Can we ever really be objective?

Being able to objectively assess what is special

Dear piano friends,

Have you ever thought about whether there are actually people who can judge what is special about a piano recital? The objective opinion is always upheld - but do they even exist? No, it cannot actually exist because we are not in physics, in which measurement results can up to a very high degree lead to the confirmation of a thesis. In music and in its presentation, however, we always move within a subjective framework. For this reason, articles in the press are usually given a name to indicate that it is a subjective opinion that is being reproduced. Of course, one can and should demand or expect from representatives of the press that, based on their extensive experience in a certain area, they can have a more objective opinion, better understand how to weigh up, how to compare, based on a high level of background knowledge. But it is still a subjective opinion that is being made known.

Nevertheless, the question often arises to me, even for myself, how can I find out what is really special about a performance, especially when it takes place “differently”, against any tradition? Well, the musical text certainly plays a fundamental role first, because it should always play a basis - also for the performer. Then it is certainly the knowledge of the possible freedoms of interpretation. In this assessment, the musical text ultimately helps, but also the background knowledge, the knowledge of the context in which, in which contexts and under which musical historical aspects a work was written. A work by Bach can certainly be interpreted more freely than one by Bartók, who provided his works with very precise information. And then there is still everything else, the attack, the agogic, everything that an interpreter puts into his view of a work. If it is then different, completely different from the listening and interpretation habits, i.e. if the expectations are broken - is it then only idiosyncratic, extravagant, or already - really special in a positive sense. To find out, you need to question your own listening habits and your own ideas. You have to be free enough to accept other opinions as well. Then you sometimes realize that an idiosyncratic interpretation is really special. But one should be careful and one should constantly question and critically judge oneself and one's entrenched opinion. This is the only way to allow a kind of objectivity to prevail - which is ultimately still subjective.

However, you shouldn't just follow the crowd, find something good just because others see it that way too. We see this phenomenon far too often in concerts with performers who have achieved a level of awareness where the interpretation is no longer questioned because of the person's taste. You should protect yourself from that.