Thanks for the comments!
The subject of rubato is indeed a tricky one and I can hear where you're coming from here. I plan to do more experimentation with this aspect of the slower preludes in the coming week. I would, however, challenge what your overall notion of rubato appears to be as you expressed it in this comment:
I have to admit that my forehead went into a perplexed frown trying to comprehend what you are doing rhythmically, and then again with #6. You may want to call it rubato, but I wouldn't because it follows repetative patterns. I have to say plainly that you are simply not keeping time well in these slow lyric works of classic simplicity.
Two things. First, you seem to contradict yourself a bit by saying that you're "trying to comprehend" what I'm doing rhythmically yet also stating that my rubato follows repetitive patterns. The latter comment would imply to me that you are in fact making a statement about what you perceive me to be doing rhythmically. As I see it, the problem lies in trying to "comprehend" it at all. Even the traditional definition of rubato (i.e., a speeding up or slowing down, followed by its exact opposite to restore "robbed" time) is problematic, for it is not really possible to accurately do so and this would indeed be impossibly mechanical. In the end, of course, there is really an ineffability to the concept of rubato that defies description and results from the performer's individuality.
Now for the second point regarding keeping time. Of course, I could play everything exactly in time or even mostly in time and throb out the melody over a mostly consistent bassline the way so many pianists seem to interpret this piece, but that IMO would be rather flat and rhythmically monotonous. As here, Chopin tends to write in rather constant recurring figurations, which demand, I think, a rhythmically flexible and spontaneous use of rubato to work. It's hard to argue that one is distorting the rhythm when the figurations in question are unvarying. Stretching or expanding too much for one's taste, yes, but not distorting or failing to keep time. I believe my overall tempos are basically consistent, even though within them there are many internal fluctuations, and that this is the spirit of rubato.
Anyway, just my two cents on a very interesting topic you raised.
Joe, I'll see your bet and now raise you. Here is how I would explain rubato
to a class of college freshman taking a required Intro to Music course (and I'm not implying any lack of knowledge on your part, its just that I often like to teach (or in this case argue politely) with analagies and object lessons). Take a baloon and blow it up moderately. Now take a marker and draw 4 beats worth of rhythm on it (any rhythm at all). Now observe how the drawn-rhythm speads out when I squeeze the other side of the baloon: that
. Further, we don't have to squeeze it such that all four beats expand uniformly (this is where the engineer types in the class wish they took art instead). The rhythm, however, stays the same. So rubato affects tempo
NOT rhythm (except in the context of said tempo). If you play "rubato" on the first beat of three consecutive measures, or in a figure that is featured repetitively then what you're doing (I would argue) is not rubato
, its dissruption of the rhythm. I agree with you that the works in question can and should have rubato
, but then what work shouldn't? It would be unbearable to hear almost any music played sans rubato
(that's Fretalian). Now you've got me very curious as to what you would do with the "Raindrop" prelude.
I'ts good discussing such abstractions.