Style and Substance

From New England Public Radio's Classical Music Blog, on the "sound" of authenticity.

In praise of style:
Every conductor worth his/her baton knows that Béla Bartók's music is strongly influenced by the rhythms of the Hungarian language, which places the stress on the first syllable of every word.  So, Bartók's musical phrases should be accented in the same way, and orchestras need to be taught to do it right.
And of substance:
Finally and most elusively, there's the quality that you could call commitment, or belief, or pride.  It's what the late violinist-violist-teacher Philipp Naegele meant when he once told me "we all play Russian music as if it were great; the Russians play it like they know it's great."  How does that translate to sound?  In the best "authentic" performances [...] it can be heard in the unfussy, unfancy approach to the music.  There's no showing off, with stretched phrases or exaggerated dynamic effects, how well you've mastered the work's style.  The performances, taut and direct, call attention not to the interpretation, but to the work.   They have nothing to prove, no one to impress, only the composer to serve.
Read the full post.