When we talk about ‹‹period performance›› what usually comes to mind are the ancient instruments and the ‹‹Great Masters›› of the Renaissance, Baroque or Classical periods. But as we inch closer to the third decade of the 21st century, we move ever further away from the aesthetics and instruments of the early 20th century. New York, 1920 will be a rare opportunity to hear the works of Bax, Debussy, Elgar, da Falla, Mozart, Rachmaninoff, Rameau and Salzedo as they could have performed during the ‹‹années folles›› in New York; a meeting of ‹‹Early Music›› and ‹‹New Music››.
Though the Brooklyn Bridge might not have changed since it was built at the end of the 19th century, the world around it certainly has! The scores from the late-19th and early-20th centuries haven't themselves changed either (discounting the pens of overzealous editors), however, how most musicians play them today has.
What can we learn by researching the historical context, musical style and aesthetics of yesteryear ? A great deal ! Research into historical performance can often end up asking more questions than it can provide answers... but isn't that what makes it interesting ?
It's more than just having the ‹‹right›› instrument and the ‹‹right›› editions, though that's certainly a start ! Seeking out the answers to questions that can never be answered means the musician's job is never done; there will always be some new point of view to discover, just around the corner.