Terry Treachout has an article/review of Kenneth Hamilton's book After the Golden Age: Romantic Pianism and Modern Performance. There is much to ponder there, both in the book and the article, and some of it is old hart. Here's a few choice excerpts.
Golden-age pianists generally treated the written score as a guide to interpretation rather than a definitive set of instructions. Many of them added unwritten embellishments of various kinds to the pieces they played. Vladimir Horowitz, the last major classical pianist to play with such textual freedom, recorded versions of works like Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 15 that deviated so dramatically from the score as to amount to substantially original compositions.
a deep unease with the sheer routine and funereal boredom of some piano recitals I have attended. . . . Whatever disadvantages early-romantic concerts had, they were often more informal and sound simply like a lot more fun, for both performers and audiences.
Maybe. But I am not so sure that it's always as Golden as it seems in the backwards glance of a certain nostalgia. A certain nostalgia that is equal parts commodity and true remembrance.
More on it later. But check it out. Link