My pal Stephen Hough is eating supersized portions of humble pie at the neighbourhood health café this morning.
Yesterday, you may recall, he discovered a blue-pencilled correction in an early Tchaikovsky score of the piano concerto which altered an odd-sounding solo F in the flutes to a B-flat, far more convincing.
Today, Stephen accepts that the hand with the blue pencil is not the composer’s. It probably belonged to Hans von Bülow (above, with Bismarck), the exceptionally irascible pianist (also husband-in-law to Richard Wagner), who gave the concerto’s first performance and established its lasting popularity.
But hang on…. is that really humble pie that Stephen’s eating across the road? It looks to my practised eye more like low-cal black-forest gateau. He’s not repentant at all.
What’s this he writes? So the direct evidence is weaker – this manuscript (especially the blue pencil mark) is not a primary source in Tchaikovsky’s hand; but the circumstantial evidence seems to me stronger: it is a copyist’s mistake, probably corrected by the eminent performer, and more likely than not from the composer’s own instructions.
Ah, so the performer knows best…..
Read Stephen’s pie-recipe here. I’m going for my slice now.