LVB: How important was rubato?
JD: Very important; he was a Kreisler-type player in that he had an enormous amount of chic in his playing. He could take little things, and oh, little solos, and… and nobody had heard anything like it. He was a gypsy, but the most refined gypsy that anybody ever heard. Well, a Fritz Kreisler type.
LVB: How important was rubato to Tabuteau’s playing?
WR: Very, very important. He, as Robert Bloom used to say, performed fancy robbery. He would get by with whatever he could get by with and still have the discipline of coming up on the main places with the conductor involved. By fancy robbery he meant he took away from one thing and gave it to another.
JMk: Tabuteau played with a great deal of rubato especially in his studio. I’ll never forget before the first Casals Festival in which he was going to be performing the Bach Violin and Oboe Concerto. (As a matter of fact, I got to play it on the Curtis recital that spring to help in the learning process, because it was sort of new to the market at that time.) I heard him playing the slow movement himself, and I thought: Oh, isn’t that wonderful, that’s a piece of Debussy that I never heard before in my life. A great amount of rubato, however, that was sort of like a horse cantering around the pasture, frolicking, rolling around, nothing like what it’s going to do when it gets a jockey up on its back and gets in the starting gate. Tabuteau was very much in the traces, so to speak; when he got into the orchestra, then he minded his p’s and q’s with great care. So, any rhapsodizing that he might do while playing by himself usually got minimized. Yes, he played with a certain amount of rubato, he absolutely did. He could not stand the idea of something being absolutely straight, and straight to him was anathema, just had no place in music.