A written classical music piece of music must be played exactly. That’s the premise. The composer worte the notes, you have to play them. All of them. And, you do not mess with the notes. What the composer has written, you play. Nothing less, nothing more. Right!
I’ll take a famous work from Mozart: Sonata for piano #16, in C major. I invite you to listen to the music while reading it on the paper. Then, go to the recording of this masterpiece by Martha Argerich. She’s an Argentinian pianist, a living legend that every one loves and revere (including me). The way she plays that Mozart Sonata is not the way it is composed, though. Martha Argerich adds a little variation almost every other bar. And, when it is time to repeat the first part, she does not repeat it exactly. She will do some other variations.
Now, before getting upset for daring to deviate from the music, let’s listen to what Mrs Argerich is doing. First of all, it is gorgeous. The music flows, easy and sweet. And everything fits. Meaning what she plays is in the style of Mozart, with the same mind, the same approach, the same sensitivity. There has been a lot of work behind her interpretation. She has carefully weighed every note and every change. So, should I dare and criticize the fact that it is not what Mozart has composed? No, I wouldn’t. On the contrary, I applaud her effort. She has imprinted her own style and elegance into this piece of music.
To conclude, is classical music up for interpretations? Yes, it is. I believe it is.