Ellen Fallowfield

A Performer’s Analysis as Part of the Interpretation Process

Helmut Lachenmann’s Pression (1969, revised 2010) for solo cello is notated mostly prescriptively by indicating the physical actions that the cellist is supposed to make to realise the score. Because they form the basis of the score, I analyse Pression in terms of the performer’s actions, namely plucking, striking and bowing/stroking the cello strings and/or body of the instrument. Further, I consider where these actions lie on a scale from smooth, continuous movement to broken continuity or repeated iterations to isolated events. From this analysis it is possible to chart a process of musical tension and resolution throughout the piece, providing a foundation for a musical interpretation. The analysis is thereby an interpretation of the piece that forms the basis of my performative interpretation. It is not intended as a way of ‘understanding’ the score in terms of coming closer to Lachenmann’s compositional process. Rather, analytical and performative approaches are two ways of enjoying the score and, combined, bringing it to life through a personal interpretation.

I will briefly consider two other works by Bernd Alois Zimmermann and Brian Ferneyhough and discuss the role of a performance-based analysis as part of the preparation to perform a score.