I don’t consider that you are wrong, at all. Rubato is not just slowing down: it can also be intermittent speeding up to provide color and forward movement to a piece: like an ebb and flow of the tide. The total impact on the score ‘timeline’ is approx where you would be if none of this occurred.
No one said that rubato means just slowing down. And no one said that that the slowing downs and speeding ups might
end up cancelling each other out at least partially/mostly.
But the idea that one must consciously try and make up lost time and/or do that in some precise way is not correct. I think this is a common misconception. Some say since rubato means stolen time that any time stolen must be given back, but my response would be "Why, rubato is not like stealing money?"[/quote]
I agree wholeheartedly with this statement. I was tutored in my Masters year by a Professor who had a PhD in baroque music - her husband, also a Professor, had his PhD in voice, focusing on the whole spectrum of vocal repertoire.
One afternoon we were preparing for my final recital performance - and during those sessions they both participated and offered comments and critique. We were doing final touches to the Escenas Romanticas by Granados. Her comments: You have to keep time. His comments: You understand the architecture of the music - nothing wrong. Arguments ensued and finally the drama of opera vs. the purity of a keyboard work was decided as the difference in interpretation and architecture was not mentioned again for the duration of the lesson.
And I think that is where we tend to go wrong sometimes - the architecture of a composition by Granados is much different from that of Bach or Scarlatti. It is chalk and cheese - but it is still music. And Scarlatti is again different from Bach, allowing for more freedom of expression in the interpretation of his sonatas. Of course, the good doctor did not like my playing very much, but it was at least accurate according to the score - I hit all the correct notes.
Bach - by necessity need to be "almost" strictly in time - that is the architecture of the music. There is almost no room for rubato, at least very few of his keyboard compositions. But, Wolgang Rubsam has a very different idea of Bach interpretation, which I quite like but cannot seem to comprehend, at least in my playing. It is worth listening to.
I mostly hear pianists play Erik Satie's music in very strict rhythmic fashion, almost like satire. Yet everyone always associate (some) of his music with Oriental mysticism. By that association alone - and given his exact instructions as to how it should be played, pianists are making a grave mistake by playing without compassion when he instructs "with the utmost of compassion". The same with the music of Debussy, and almost any other composer that I can think of, sans the instructions. One simply feels the way it should be played - it is all in the score.
We have anecdotal references to their playing in literature - but we still do not know. Scriabin is famous for that - he almost never played any work the same during performances and often changed it altogether during a performance.
So for me - rubato, interpretation and all those devises we use to enhance our performance of a work - relies very much on the architecture of the work. In that lies the secret of performance parameters, which include rhythm and rubato to name but a few. The construction, for instance of Chopin's nocturne Op. 48 no 1 is quite alien to the construction of the other nocturnes. How do we interpret that, given 99% of pianists play a very florid version of the nocturnes. It is like comparing the Bastille to Buckingham palace. It is Chopin in his most masculine iteration.