My Grad Assistant, Bryan Fasola, and I confronted this question with the Antonio Jose Sonata. My version is the Gilardino, which contains a facsimile of the early manuscript. His version was the Iznaola, which contains the facsimile of the manuscript that was worked on for the first performance, with lots of supplementary markings, which can be assumed were added in sessions between performer and composer. We debated this for several weeks, and went back and forth, trying to find some clue as to which should be presented. What we found, as disappointing as this may sound, is that there was no clear answer. Most of the differences were minor (bass notes, accidentals), so ultimately Bryan decided to go with the performing version, as he liked the idea of the two forces (performer and composer) coming together for the performance, and there is enough evidence in the manuscripts to suggest that this was the case.
With Romantica, however, the differences are dramatic, and there is no intermediary step between manuscript and published version that would give any account of how Ponce and Segovia conceived of the changes. It is clear from the letters from Segovia to Ponce that Segovia was with Ponce in September 1928 when Ponce first played it for him (assumedly on piano) and it is possible they discussed changes then. This meeting also clears up why the 4th movement is not with the other 3 in the manuscript source. It wasn't written yet, and Segovia pesters Ponce for the movement over several letters after this. They do discuss changes in these letters, but they pertain to the 4th movement.
The changes that occur in the opening movement lack any documentation, so the performer is left wondering which version to play. At best, the published version represents the collaboration between composer and performer,..at worst, it is Segovia's changes without Ponce's involvement. To clarify "at worst"..if the changes constituted some octave displacement, articulation changes and thinning of textures ("dropping notes"...we all do it!!) then the discussion in my head would not be so contentious. The manuscript, however, presents an entirely different musical dialogue in the 1st movement development than the published edition. I even have searched for anecdotal evidence...you know the stories we've all heard.."My teacher says his friend saw the Villa-Lobos 6th Prelude before it was lost" or "Britten told Bream he preferred the the sixteenth note ossia in the 'Gently Rocking' movement of the Nocturnal" (Seriously though...if any one can steer me to evidence of this last point, I'd be greatly appreciative)
So...what do I decide? Do I perform the composer's original intentions, or what one can assume are the changes he wanted for the final edition? In the end, I've reconciled myself to the fact that this question is not answerable. What I have decided is that I quite like the manuscript version of the 1st movement. There is a harmonic richness and a pleasing arc to it. It has that piano-like texture that guitarists often encounter when working with a a non-guitarist composer.
Ultimately, the choice has to be based on music. Were the music unplayable and poor, then there wouldn't be a blog post about it. Students and professionals always have to make choices, and it is best to use all the tools available to us - research, intuition, and most importantly, our musical intelligence. This is in reference to all aspects of our practice, whether it is phrasing a line, sifting through manuscripts or writing our own pieces. The types of questions I asked myself with regards to this movement have become part of my story with the music and is an important part of the relationship I will have with it.
Next post, I'll talk about the certain musical challenges one faces when reinterprets a work which is already in our ear from recordings, concerts, and previous learning attempts. Do we reconcile, wipe the slate clean, or assimilate these influences? When interpreting a piece whose musical material remains the same in all versions, this can be difficult, but when doing this to a standard rep piece with new music it can really test your assumptions? Keep practicing.
ALSO...if you took a week or so off for the holidays..DON'T jump back in to a 5 hour practice regimen. Ease yourself into it by increments, like training for an 8 mile run. Don't assume you can do it if you haven't run in several months. Build up to it.