Sunday, October 25, 2020

Pachelbel's greatest hit

According to this (can everybody read this, or do you have to be a member?), the first recording of Pachelbel's Canon was by Arthur Fiedler in 1940. This is not the Pachelbel you probably expect; it's fast and astringent and sounds like the contrapuntal exercise that it really is.

Here's a recent historically-informed arrangement of a similar interpretation.

So from whence came the sad and weepy reading we're more used to hearing? From Jean-Fran├žois Paillard, who slowed down the tempo and added those arpeggiated pizzicatos that really makes it what it's become.

2 comments:

  1. How much was the speed of the Fiedler version influenced by the need to distribute it on a 78rpm disk (max side duration about 3 1/2 minutes, according to Wikipedia), and how much by the composer's intention?

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    1. Other historically-informed performances are also fast, and if Fiedler's performance had been on a 12-inch disk it could have been 4 1/2 minutes. He used a 10-inch disk because he didn't need a bigger one.

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