The Chamber Music Network

Even Classical Music Is Getting Faster These Days

Pop and rap aren’t the only two genres speeding up in tempo in the breakneck music-streaming era: The quickening of pace seems to be affecting even the oldest forms of the art. Per research this weekend from two record labels, classical music performances of J.S. Bach have also gotten faster, speeding up as much as 30 percent in the last half century.

Universal-owned Deutsche Grammaphon and Decca conducted a study into multiple recordings of Bach’s famed Double Violin Concerto in celebration of the release of Bach 333, a box set marking the 333rd anniversary of the German composer’s birth. The labels found that modern recordings of the work have shaved off one-third of the length of recordings from 50 years ago, quickening by about a minute per decade. That performance trend would fall in line with faster tempos in modern music, as audiences’ attention spans shrink and streaming particularly pushes artists and songwriters to be more conscious of every second.

British music scholar Nicholas Kenyon notes in a statement accompanying the labels’ study that modern audiences “seem to prefer transparent, light, bright sound and it works with the work of many composers including Bach, Handel and Mozart,” which marks a “basic change in taste from the rather weighty concert style of previous years towards something that is more light, airy and flexible.” So Bach may follow pop’s quicker pace because it’s already well-made for it, while chamber music and Baroque opera probably won’t follow suit.

Read the full article here.

Reposted from Roling Stone, 10/29/18