Chamber music rehearsals are very different from orchestra rehearsals. In an orchestra rehearsal, it’s the conductor’s job to make the overall musical decisions and to ensure that the members of the orchestra carry them out.
What the conductor says, goes. A chamber music group, on the other hand, is—ideally, at least—a pure democracy. Everybody is entitled to voice an opinion on any aspect of interpretation—how soft here, how loud there, how much to slow down, when to speed up—and nobody’s opinion carries more weight than anybody else’s. The process is not always smooth, and some professional groups have had well-known personality conflicts. About one famous string quartet, in fact, people used to joke that they hated to play in a city that only had three hotels. But with a chamber music group that’s musically and temperamentally well matched, easy and delightful rehearsals—not to mention satisfying performances—are the rule, rather than the exception.