The term ‘excellent reader’ has been objected to on the SD blog in favor of the term ‘player’, even though I was attempting to define the job being done in a more specific way. Oh well. But it occurred to me that I can’t really take credit for the term — the first time I heard it was, I think, from Michael Anthony, who was a TC critic. I appreciated it at once, as that is what I do with a part or a score — just sit in silence and read it, absorb it, immerse myself in it until it starts to play in my head. And then all sorts of questions will arise, such as ‘why did the composer do this here?’ or ‘what is that intended to convey?’ It is just a wonderful enterprise. I have done this often on subway, bus or plane.
There is another aspect of ‘reading’ that I use, and that is when comparing and contrasting different treatments, or readings, of the same piece. Frequently, this is Mahler. If the same conductor records with two different orchestras, for example, or I’m comparing two orchestra/conductor readings of the same symphony, with an intent of examining differences in tempi, etc, I also consider them ‘readings’, as that is what the conductor is doing by immersing himself in the tantalizing notation the composer has left, deciding how to best and most accurately to present it.