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I hear this in most piano transcriptions and in all orchestras when I hear In the Hall of the Mountain King. It is as though Edvard Grieg wrote cresc. and accel. and pp and left it at that. I did hear once a piano transcription without that accelerando and it did not sound right to me. Of course, Edvard Grieg wrote all the dynamics but I still hear 1 smooth crescendo, even though in the sheet music there is no crescendo. Why is that? Why do I hear a crescendo and an accelerando if neither of these are written in the music?

I myself when I play this, try to play as quiet as possible in the first few measures. I also start at a bpm of 60. So I start at Larghetto. I end at Presto. It is like me going from Largo by Handel to Moonlight sonata 3rd movement in 2 minutes. That is how fast the tempo changes when I play it. But I see no signs of a tempo change. The only tempo I see is this:

Alla Marcia e Molto Marcato

Like a march with lots of accents is basically what that translates to. And then I see this:

sempre staccato e pp

In other words, every note is to be staccato, except where the slurs are. At super fast speeds though, I can't really achieve a true staccato. And staccato triplets at allegro is hard. If I even try to play staccato at Presto, I end up playing legato, even with the staccato technique because the notes are just so fast that the line between staccato and legato is blurred, Also staccato at those speeds causes me to be more tense than legato at those speeds. And I know this is because I build up tension and then release it with the staccato, more so if I am doing the staccato at forte.

But why is it that I hear a smooth accelerando and a smooth crescendo in that piece when neither one is written down?

  • They are without that h in my language. Its just I hear what sounds like an h when I hear those words and I quite often write those words with the h. – Caters Oct 15 '18 at 23:49
  • Caters - I edited for you. Remember you can edit your posts, as just putting an update in comments is not permanent. – Doktor Mayhem Oct 16 '18 at 7:51
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Looking at the score: The orchestration gets "fuller"; instruments are added (almost) each time the main phrase comes up. This results in a "natural" crescendo, because there are more playing. The range is also expanded, with the bassoons beginning (very low in pitch), and instruments being added "on top".

Plus, it is written "crescendo e stretto, poco a poco" when the violins play the main phrase for the first time (Peters 1888 edition, reprint), so it is actually in there as well.

As for "sounds wrong": You (well, we all) are so used to the cresc. + acc. version that everything else is at least "weird". Same with other pieces, like e.g. Dvořák's Symphony No. 9. I heard a recording conducted by, I believe, Srgiu Celebidache. It was incredibly slow for me, but one could appreciate other details than if people just rush through it...

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The lateral answer is that the dynamics and tempi are always subject to the desire of the conductor. All compositions are interpreted by the conductor, which is not only acceptable but is the reason we collect multiple recordings of a favorite piece.

As a side note, do not listen to Shostakovitch's 7th, with a 20 or 25-minute crescendo inside the Bolero movement. I feel much pity for the snare drummer.

  • similar to Ravel's Bolero? – Joe W Oct 17 '18 at 5:07
  • @JoeW take a listen :-) . – Carl Witthoft Oct 17 '18 at 14:42

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