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

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

In my research project I want to explore and recreate selected recordings by the pianist Ricardo Viñes (1875-1943) to study and inhabit elements from a forgotten performance tradition. Special attention will be given to piano compositions by Claude Debussy (1862-1918) and Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) – pieces that Ricardo Viñes influenced, premiered and championed. In the last part of the project I will use the musical insight I have gained to conduct new interpretations of selected repertoire. The intent of this project is to demonstrate how recreating old recordings can be used as an accessible method for developing artistic freedom and new musical performances through revitalization of historical performance traditions.

Through this I ask the following questions:

  • What characterises the “Viñes style of playing» and is it comparable to that of other performers of the time?
  • How do Viñes’ interpretations of the piano compositions by Debussy and Ravel differ from the performances given by the composers themselves?
  • How will the process of recreating recordings change my personal interpretations and performances of the compositions by Debussy and Ravel, and what happens when I apply the characteristics of the «Viñes playing style» to other piano pieces?
  • How can recreating and reperforming recordings transpire to artistic creativity?
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