Op. 116 No. 5 (Biret in 1989, and Sviatoslav Richter in 1964, 1966 and – twice – 1992), while at the time of this writing a live recording by Pollini from 2002 is accessible on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v = iJfF1THDnuY). Standard deviations weighted against tempo are used as an admittedly crude measure of rubato, and on this measure the pianists on average employ the same amount of rubato in Op. 116 No. 5 and Op. 27 overall, though in the central sections there is 18% more rubato in Op. 116 No. 5 (with the repeats averaged). That however masks large individual differences between performers and recordings. Biret plays with considerably more rubato in Op. 27 (31% more overall and 35% more in the central sections). So does Richter, for whom the corresponding figures are 17% and 62% (the latter figure averaged across his four recordings, between which there is considerable variation). Pollini does the opposite. On average he plays with more rubato in Op. 116 No. 5 than in his three recordings of Op. 27 (22% more overall and 23% more in the central sections), but here the variation between recordings is massive: whereas his performance of Op. 116 No. 5 has 47% more rubato overall than his 1976 recording of Op. 27, it has 3% less than the Berlin recording of Op. 27 from 1990.REFERENCESAdorno, Theodor W., 2006: Philosophy of New Music, ed. and trans. 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Martin Iddon, Contemporary Music Review, 26, pp. 53–75.Boulez, Pierre, 1958: ‘The Threshold’, trans. Leo Black, in Die Reihe, 2, English edn (Bryn Mawr, PA: Theodore Presser), pp. 40–1.Boynton, Neil, 2002: ‘Anton Webern, “Variationen op. 27”: Gegenüberstellung der Handexemplare von Else Cross und Peter Stadlen’, in Markus Grassl and Reinhard Kapp (eds), Die Lehre von der musikalischen Aufführung in der Wiener Schule: Verhandlungen des Internationalen Colloquiums Wien 1995 (Vienna: Böhlau Verlag), pp. 101–11.Canning, Nancy, 1992: A Glenn Gould Catalog (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press).Clarke, Eric, 1988: ‘Generative Principles in Music Performance’, in John Sloboda (ed.), Generative Processes in Music: the Psychology of Performance, Improvisation, and Composition (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press), pp. 1–26.Cone, Edward T., 1960: ‘Anaysis Today’, Musical Quarterly, 46, pp. 172–88.Cone, Edward T., 1968: Musical Form and Musical Performance (New York: Norton).Cook, Nicholas, 2013: Beyond the Score: Music as Performance (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press).Cook, Nicholas, 2016: ‘Seeing Sound, Hearing the Body: Glenn Gould Plays Webern's Piano Variations’, in Yael Kaduri (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Sound and Image in Western Art (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press), pp. 124–37.Copland, Aaron, 1952: Music and Imagination (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press).Creitz, Lowell, 2002: ‘Rudolf Kolisch – Master Musician’, in Markus Grassl and Reinhard Kapp (eds), Die Lehre von der musikalischen Aufführung in der Wiener Schule: Verhandlungen des Internationalen Colloquiums Wien 1995 (Vienna: Böhlau Verlag), pp. 161–72.Day, Timothy, 2000: A Century of Recorded Music: Listening to Musical History (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press).Eimert, Herbert, 1958: ‘A Change of Focus’, trans. Leo Black, in Die Reihe, 2, English edn (Bryn Mawr, PA: Theodore Presser), pp. 29–36.Feldman, Morton, 2000: Give My Regards to Eighth Street: Collected Writings of Morton Feldman (Cambridge, MA: Exact Change).Ferneyhough, Brian and Boros, James, 1990: ‘Shattering the Vessels of Received Wisdom’, Perspectives of New Music, 28/ii, pp. 6–50.Fox, Christopher, 2007a: ‘Music after Zero Hour’, Contemporary Music Review, 26, pp. 5–24.Fox, Christopher, 2007b: ‘Other Darmstadts: an Introduction’, Contemporary Music Review, 26, pp. 1–3.Gabrielsson, Alf, 1999: ‘The Performance of Music’, in Diana Deutsch (ed.), The Psychology of Music, 2nd edn (San Diego, CA: Academic Press), pp. 501–602.Gardner, Mary and Gardner, Henry (eds), 1997: The Oxford Companion to German Literature, 3rd edn (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press).Grant, Morag, 2001: Serial Music, Serial Aesthetics: Compositional Theory in Post‐War Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).Hasty, Christopher, 1988: ‘Composition and Context in Twelve‐note Music of Anton Webern’, Music Analysis, 7/iii, pp. 281–312.Hasty, Christopher, 1997: Meter as Rhythm (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press).Hayes, Malcolm, 1995: Anton von Webern (London: Phaidon).Helffer, Claude, 2006: Quinze analyses musicales: de Bach à Manoury, 2nd edn (Geneva: Éditions Contrechamps).Hobsbawm, Eric and Ranger, Terence, 1983: The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).Hoek, David, 2013: ‘Beyond Bebop: Dial Records and the Library of Contemporary Classics’, ARSC Journal, 44, pp. 70–98.Johnson, Julian, 1999: Webern and the Transformation of Nature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).Jones, James Rives, 1968: ‘Some Aspects of Rhythm and Meter in Webern’, Perspectives of New Music, 7/i, pp. 103–9.Klammer, Armin, 1958: ‘Webern's Piano Variation, Op. 27, 3rd Movement’, trans. Leo Black, in Die Reihe, 2, English edn (Bryn Mawr, PA: Theodore Presser), pp. 81–92.Kolneder, Walter, 1961: Anton Webern: an Introduction to his Works, trans. Humphrey Searle(London: Faber & Faber).Kramer, Lawrence, 1990: Music as Cultural Practice, 1800–1900 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press).Krenek, Ernst, 1966: ‘Anton von Webern: a Profile’, in Hans Moldenhauer and Demar Irvine (eds), Anton von Webern Perspectives (Seattle: University of Washington Press), pp. 3–14.Leech‐Wilkinson, Daniel, 2009: ‘Recordings and Histories of Performance Style’, in Nicholas Cook, Eric Clarke, Daniel Leech‐Wilkinson and John Rink (eds), The Cambridge Companion to Recorded Music (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 246–62.Leibowitz, René, 1949: Schoenberg and his School: the Contemporary Stage of the Language of Music, trans. Dika Newlin (New York: Philosophical Library).Lerdahl, Fred, 1989: ‘Atonal Prolongational Structure’, Contemporary Music Review, 4, pp. 65–87.Lerdahl, Fred, 2001: Tonal Pitch Space (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press).Lewin, David, 1962: ‘A Metrical Problem in Webern's Op. 27’, Journal of Music Theory, 6/i, pp. 124–32.Ligeti, György, 1965: ‘Metamorphoses of Musical Form’, trans. Cornelius Cardew, in Die Reihe, 2, English edn (Bryn Mawr, PA: Theodore Presser), pp. 5–19.London, Justin, 2004: Hearing in Time: Psychological Aspects of Musical Meter (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press).Mathew, Nicholas, 2011: ‘Darmstadt Pianism, “Historically Informed Webern”, and Modernism's Vanishing Performer’, in Annette Richards (ed.), Keyboard Perspectives III: the Yearbook of the Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies 2010 (Ithaca, NY: Westfield Center), pp. 49–73.McCabe, John, 2003: ‘Brains and Beauty’, Piano, 11/v, pp. 14–17.Melrose, Susan, 1994: A Semiotics of the Dramatic Text (London: Macmillan).Meyer, Leonard B., 1989: Style in Music: History, Theory, and Ideology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press).Newlin, Dika, 1980: Schoenberg Remembered: Diaries and Recollections (1938–76) (New York: Pendragon Press).Ogden, Wilbur, 1962: ‘A Webern Analysis’, Journal of Music Theory, 6/i, pp. 133–8.Pauli, Hansjörg, 1984: ‘Aus Gesprächen über Webern’, in Heinz‐Klaus Metzger and Rainer Riehn (eds), Musik‐Konzepte, Sonderband: Anton Webern II (Munich: Edition Text + Kritik), pp. 238–93.Pousseur, Henry, 1958: ‘Anton Webern's Organic Chromaticism’, trans. Leo Black, in Die Reihe, 2, English edn (Bryn Mawr, PA: Theodore Presser), pp. 51–60.Pousseur, Henry, 1964: ‘Music, Form and Practice (an Attempt to Reconcile Some Contradictions)’, trans. Margaret Shenfield, in Die Reihe, 6, English edn (Bryn Mawr, PA: Theodore Presser), pp. 77–93.Pousseur, Henry, 1966: ‘The Question of Order in New Music’, Perspectives of New Music, 5/i, pp. 93–111.Quick, Miriam, 2010: ‘Performing Modernism: Webern on Record’ (PhD diss., King's College London).Repp, Bruno, 1994: ‘On Determining the Basic Tempo of an Expressive Music Performance’, Psychology of Music, 22, pp. 157–67.Repp, Bruno, 1999: ‘Detecting Deviations from Metronomic Timing in Music: Effects of Perceptual Structure on the Mental Timekeeper’, Perception and Psychophysics, 61, pp. 529–548.Satz, David, 2002: ‘Rudolf Kolisch in Boston’, in Markus Grassl and Reinhard Kapp (eds), Die Lehre von der musikalischen Aufführung in der Wiener Schule: Verhandlungen des Internationalen Colloquiums Wien 1995 (Vienna: Böhlau Verlag), pp. 191–208.Schenker, Heinrich, 1987: Counterpoint, ed. John Rothgeb, trans. John Rothgeb and Jürgen Thym, 2 vols (New York: Schirmer).Schoenberg, Arnold, 1975: Style and Idea: Selected Writings of Arnold Schoenberg, ed. Leonard Stein, trans. Leo Black (London: Faber & Faber).Schor, Naomi, 1987: Reading in Detail: Aesthetics and the Feminine (New York: Methuen).Schuller, Gunther, 1964: ‘A Conversation with Steuermann’, Perspectives of New Music, 3/i, pp. 22–35.Schwartz, Steve, 2007: ‘Chromatic Piano’, Classic Net, http://www.classical.net/music/recs/reviews/p/phi68033a.php.Shreffler, Anne, 1994: Webern and the Lyric Impulse: Songs and Fragments on Poems of Georg Trakl (Oxford: Clarendon Press).Siepmann, Jeremy, 2003: ‘With Schoenberg at the Piano’, Piano, 11/v, pp. 18–31.Spinner, Leopold, 1960: A Short Introduction to the Technique of Twelve‐Tone Composition (London: Hawkes & Son).Stadlen, Peter, 1958: ‘Serialism Reconsidered’, The Score, 22, pp. 12–27.Stadlen, Peter, 2004: ‘Le malentendu pointilliste’, trans. Nicolas Donin, Circuit: musiques contemporaines, 15/i, pp. 27–40, http://id.erudit.org/iderudit/902339ar.Stein, Leonard, 1963: ‘The Performer's Point of View’, Perspectives of New Music, 1/ii, pp. 62–71.Stein, Leonard, 1965: ‘The Performance of Twelve‐Tone and Serial Music for the Piano’ (DMA diss., University of Southern California).Stein, Leonard, 2002: ‘Playing in Time for Schoenberg’, in Markus Grassl and Reinhard Kapp (eds), Die Lehre von der musikalischen Aufführung in der Wiener Schule: Verhandlungen des Internationalen Colloquiums Wien 1995 (Vienna: Böhlau Verlag), pp. 61–9.Stockhausen, Karlheinz, 1958: ‘Structure and Experiential Time’, trans. Leo Black, in Die Reihe, 2, English edn (Bryn Mawr, PA: Theodore Presser), pp. 64–74.Travis, Roy, 1966: ‘Directed Motion in Schoenberg and Webern’, Perspectives of New Music, 4/ii, pp. 85–9.Wason, Robert, 1987: ‘Webern's Variations for Piano, Op. 27: Musical Structure and the Performance Score’, Intégral, 1, pp. 57–103.Webern, Anton, 1963: The Path to the New Music, trans. Leo Black (Bryn Mawr, PA: Theodore Presser).[Webern, Anton, et al.], 1958: ‘From the Correspondence’, trans. Eric Smith, in Die Reihe, 2, English edn (Bryn Mawr, PA: Theodore Presser), pp. 13–21.Westegaard, Peter, 1963: ‘Webern and “Total Organization”: an Analysis of the Second Movement of Piano Variations, Op. 27’, Perspectives of New Music, 1/ii, pp. 107–20.Westegaard, Peter. 1974: ‘On the Notion of Style’, in Henrik Glahn, Søren Sørensen and Peter Ryom (eds), The International Musicological Society: Report of the Eleventh Congress, Copenhagen, 1972 (Copenhagen: William Hansen), vol. 1, pp. 71–74.Wildgans, Friedrich, 1966: Anton Webern, trans. Edith Temple Robert and Humphrey Searle (London: Calder & Boyars).Williams, Sean, 2014: ‘Strict Serialism or Structured Improvisation? The Performance Practice Inherent in the Technical Realisation of Early Electronic Music in the WDR Studio, Cologne’, paper presented at the Performance Studies Network Third International Conference, Cambridge, 2014.Wintle, Christopher, 1982: ‘Analysis and Performance: Webern's Concerto Op. 24/II’, Music Analysis, 1/i, pp. 73–99.Xenakis, Iannis, 1971: Formalized Music: Thought and Mathematics in Composition, 2nd edn (Bloomington: Indiana University Press).NOTE ON THE CONTRIBUTORNicholas Cook is 1684 Professor of Music at the University of Cambridge, and author of Music: a Very Short Introduction (1998), which is published or forthcoming in eighteen languages. Among his other books, The Schenker Project: Culture, Race, and Music Theory in Fin‐de‐siècle Vienna (2007) won the SMT's Wallace Berry Award in 2010. His most recently published book is Beyond the Score: Music as Performance (2013), while Music as Creative Practice (his contribution to the AHRC Research Centre for Musical Performance as Creative Practice) is in production. He is currently working on a project entitled ‘Music Encounters: Studies in Relational Musicology’, supported by a British Academy Wolfson Professorship. A former editor of Journal of the Royal Musical Association, he was elected Fellow of the British Academy in 2001. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Music Analysis Wiley

Inventing Tradition: Webern's Piano Variations in Early Recordings

Music Analysis , Volume 36 (2) – Jul 1, 2017

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Music Analysis © 2017 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
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Abstract

Anton Webern's Piano Variations Op. 27 present a classic case of the entanglement of performance tradition with history, and more specifically with the aesthetic and ideological shifts that took place around modernism in the aftermath of the Second World War. Composed shortly before the war, in 1935–6, the Piano Variations were published by Universal Edition (Vienna) in May 1937 and premiered in October that year by the young Viennese pianist Peter Stadlen, whom Webern – as was his established practice – coached prior to the performance. Despite a few repeat performances, there was not time for the work to become established in the concert repertoire before the war intervened, and a month after the armistice Webern was mistakenly shot by an American soldier. When performances resumed after the war, with the first commercial recording being made in 1951, it was largely in the context of a postwar modernism very different in its aesthetic assumptions and performance practices from those of pre‐war Vienna. And this dislocation of the Piano Variations from contemporary performance practice was reinforced by the appearance of the music on the printed page. As Aaron Copland (, p. 70) wrote the following year, Webern's piano music ‘has a curious way of rebuffing you; it – so to speak – defies you to read it’. If the score thus became something of an enigma or sphinx bequeathed by an already distant pre‐war world, some light was thrown on the kind of performance Webern envisaged – at least as understood by Stadlen – by the survival and publication in 1979 of the score used in the coaching sessions. With annotations by both Webern and Stadlen, it played a role in shaping subsequent performances. This singular conjunction of circumstances makes the Piano Variations an exceptionally revealing case study in the genesis of interpretative style.There is an affinity between the situation of Op. 27 after the war and historically informed performance: in each case, notations from one historical context are interpreted in another. But there is also an obvious difference. Leading performers from the Schoenberg circle, including Rudolf Kolisch and Eduard Steuermann, attended the Darmstadt Ferienkurse (annual summer schools), which were initiated in 1946 and became the principal anvil on which postwar musical modernism was forged; Stadlen – who had by then settled in London – attended from 1948 to 1951, and it was there, on 31 July 1948, that he gave the German premiere of Op. 27. Fortunately a private recording was made, and although it is of poor quality and was commercially released only in 2006, it reveals a performance bearing all the marks of the pre‐war style. As Christopher Fox (, p. 11) remarks, however, ‘it was Webern on the page which became the great touchstone for younger composers’, and in this context a new performance style developed that ostensibly owed little to pre‐war traditions. Stadlen was vocal in his opposition to this new style, insisting in a number of publications (the best‐known of which is ‘Serialism Reconsidered’, published in 1958) that Webern's intentions had been quite different. All this made the Piano Variations a key arena within which postwar modernist values were negotiated. It also resulted in an unusually extensive recorded heritage: as of 2012 there were 65 commercial releases, falling into two groups separated by a six‐year break (1948–77 and 1983–2012). I shall suggest that by the 1970s Op. 27 was not only firmly ensconced within the modernist canon but had also acquired a well‐established performance tradition; for this reason it is the first group – consisting of 30 recordings – with which I am concerned in this article. They are listed in Appendix .Building on Timothy Day's (, pp. 178–85) brief but perceptive account of how performances of Webern's music have changed over the years, Miriam Quick (, p. 103) writes in her doctoral thesis, which includes a chapter on Op. 27, that there were ‘in the late 1940s, 50s and 60s […] not one but two Webern performance styles: the Viennese tradition and the avant‐garde “Darmstadt” practice that rejected – or more accurately, perhaps, ignored – this tradition’. In this article, which focuses on the first movement, I explore recordings of Op. 27 that represent both these traditions, relying on recently developed techniques of computer‐assisted close listening. I also consider relationships between recordings and the contexts from which they emerged, including other recordings, critical and analytical writings and the aesthetic ideologies that informed them. Woven into the story is the development of theoretical approaches that have understood performance style to be a function of compositional structure – something which, borrowing a term from Susan Melrose (, p. 215), I call page‐to‐stage theory. If, as Nicholas Mathew (, p. 61) writes, Stadlen's annotated score represented ‘a serious blow to the Darmstadt image of Webern’, it also problematises some still current assumptions about the relationship between scores and performances.The Presence of the PastIn 1964 the leading pianist of the Schoenberg circle, Eduard Steuermann – to whom Webern dedicated his Piano Variations – told Gunther Schuller (, p. 28) that ‘Webern himself was the freest interpreter of his own music that could be imagined’. He added (with specific reference to the Concerto Op. 24) that ‘[h]e played so freely that I hardly could follow the music, but it was extraordinary’. And in this context ‘free’ does not mean unconsidered – as is evident in a letter that Webern sent to the conductor Hermann Scherchen in 1938, in which he described how the fugal subject should be played in his arrangement of the Ricercar a 6 from Bach's Musical Offering: ‘from g via f♯ to f faster, then holding back a little on the e♭ (accent given by the harp) and again rubato on the trombone progression (including the tied e♭ of the horn where the trombone has a crotchet rest in bar 6)’.The intricate performance style current in pre‐war Vienna is fairly represented in Stadlen's 1948 recording, which I shall describe at some length. But in order to do so I need to sketch out the compositional framework represented by Webern's original score of 1937, as well as the annotations in Stadlen's score. Because the small rhythmic values used in the movement – particularly its central section – make the usual bar:beat citations unwieldy, I often refer to particular points by event number (preceded by E). These correspond not only to the score at Appendix , but also to the Sonic Visualiser session files through which the majority of the recordings in the public domain may be accessed (see Appendix ); fortunately this includes most of those I discuss in detail. The session files include a piano‐roll representation that further simplifies cross‐references between sound and score, together with tempo graphs aligned with playback. These graphs are more perceptually salient than is often the case in post‐tonal music because so much of this movement is isochronous, and they will make my observations easier to follow. There are also dynamic graphs, although their usefulness is more limited. In short, my analyses will make more sense – and be much more interesting – if read in conjunction with playback using Sonic Visualiser.It is hardly necessary to point out that the first movement of the Piano Variations falls into three symmetrically disposed sections, which I shall call A1, B and A2; the outer sections match one another exactly apart from the serial derivation (which means the pitch characteristics and patterns of hand crossing are quite different), dynamics and an alteration to the final two attacks that gives A2 a stronger cadential quality. Each of the A sections consists of a series of rhythmically defined gestures (e.g. bars 1–2, 3–4) – what I shall call groups – that are made up of isochronous semiquavers. The first part of A1 (bars 1–7) comprises four groups each of four attacks notated in the form of enclosed pairs of notes and separated by semiquaver rests; it is an exact palindrome, with the mirror axis (what Webern scholars call Spiegelbild) in bar 4. Webern's original score marks it pp, but Stadlen's annotated score adds a few further markings in Webern's hand. The melodic and expressive thread is brought out through diagonal lines and arrows between the notes to be connected, together with tenuto signs and tiny – though not literally playable – pairs of hairpins; there is also a ‘tpo’ marking on the last beat of bar 4 (E9), implying a preceding ritenuto. The other annotations are added by Stadlen, based on his recollections (which may or may not have been accurate but at least represent his impression of how the music should go), and fill out this picture. Stadlen writes ‘subdued plaint’ at the opening (putting it in inverted commas, which should mean it is a verbatim quotation from Webern); circles the principal melody notes, which are in each case the highest pitch; adds a pp marking at the beginning of the last of the four groups (E13), implying some kind of dynamic arch; and at the same point also adds ‘Echo’, again in inverted commas.That last instruction might be thought redundant, but in his recording Stadlen observes it to the extent that for a moment the music becomes inaudible. Otherwise the main feature of his playing of this passage is the irregular and curiously – perhaps plaintively – halting way he plays the semiquavers. The first lasts fully 82% longer than the second; the unexpected prolongation of E7 (73% longer than the previous semiquaver) creates an oddly limping effect that turns into a kind of lilt at E9–12. The effect is less of projecting structure than of searching for meaning, and in this way it projects agency. You have the sense that Stadlen is trying to say something, even if you don't quite know what it is. At the same time a traditional scheme is in operation: he plays the opening seven bars as an antecedent, a question, to which the rest of the A1 section – the consequent – provides a series of answers in the form of more sustained gestural groups. A three‐bar group begins at bar 8 (E17), where Stadlen not only writes in ‘new vigour’ but also replaces the printed p with mf; all of this underlines the stretto composed into the music through the overlapping of the paired attacks. A climactic group of four bars follows at bar 11 (E26), where Stadlen adds ‘more!’ (this time in inverted commas), together with huge hairpins centred on the Spiegelbild (bar 13, E31–32). A wavy line over bar 14, as Stadlen explains in his preface, indicates ‘a modest holding back’, which, in combination with a caesura added in bar 14, turns E35–37 into a closing gesture within this four‐bar group. Two shorter groups (E38–42 and E43–45) conclude the A1 section: added ‘tpo’ markings in bars 15–17 imply unnotated ritenutos in the preceding groups, matching the notated one in the final group. The annotations, then, generally flesh out the implications of the dynamic markings in Webern's original score: an overall rise and fall of intensity through bars 8–18, matching the group lengths.As might be expected, Stadlen's recording of these passages is more or less in line with the annotations, though not completely so, and of course any performance contains details that are not captured by verbal or graphic annotations. (John McCabe [, p. 17], who made his own recording of Op. 27 in 1969, writes that ‘all those little interpretative nuances that simply cannot be written down, are what brings the music to life’.) At the beginning of the three‐bar group, in bar 8, Stadlen hurries through E17–19 and then makes E20 dramatically longer (the semiquaver at E20 is 88% longer than that at E19), creating the same kind of halting effect as earlier. By contrast, he abbreviates the rest before the next four‐bar group (bar 11, E26), almost knitting the two groups together and in this way creating a clear linear continuity from the a2 at E24 to the b2 at E26 (you can imagine him thinking of those circled notes). He accelerates from E27 to E29, to which he gives a dynamic emphasis, and from where there is an overall decrease of both tempo and dynamics to the end of the group, though it is complicated by the prolongation of E31 (of which more shortly). Perhaps it is to avoid an excessively disjointed effect that Stadlen completely ignores the caesura he marked into his score before E35, instead playing through it with the legato articulation that characterises his performance of this section in general. Whereas – as we shall see – later recordings shape these groups through the principles of temporal and dynamic phrase arching that spread rapidly in the aftermath of the war (Cook , Ch. 6), Stadlen shapes them more in the form of a decrease from fast to slow, loud to soft, intense to serene. And he follows the same general pattern for the rest of the A1 section, though in a less exaggerated manner.A further element in Stadlen's expressive armoury is what was already in 1948 the old‐fashioned practice of hand breaking or dislocation (spreading the notes of a chordal attack), often employed as a signifier of intense feeling. Stadlen's purpose, however, seems to be different. He employs it at E18, E21 and E24, and again at E39, which is to say at all the points where the pattern of interlocking pairs of notes changes. The piece has begun with one‐ and two‐note attacks, but the first three‐note attack is at E18 and the first four‐note one at E21; at E39 the rests between the pairs of notes disappear, representing a further tightening of the stretto. In textural terms, then, the group at E38–42 is the most intense point in A1, but at the same time it is enclosed within a process of dynamic winding down from the climax of the previous phrase that results in a kind of expressive bottling up. Yet the hand breaking at E39 has no obvious part in this process: rather, it belongs with the previous hand breaking, the intention presumably being to mark an aspect of textural design that Stadlen thought it important to bring out. At such points his playing both expresses and induces in the listener (or analyst) a kind of hermeneutic approach – as if meaning is to be found beneath the immediately perceptible surface of the music – which is perhaps not surprising in an interpretation shaped through intense coaching by a composer who, as Julian Johnson (, pp. 186 and 202–3) says, ‘hardly ever wrote a piece which did not have, for him, significant extra‐musical associations’. (Op. 27 is no exception.) The ‘for him’ is crucial: the associations were private, hidden from view. And here a link might be made with a curious ambivalence in Stadlen's relationship to the Piano Variations.Stadlen claimed a position of authority in postwar debates about musical modernism because of his inside knowledge of Webern's conception of this serial composition. But at the same time he used his position to further a polemic against serialism, writing in his 1958 article of the ‘fundamental errors and contradictions’ of Schoenberg's system (p. 22). He squared this circle by insisting that in the coaching sessions, Webern ‘acted as if he himself were not aware of the serial aspect of his work’ (p. 16) – in other words, as if, like the extramusical associations, it were a private matter. Instead, Stadlen emphasised what in an interview with Hansjörg Pauli he called the ‘pre‐classical shapes’ of the music, the palindromic patterns into which Webern fashioned the music, patterns that are afforded but not mandated by the serial organisation. In the preface to his edition Stadlen calls the palindromes ‘autark’ structures, presumably meaning that they appear self‐sufficient, and his recording suggests an almost obsessive concern with them. The most obvious example in the A1 section is at E31, which he prolongs in such a way as to emphasise the Spiegelbild (E31–32) – an effect that, as I put it, complicates the decrease of tempo and dynamics at this point. More obviously than E39, this is – as Naomi Schor () would call it – a ‘bad’ detail, one that is not synthesised or sublated within the larger context but rather intrudes upon the listener's experience. It is this intrusiveness that turns it into a hermeneutic marker, an invitation to interpretation akin to Lawrence Kramer's (, p. 12) illocutionary ‘breaking points’: once more you have the sense that Stadlen is trying to say something. And while this point in the annotated score is marked ‘molto espressivo, particularly the repeated notes’, there are other, unmarked points where Stadlen's playing is apparently shaped by the palindromes. Indeed one of them is the matching dyads at E7 and E10, the prolongation of which creates the oddly limping effect I described as searching for meaning, and which comprise the same pitches as E31–32 (c1 and d2). It is as if Stadlen wanted to bring out anything except the serial structure.In terms of organisation – and despite the curiously opaque appearance of Webern's rhythmic notation – the B section (bars 19–36, E46–132) looks more straightforward in the score than it sounds in Stadlen's recording. Successively longer groups of isochronous demisemiquavers (E46–51, E58–66 and E73–84) alternate with groups of six slower notes of varying lengths centred on the Spiegelbilder: Stadlen marks the first of these ‘particularly intense’. These groups of six notes involve prominent melodic tritones in contrasted registers, while the hand crossings that are scripted in the score – and that during the A sections create an effect of visual and kinesthetic interweaving – here take on the overtly dramatic quality that leads the pianist Claude Helffer (, p. 146) to speak of the two hands as theatrical personae engaged in dialogue. (Stadlen's annotation at bars 20–21, supposedly quoting the composer, indicates that Webern himself had drama in mind, if of a different kind: ‘right hand replacing left not until the last moment, almost too late’.) The hand crossings are perhaps the most immediately striking feature of Op. 27 in performance, and the reason I do not focus on them in this article is that I have done so in another (Cook ): it is based on two televised performances by Glenn Gould, analysed in relation to his four audio recordings, and addresses the issue of how physical action can be encoded in recorded sound.All of these groups – both the isochronous and the non‐isochronous ones – are marked ‘rit. … tempo’ in Webern's original score, and within every pair of groups the same major seventh dyad acts as a terminus for both, with the ‘tempo’ marking following it (for example f♯1/f♮ 2 at E52 and E57). This parsing is made explicit by the brackets Webern added in the annotated score, which suggest that Stadlen had trouble with the passage. And although in the original score the second and third groups of demisemiquavers are given a dynamic arch from p to f and back to p, the annotated score adds a crescendo to give the same shaping to the first group, which is how Stadlen plays it: a flurry of notes slowing from E48 to target E50 before coming to a stop on E52, with dynamics closely following tempo (as may be seen in the Sonic Visualiser session file). Of the ‘tempo’ marked in Webern's score at E53 (or at E68 or E86), however, Stadlen's recording carries no trace. At the note‐to‐note level the extent of the flexibility – the demisemiquaver at E50 is 160% longer than the one at E47 – is in line with the annotation at the beginning of the B section (‘freely improvisatory’, in inverted commas). But the following six‐note group is taken slower, averaging around dotted quaver = 20, that is, half the notated tempo; Stadlen accidentally foregrounds the hand crossing by mis‐hitting E53. The next two pairs of groups are played in much the same way, perhaps the only detail that calls for comment being the separation of E73–75. This results in a gesture which is rather convoluted but corresponds precisely to the annotation Stadlen ascribes to Webern at this point: ‘in parentheses’.The increasing length of the three demisemiquaver groups gives them a directional force that culminates in the much more extended passage of demisemiquavers from E91; Stadlen's only intervention during these three groups is slightly to increase the tempo of his initial flurries of notes from one to the next. It is the remainder of the B section – E91–121, and after a short rest a briefer passage of similar material from E122 to E132 – that prompted my comment about the music sounding less simple in Stadlen's recording than it looks on the printed page. It is again not hard to parse the passage. There is first a group of eleven demisemiquavers (E91–101), modelled on the previous demisemiquaver groups and again marked as a dynamic arch, with the last note overlapping a group of three tritone‐related notes (E101–103) that coincide with the Spiegelbild and are distinguished from the rest of the section by being marked staccato. This in turn overlaps with a group of twelve demisemiquavers (E103–114), now reaching ff and overlapping with a further group of three staccato notes (E114–116); then comes a group of six demisemiquavers (E116–121), again reaching ff but torn off mid‐phrase. Finally there are five demisemiquavers (f diminishing to p) overlapping with the third and last of the groups of three staccato notes (E126–128) – which in turn overlap with another five demisemiquavers (diminuendo to pp) that peter out into a pause before the A2 section. The rhetoric of building to a climax, tearing it off, completing what was left hanging (but in a fragmentary or desultory way) and concluding with a pregnant pause is familiar from any amount of nineteenth‐century piano music conceived within a broadly narrative or dramatic paradigm. As Robert Wason says (, p. 99), ‘the musical meaning of this stormy passage is clear’.To my ear Stadlen's recording confuses this basically simple and legible design for reasons that are indicated in his edition. In these thickly annotated bars Webern adjusts or adds dynamics, adds sforzandi at E112 and E117 together with an accent at E120 (in the left hand) and, most important, specifies caesuras before E100, E113 and E125 – that is before each of the groups of three staccato notes. It is at the first of these caesuras that we see perhaps the most famous of all these annotations, in Stadlen's writing but supposedly quoted verbatim from Webern: ‘left hand like a mysterious drum’. The annotation continues, now in Stadlen's words, ‘ditto bars 33 and 36. Sharply set off against what comes before and after’. That is what Stadlen does, but the result is problematic. It is as if, at E100, Stadlen suddenly turns aside to deal with other business in the middle of the gesture before resuming it at E105. (Think of a cat breaking off in the middle of playing to clean itself.) And though the effect is less extreme from E113, here a further problem arises: after the interruption there is not enough time to develop sufficient momentum for the end of the phrase at E121 to sound like a tearing off – or for E122–132 to sound like a completion of what was left hanging. Finally, the breaking up of the sustained passage indicated in the original score means it no longer sounds like the climactic block towards which the previous, increasingly long demisemiquaver groups have been directed. A certain effect of splashy rhetoric does not altogether make up for the lack of interpretative direction, and though later pianists also struggled with this section, it is hard not to wonder whether it was in part Webern's coaching that confused the issue.After a gigantic pause (Webern added a pause sign in Stadlen's score), Stadlen plays the A2 section in a manner that does not exactly replicate the nuances of A1 but embodies the same general features. That is in line with the annotations (‘tone of voice as at the start’ in bar 37, ‘onward’ in bars 44 and 47 and ‘very warm and heartfelt’ in bars 48–49), which amount to much the same as those at the corresponding points of A1. To leave it at that, however, would be to ignore a massive discrepancy between the score – either score – and almost all the recordings of Op. 27, Stadlen's included. Other than the frequent ‘rit.’ and ‘tpo’ signs, the only indication of tempo in Webern's score is at the beginning of the movement (dotted quaver = ca. 40). Stadlen's score adds nothing to this, though in his preface he says that Webern's metronome marks in this piece ‘seem to me considerably faster than the tempi he wanted’ and instead suggests semiquaver = 96 (i.e. dotted quaver = 32). In practice he plays still slower, with the average tempo of the first section being dotted quaver = 28, and that of the movement as a whole being dotted quaver = 26. Such figures have to be interpreted with caution: they impose a spurious regularity upon Stadlen's highly mobile tempos. I have cited occasional percentage deviations to make the point that Stadlen gives nominally the same note values wildly different interpretations at different times – in other words, that he plays with constant rubato. But the massive discrepancy to which I referred is something else.Stadlen uses tempos that may not be constant but are obviously different in order to characterise different materials, such as his tempo of around 20 for the groups of non‐isochronous notes in the first part of the B section: this is the principle behind the multi‐tempo plans adopted by early twentieth‐century pianists for movements built out of strongly contrasted materials (see e.g. Cook , pp. 115–16). Despite this, his average tempo for the B section is just a fraction faster than that for A1 (29 versus 28). By contrast, he plays A2 much slower, at an average tempo of 24. Other than the serial derivation and its consequences, as explained earlier, the two A sections are close to identical – except in terms of affective expression: played slower, A2 takes on a quality of serenity or resignation that makes it quite different from A1. And it's not just Stadlen who does this. Playing A2 significantly slower than A1 is standard practice. There are just three out of the 65 recordings in which it is played faster, one from 1977 and the others from the 1990s. In the absence of any notational or other documentary basis, this is a purely aural/oral tradition, and I know of no reason to suppose that Webern envisaged it. Yet it is a basic determinant of Op. 27 as we know it. Symmetrical on the printed page, the form of this movement as heard traverses an emotional trajectory that is wholly the creation of its performers.Continuing TraditionWe know from Neil Boynton's research () that Webern also coached Else Cross in the performance of Op. 27. Like Stadlen, she emigrated in the late 1930s and subsequently taught at the Royal Academy of Music, where a prize for performing contemporary piano music is named after her. Although she did not record the work, there is a recording from 1954 by the French pianist Jeanne Manchon‐Theis, another contemporary music specialist who is supposed to have been coached by the composer. Hard evidence of this appears to be limited to the statement on the record sleeve that the pianist ‘gives us an authoritative interpretation approved by the composers themselves’ (the disc also includes works by Schoenberg and Berg), but, in an occasionally acerbic correspondence with the composer William Bolcom, Anthony Stadlen – Peter's nephew – referred to it as established fact: in a letter dated 14 February 2012, he recounted how moved Peter had been on hearing Manchon‐Theis's playing of the Piano Variations ‘because he knew immediately that she must have studied them with Webern’. And in her thesis, Quick (, pp. 198–9) pursues a comparison between Stadlen's and Manchon‐Theis's recordings, writing that ‘[t]heir approaches are quite similar: both are very expressive, with very wide fluctuations in tempo and lots of sustaining pedal’. Other shared features include a generally lyrical tonal conception with a consistently legato articulation, a focus on detail and some indications of the multi‐tempo plans adopted by the previous generation of pianists.There is, in short, enough similarity in basic approach for the differences to be telling. For instance, where in the A1 section Stadlen begins the groups at E17–25 and E26–37 at a faster tempo and then slows down, Manchon‐Theis shapes both as tempo and dynamic arches (though they are beginning‐weighted rather than symmetrical). And whereas in the B section Stadlen begins E46–52, E58–67 and E73–85 with a flurry of short notes, Manchon‐Theis smooths their profile into something closer to arches, again mirrored by dynamics, thus creating a more measured effect reminiscent of recitative: her playing is less impulsive than Stadlen's, more classical. (Like Stadlen, Manchon‐Theis takes no notice of Webern's ‘tempo’ markings in bars 20, 24 and 28.) And while the isochronous and non‐isochronous groups are treated without any obvious hierarchy, Manchon‐Theis creates a certain sense of direction throughout this passage by building on something Stadlen did, but more systematically: whereas each of his flurries of notes peaked a little faster than the previous one, Manchon‐Theis increases the tempo of her arch‐shaped groups in line with their increasing number of notes, so that the sustained demisemiquaver passage from E91 to E121 becomes the fastest of all. Although the first part of the B section has never settled down to a consistent tempo – itself a characteristic of early twentieth‐century pianism – there is a clear sense that a quite different tempo, around 40, has been established during the climactic passage.Manchon‐Theis handles this passage differently from Stadlen, and perhaps more successfully. Whereas Stadlen breaks up the continuity, in line with the caesura Webern pencilled in after E99, Manchon‐Theis continues at full speed; only at the second of Webern's pencilled‐in caesuras – after E112 – does she momentarily hesitate before resuming motion and breaking off more strongly at the notated rests after E121. In this way she avoids Stadlen's premature loss of motion at E99 and throws extra weight onto the points that, in his pencilled annotations, Webern marked sff: the matching B♭ /D♭ dyads at E112 and E118. (I know of no reason to think that Manchon‐Theis had seen Stadlen's score, so this could conceivably offer some confirmation of the story that Webern coached her.) She takes the average tempo of the A2 section down to 23 and flattens the tempo and dynamic profiles in a way that Stadlen does not. I described Stadlen's playing of the A2 section as serene; Manchon‐Theis's is even more so. Johnson (, p. 233) describes serialism, in Webern's hands, as ‘the means of a music that does not trace a narrative of the subject’, and in Manchon‐Theis's playing of this section there is a hint of the objective or inorganic quality that modernist critics attributed to Webern's music through the use of terms such as ‘geometrical’ and ‘crystalline’. All the same, her historically conditioned playing can hardly be said to embody the same values as the sleeve note, by the composer Alexandre Spitzmueler: in Op. 27, he writes, serialism is ‘pushed to the extreme point of contrapuntal rigour. Every ornament is excluded, and the composition is governed entirely by logic’. One wonders whether Spitzmueler ever listened to the recording.Manchon‐Theis was born in 1902, which makes her the earliest‐born performer to have recorded Op 27. Born in 1910, Stadlen was the fourth earliest. The second and third earliest were both American pianists born in 1908, and both were known for their playing of Beethoven and Schubert rather than as contemporary‐music specialists: Webster Aitken, who recorded Op 27 in 1961, and Beveridge Webster, whose recording dates from 1967 (by which time he was 59, the oldest pianist to record Op. 27 during the period covered by this article). Both, as it happens, trained with Artur Schnabel, while Aitken also studied with Emil von Sauer – himself born as long ago as 1862. Given the extent to which performers are generally believed to internalise stylistic practices around their late teens or early twenties (Leech‐Wilkinson , p. 250), one might expect to hear aspects of pre‐war performance in their recordings, despite the dates, and this proves to be the case. Both share obvious features with Stadlen or Manchon‐Theis, ranging from legato articulation and use of pedal to hand breaking: Aitken uses the latter sparingly, for example to bring out the Spiegelbilder, but Webster uses it so frequently that it becomes an audible expression of Webern's manual choreography. Both recordings exhibit the unsettled tempo in the first half of the A sections that, in Stadlen's performance, I described as searching for meaning. At the same time, in the second half of the A sections, both follow Manchon‐Theis in consistently shaping the groups as beginning‐weighted arches.As usual it is the B section that offers the greatest interpretative contrasts. Sapp's similarity analyser detects an extremely close correlation in timing between Stadlen's and Aitken's playing of E46–53 and E58–67 – but the aural effect is quite different, presumably a reflection of the perceptual salience of absolute tempo. Aitken's average tempo during the B section is an exceptionally slow 22, which means that Stadlen's flurries of initial notes turn into vocalistic declamation; the effect is that much stronger in the corresponding group E73–85, where the tenor melody intensifies the recitative‐like quality I observed in Manchon‐Theis's playing of this passage. In contrast, Webster adopts a strategy different from that of any of the other pianists I have discussed so far: he consistently arches all the groups from E46 to E90 – not only the isochronous but also the non‐isochronous ones (though in the latter case the effect is less perceptually salient). He also parses the f♯1/f♮ 2 dyad at E57 differently from the other pianists. I referred to the dyads at E52 and E57, E67 and E72, and E85 and E90 as the terminus points of their respective groups, corresponding to Webern's ‘tempo’ markings (and confirmed by his brackets in the annotated score): Stadlen, Manchon‐Theis and Aitken all treat them this way, reducing speed and volume as they approach them. By contrast, Webster creates a perceptible break between E56 and E57, leaving the latter oddly hanging. Perhaps it was because Stadlen was doing the same that Webern parsed this passage in his score.Equally variable is the treatment of the climactic group of the B section, from E91 to E121. Aitken builds up speed at the beginning of the passage, like everyone else, but slows perceptibly to E99, almost as if he had seen Webern's annotation at this point. He picks up speed and slows again at E105–106 (this time contrary to Webern's annotation). Then he attacks E107 and maintains a tempo of around 40 – the highest sustained tempo of the performance – up to E116, at which point he slows down drastically to the end of the group: this and the following group (E122–132) in effect become a transition to the tempo of the A2 section. But whereas in Aitken's performance, like Manchon‐Theis's, there are at least patches of sustained tempo, Webster's tempo during this passage is continuously mobile. The same might be said of Stadlen, who rendered this passage as a series of discrete gestures, and the effect in each case is the same splashy rhetoric. Yet the mobility of Webster's tempo is different. There is a sense of rapid motion underlying it – and hence of the climactic block I missed in Stadlen's performance – but it is articulated around a series of events that require particular attention and are given extra time: the passage from E101 to E103 that Webern linked to a mysterious drum, and the registral high points at E107 and E112.This means it makes sense to compare Webster's recording with that of the other three earliest‐born pianists to record Op. 27, not because they share particular interpretations of the score, but because of similarities in their handling of time, in their essentially dramatic conception of the music's unfolding and in their lyrical and melody‐driven approach to musical expression – in short, because of similarities in style. But there are two respects in which Webster's recording combines aspects of performance practices from pre‐ and postwar modernism. One is the systematic use of phrase arching to which I referred, a feature that became widespread in the performance of the common‐practice repertoire: while tempo and dynamic arching are found individually in recordings from before the Second World War, only after 1945 did the coordination of these parameters with one another, and with composed phrasing, become the systematic phenomenon that such researchers as Neil Todd have documented in more recent performance. Manchon‐Theis, Aitken and Webster retain the very high level of tempo and dynamic inflection found in Stadlen's performance, but in every successive recording the tempo and dynamic arching becomes increasingly rationalised, with the arches coinciding with the gestural groups.The second and more crucial respect concerns absolute tempo. By comparison with Stadlen's and Manchon‐Theis's recordings, Aitken's features the fastest average tempo for the A1 section (31 as against the others’ 28), but the slowest for the B section (22 as against Stadlen's 29 and Manchon‐Theis's 27); he speeds up only slightly for A2 (24, much the same tempo as the others’). Webster retains the distinction between A1 on the one hand and B and A2 on the other, but he plays everything much faster: his average tempos (35, 31 and 30) are much closer to those of the postwar modernists I describe in the next section. This affects the expressive character of the performance and has other consequences too. For example, the lack of interpretative definition over the dyad at E57 might be more problematic in a slower performance, where coherence would be more of an issue, while the strong effect of tearing off which Webster creates at E121 is more easily made effective at his tempo than at Aitken's (and Aitken handles this point quite differently). In short, perhaps unsurprisingly considering its late date, Webster's recording represents something of a stylistic hybrid.But you would never guess that from the original LP, which, as in the case of Manchon‐Theis's, couples Op. 27 with works by Schoenberg and Berg and comes with an insert containing analytical notes by the American critic and composer Eric Salzman. Here, even more than in Spitzmueler's sleeve notes for Manchon‐Theis, we have the Op. 27 of postwar modernism: Salzman speaks of the work's ‘symmetrical quality – the musical objects have almost the character of tangible, geometrical objects’. Critical language lends itself to such simplifying characterisations: that is how it can be so responsive to fashion. By contrast, the grounding of performance in tacit knowledge and overlearned physical schemata makes it more resistant to change, and we shall see in the next section that the much younger pianists who came to maturity during the immediate postwar years struggled to express in their playing the qualities that tripped so easily off the critics’ tongues.Zero HourPerformance is evanescent, and as a result the narratives that cluster around it easily become entrenched. One such narrative turns on the impermeable division that Stadlen sought to draw between those musicians – such as himself – who had first‐hand experience of the Schoenberg circle, and the postwar avant‐garde whose enthusiasm for Webern he saw as matched only by their failure to understand him. It was as if, on the strength of his coaching sessions, he was licensed to speak with the delegated authority of the composer. This becomes particularly clear in a conference paper given by Stadlen in 1972 but published only in 2004, and in French translation: pointedly entitled ‘The Pointillist Misunderstanding’, it dismissed interpretations of Op. 27 by a range of analysts from Friedhelm Döhl to Peter Westegaard through the simple stratagem of demonstrating that they did not conform with the annotations in Stadlen's score – which, on its publication seven years later, turned him into ‘the composer's representative on our music stands’ (Mathew , p. 66). In essence, Stadlen accused postwar performers such as Leonard Stein (of whom more shortly) of ignorance. In the letter from which I have already quoted, Anthony Stadlen – quoting Peter – writes that ‘Stein “could not be expected to divine” the nuances which could only be learned from “direct, detailed tradition”’.This is the dislocation to which I referred in my opening paragraph. Yet, even allowing for the cultural fault line of the war, it is hard to imagine that pre‐war performance practices had been forgotten quite so completely as Stadlen implies. After all, Stein made his recording of Op. 27 in 1954, just seventeen years after Stadlen premiered it. And, as I said, performers of the Schoenberg circle – including Stadlen – attended the early Ferienkurse, forming part of a representation of pre‐war modernist music that, as Fox (, p. 11) observes, was more extensive and significant than is commonly recognised. Equally significant was the presence of Theodor W. Adorno, as a result of which critical theory became a lasting component of avant‐garde musical thinking in Europe. On the other hand there was strong opposition to what Fox (, p. 2) calls ‘Adorno's commitment to the continuity of development in the European art music tradition’: this commitment is illustrated, for example, by the analytical lectures Adorno gave at the 1955 Ferienkurs, which emphasised the roots of Schoenberg's twelve‐note thinking in late Beethoven (Borio , pp. 64–5). The same commitment to continuity was shared by Schoenberg‐circle performers such as Kolisch and Stadlen – and by Webern himself, whose Path to the New Music sets out a teleological progression through tonality to atonality and serialism.Quick (, p. 103) refers to ‘an ideological and stylistic clash between pre‐war and post‐war strands of modernism’, and that is the context within which Webern was received at Darmstadt. The point is neatly made by juxtaposing the comparison between Schoenberg and Webern that Adorno drew in his Philosophy of Modern Music, first published (in German) in 1949, with another that appeared six years later in Die Reihe, a journal widely if inaccurately seen as the house organ of the Darmstadt avant‐garde. For Adorno (, pp. 85–6), the originator of serialism subordinated compositional technique to artistic expression: ‘Schoenberg assaults the row. He composes twelve‐tone music as if twelve‐tone technique did not exist’. By contrast, Adorno continues, ‘Webern brings twelve‐tone technique into reality and no longer composes […]. [T]he material is itself vested with the capacity to posit musical meaning’. And as usual, Op. 27 (along with the String Quartet Op. 28) is in the front line: ‘They feature nothing more than monotonously symmetrical presentations of serial marvels that, in pieces such as the first movement of the Piano Variations, come close to a parody of a Brahms intermezzo’ (Adorno , pp. 86–7).Writing in the second (1955) issue of Die Reihe, which was dedicated to Webern, Herbert Eimert – six years older than Adorno but arguably the leading ideologue of postwar serialism – says the same but draws the opposite conclusion. ‘Schoenberg thematises his series’, he writes, whereas ‘Webern de‐thematises it; Schoenberg uses it for that “composition” from which Webern frees it […]. The thinner, the leaner Webern's music becomes, through its compulsion to extreme refinement, the more structure is manifest in it’ (Eimert , pp. 33 and 35). Henri Pousseur (, pp. 52 and 60) makes a similar point in his contribution to the same issue, but the argument had been made most notoriously three years earlier in Pierre Boulez's article ‘Schoenberg Is Dead’ – and in his own contribution to the issue Boulez summarised it: ‘Whereas Schönberg and Berg ally themselves to the decadence of the great German romantic tradition, [Webern] reacts violently against all inherited rhetoric, in order to rehabilitate the powers of sound’ (, p. 40). In short, what Adorno criticised in Webern was precisely what attracted the Darmstadt avant‐garde. When he spoke of twelve‐note technique being ‘infinite in its ahistorical stasis’, Adorno (, p. 53) intended it as criticism, but for the Darmstadt avant‐garde that was exactly the point. The brief period of Webern obsession memorialised in the pages of Die Reihe was based on seeing his work as a new start. Returning to Stadlen and Op. 27, it was not then a matter of simple ignorance but rather a highly selective, scriptist, even fundamentalist appropriation of Webern's music (recall Fox's comment about Webern on the page being the touchstone for postwar composers). The aim was not to continue but to repudiate a history perceived as hopelessly compromised.That is what lies behind Eimert's (, p. 32) strikingly positivist claim that ‘Webern uses only the proved and the provable; everything else is rigorously excluded, and rightly, since it has no firm foundation’. It lies behind Armin Klammer's (, p. 87) claim – in yet another article from the Webern issue of Die Reihe, on the third movement of Op. 27 – that ‘traditional relationships are eliminated when tonality is replaced as the basis of the composition by the serial principle. We are thus compelled to seek fundamentally new possibilities which must arise from the series itself’. It resonates with such diverse cultural and intellectual movements of the time as existentialism, with its emphasis on individual freedom and choice, and structuralism, with its insistence that human thought and action are not determined by nature but culturally constructed. And when Ernst Krenek (, p. 10) writes that, in Op. 27, ‘the composer […] withdraws more and more into the detached, cool, miraculous, and exciting world of the musical patterns, where the abstract spirit of music seems to have its own enigmatic life, sufficient unto itself’, it is not hard to detect an echo of the controversies over the ‘inner emigrants’ – those who remained in Germany but withdrew from public politics into a private, non‐political world – that erupted as the programme of denazification began. It is this cool Webern, the Webern of the late instrumental music, that dominated Anglophone musicology and theory until it was overturned in the 1990s by the combined efforts of Kathryn Bailey, Anne Shreffler and Julian Johnson. In this context there is considerable irony in Eimert's (, p. 34) claim – in the same issue of Die Reihe – that the Webern constructed by the postwar avant‐garde was ‘the “real” Webern’. It is not so hard to understand Stadlen's exasperation.However, this black‐and‐white interpretation of traditionalists versus radicals, or pre‐war versus postwar modernists, has been both contextualised and challenged by Morag Grant and masks a more complex picture. As Grant explains, the idea of Zero Hour (Stunde Null) – a rebuilding of culture from the ground up, analogous to what happened in heavily bombed cities such as Darmstadt (Fox , p. 9) – is less credible than it once seemed. Even if those who attended the Ferienkurse believed they were creating something quite new, continuities between the pre‐war and postwar periods – in which the ‘inner emigrants’ played a pivotal role – make 1930–60, as Grant (, p. 17) puts it, ‘a much more significant periodisation’. Referring specifically to Webern, Gianmario Borio (, p. 87) agrees: ‘behind the diffuse notion of a radical rupture there emerges a fine line of historical continuity’. A symptom of this is that, as Bailey (, pp. 647–8) has pointed out, the representation of Webern in Die Reihe by no means conformed to the Zero Hour image of Webern. In the 1990s Shreffler complained that Webern's solo music had been ignored and sought to rehabilitate ‘Webern as champion of the lyric genre’ (1994, p. 4), but the Webern issue from 40 years earlier began with a note by Hildegard Jone, whose poems furnished the texts for so many of Webern's songs, while Eimert's article – perhaps the most comprehensive in its reconstruction of the composer as a postwar modernist – emphasised not only Webern's songs but also the ‘scanty, undecorated, unrhetorical lyricism’ of his music in general (, p. 31). Then again, by 1955, when the Webern issue of Die Reihe appeared, the critique of Schoenberg advanced by Boulez, Pousseur and Eimert was beginning to be applied to Webern himself: Klammer (, p. 92) writes that even in Webern's work ‘serial thought is contradicted by the remnants of thematic thinking’. In short, there were shifting and competing currents within the ostensibly monolithic modernism of Darmstadt and Die Reihe. And it is this more complex picture that emerges from the recordings of Op. 27.As I mentioned, the first commercially issued recording of the Piano Variations dates from 1951 and is frequently cited as epitomising what Nicholas Mathew (, p. 58), quoting Richard Taruskin, describes as the ‘text‐centred, hence literalistic’ performance ideologies within which Op. 27 became entangled. It was made by the French pianist and conductor Jacques‐Louis Monod and appeared on an all‐Webern LP released by the New York–based Dial label. Monod, who was 24 at the time of the recording, attended a number of the early Ferienkurse: according to Wikipedia he was present in 1948, in which case he could have heard Stadlen's performance of Op. 27. He was in this way very much part of the Zero Hour generation, and yet there were significant connections with the past. As documented by David Hoek (), the recording project was masterminded by the Polish‐French composer, conductor and writer René Leibowitz, who had studied with Webern and whose book Schoenberg and his School, published in French in 1947 and in English translation two years later, was the first comprehensive introduction to atonality and serialism. Leibowitz also played a significant role in transmitting the performance practices of the Second Viennese School to the postwar world, and the performances he directed on the same Dial disc – of the Symphony Op. 21, the Quartet Op. 22 and the Concerto Op. 24 – illustrate his concern to extract the maximum expressive charge from these spare scores, if only in the very non‐pointillist shaping of individual notes. The more traditional textures of Schoenberg's First Chamber Symphony, which he conducted on a radio broadcast in 1962, allow a better insight into his performance values, which – despite the date – are much of a piece with Stadlen's recording of Op. 27.Leibowitz's sleeve notes for the Dial LP draw on his book and conform to the Zero Hour conception of Webern in a way his performance practices do not. Taking his cue from Leibowitz's claim that the Piano Variations dispense with orchestral colour and so ‘crown Webern's evolution in the direction of musical “nudity”’, Mathew (, p. 59) summarises that conception as ‘[n]aked music; colorless music; pure music’. And that is what Mathew hears in Monod's recording. He discusses it in the context of a persuasive critique of Stadlen's assumptions concerning the authority of the text. Stadlen is just as much of a literalist as Monod, Mathew says; it is just that for Stadlen the published score of Op. 27 is defective, an inadequate embodiment of Webern's intentions. By contrast, Stadlen treats the annotated edition he published in 1979 as the comprehensive prescription of what is to be done. As Mathew explains, this way of thinking about scores leaves no room for the historically situated knowledge that enables performers to make sense of notation by supplying what is implied but not stated. Stadlen speaks in the preface to his edition of the ‘perplexing sparseness of expression marks in [Webern's] late instrumental works’ (p. v) – though that hardly applies to Op. 27, the original score of which is as full of dynamic markings and instructions to slow down or speed up as late Beethoven. As Fox (, p. 11) says, ‘Webern marked all those rallentandi […] because he came from a musical tradition in which rhythmic suppleness was a hallmark of expressive sophistication’. And that is precisely Mathew's point. Scores do not attempt to spell out everything that is to be done, which is impossible; rather, they reference a performance tradition in which their users are assumed to be enculturated. Stadlen's perplexity, then, is the result of a literalist mind‐set that is not just unhistorical but unrealistic.It is this mind‐set that Mathew sees as leading to performances like Monod's, in which the text is literally translated into sound. Monod decodes Webern's score, Mathew (, p. 60) says, in the manner indicated by the general foreword to Karlheinz Stockhausen's Klavierstück V: ‘depress the key for the duration indicated’. And the result is ‘unmediated, un‐interpreted Webern’, a ‘style of self‐negating anti‐pianism’. The problem with this is that Monod's recording is by no means literal – or, better put, there is nothing literal about its literalism. This is illustrated in miniature by the opening bars, where Mathew (, p. 59) notes that Monod ‘observes the rests with the kind of punctiliousness that can only lead to abrupt musical punctuation’. There is more to this than Monod's brisk tempo (his average tempo for the A1 section is 39, which is 40% faster than Stadlen's and almost exactly what Webern indicated). But it is not quite what Mathew describes. As the tempo graph shows, rather than playing the rests literally, Monod consistently shortens them: each group begins just before you expect it to. As I said, tempo is a salient parameter in this isochronous music, and if you listen analytically you can hear what is happening – but in normal listening the effect is precisely the abruptness that Mathew refers to. Rather than being punctiliously metronomic, then, Monod is deviating from literal execution in order to create the abrupt and inflexible quality that Mathew calls literalism.Mathew also complains of the ‘meticulous metrical rigidity’ of Monod's playing: ‘there is little sense of the give and take that might follow from local articulation or a sense of phrasing’. That may be a fair comment up to and including the beginning of bar 15 (E37): it is as if Monod goes out of his way not to give the end of the phrase the quality of expressive inwardness that Stadlen drew from the music at this point. But from E38 there is a very perceptible softening of the profile of Monod's playing as he homes in on the end of the section, slowing down in a manner that is conventionally ‘musical’, though of course understated by comparison with Stadlen. And in the A2 section the change of quality is that much more obvious. Though – contrary to the score but like almost everyone else – Monod takes A2 at a slower tempo (average 35) than A1, he again plays its first part (E133–148) more or less metronomically. But from E149 to the end he plays with increased flexibility and range in both tempo and dynamics. Indeed there is clear, if again understated, tempo and dynamic arching in the groups E149–157, E158–169 and E170–174, while the final notes (E175–177) are subsumed within another conventional rallentando. And when he wants to give E169 the same inexpressive quality that he gave E37, he does so through a staccato articulation that is nowhere to be seen in the score. While he is not, obviously, in the business of milking the emotion out of expressive moments in the manner of Stadlen, he plays with greater or less flexibility according to how he wishes to shape different parts of Webern's score. In Stravinsky's terminology, he is not executing but interpreting it.As usual, it is the B section that best reveals Monod's interpretative strategies. Actually they are rather straightforward and not so different from those we have seen in Stadlen, Manchon‐Theis, Aitken and Webster. Monod has clearly taken note of Webern's ‘rit. … tempo’ markings and incorporated them within his interpretation: Quick's (, p. 115) observation about Webern performance in general – that ‘[t]he Darmstadt avant‐garde could not have been unaware of the notated tempo changes’ but ‘chose to ignore them for aesthetic reasons’ – does not apply in this instance. Monod clearly conveys the parsing implied by Webern's ‘rit.’ and ‘tempo’ markings, not through literal execution but by incorporating them within tempo and dynamic arches that correspond to each of the groups, slowing down to the cadential dyads. That is to say that, in the terms of Mathew's critique of Stadlen, Monod interprets Webern's markings as referencing established pianistic style and gesture: he does not share the literalist mind‐set that Mathew identified in Stadlen. As for the sustained group from E91, Monod creates some light and shade through careful attention to Webern's p markings at E100 and 113, and by keeping the speed up almost until E121 and not prolonging the rest, he not only conveys the torn‐off effect we have already seen but also creates the impression that E91–132 is a single block with a slight hesitation near the end. Beyond that, there is not much to say, because at this tempo (36 averaged over the B section) there is not much to do other than to play the notes.I do not deny that, compared to Stadlen's and many more recent recordings, Monod's creates a certain effect of literalness, to which the businesslike quality of his tempos, the abruptness of his silences and the understating of potentially expressive moments like E37 and E169 all contribute. My point is that it is just that: an effect of literalness, artfully constructed to play on expectations engendered by received performance practices. Pursuing a comparison between the ‘consistent, and consistently hard, timbre’ of Monod's playing and brutalist architecture, Mathew (, p. 60) – who has more faith in the tonal fidelity of mid‐century recordings than I do – cites Rose Subotnik's suggestion that ‘Stravinsky's professed formalism […] evokes “not the conceptual […] but the stylistic attributes of objectivity”’. Much the same might be said of Monod's literalness. And it follows from this that Monod's playing sits more squarely within the performance practices of his time than either Mathew's description or the recording's general reputation might suggest. At some points Monod may be playing against tradition, but most of the time he conforms to it, though in an understated way. It is rather like what happens when pianists are asked to play deadpan: they play as usual, only less so (London , p. 176). As the tempo and dynamic graphs show, Monod shapes gestures, articulates groups and slows down at the end of sections in a quite conventional manner, only less so. And his understatement is like his avoidance of the hand breaking that by the 1950s was becoming a signifier of old‐school performance: a matter of aesthetic fashion, in other words – Subotnik's words – of style rather than conception. In short, the traditional codes of expressive performance persist in Monod's playing. It may be cool, but it is not a new beginning.Darmstadt PianismAn informative comparison can be made with a recording which – like Monod's – is generally seen as epitomising Darmstadt literalism, and which I have already mentioned: Leonard Stein's, recorded in 1954 (the same year as Manchon‐Theis's and probably one by Glenn Gould, of which more shortly). There are some obvious similarities to Monod's recording, perhaps because Stein had heard it, and Stadlen (, p. 37) described Stein's playing of the A sections rather as Mathew describes Monod's: ‘neutral and therefore distorting’. (In his radio review of Robert Craft's box set of Webern's works, in which Stein's recording of Op. 27 appeared, Stadlen said that Stein played it in a way that ‘Webern would have regarded as a mere spelling out of the notes’.) At an average of dotted quaver = 41 across the A1 section, Stein's tempo is even more businesslike than Monod's – and, like Monod's, far closer to what Webern indicated than Stadlen's. Stein plays the opening bars without obvious inflection, and plays even more metronomically in the first half of the A2 section, where the still‐fast average tempo – 38, only a little slower than that of A1 – robs the performance of the serene, emotionally washed‐out effect of Manchon‐Theis's relatively uninflected playing at the same point. Nevertheless Stein introduces a degree of tempo and dynamic arching from E17 and E149, like Monod creating the sense that each section thaws a little as it continues; more puzzlingly, he also abbreviates E19, creating the kind of apparently arbitrary nuance familiar from Stadlen's recording, and does the same at the corresponding point of A2 (E151). And there are conventional rallentandi at the end of A1 and A2.Stein takes the B section substantially slower than Monod (31 as against 36), so he faces more pressing problems of coherence. Like Monod, he arches the groups of demisemiquavers – or at least he plays them faster than the surrounding notes – and, again like Monod, he gives careful attention to Webern's ‘rit. … tempo’ markings. He too decelerates as he approaches the terminal dyads of each of the groups, though unlike Monod, to whose handling of these dyads I shall return, Stein gives them all equal weight: this parses the groups clearly enough but offers little interpretation of the relationships between them. Once more like Monod, he creates the sense that E91–132 is a single group with an interruption at E121. From E91 to E121 the only significant inflection is the prolongation of E99, coinciding, as it happens, with Webern's annotation of Stadlen's score; this is one case where the apparent mobility indicated by the tempo graph does not translate into listening experience – probably through lack of coordination with other parameters such as dynamics and articulation – and at this tempo the demisemiquavers acquire a chugging quality they do not have in Monod's recording. Finally, like Monod, Stein embraces E122–132 within a sustained rallentando, with a caesura before the A2 section that is much more modest than Stadlen's gargantuan silence at this point but still unmistakably rhetorical. Literalism, then, is relative.But it is less through its inherent properties than through its background that Stein's recording adds to the emerging picture of Op. 27 in early performance. As we have already seen, Stadlen said that Stein ‘could not be expected to divine’ the nuances that could only be learned from ‘direct, detailed tradition’. But while Stein did not study with Webern, he was studying with Webern's teacher at the very time when Op. 27 was being composed: from 1935 he was taught by Schoenberg at the University of Southern California and subsequently at UCLA, and from 1939 until Schoenberg's death he acted as his assistant. And like Stadlen, Stein traded on his first‐hand experience of the Second Viennese School. In the proceedings of a 1995 conference, he wrote that ‘[m]y own insights into Schoenberg's music came from direct contact with the master himself’ (Stein , p. 62) and went out of his way to mention occasions on which he had played for Schoenberg. More than that, he developed an argument reminiscent of Stadlen's claims concerning the inadequacy of scores to communicate composers’ intentions in the absence of a complementary oral tradition. That is the context of the remark about his own insights, but he set out the argument more fully in an earlier article: ‘In twentieth‐century composition’, Stein (, p. 63) wrote, ‘no […] norm of common notational practice seems to exist that might lead to an immediate recognition of the composer's intention’. The value of such arguments for purposes of career development is self‐evident.In later life Stein returned to USC, where he completed a DMA in 1965 (at the age of 49) with a thesis entitled ‘The Performance of Twelve‐Tone and Serial Music for the Piano’. This provides a further perspective from which to approach his recording (though we must remember that it was by that time eleven years old). In a chapter on Webern's Piano Variations, Stein (, p. 82) insists that through analysis it is possible for the performer to ‘arrive at a convincing presentation of the contents and shape of the composition, rather than to allow the notes to fall where they may indiscriminately’. But he provides little guidance on how exactly this is to be done. For example, he emphasises the ‘structural significance’ of textural density in Webern's music, explains that simultaneities represent ‘verticalizations of row‐cells’ and concludes that they demand ‘special attention’ – but he does not suggest what the performer might actually do about these things, nor does his recording. Despite the title of his thesis, Stein's emphasis is overwhelmingly on analysis of the printed notes, and he is thinking more like a theorist than a performer when – following the Boulez party line – he writes that ‘Webern eliminated the expressive rhetoric of Romantic music in his search for an essential underlying structure’ (Stein , p. 72). You only have to compare Stadlen's and Stein's recordings of Op. 27 to appreciate the degree to which such rhetoric is the work of performers rather than inherent in the notation. Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, there is at times a disconnect between what Stein says and what he does, between his explicit and tacit knowledge. When in his thesis he parses the first part of the B section, for instance, one of his groups is a ‘phrase b consisting of a four‐note syncopated mirror’. This is E53–56, which, as we saw, Webern parsed – implicitly in his original score, and explicitly in Stadlen's – as the first four notes of a group that terminates with E57. Stein's parsing reflects a mathematical conception that is expressed through visual symmetry, whereas Webern's is based on a more traditional sense of motion towards a cadential point. And the point is that, in his recording, Stein plays it Webern's way. I imagine he did the same when he played Op. 27 in his 1963 DMA recital (Stein , p. 195).What is most revealing about Stein's thesis, however, is the evidence it provides that – more than a decade after his recording – he was still thinking of Op. 27 in terms of pre‐war analytical categories. He divides movements into sections, periods, phrases and groups, which he relates to the forms and processes of Classical music, in much the same way as Leibowitz or – more particularly – the composer, theorist and Webern pupil Leopold Spinner, whose very traditional analytical contribution to the Webern issue of Die Reihe rubs shoulders awkwardly with the articles by Boulez, Stockhausen and Pousseur. Like Spinner, Stein calls A2 the recapitulation; and though he simply refers to the central section of the movement as the B section (Spinner calls it the elaboration), Stein describes the build‐up to the climax towards the end of that section as ‘a familiar developmental device’ (Stein , pp. 83–5 and Spinner , p. 10). Here, then, is direct evidence of what I deduced from Monod's playing: the extent to which performances within what Quick called ‘the avant‐garde “Darmstadt” practice’ were based on traditional thinking, their literalism being a matter of style rather than conception. As a pianist, Stein retained pre‐war habits of thought even as he took on board the products of postwar modernism: he apparently attended the Ferienkurse and in his DMA recitals played music by the same Boulez, Stockhausen and Pousseur. In short, like Monod, Stein illustrates the continuity between pre‐ and postwar culture to which Grant referred. And in this way, the most ostensibly literal of all recordings of Op. 27 represents a more complex and perhaps conflicted historical, aesthetic and ideological position than could ever be deduced just from listening to it.There are two later recordings that might equally be seen as exemplary of what Mathew calls ‘Darmstadt pianism’: one by the Juilliard‐trained American Paul Jacobs, recorded live at the 1956 Cité Radieuse festival in Marseille, and the other a studio recording by Yvonne Loriod, who trained at the Paris Conservatoire. Both pianists were more centrally involved in the European new‐music establishment than either Monod or Stein – Jacobs through a close association with Boulez (though he also worked with Leibowitz) and Loriod through Olivier Messiaen, whom she married in 1961 – and both performed regularly at the Ferienkurse. Jacobs's recording might be seen as the first clear sign of a crossing over between the hitherto distinct styles initiated in the recorded repertoire by Stadlen and Monod. He plays the outer sections with the same kind of careful understatement as Monod, which extends to the interpretation of Webern's notated slurs (most obviously at E26–37); again like Monod's, his playing thaws as both A1 and A2 proceed, with increasingly well‐formed tempo and dynamic phrase arches. The element of crossing over comes in the tempos of the A sections, which at respective averages of 29 and 25 are close to Stadlen's (28 and 24). At that tempo, what would be relatively imperceptible nuances when played faster generate the effect of cool expressivity – the expressivity of the pre‐war style coupled with the coolness of the postwar avant‐garde – at which many later performers aimed.By contrast, Jacobs's average tempo for the B section (34) is only slightly slower than Monod's (36) and distinctly faster than Stein's: as a result, while nine out of the 30 recordings made up to 1977 take B faster on average than A1, the differential is more marked in Jacobs's case than any other (apart from an altogether eccentric recording by Jean‐Rodolphe Kars, of which more later). Jacobs's performance of the B section resembles Monod's – which I imagine he listened to – not only in its tempo and overall shaping but also in a telltale detail: the handling of the terminal dyads of the paired groups, at E52 and E57, E67 and E72, and E85 and E90. We have seen that, in his coaching sessions with Stadlen, Webern clarified the parsing – with the dyads terminating each group – and that Stein also played the music this way, even though the diagram in his thesis parsed it differently. But parsing is not all that is at issue. Stein expresses the parsing by prolonging the terminal dyads: as I said, his playing is clear, but the groups remain disconnected. Monod, by contrast, has a more subtle approach. He consistently prolongs the note that precedes each dyad but shortens the dyad itself: this makes the parsing equally clear but means that each group presses on into the next. Jacobs's strategy is identical to Monod's, and the effect is that much more articulate at his slightly slower tempo.As for Loriod's recording, it is in some ways a compendium of Darmstadt pianism. Her no‐nonsense tempos are close to Monod's – a little faster in A1, a little slower in A2 – while once again there are front‐loaded tempo and dynamic arches in the second half of the A sections. And on Sonic Visualiser the tempo and dynamic profiles of the B section exhibit the familiar arching for each group from E46 to E90, the same sustained tempo from E91 to 121 relieved by the piano passages from E100–104 and E113–117, the same slight tearing off at E121 and the same decelerando and diminuendo to the section break after E132. But all this is thrown into the shade by the clipped articulation, lack of pedal and aggressively dry recording acoustic that perhaps led Borio (, p. 95) to call her playing ‘virtuoso’ and Peter Hill to describe it as ‘completely unemotional and even rebarbative, you know, really fearsome and forbidding’ (Siepmann , p. 24). At the beginning of both A1 and A2 Loriod consistently plays the third and fourth pitches of each group staccato, breaking up the residual sense of more or less legato melody that is present in almost all the other recordings I have discussed: in doing this she is of course disregarding Webern's slurs. In the B section, the light, dry touch of her performance of the isochronous passages perhaps draws on the jeu perlé style associated with the Paris Conservatoire – she studied with one of its leading exponents, Isidor Philipp – while she plays the non‐isochronous groups (E53–57, E68–72 and E86–90) as a series of stabs. The lack of flow is enhanced by the fact that – like Stein rather than Monod or Jacobs – she prolongs the terminal dyads rather than the notes preceding them. In short, Loriod intensifies the effect of literalism that Mathew complained of in Monod, and like Monod she achieves it through deviating from literal execution. The result is the kind of pointillism that Stadlen condemned in the playing of the younger generation – even as, in terms of tempo and dynamics, Loriod adopts the same coherence‐building approaches as other representatives of her generation.For Hill and others, the dry, apparently disengaged pointillism of Loriod's recording makes it the paradigm of Darmstadt pianism. The odd thing about this is the date, given on the record label as May 1961. (The sleeve is as ascetic as Loriod's playing, with no image, the same sans‐serif lettering that Universal Edition used at this time, and a note by the Bulgarian‐French composer André Boucourechliev that stresses the rigorous and athematic nature of Webern's serialism.) This, after all, is long after the moment of what Bailey (, p. 648) called ‘Darmstadt madness’ – which she dates to 1951–2 – while for composers pointillism was passé after around 1955. And this chronological disjunction prompts the question of what it really means to speak of ‘Darmstadt pianism’ in relation to recordings of Op. 27. If the term is not clearly focused in terms of time, it is hardly more so in terms of place. Darmstadt is in central Germany, but, as the international nature of the Ferienkurse might lead one to expect, recordings of Op. 27 were not centred there or even on the German‐speaking countries more generally. The one recording actually made in Darmstadt was Stadlen's – of all the recordings the most conspicuously opposed to Darmstadt pianism – while of the three recordings from the 1950s that are most often associated with it (Monod, Stein and Jacobs), one was made by a French pianist in America, one by an American pianist in America, and one by an American pianist in France. A fourth, made for radio in Canada and probably dating from 1954, might have been considered equally emblematic of Darmstadt pianism had it been released at the time, and had there been any documented link between the pianist and Darmstadt: Kevin Bazzana (, p. 100) remarks that Glenn Gould was isolated from the contemporary music scene even in Canada. And though Gould could always have heard Monod's recording, there are no particularly compelling links (for example, his treatment of the telltale dyads in the B section is not like Monod's). It probably makes more sense to look for the sources of Gould's particular take on literalism – which is no more literal than Monod's – in the performance practices he had developed in relation to the seventeenth‐ and eighteenth‐century music that was already in his repertoire before he started playing that of the Second Viennese School (Bazzana , p. 89).And this pattern of geographical dispersal continued. During the period up to 1977 there is a total of six recordings by performers from France, six from Canada (all by Gould), five from the United States, three from Italy, two from Japan and one each from Austria (Stadlen), Poland, Russia, Turkey, Spain, and the United Kingdom (McCabe). It is remarkable that Germany comes in with just two: Franzpeter Goebels (1964), whose playing carries echoes of Stadlen's, and Christian Zacharias (1973). All this means that, if the idea of Darmstadt pianism is to stand for anything, it must be a way of playing or the aesthetic ideology that informed it. Some common features among the recordings of Monod, Stein, Jacob and Loriod can be identified, most of which are also found in Gould's. Tempos tend to be fast (though that is not true of Stein's performance of the B section, or Jacobs's of the A sections, while the fastest come from Gould – especially the live recording he made in 1957 at the Moscow Conservatory). There is a general quality of understatement, though even at its most extreme it does not preclude traditional rhetorical features such as caesurae or tempo modification, particularly in the B section: the effect ranges from the cool expressivity of Jacobs's performance to the alienating dryness of Loriod's. But the most distinctive feature is a negative one: in one way or another, all these pianists distanced themselves from the overtly expressive playing inherited from the pre‐war years, as represented by Stadlen, Manchon‐Theis (whose recording of Op. 27 dates from the same year as Stein's) and Aitken (the same year as Loriod's).It may be more productive, then, to identify key features of the Darmstadt aesthetic and map them onto the recordings. In her book Serial Music, Serial Aesthetics, Grant locates a fundamental characteristic of Darmstadt serialism in the swerve away from thematicism that is exemplified by Klammer (who, as we saw, complained about the vestiges of thematic thinking in Webern) and Boucourechliev (who insisted that his music was free from any such taint). An early advocate was Leibowitz (, p. 241), who argued that in Op. 27 ‘everything is theme’, which is to say that nothing is more thematic than anything else – from which it follows in an apparent paradox that ‘Webern's piano variations are […] a basic contribution to the “athematic” method of composition’). This idea was taken up by Eimert, Boulez and Pousseur, thus becoming part of Darmstadt orthodoxy. And on this basis Grant (, p. 163) makes a key distinction between traditional thematic hearing, which is based on a kind of causality that results in specific expectations, and a ‘serial hearing’ orientated to processes of ‘continual change and continual non‐directed expectation’. She also sees as essential characteristics of serial aesthetics a ‘conscious concentration on the internal structure and character of individual events’ (she calls this ‘microaesthetics’) and the use of silence for ‘indicating the boundaries between groups and textures, […] throwing elements into focus and then, contradictorily, leaving them hanging in space, as if to question their significance’ (Grant , pp. 161 and 164). Loriod comes closest to this in the way she breaks up melodic continuity in the A sections and disrupts musical causality in the non‐isochronous groups of the B section (what I described as a series of stabs): again, it would not be unreasonable to say that through her use of silence she leaves these notes hanging in space, as if to question their significance. It is only Loriod's recording to which this applies, however, and as I have said, such effects – created primarily by articulation – run alongside a quite traditional concern for parsing, pacing, the balancing of elements and the creation of direction. And to these ends Loriod incorporates strategies and rhetorical features comparable to the other ‘Darmstadt’ recordings I have analysed.It is however the series of live recordings made by Gould between the 1950s and the 1970s that best illustrates these concerns and strategies in action. In the article I have already mentioned, I trace the stages through which his interpretation developed by focusing on the telltale dyads in the B section. In 1954 Gould played them like Stein, parsing the groups but offering no interpretation of the relationships between them. They sound much the same in his 1964 film, but here you find an additional element: he can be seen to create a sense of overall direction though increasingly energetic physical gestures. In his audio recording of 1970, by contrast, Gould made each pair of dyads shorter than the previous one, maintaining the same overall tempo but in this way creating an audible analogue of the motion towards the extended, climactic group at E91 that he had previously created through visual means. This illustrates precisely the kind of musical causality that Grant associates with thematic rather than serial hearing, the sense of continuous temporal entailment that Heinrich Schenker (, vol. 1, p. 291) vividly evoked when he wrote that ‘harmonies appear to be linked more intimately and with seemingly greater necessity the more drastically and obtrusively a tone of one harmony hooks into the flesh of the following one’. And it is by transforming ‘before’ and ‘after’ into ‘because’ and ‘therefore’, so creating a sense of logical sequence independent of the time of performance, that such causality gives rise to musical narration. In this way, while the narrative paradigms inherited from nineteenth‐century music may be more deeply buried in the playing of pianists such as Monod, Loriod and Gould than in Stadlen or Manchon‐Theis, they are still there. The conclusion is obvious. In his article on composers at the Ferienkurse, Fox (, pp. 13–14) questions ‘the extent to which there ever was a “Darmstadt School”’ and concludes that it was ‘really an amalgamation of a number of quite different projects’. Much the same might be said of Darmstadt pianism.Or maybe it would be better to say that, when it came to pianism, there was no project. In the Webern issue of Die Reihe, Stockhausen (, p. 38) spoke of the value of analysis to performers, advancing the idea that there is – or should be – a commonality of purpose across the domains of performance, composition and discourse. But this claim is hardly substantiated by Klammer's analysis, later in the same issue, of the final movement from Op. 27. It is not simply that, in his quest for ‘fundamentally new possibilities which must arise from the series itself’, Klammer begins by dismissing such performable dimensions of the music as thematicism as irrelevant, and instead – in Grant's words – ‘dissects every possible angle of the piece into a series of neat but mostly meaningless numbers’ (, p. 119). Whereas ‘in traditional music determining applies mainly in a forward direction’, Klammer (, p. 92) says (he gives the example of antecedent and consequent), ‘with Webern we find it working retrospectively as well’: the structure depends on different groups having different intervallic attributes, but their significance can be known only when all have been heard. Musical logic, in other words, reverses the flow of time. And Borio makes a similar point about Dieter Schnebel's analysis of Op. 27 (which dates from 1952 but was not published until 1984). When he speaks about motivic transformations, Borio (, p. 95) observes, Schnebel does not talk about their chronological development but rather their formal derivation. The contrast is with the Schoenbergian analytical tradition in whose terms Stein conceived Op. 27, and which continued after the war in the publications of Leibowitz, Spinner, Walter Kolneder () and Friedrich Wildgans (): designed to emphasise the continuity of serial music with the Classical tradition, such analyses adopt a narrative, diachronic stance that allows at least a degree of mapping from analysis to performance. But in analyses like Klammer's or Schnebel's the narrative axis is no longer that of time: the music is rationalised in terms of what Iannis Xenakis () called ‘outside‐time structure’. Such synchronic analysis is more or less untranslatable into the quintessentially temporal practices of performance – or, indeed, listening.But there is more to it. Shreffler (, p. 238) speaks of Webern's vetoing performances because they could never be good enough, and of ‘a kind of “cult of rehearsal”, which was actually used to limit outside performances’. Again, Schoenberg's notorious quip that the performer was ‘totally unnecessary except as his interpretations make the music understandable to an audience unfortunate enough not to be able to read it in print’ (Newlin , p. 164) is echoed in Kolisch's insistence as late as the 1970s that he ‘no longer believed that performance was important or useful at all’ (Satz , p. 207). In short, there was within the Second Viennese School a tension between composition and performance, and this continued into the postwar avant‐garde – most obviously through the translation into practice of Schoenberg's (, p. 326) pre‐war fantasies about mechanical instruments making it possible to do away with performers. But at Darmstadt a new element was added to the mix: a celebration of the contradiction between the composition and its actualisation. Pousseur (, p. 95) wrote that ‘the divergence between serial procedures and the perceptible result is sought after and exists effectively’. And citing an analysis of Stockhausen's Klavierstück III by Christoph von Blümroder, Grant (, p. 66) concurs: ‘the tension between the predisposed order and the individual's interaction with it […] can indeed be seen as its raison d’être’.The result of this way of thinking was to leave performers outside the charmed circle of ‘mystical idealism’ (a term that Quick , p. 39, applies to Webern but is even more applicable to the postwar avant‐garde). Because abstractly conceived new music relied so heavily on translation into viable performance practice – a point to which I shall return at the end of this article – those who actually played it occupied an increasingly vital role in the production and dissemination of new music. Yet at the same time they were increasingly elbowed out of the official discourses of musical modernism. In the long term this gave rise to the untheorised culture of what Brian Ferneyhough calls ‘the “gig” musician […] who, in a couple of rehearsals, is justly proud of producing a “professional” realization of just about anything’ (Ferneyhough and Boros , pp. 6–7). Theory had become the preserve of composers.New MainstreamsEven if ‘Darmstadt pianism’ designates less a way of playing than a reaction against overt expressivism, the Piano Variations bear out Quick's claim about there being two broad approaches to Webern performance after the war. From the 1960s up to the six‐year break in recording after 1977 and the publication in 1979 of Stadlen's annotated score – which effectively closed the first chapter in the history of Op. 27 on record – the broad narrative is one of convergence. I shall provide an overview so brief that it might best be seen as a listening guide. There is on the one hand the tradition that stems from Stadlen and Manchon‐Theis, the echoes of which are to be heard in the recordings not only of Aitken and Webster – who belonged to the same generation – but also of younger pianists such as Carlo Pestalozza (1961) and Franzpeter Goebels (1964): in Pestalozza's, for example, there is the same sense of searching for meaning that I identified in Stadlen's and Manchon‐Theis's recordings, while there is enough similarity between Pestalozza's and Goebels's recordings – in the slow tempos, the rather disjointed B section (echoing the Stadlen tradition) and the noticeably more tranquil playing of the A2 section – to suggest that Pestalozza's recording formed part of Goebels's preparation. Both pianists were born in 1920 but made their recordings before Webster made his; that prompts questions of how far their recordings (or indeed Webster's) should be regarded as either the continuation of a pre‐war tradition or as a revival of it – and of the criteria on which the distinction might be made. I shall not attempt to answer these questions but will simply refer to these six recordings as representing one wave in performances of Op. 27. On the other hand there is the tradition of Monod, Stein, Jacobs and Loriod, supplemented by Gould's six recordings from 1954 to 1974, which span almost the entire period in question. I refer to these ten recordings as the second wave in performances of Op. 27, while recognising the extent to which the two waves overlapped chronologically. Between them, these two waves account for all the recordings up to 1967, in addition to Gould's later ones (1970 and 1974).By the early 1960s these two approaches had developed their own momentum as performance options. Whereas in the 1950s to play Op. 27 one way or the other amounted to a statement of aesthetic or ideological affiliation, a decade later they simply represented stylistic alternatives from which performers could choose. As I suggested, it is Jacobs's 1956 recording, with its combination of first‐wave expressivity and second‐wave cool, that most tellingly anticipates the accommodation that was eventually reached between the two styles. In essence, Jacobs maintained the stylistic features of second‐wave performance while adopting first‐wave tempos; eight years later Goebels did something similar, combining first‐wave tempos with something akin to Loriod's staccato articulation on the third and fourth beats of the groups in the opening section (though he artfully sustains certain notes behind the staccato ones, creating a kind of halo around the sound that results in a much less aggressive effect). And as we saw, with Webster it is the other way round: I placed him with Goebels in the first wave because of a preponderance of backward‐looking stylistic features – the most obvious being his generous use of hand breaking – but he combines these with tempos closer to those of the second wave. These hybrid interpretations might suggest a looseness of entailment between available stylistic features, and hence the viability of a rather free kind of mix‐and‐match approach.In practice, however, that is not what happened. Rather, a kind of standard or default interpretation emerged around the end of the 1960s, in which the overtly gestural playing characteristic of the first wave was accommodated to a greater or lesser degree within a framework defined by the relative – though not literal – compliance with the score characteristic of the second. A typical performance in what might be called the third‐wave or ‘consensus’ style would feature tempos somewhere between those of the first and second waves; the opening A section would begin more or less metronomically but become more expressive as it continued; there would be strong tempo arching of at least the isochronous groups in the middle section, with continuity across them perhaps being achieved through the same handling of the terminal notes as in Monod's and Jacobs's recordings; E91–121 would be projected as a single group enlivened through attention to Webern's p and staccato markings at E100–104 and E113–117, with something of a torn‐off quality at E121 and a major rallentando and caesura at the end of the section; and the final section would be taken at a significantly slower tempo than the first one, though in other respects a variety of approaches could be adopted (it might be handled similarly to the opening section, be played more expressively throughout or become increasingly sublimated as it continued). After decades of verbal and musical debate, a tradition had been invented.It is not, of course, that all recordings in the consensus style are the same, but that they are easily classified in relation to this hypothetical norm. For example, the pattern of beginning the A section metronomically but becoming increasingly expressive is found in the recordings of Claude Helffer (1968), Marie‐Françoise Bucquet (1969), Charles Rosen (1969), Alexei Lubimov (ca. 1971) and Bruno Mezzena (1973), while the Monod‐Jacobs strategy for the terminal notes in the B section is adopted by Helffer, Lubimov and Yuji Takahashi (1977). On the other hand, there are idiosyncratic elements. In a singularly accident‐prone live performance from the Fourth Cliburn Competition, Christian Zacharias (1973) repeatedly abbreviates the first notes of the four‐event groups in the A sections, while Andrzej Dutkiewicz (1975) prolongs the third notes; again, Zacharias accelerates rapidly around E109, rips off E121 like a strip of cloth, and lunges viciously into an unnotated fortissimo at E124–125, whereas – equally contrary to prevailing norms – Dutkiewicz breaks up E91–121 into a series of discrete gestures (rather like Stadlen, though the breaks fall in different places). Both the degree of consensus and the occasional striking deviations from it suggest that pianists were by now increasingly playing with reference to one another, encouraged no doubt by the increasing circulation of recordings. One might say it was at this time that Op. 27 ceased to be a Second World War orphan, subject to contested interpretations and mainly the preserve of contemporary music specialists. As in all invented traditions, its performance was naturalised, as if the way it was now played were simply the way the music goes (Hobsbawm and Ranger ). And in this form it increasingly entered the repertoire of generalist pianists. It became part of the modernist mainstream – a development that might be dated to Eric Salzman's claim, in a December 1973 review of the Turkish pianist İdil Biret's recording, that ‘a sensitive performance of the by‐now classic Webern Variations completes an impressive American recording debut’.Of no less interest, however, are the outliers, four recordings that cannot be sensibly classified in any of my categories. One is the recording that prompted Salzman's claim, which has something of the hybrid quality of Jacobs's, Goebels's and Webster's. Biret's tempos, especially in the A section, are slow even by first‐wave standards. Yet she plays the B section with a striking pointillism that sounds so anomalous in this context as to suggest a deliberate intertextual reference to – again – Loriod's recording of twelve years earlier, perhaps reflecting its symbolic status as the high point of Darmstadt pianism. (At Biret's much slower tempo any link with jeu perlé disappears.) Biret also slows down gradually during the second half of the final section, creating a particularly intense version of the sublimated narrative I first identified in Manchon‐Theis's recording. I spoke of pianists playing with reference to one another, but Biret's recording sounds like something more than that: a personal commentary on established discographic repertoire. A second outlier is Maurizio Pollini's recording, from 1976, which is individualistic in several ways. In the first seven bars of the A1 section, for example, he creates a single arch encompassing E5–16 through a combination of tempo, dynamics and articulation that welds the separate groups into a single gesture, while at the opening of A2 he plays almost metronomically but uses dynamics to shape the grouping pattern. There is a kind of simplicity to his playing, as if the answers to the interpretative problems pianists had been grappling with over the previous quarter century had really been obvious all along – which is perhaps why this recording became one of the poles in relation to which interpretations were formed and evaluated during the second chapter of Webern's Piano Variations on record.More obviously calculated to controvert existing norms is Carles Santos's recording from the following year, the basic strategy of which is to do everything differently from everyone else. He begins at a very slow tempo, with exaggeratedly metronomic and dynamically even playing, but arching the group from E17 and again at E26 – this time so violently that it sounds like a sudden change of tempo. In the first part of the B section he consistently plays the repeated notes at the palindrome points (E55, E70 and E88, all of which Webern marked sf) much more softly than the preceding note, controverting the idea of symmetry. In the same section he adopts Monod's and Jacobs's strategy of prolonging the notes before the dyads at E52, E67 and E85, but at E57, E72 and E90 it is the dyads that he prolongs, and the effect is to pair the groups in a quite different but equally logical way. He breaks up E91–121, like Stadlen and Dutkiewicz, but at points that do not fit with Webern's indications. And he breaks the first rule in the book by playing the A2 section faster than A1: Santos's is the earliest of the three recordings in which the average tempo for A2 is faster than for A1. Even more idiosyncratic is the way Santos holds on to one or more notes of a chord while playing others staccato. A kind of reverse version of the hand breaking that persisted up to the 1970s in the recordings of Rosen and Zacharias, this technique had already been tried by Goebels, but Santos uses it in a systematic manner that borders on the perverse. The first clear example is E20–21, where Santos sustains the C♯ and G; because E22 is a single C♯, the result is to underline a palindrome axis that Webern's asymmetrical texture camouflages, and Santos does the same at E40–42 and elsewhere, including in A2. Once again the strategy is transparent: where Webern makes the symmetry obvious, Santos disguises it, while where Webern disguises it, Santos makes it obvious. As with Biret, this is as much a commentary as a performance in the conventional sense, but here the commentary extends beyond other recordings to the composition itself. In short, Santos handles the piece more in the manner you might expect of a composer than a performer – which makes sense, as within a few years he had moved on from his initial career as a pianist to become a composer, filmmaker and sculptor.There is one final example, as it happens by a protégé of Manchon‐Theis, that is equally subversive of standard performance practice. Jean‐Rodolphe Kars's recording, from 1969, stands out by virtue of its tempos: his A sections, in particular, are not just slower than anyone else's, they are far slower. His average tempo for A2 is 17, and during E133–148, where Kars consistently prolongs the third attack of each group, the sense of musical motion practically disappears. The result is something that might also be said of the reverse hand breaking in Santos's recording: the focus of listening is directed away from musical causality and onto the quality or microstructure of individual sounds. The same might be said, if to a less extreme degree, of the Takahashi siblings’ broadly similar recordings, which are the slowest within my consensus category – and it is not irrelevant that Aki's recording was part of the famous three‐disc Piano Space album, which coupled works by composers of the European and Japanese avant‐garde as well as Cage. Morton Feldman (, p. 55) wrote of her performance of his Triadic Memories that ‘Takahashi appears to be absolutely still. Undisturbed, unperturbed, as if in a concentrated prayer […]. The effect of her playing to me is that I feel privileged to be invited to a very religious ritual’. That resonates with Kars, who credits Messiaen for his conversion from Judaism to Catholicism and gave up public performance in 1981, becoming a priest five years later.And this spiritual, even New Age conception of the Piano Variations has its own roots in Darmstadt. The focus away from causality and onto the microstructure of sound better illustrates Grant's ‘microaesthetics’, and more generally her definition of serial hearing, than any of the second‐wave recordings. But it also reflects an idea of space that resonates with the synchronic quality of Schnebel's and Klammer's analyses. Takahashi's album title echoes the Darmstadt idea of musical space that Ligeti specifically ascribed to Webern, whose music, Ligeti (, p. 16) says, ‘brought about the projection of the time‐flow into an imaginary space by means of the interchangeability of the temporal directions, provoked by the constant reciprocity of motivic shapes and their retrogrades[…]. Webern's structures seem to circle continuously in their illusory space’. Similarly, in his contribution to the Webern issue of Die Reihe, Stockhausen (, p. 65) says that when in music ‘we realise […] that we have “lost all sense of time”, then we have in fact been experiencing time most strongly’ – an idea that gave rise to his later conception of forms that ‘cut across horizontal time experience into the timelessness I call eternity’ (, p. 65). Representing what Fox (, p. 14) describes as the Darmstadt composers’ ‘desire to make other‐worldly music’, Stimmung was published the year before Kars's recording of Op. 27 was released. That recording, together with those with which I have associated it, demonstrates the possibility of moving beyond traditional narrative paradigms – in a way the second‐wave pianists did not – towards a performance practice more deeply imbued with Grant's serial aesthetic. And Kars's basic stratagem for achieving this is to perform the music at an average tempo of just half Webern's metronome marking, and the final section even slower. As in the case of Santos's recording, this takes non‐literalist interpretation to a level that begins to challenge the very idea of performance as conventionally understood within the tradition of Western classical music.The Shadow of MeaningIf the Piano Variations became mainstreamed during the 1960s and ’70s, the same might be said of music analysis and theory, at least in North America. As Grant (, p. 2) has explained, dissatisfaction with the European music journals’ neglect of American developments was one of the factors behind the establishment in 1962 of Perspectives of New Music, the first volume of which included the computer scientist John Backus's withering attack on Die Reihe’s pseudo‐scientific mystification of new music. As usual, Op. 27 was in the front line, although it was the twenty‐two‐bar second movement on which attention focused. Christian Wolff had made this movement the topic of his contribution to the Webern issue of Die Reihe – the only article by an Anglophone writer – and the 1960s brought a spate of writing on it to which leading figures in American music theory contributed: authors included Milton Babbitt (), David Lewin (), Wilbur Ogden (), Peter Westegaard (), Roy Travis () and James Rives Jones (). The aim was to move away from the European analysts’ numerological obsession with imperceptible underlying systems and towards a more pragmatic focus on contextually defined and perceptible structures: several of the American writers focused on the intricate relationship between the serial structure and the contrapuntal design of the movement. But there was still a general process of abstraction from surface to system, which is to say from temporal unfolding to atemporal structure. Hence the problems of translation from analysis to performance that I identified in Stein: his DMA thesis cites the writings of Lewin, Westegaard and Ogden, among others, but they appear in footnotes rather than being thought into the main argument.Whereas the European modernists of the immediate postwar years were content to celebrate the contradiction between idea and actualisation, however, their American counterparts (who were more securely embedded in the higher‐education system) made a determined attempt to bring performance within the academic orbit – a development aided and indeed mandated by the requirement that teachers of performance in American universities should possess doctorates. (Hence Stein's DMA.) The particular form this took reflected something that American theorists shared with their Zero Hour predecessors: a social‐constructionist distrust of the traditional idea that the tonal system is given in nature and hence uniquely privileged. This idea is nowadays mainly associated with twentieth‐century conservatives from Schenker to Pfitzner, but it was equally an article of faith for Webern (, pp. 12–13), for whom the historical modes and scales were ‘a manifestation of the overtone series […]. [A]s a material it accords completely with nature’. And for Stadlen (, p. 19), tonality was not a ‘phase or a style, but […] the nature of music’. Like the postwar avant‐garde in Europe, American theorists, who were often also composers, were determined to reconstruct music – whether through composition or analysis – on the basis of explicit, artefactual principles.Whereas performers had ended up outside the magic circle of Darmstadt serialism, in America the constructionist ideology was pursued to its logical conclusion. In effect, performance was thought of as an extension and supplement to composition. And if that composer‐centric view echoes Schoenberg's disparagement of the self‐importance of performers, there was also a parallel to his distinction between style and idea, between presentation and the essential content that was presented – which in 1960s and ’70s America meant structure. Within this context, as Westegaard (, p. 71) wrote, ‘style’ became a dirty word, admitting an unacceptable element of historical contingency. In this way the page‐to‐stage approach – as it evolved through key texts by Edward T. Cone () and Wallace Berry (), both composers as well as performers, and became part of the music‐theoretical mainstream – was at heart radically anti‐historical. It sought to rationalise and discipline performance, giving it a subordinate place within a value system centred on composition. Its hegemonic nature has been widely criticised (Mathew , p. 58, refers to ‘Edward T. Cone's authoritarian notion that “analysis is a direction for a performance”’), not least for leaving little room for performance as a creative practice.Although it came from the other side of the Atlantic, a study by Christopher Wintle () of the second movement from the Concerto Op. 24 – the main title of which is ‘Analysis and Performance’ – provides a good illustration of what is at issue. The article is an exploration of how Webern organises his music hierarchically – that is, creates relationships between musical surface and underlying structure – without drawing on traditional tonal formations. Despite the title, no discernible theoretical model for the relationship between compositional structure and performance is in evidence. There is simply a slippage from the one to the other via the notion of interpretation: after explaining what he sees as the movement's atonal background structures, Wintle (, p. 91) asserts that ‘[a]n awareness of these articulations is essential to a properly balanced interpretation of the movement’. In other words, the musical structure – if correctly interpreted – entails the manner of its performance. That puts the analyst in charge, and by the end of the article – though he has made no reference to any particular performance of the work – Wintle is in a position to conclude: ‘it is striking that in the available commercial recordings of the Concerto, so little comprehension of structure is evinced. Dynamics are ignored, phrasing is under‐articulated, tempo gradations are over‐ridden, and the whole deprived of the sense of directed motion that alone can bring this music to life’ (p. 98).Bald value judgements of that kind are rarely encountered nowadays, but the underlying thinking has left its mark within the music‐theoretical mainstream. And as I said at the beginning, such thinking was problematised by Stadlen's evidence of how Webern expected Op. 27 to be performed. This emerges most clearly from an article by Robert Wason that was published in 1987. The trouble starts with Webern's insistence, which Stadlen records in both his edition (p. v) and his 1958 article (p. 16), that performers need not understand the serial structure: Wason (, p. 62) suggests that Webern was unthinkingly parroting Schoenberg's statements to this effect, and adds, ‘we cannot but wonder whether his advice is to be taken at face value’. Then there is the matter of the melody lines, which – as Stadlen (, p. 12) records – Webern said must be ‘as telling as a spoken sentence’, and which Stadlen dutifully circled in his score. The problem is that these notes cut across the serial structure, which leads Wason (, p. 95) to observe that ‘[t]he derivation of these “melody” notes is itself an interesting phenomenon for further study, although […] it has so far eluded systematic explanation’. The implication is that analysis is still a direction for performance; it's just that in this case we don't yet have the right analysis.But the central standoff concerns the nature of the relationship between musical content and its realisation in performance. Stadlen addressed this in his interview with Pauli: after referring to the ‘very artistic mirror forms and retrogrades’ composed into the first movement of Op. 27, he said that in performance Webern wanted ‘not only something additional […] but something that occasionally even contradicts the construction, something that destroys it, so that […] the listener […] must – or should – be misled now and again’. This dialectical conception, familiar from Adorno's writings on performance, is reduced in Wason's (, pp. 102–3) article to the idea that the performer may on occasion play against structure, ‘although obviously one must have a clear understanding of just what one is “playing against”’. And a few lines earlier, Wason speaks – with specific reference to the B section – of the possibility of playing ‘against the structural segmentations, while certainly assuming their existence’. It's a lawyer's argument: if there is no sign of the structure in a performance, that only proves how deeply embedded it really is. Mathew (, p. 61) refers to theorists such as Wason as ‘so entangled in the poietic fallacy that they proceeded from the premise that Webern's performance instructions must somehow be linked to the serial structure of the Variations’. In other words, for theorists who think this way, the assumption that phenomenal surfaces – what we play and hear – are generated by underlying structures is too deeply embedded to be questioned, and that gives rise to the further assumption that explanation must mean derivation, as in what Wason says about the ‘melody’ notes (or for that matter what Schnebel says about motivic transformations).At the same time, Wason (, p. 64) does recognise that ‘twelve‐tone “structure” is not the only structure going on’ in Op. 27. He cites the formal plans of all three movements as ‘examples of traditional thinking that Webern transports into the twelve‐tone domain’, and adds that ‘such notions as “motivic structure” […] reveal significant structural aspects of Op. 27, despite the fact that these “structures” are not per se twelve‐tonal’. Just as in his reference to the ‘stormy passage’ at the climax of the first movement – where, he says, the meaning is clarified by traditional climax‐building techniques such as phrase compression, rapid dynamic alterations and registral expansion – Wason is circling around something that almost breaks the surface when he mentions Webern's own comparison of the B section to a Brahms intermezzo: the extent to which this movement draws on the familiar rhetoric of tonal music. Wason's reluctance to articulate this may reflect the social‐constructionist ideology to which I referred, but it also has to do with the valorisation of structure rather than style. Here again Wintle's article illustrates what is at issue. Wintle builds on Webern's (, p. 54) remarks in The Path to the New Music about how effects of tonal excursion and return can be created by purely serial means. In Op. 24, Wintle argues, Webern creates pitch hierarchies that are in essence structurally isomorphic with those of tonal music, yet do not entail the stylistic practices of tonal music: ‘Schenkerian tonal operations’, Wintle says (p. 98), need not be invoked. In this way the historical dimension is acknowledged, but on terms that hold nature at bay.Performers, however, have not shared such qualms. Kolisch and other musicians of the Schoenberg circle believed that the same principles applied to the performance of contemporary and earlier music. Lowell Creitz (, pp. 162–3), who joined Kolisch's Pro Arte Quartet in 1955, writes that ‘[t]he procedures we used were common for all music, not just that of the 20th century’ and cites Webern's remark that his Quartet Op. 28 should be interpreted in the same way as ‘many of the piano sonatas by Beethoven in three movements’. Creitz goes on to describe how the Pro Arte Quartet developed its interpretations, saying, ‘The goal at all levels of structure is to discover the gesture of the motif, the theme, the section and the movement’ (p. 166). Given the Schoenberg connection, it is not surprising that the approach resonates with Stein's thesis, and this is the context within which Stein makes reference to the tonal tradition. It is not only his use of terms such as ‘recapitulation’ and ‘elaboration’, or his reference to the building of the climax in Wason's ‘stormy passage’ as ‘a familiar developmental device’. It is also, for example, when he says that the periodic construction of Webern's themes and in particular his use of mirror forms – Stein cites the opening of Op. 27 as one of several examples – ‘suggest harmonic movement of the order, I–V, V–I’ (, p. 73). In this way Stein invoked tonal models as he sought out the musical gestures in the music he played, while Stadlen (, p. 18) talked about the tonal shaping of serial music more generally: you can imagine him thinking with his hands when he says that ‘we instinctively group the notes of a pitch‐set according to chords that are, however vaguely, suggested by its outline and according to possible metric analogies whose rhythmic emphases again allocate harmonic priorities’. On the same page Stadlen speaks of atonality as ‘reminding us of our shady past’ and questions whether atonality has any real existence other than through these historical references. And Adorno (, p. 87) extends the argument to performance when, following his complaint about Op. 27's ‘monotonously symmetrical presentations of serial marvels’ and comparison of it to a Brahms Intermezzo, he adds that ‘for its performance to give the monotonous tone groups even the shadow of meaning, it must distance itself infinitely far from the rigid notation, especially of its rhythm’. In other words, Op. 27 should be played like Brahms.But the best evidence of the persistence of tonal ways of thinking within the performance of Op. 27 is provided, of course, by the recordings. I have hardly mentioned tonality in my descriptions of them, but really I have been talking about the practices of tonal performance all the time. It is particularly in the B section that performances of Op. 27 embody modes of temporal and dynamic shaping – the kind of gesture Creitz was talking about – that are conditioned by the nineteenth century. All the recordings I have described in detail are consistent in shaping isochronous groups into distinct gestures, usually involving some degree of tempo and dynamic arching; articulating relationships within non‐isochronous groups by means of agogic and dynamic accentuation, though in very different ways; using tempo and dynamics to build the second half of the section towards climax and collapse; and separating off the section as a whole through more or less extended silences. The opening bars of the outer sections, too, form a storehouse of ways in which different patterns of emphasis can be created through the interaction of duration, dynamics, and articulation. These are the standard techniques of expressive performance as analysed, for example, by Eric Clarke (), and – to follow up Webern's, Stadlen's and Adorno's hints – could be illustrated just as readily by recordings of any Brahms intermezzo. It is as if the crystalline Piano Variations of the lecture hall and the shadowy Piano Variations of the concert hall – the serially and the tonally conceived pieces known by the same name – existed in parallel universes. That explains why Webern thought it unnecessary for performers to know about serial design and said his music should be played in the same way as Beethoven's. It also explains a sense of disconnect between performance and the institutionalised music theory of American academia that is particularly obvious in the case of serial music but hardly unknown in relation to common‐practice repertoire: only a handful of professional performers – Murray Perahia is the outstanding example – have seen deep structures such as the Schenkerian background as offering an indispensable insight into the music they play. If academics and performers have in recent years moved towards a more productive alignment of interests, the reason is not that theorists have discovered the right analyses to direct performance, as Wason envisaged, but rather that they have become more pragmatic, more open‐minded, and more sensitive to the different purposes that analysis can serve. It is also worth pointing out that such moves have tended to occur in countries, such as the UK, where theory has never been as fully institutionalised as in the US, and where the divisions between theorists and historical musicologists are more permeable – and moreover where collaborations between performers and academics have been incentivised by research‐funding regimes.And if performers of Op. 27 have played Webern's serial music as if it were tonal music, then the same can be said about how their performances have been heard. That might seem a perverse claim given the critical emphasis on the geometrical, crystalline – in short, objective – aspects of Op. 27, which has still not disappeared from view: in a 2007 review of Mitsuko Uchida's recording, Steve Schwartz remarks that ‘[s]he doesn't play Webern like a mathematical proof, but in the same way she plays Schubert and Mozart – clearly, simply, with an adult's point of view and experience’, and then adds, ‘Webern purists may hate this approach, excoriating her for a “non‐objective” view of the score’. But I can evidence my claim. As we have seen, the objective qualities that Schwartz associates with ‘Webern purists’ have been repeatedly attributed to the second‐wave performances of the 1950s and ’60s. I cited Mathew's characterisation of Monod's recording as ‘unmediated, un‐interpreted Webern’, while Wason (, p. 101) broadens the critique to ‘the mechanical rhythm and flat, emotionless dynamics heard all too often in performances of Op. 27’; Malcolm Hayes (, p. 223) extends it to Webern's music in general (‘when it came to performing Webern, a dispiriting species of metronomic soulfulness was the order of the day’). Yet the fact is that recordings of Op. 27 – even second‐wave recordings ‐ embody a degree of expressive nuance that, in simple quantitative terms, is quite comparable to what might typically be found in performances of a Brahms intermezzo. The point can be made by comparing recordings by the same pianists of Op. 27 and Brahms's Op. 116 No. 5, though I am consigning the details to an endnote. And this contradiction between fact and perception need not be put down solely to the stubborn persistence of outmoded aesthetic ideologies, or to musicologists’ failure to listen. Even recordings like Monod's and Loriod's draw on deeply internalised codes of expressive performance that have developed over the years around the tonal repertoire, and it is because these codes are also internalised by listeners – because of what Bruno Repp () calls listeners’ ‘timing expectations’ –that they are not perceived for what they are. The result is that the objective qualities attributed to the composition are incorrectly ascribed to the playing as well. And the reason this happens is that performances of Op. 27 are being heard on the model of tonal music.Seeking to circumscribe but not wholly eliminate the role of the natural, Fred Lerdahl ( and ) has argued that atonal music lacks what he calls the acoustically grounded stability conditions of tonal music. As a consequence, what in tonal music would be understood as purely surface features plays a key role in generating perceptual hierarchies. Cadences provide a good illustration. In an article that amongst other things applies his idea of the structural downbeat to the second movement of Op. 27, Cone (, p. 183) succinctly defined the nature of a cadence in tonal music: it is ‘the point in the phrase at which rhythmic emphasis and harmonic function coincide’. In non‐tonal music one half of this equation is absent, since without stability conditions there can be no harmonic function. Therefore other means have to be found to create cadential effects. There is an example in the last bars of the A1 section of Op. 27's first movement: both Wason (, p. 97) and Bailey (, p. 192) comment on the introduction of various irregularities into the palindrome (octave transposition creates a registral descent in bars 14–15; rhythmic adjustment separates out bars 17–18), the purpose being – in Bailey's words – ‘to serve as a cadence’. Viewed in terms of tonal theory, the point is that a cadence like this does not emerge from the underlying structure. It is simply a sign, an example – as Quick (, p. 205) puts it – of ‘the goal‐directed, harmonically‐driven rhetoric of tonal music – even in the absence of such an organisational system’.But this has wider ramifications than the creation of cadences. In an article designed to debunk the European avant‐garde's attempt to portray Op. 27 as a precursor of total serialism, Westegaard (, p. 30) argued of the second movement that the patterns in its various ‘nonpitch’ parameters – by which he meant rhythm, articulation and dynamics – make no sense in themselves: they ‘are still playing their traditional role of differentiation. They interact with one another and with pitch to clarify pitch relationships, sorting out for the ear those pitch relationships which are to shape the movement’. That might equally be said of the first movement, where the gestural shaping to which I referred normally involves the coordination of pitch, rhythm and dynamics. And in assigning a primary, shaping role to pitch Westegaard was drawing on the traditional distinction that Schenkerians have made between structure and design – what Leonard Meyer () later called the distinction between the syntactical and non‐syntactical parameters of music. But, as Lerdahl argued, that is just the distinction that is undermined in non‐tonal music, and so there is a major difference between the tonal contexts from which these distinctions derive and the serial context of Op. 27. In tonal theory, what Meyer called syntax is defined by the conjunction of pitch and other parameters, with rhythm and metre playing an essential role (Cone preceded his definition of the cadence with a reference to ‘the importance of rhythm to the establishment of tonality’). In serial theory, by contrast, syntax inheres only in the sequence of pitch classes and the groupings that result from it. In that sense serial theory is far more reductive than tonal theory, and the result is the gap between serial theory and broader musical significance that leads Christopher Hasty (, p. 285) to complain that ‘pitch‐class relations per se offer us little insight into the totality of musical organization. Meticulously crafted details of duration, accent, contour, and instrumentation can rarely be rationalized by the serial structure, and when they are treated by analysts, they are generally relegated to the “musical surface” – a surface curiously detached from the serial “background”’.The conclusion Hasty draws from this is that serial organisation is in itself a much weaker determinant of what he calls ‘the true structure of the work’ than its tonal equivalent, and for this reason he urges analysts to devote much more attention to the role of non‐pitch parameters in ‘the creation of musical gesture and form’. But if this article has demonstrated anything, it is that analysts are not the only people who devote attention to the role of non‐pitch parameters in the creation of musical gesture and form. Composers do this within the limits of notation, of course, but it is the essence of the performer's job description. It is telling, then, that early performers from both camps agreed in emphasising the formative role of non‐pitch parameters in the performance of Op. 27: Stadlen (, p. 14) wrote that for Webern ‘the notes had become almost incidental and were only regarded as carriers of expression’, while Stein (, p. 71) give the same idea a positive spin when in his thesis he spoke of ‘duration, dynamic, touch, register […] acquiring equal importance with the pitches themselves’. It was also Stein (p. 173) who spelled out what this meant for the performer's role. Because such music ‘is usually bereft of the form‐building tendencies of harmony and meter’, he argued, ‘the performer must begin from scratch and gradually build up the various levels of formal relationships which are characteristic of each new composition’. That illustrates what I meant about performers playing an increasingly vital role in new music. Pousseur (, p. 82) made a similar observation, again based on comparison with common‐practice repertoire: in the works of Webern's late period, he wrote, ‘you feel (hear) that the performers are there (much more than in tonal music, which seems to perform itself), that they produce tones and meanings which they define’. And so we end up with a paradox. As we have seen, it was within a context largely conditioned by serialism that North American music theorists developed the page‐to‐stage approach – an approach that sought to embrace performance within a value system centred on composition and thus left little room for thinking of performance as a creative practice. Yet it was precisely in serial music that the detachment of ‘musical surface’ from serial ‘background’ to which Hasty refers created new opportunities and indeed requirements for performers to co‐create the music that listeners heard. The agency denied in theory was asserted all the more strongly in practice. That is the story of Webern's Piano Variations in early recordings.The reception at Darmstadt of Webern's serial compositions represented in its most extreme form the resistance to history and search for meaning in the text which have underpinned the disciplinary identity of music theory. I have attempted not only to trace the history of Op. 27 through recordings, but also to show how the recordings are themselves permeated by history. Perhaps all I have really done is unpack and illustrate Mathew's (, p. 67) pithy statement that ‘Webern's music is made of the kind of themes, topoi, and gestures that we are familiar with – things that we know how to sing and play’. That historicising claim reflects and contributes to the critical reconstruction of Webern that has taken place over the years since Zero Hour – from arch‐structuralist to arch‐expressionist, from composer of extreme autonomy to composer of extreme referentiality, from the symbol of a new beginning to a figure deeply entangled in history. It has taken musicologists half a century to accomplish this 180‐degree reversal in critical interpretation. But that only illustrates once again the oblique relationship between talking about music and playing it. For all the time, the new – or old – Webern was there to be heard in concert halls and on recordings. Even in the moment of Darmstadt madness, those who performed Op. 27 were also performing their own embeddedness in tradition.1AppendixRecordings of Op. 27 from 1948 to 1977, with Basic StatisticsPerformerDate of recordingPerformer's date of birthAverage tempoAverage tempo (A1)Average tempo (B)Average tempo (A2)Peter Stadlen1948191026282924Jacques‐Louis Monod1951192736393635Glenn Gould1954193237394033Jeanne Manchon‐Theis1954190226282723Leonard Stein1954191635413138Paul Jacobs1956193029293425Glenn Gould (Moscow)1957193241454635Glenn Gould (Leningrad)1957193239424235Webster Aitken1961190824312224Yvonne Loriod1961192435413532Carlo Pestalozza1961192024272125Franzpeter Goebels1964192024272222Glenn Gould1964193232373428Beveridge Webster1967190831353130Claude Helffer1968192229303327Marie‐Françoise Bucquet1969193728332628Jean‐Rodolphe Kars1969194720192417John McCabe1969193932323430Charles Rosen1969192728312726Glenn Gould1970193237423834Alexei Lubimov1971194434353731İdil Biret1973194123252421Bruno Mezzena1973192730342831Aki Takahashi1973194426292724Christian Zacharias1973195032363331Glenn Gould1974193236443831Andrzej Dutkiewicz1975194227292726Maurizio Pollini1976194230332932Carles Santos1977194025242726Yuji Takahashi1977193826282624Average303331282AppendixScore of Op. 27, First Movement, with Event Numbers3AppendixAccessing the RecordingsThe project website (http://www.mus.cam.ac.uk/directory/shadows-of-meaning-webern2019s-piano-variations-on-record) provides convenient access to all recordings of the first movement of Op. 27 in the public domain at the time the research for this article was carried out; it excludes Gould's 1957 recording from Leningrad (which became available only later) and Pestalozza's 1961 recording, the rights to my copy of which are held by the British Library. It is unfortunate that a recent European Union directive means that recordings subsequent to these are likely to enter the public domain only after 2037; some but by no means all are, however, available commercially via Spotify or on YouTube.A zip archive at http://www.mus.cam.ac.uk/nick-cook-extra-material/Archive.zip (30 MB) contains the following recordings of the first movement of Op. 27, together with associated Sonic Visualiser session files.Peter Stadlen1948Jacques‐Louis Monod1951Glenn Gould1954Jeanne Manchon‐Theis1954Leonard Stein1954Paul Jacobs1956Glenn Gould (Moscow)1957Webster Aitken1961Yvonne Loriod1961Franzpeter Goebels1964Glenn Gould1964Available for all major platforms and operating systems and freely available on the web, Sonic Visualiser allows flexible navigation of the recordings; the associated session files include event numbers keyed to the score at Appendix , which make it easy to go to any particular point in the recording and hence follow the account in the text. Session files also include tempo graphs (heavy line), dynamic graphs, piano‐roll notations that correspond to the notes in the score and spectrograms, all of which move in time with the music.Brief instructions for downloading and installing Sonic Visualiser, and for playing the sound and associated session files, are provided at http://www.mus.cam.ac.uk/directory/sonic-visualiser-session-files-and-linked-mp3s-for-use-with-2018inventing-tradition2019.NOTESThis article is an output of the project ‘Shadows of Meaning: Webern's Piano Variations on Record’, funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, whose assistance is gratefully acknowledged. The recordings on which it is based were collected jointly with Miriam Quick, and more collectors helped us than can be named individually. I am also grateful to Kathryn Bailey and Daniel Leech‐Wilkinson for their comments on a draft version of this article.1As explained in Quick (, p. 79), it had for some time circulated among experts, in particular through a copy held by the British Library Sound Archive.2Discographic details of these and all other recordings up to 2012 may be found on the project website, http://www.mus.cam.ac.uk/directory/shadows-of-meaning-webern2019s-piano-variations-on-record.3Timing onsets for every note of each recording were captured and associated dynamic values computed. These were graphed and incorporated, along with associated dynamic values, piano‐roll notation and event numbers – all derived from the captured data – within Sonic Visualiser session files, creating a playback environment optimised for close listening. I also made use of a web‐based facility that, for any given segment of any given recording, ranked all the other recordings based on correlation of timing, dynamics or both, and which extracted an annotated sound file containing just that segment from each recording; the aim, which was only partially realised, was to generate paths for navigating the corpus that were likely to yield productive comparisons. I refer to this overall approach, in which technology extends the scope of close listening and facilitates work at the corpus level, as ‘augmented listening’. The similarity analyser and event extractor, along with the programming and data capture, were the work of Craig Sapp, of Stanford University's Center for Computer Assisted Research in the Humanities, without whose collaboration this research could not have been undertaken; it made use of the Humdrum Toolkit, and I am grateful to David Huron, who developed the Toolkit, for introducing me to the idea of corpus analysis of performance. I am also indebted to Miriam Quick and Georgia Volioti for data collection. The complete data set may be accessed via the project website.4Translated in [Webern et al.] (), p. 19.5One reason for this is auditory streaming, which makes perceived intensity a function of the musical texture: by contrast, the dynamics indicated in the session files are measurements of overall intensity. Another is that assigning a single dynamic value to an event is inherently reductive. The conjunction of tempo and dynamic graphs can nevertheless make broad relationships between the two parameters visible at a glance.6Translations taken from the appendix to the annotated score.7Translated from Pauli () and discussed in Quick (), p. 190.8These average tempos are simply calculated; because of the mobility of tempo, especially in the B section, it is often not practical to identify what Repp () calls the ‘basic’ and Gabrielsson (, p. 540) the ‘mean’ tempo. Section tempos are measured up to the final onset of the section (E45, E132 and E177), thus excluding the caesurae between sections. The caesurae are however included in figures for the whole movement.9As stated in Peter Hill's notes to his recording Schoenberg – Berg – Webern: Piano Music (Naxos 8.553870), p. 4.10The entire correspondence is transcribed on Bolcom's website (‘The End of the Mannerist Century’, http://www.williambolcom.com/in-the-media/blog/the-end-of-the-mannerist-century). Stadlen apparently said this in 1959 in the course of a BBC radio review of Robert Craft's 1957 box set of Webern's works. All websites accessed 7 November 2016 unless otherwise stated.11Pearson correlation, on which Sapp's similarity analyser is based, is scale‐independent; if two performances have the same internal relationships but one is twice as fast as the other, the correlation will still be perfect. The suggestion is that, for this purpose, a scale‐dependent approach might be more productive.12Stein's recording was issued in 1957 as part of Robert Craft's complete Webern box set, but the booklet says that the majority of the recordings were made in 1954: according to Naxos Music Library, Op. 27 was recorded on 10 September of that year (http://ml.naxos.jp/album/9.80273). My thanks to Miriam Quick for this information.13A series of lectures delivered in 1932–3 and published in 1960 (English translation, Webern ).14As detailed in e.g. Garland and Garland (1997), p. 415, this term was coined in 1945 by Frank Thiess in response to Thomas Mann's writings on German guilt for the war: the ‘inner emigrants’ who remained in Germany, Thiess argued, had shown more courage than those who had left and now claimed to speak for the German people. This sparked off an enduring controversy that overshadowed critical responses to the cultural productions of the war years.15Entry on Monod, accessed 12 January 2014; this claim has since been removed.16On 10 March 1962, with the Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma della RAI; a transfer by Emilio Pessina was until recently available on YouTube.17In fairness it should be noted that the Dial LPs engineered by Doug Hawkins, of which this was the last, were widely praised for the quality of recording (Hoek , pp. 77 and 79).18Stein (), p. 83; curiously, his explanation seems to be contradicted by his own music example (p. 84).19As stated in ‘Darmstadt International Summer Courses for New Music’, http://self.gutenberg.org/articles/eng/Darmstadt_International_Summer_Courses_for_New_Music.20Thanks to Daniel Leech‐Wilkinson for this suggestion.21Nancy Canning's Gould discography places it in 1950, apparently based on examination of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation archives, but the 1 January 1950 date looks like a placeholder (Canning , pp. 120 and ix). The 1954 date is taken from Bazzana (), p. 276, and is consistent with the claim Bazzana (, p. 89) makes elsewhere that Gould started playing Op. 27 in 1953.22This development is confused by the misdating of the 1970 recording: as explained in Cook (), p. 135 n. 5, the liner notes to Sony Classical's 1995 release (The Glenn Gould Edition – Berg, Krenek, Webern, Debussy, Ravel, SMK 52661) incorrectly say it was recorded in 1964.23Ironically, as Williams () has shown, performance thrown out the front door promptly re‐entered at the back: when working on Gesang der Jünglinge, Stockhausen and Koenig started out by chopping up tiny bits of tape but rapidly resorted to real‐time improvisatory practices to create the desired effect.24Confirmed by Sapp's similarity analyser for the A1 and B sections, and for both tempo and dynamics (the analyser's results are useful in this case because of the pianists’ similar average tempos).25From Stereo Review, as cited on dil Biret's website (http://www.idilbiret.eu/en/?p = 51).26The others are Pollini, in a live recording from Berlin (1990), and Christoph Eschenbach (1996).27As stated on the sleeve of Kars's recording.28The similarity analyser shows these to be closely related in both tempo and dynamics across the movement as a whole, a finding consistent with Quick (), p. 197.29EAA‐85013–15 (Angel Records, 1973).30Information from his Wikipedia entry.31Translated from vol. 1 of Stockhausen's Texte, 1963, in Hasty (), p. 297.32Translated in Quick (), p. 190.33The source of this, as Wason (, p. 97) notes, is Stadlen: it appears in both ‘Serialism Reconsidered’ (, p. 12) and his annotated edition (p. v). As we have seen, Adorno – speaking of the movement as a whole – made the same comparison in his Philosophy of Modern Music, but because that first appeared in 1949, the source was not Stadlen's writings.34Of those pianists who have recorded Op. 27, two have also recorded Brahms's Intermezzo Op. 116 No. 5 (Biret in 1989, and Sviatoslav Richter in 1964, 1966 and – twice – 1992), while at the time of this writing a live recording by Pollini from 2002 is accessible on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v = iJfF1THDnuY). Standard deviations weighted against tempo are used as an admittedly crude measure of rubato, and on this measure the pianists on average employ the same amount of rubato in Op. 116 No. 5 and Op. 27 overall, though in the central sections there is 18% more rubato in Op. 116 No. 5 (with the repeats averaged). That however masks large individual differences between performers and recordings. 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The Performance Practice Inherent in the Technical Realisation of Early Electronic Music in the WDR Studio, Cologne’, paper presented at the Performance Studies Network Third International Conference, Cambridge, 2014.Wintle, Christopher, 1982: ‘Analysis and Performance: Webern's Concerto Op. 24/II’, Music Analysis, 1/i, pp. 73–99.Xenakis, Iannis, 1971: Formalized Music: Thought and Mathematics in Composition, 2nd edn (Bloomington: Indiana University Press).NOTE ON THE CONTRIBUTORNicholas Cook is 1684 Professor of Music at the University of Cambridge, and author of Music: a Very Short Introduction (1998), which is published or forthcoming in eighteen languages. Among his other books, The Schenker Project: Culture, Race, and Music Theory in Fin‐de‐siècle Vienna (2007) won the SMT's Wallace Berry Award in 2010. His most recently published book is Beyond the Score: Music as Performance (2013), while Music as Creative Practice (his contribution to the AHRC Research Centre for Musical Performance as Creative Practice) is in production. He is currently working on a project entitled ‘Music Encounters: Studies in Relational Musicology’, supported by a British Academy Wolfson Professorship. A former editor of Journal of the Royal Musical Association, he was elected Fellow of the British Academy in 2001.

Journal

Music AnalysisWiley

Published: Jul 1, 2017

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