How do you feel when something sounds like it is supposed to sound? Do you smile to yourself with that knowing sense of recognition and feel nicely pleased that you are at one with the composer? Or does it make you feel a bit on edge and cross that the composer is spoon-feeding you nothing but a stereotype?
Perhaps, if the piece is sufficiently absorbing and wonderful, you might forget yourself completely and let the music carry you away to the place where the composer wanted to send you?
Take this one. Tchaikovsky’s Capriccio Italien, Op 45. What a wonderful aural feast, inspired by the composer’s visit to Rome in 1880, and his interpretation of all the sights and sounds of the carnival, markets and the ambience of the city during his 3-month stay.
This was one of the first works I learned to play as a young member of a full orchestra and I have very fond memories of performing it on various stages. Here is the famous and fabulous Hallé Orchestra providing a crisp rendition, which I think gives a good sense of the day dawning (listen for the flutes early on to signify the sun washing over the roofs), the city waking up, and the gradual progress of daily life, culminating in evening revelry and celebration.
Because I know this piece so well, it is hard for me not to hear the story in it. I like it that way. What about you?