No, what occurred to me is that Taruskin gets rather more worked up about spurious justifications for this or that performance practice than I would. And I was wondering why. And that reminded me of an occasion when I said to someone that I don't actually go to the concert for the performance so much as for the repertoire. Huh? I mean that, assuming the performance is reasonably accurate and not too odd interpretively, I am quite prepared to largely ignore it. What I am listening to is the piece of music, not to the performance. Huh again?
Frankly, much of the time, I'm not so terribly interested in the particular performance, but much more interested in the piece. This is why the most important factor for me in deciding what concerts to attend is the program even more than who is playing it. I am perfectly happy to listen to Murray Perahia play Mozart concertos--or Maurizio Pollini or Grigory Sokolov or Mitsuko Uchida or lots of others. I find they all do a pretty good job in different ways. What I am really interested in is the concerto itself and how it is received by the audience. What did the composer do and how well did it work?
I did not come to this idea right away, it took quite a few decades. When I was principally a performer I was deeply interested in my own performances and deeply worried about them, but as time went on I was less and less interested in other artists' interpretations. Now I'm really just interested in the piece and as long as the interpretation does not seriously obscure the piece, I'm ok with it.
This might relate to something I ran across in another Taruskin essay where he talks about the problem of just what is a piece of music anyway? Is the "Moonlight" Sonata the published score? If so, which score? The original manuscript? A printed edition? Which one? Is it the performance of that score? If so, which one? Beethoven's (which we don't have)? Horowitz? Wilhelm Kemp? Artur Schnabel? Pollini? Lang Lang? Is it just a silly question? Surely the "Moonlight" Sonata, or any piece is, as Taruskin points out, an "intentional object", something that does not exist on a particular piece of paper or in a particular set of sound waves, but as a kind of object in our imaginations. The score is how we create a performance, but any one performance is simply an instance of the ideal object. This is all rather Platonic, isn't it?
So when I go to a concert, I go with the goal of hearing a version of that ideal object. The performance can make that more or less easy, but the performance is not the main thing I am listening for. Let me give an example. Beethoven's Symphony No. 1 in C major audaciously opens with three cadences, all three of which are in the wrong key! Well, actually the second is in the correct key, but it is deceptive. I wrote about this here. What I am listening for is how Beethoven is fooling us with those cadences. As long as the orchestra delivers them reasonably intact, I'm happy. For me, it really isn't about how lovely the tone of the flute is, or the violin's vibrato or the crispness of the conductor's beat. It is about the harmony. So that's why I am listening to the piece more than the performance...
Here is that movement:
And here is a performance of the "Moonlight" Sonata: