‘Con discrezione’ – Tempo as a means of expressionby Reitze Smits | Het ORGEL | Year 119 | (2023) | Issue 4
Louis Couperin, Prélude à l’imitation de Mr. Froberger Het eerste akkoord opgevat als een uitgebreid arpeggio met accacciatura’s
Musicians think about tempo in very different ways. Some urge a constant tempo, with the metronome as objective standard, but others search for freedom and flexibility, driven by musical feeling. Of course both approaches have a place, depending on the style of the music. But there seems in our time to be a strong tendency to take a rigorously strict tempo as starting point for all music. This tendency probably arose in the early 20th century, as a reaction to the rubato performance style of the previous century, and also as an expression of modernity, as a choice for objectivity as against the subjectivity of romanticism. How did 18th- and 19th-century musicians think about tempo? Reitze Smits offers interesting insights using various sources.