Playing in the manner of Ricardo Viñes: Recreating lost interpretations of works by Debussy and Ravel

Håkon Magnar Skogstad, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Faculty of Humanities

In my project I want to explore selected piano compositions by Claude Debussy
(1862-1918) and Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) through research in historically informed
performance (HIP). This project differs from related research due to one important factor: I want to use the performances and testimonials of pianist Ricardo Viñes (1875-1943) as the main source in opposition to the composers themselves. Furthermore I wish to recreate elements of the “Viñes style of playing” and apply them in my own performances of selected works. These performances will be researched within analytic autoethnographical framework. The intent of my project is to enrich and further develop my musical expression by implementing new ways of interpretation in my piano playing.

Through this I ask the following questions:

  • What characterises the “Viñes style of playing”?
  • How do Viñes´ interpretations of the piano compositions by Debussy and Ravel differ from the performances given by the composers themselves?
  • Is it possible to recreate elements of the “Viñes style of playing” and apply these in modern performances of Debussy and Ravel pieces?
  • Can this approach be transferred and applied in music of other composers?
  • How will this project affect my style of playing in general?