Good stuff! An interview with Anner Bijlsma from '98
To illustrate this, I used to give my students an example: you never read in the newspaper that, when Father came home, he lit his pipe, put on his slippers, and opened the paper. But you will read, when Father came home, he put on his slippers, opened the paper, lit his pipe, and the house blew up, because, unknown to him, there was a gas leak in the house. See what I mean? The dissonance creates the interest, not the consonance.
AB: It depends, of course, but let’s say “true” playing is the way that Bach would have liked it. This will cover many approaches. I wouldn’t want us all to play exactly the same way.
AB: I’m not against all pianists and conductors, but I do feel that we string players have been abused by witless conductors and insensitive pianists, who force us to play louder and louder, whether the music calls for it or not. Often, all I hear is percussion and brass when I attend an orchestral concert.
AB: No. Joachim, the legendary violinist and beloved friend of Brahms, used vibrato very sparingly. There is a famous description by someone who attended a concert of the Joachim String Quartet. The person, describing a moment in the middle of a Beethoven Quartet, wrote something like, “Then something happened very strange, very moving, and very unexpected. They all suddenly vibrated.” I have a feeling I would have enjoyed Joachim’s playing very much.
AB: Yes, in Bach's time, equal temperament was not the last word, especially with string players. When we play with equal tempered intonation, like we have on the piano, we don't sound as beautiful. We should stop trying to emulate the piano, another weapon of uniformity, and take advantage of the inherent beauties of our string instruments.
AB: The concept of flowing lines is not appropriate for eighteenth century music, it belongs to the nineteenth century. Music became more chromatic and more overtly emotional in the nineteenth century, which resulted in long flowing lines. In Bach's time too, chromatic passages may have been played more sustained than diatonic ones -- just try it. But we shouldn't impose nineteenth century principles on Bach.
By the way, I love Bruckner too, but, for my taste, too many big lines are played in his music, as well as in Brahms and other nineteenth century composers. Maybe it's easier to conduct a long line when moving one's arms about with that painfully imperfect instrument, the "baton," an instrument which is unfit for showing more than one motive per minute. We shouldn't let the limitations of the baton get in our way to "true" music making. We need to take a fresh look at how we play all music, not just Baroque music.