rubato

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rubato, or tempo rubato (It.). Robbed time. A feature of perf. in which strict time is for a while disregarded—what is ‘robbed’ from some note or notes being ‘paid back’ later. When this is done with genuine artistry and instinctive mus. sensibility, the effect is to impart an admirable sense of freedom and spontaneity. Done badly, rubato merely becomes mechanical. The question of rubato in Chopin is particularly contentious, since its use in his mus. may be dangerously open to abuse. Accounts of his playing (and of Mozart's) suggest that he kept the left-hand in strict time, and added rubato with the right.