Colin Lawson


The decade from 1980 proved to be truly significant in the development of historical performance, as recreations of post-Baroque repertory gradually became the norm. At its close, three complete cycles of Beethoven Symphonies had been recorded on “period” instruments, implicitly demonstrating the complexity of the spectrum between practical expediency and historical accuracy. By 1991, Clive Brown was issuing a timely warning that the pedigree of many of the instruments on these recordings was of doubtful authenticity. The commercially-motivated rush to push period-instrument performance ever more rapidly into the nineteenth century did not offer much hope for the consolidation of historical playing styles. Despite some revelations, he felt that there was infinitely more to historically sensitive performance than merely employing the right equipment, and the public was in danger of being offered “attractively packaged but unripe fruit.”1 Brown noted an uneasy synthesis between modern baroque style applied to Beethoven alongside modern styles applied to old instruments.