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6. Tempo Results

a. Spectrum of Average Tempi
b. History of the Average Tempo
c. Tempo, Tempo Variations and Tempo Amplitude:
Austro-German and Russian/Soviet Pianists



a. Spectrum of Average Tempi



Figure 6: Performance Durations Appassionata



We begin our comparative observation of the tempo data of all three sonatas with a look at the spectrum of the realized average tempi, or performance durations. For the Appassionata (see Figure 6), the difference between the fastest and slowest recordings is an unbelievable 7 minutes and 20 seconds between the recordings by Friedrich Gulda and Glenn Gould, both from 1967; the first is approximately twice as fast as the second. Ignoring these two recordings, the difference is 3:39, between Frederic Lamond (1927) and Svjatoslav Richter (1992).


Figure 7: Performance Durations Sonata op. 2/3 (without the repeat of the exposition)



The difference between the fastest and slowest recordings of the Sonata op. 2/3 is considerably smaller (see Figure 7). Here it is only 2:01 between Maurizio Pollini (2006) and Claudio Arrau (1986). If we again remove these two fastest and slowest recordings, the difference is 1:36 between Emil Gilels (1952) and Josef Hofmann (1929).


Figure 8: Performance Durations Hammerklavier Sonata (with ritardando and fermata measures; without the repeat of the exposition)



The difference is again greater for the Hammerklavier Sonata (see Figure 8). Including all measures, it is 4:14 between Artur Schnabel (1935) and Glenn Gould (1970). Excluding these two recordings it is still 4:06 between Walter Gieseking (1949) and Tatjana Nikolajewa (1983).

Taking all of the recordings into consideration, the spectrum of average tempi is greatest for the Appassionata. Excluding the fastest and slowest recordings of each sonata, the spectrum is greatest for the Hammerklavier Sonata (see   Chapter 7a for the interpretation of these findings).




b. History of the Average Tempo



Figure 9: Performance Duration and Year of Recording Appassionata



Regarding the history of the average tempo, recordings of the Appassionata from the 1920s to the 1990s got progressively slower by over 2 minutes, from under 8 minutes in the 1920s to over 10 minutes in the 1990s. In the 2000s, the tempo then speeds up again to that of the 1960s and 1970s, which is of course still slower than the tempo of the previous four decades. The year of the recording is indicated on the x-axis of Figure 9 and the performance duration is given in minutes on its y-axis. The small circles indicate the individual recordings and the small empty circles indicate recordings for which only the decade of the recording is known. The grey line represents the rough development of the performance durations, and R2- and p-values are the statistical values of the correlation. The horizontal dotted lines represent the average values per decade.


Figure 10: Performance Duration and Year of Recording Sonata op. 2/3 (without the repeat of the exposition)



In total, the tempo of the Sonata op. 2/3 remained constant from the 1920s into the 2000s (see Figure 10), even if there was a small slowing down between the 1950s and 1980s (just under 30 seconds).


Figure 11: Performance Duration and Year of Recording Hammerklavier Sonata (without the repeat of the exposition)



The tempo of the Hammerklavier Sonata Figure 11 also slows down from the 1950s to the 1980s—by almost exactly 1 minute from 8 minutes to 9 minutes—only to speed up again in the 1990s and 2000s to a tempo even faster than that of the 1950s. (Unlike the Appassionata, the regression line also shows an increase of tempo over the entire time span, this is however here insignificant.) One cannot make generalizations about the recordings made in the 1930s and 1940s as there is only one recording from each decade. Considering the continuous complaints about the autograph metronome number being too high (see   Chapter 5), we cannot assume that Schnabel’s (1935) and Gieseking’s (1949) tempi are representative of their decades (see   Chapter 7b for the interpretation of these findings).




c. Tempo, Tempo Variations and Tempo Amplitude:
Austro-German and Russian/Soviet Pianists



Unexpectedly, there were hardly any findings of note regarding either the spectrum or the history in the categories of tempo variations from measure to measure or tempo amplitude. Instead however, there was a noticeable difference between Austro-German and Russian/Soviet recordings of the Appassionata and Hammerklavier sonatas. Figures 12, 13, 14 and 15 show that Russian and/or Soviet pianists tend towards interpretations with a greater tempo amplitude ( 59) and greater tempo variation than pianists from Austria and Germany. On all of the charts, the Russian/Soviet pianists (whose names are highlighted light grey) are towards the top, and the German and Austrian pianists (whose names are highlighted dark grey) towards the bottom.


Figure 12: Tempo Amplitude Appassionata




Figure 13: Tempo Amplitude Hammerklavier Sonata




Figure 14: Average Tempo Variation from Measure to Measure in Percent Appassionata




Figure 15: Average Tempo Variation from Measure to Measure in Percent Hammerklavier Sonata




If we consider all of the analyzed recordings of each sonata, we can see that recordings of the Appassionata by Russian/Soviet pianists demonstrate an average tempo amplitude of 1.96, and that that of the Austro-German pianists is 1.6. With the Hammerklavier the recordings by Russian/Soviet pianists give a tempo amplitude of 1.84, and those of the Austro-German 1.65. The tempo variations of the Russian/Soviet pianists’ Appassionata have an average of 8.27, and that of the Austro-German 6.84%. Excluding the ritardando and fermata measures, the variation for Russian/Soviet pianists in the Hammerklavier Sonata is 8.2%, the Austro-German 7.2%. ( 60)

After recognizing a significant difference of tempo amplitude and tempo variation between Russian/Soviet and Austro-German interpreters, we posed the question regarding performance duration or average tempo accordingly. Here we find that the Russian/Soviet pianists on average are somewhat slower than the Austro-Germans. They perform the Appassionata at an average tempo of dotted quarter = 105.0 and the Austro-Germans 115.9; the Hammerklavier at an average of half note = 92.4 and the Austro-Germans 102.7. Figures 16 and 17 show the averaged tempo curves of the Austro-German and Russian/Soviet recordings of the Appassionata and Hammerklavier Sonata respectively.


Figure 16: Average Tempo Curves of Russian/Soviet and Austro-German Pianists Appassionata



Figure 17: Average Tempo Curves of Russian/Soviet and Austro-German Pianists Hammerklavier Sonata




There are no such differences for recordings of the Sonata op. 2/3. The Russian/Soviet pianists are only slightly slower, playing at an average tempo of 136.1, as opposed to 139.3. There are no differences at all for tempo variation and tempo amplitude. Figure 18 shows the averaged tempo curves of op. 2/3.

Figure 18: Average Tempo Curves of Russian/Soviet and Austro-German Pianists Sonata op. 2/3






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Footnotes

59. When calculating the tempo amplitude of the Appassionata, we excluded the tempo values of measures 13, 16, 150 and 151 as well as measures 235 ff. (Più Allegro); for the Sonata op. 2/3 we excluded measures 90, 108, 218–232 and 246; for the Hammerklavier Sonata measures 4, 8, 32–34, 38, 65–66, 69, 121, 123, 131, 133, 199, 200, 234, 264–266, 268, 297, 298, 301 and 372. Further, in order to avoid lending individual tempo peaks or valleys too much weight, we excluded the top and bottom 2% of the tempo values (see   Chapter 2).

60. For a more detailed discussion of the dramatic ritardandi of the Russian/Soviet Appassionata recordings see our text: ‘Das Tempo in Beethovens Appassionata’ (  as fn. 1).