Trying to find the most accurate edition for a specific musical work can be a difficult task today. Music editions have been developing quite significantly in the last few decades, becoming quite different from one to another.
Plenty of editions of the same piece can be found in the market so it is not easy to know which one would be the best to acquire. Often an edition will be attributed to a famous soloist or school of teaching and they tend to take the liberty of changing a few aspects of a piece, diversifying mostly in articulation, trills and resolutions, ornaments, or even the way a virtuoso passage can be transcribed according to the level of the player.
For this reason, enhancing our knowledge about music styles and periods must be an essential task as a musician. There is no ‘completely wrong’ edition of a musical work out there, but we should always be interested to learn about the features of every single musical period and composer to be able to judge and build our own opinion of what we perform.
Listening to different versions of the same piece could also be recommended, but it is important to be aware that every player will still perform the same piece with their own interpretation depending on their background.
Editions such as Bärenreiter Urtext is considered to be quite reliable these days, as it keeps the musical work as unaltered as possible. For instance they don’t include any articulations and ornaments usually tend to be omitted too in order to give more musical freedom to the performer.
Exam boards usually require a specific edition of a musical work, so in this case there isn’t a lot of choice of purchase, but this doesn’t mean that edition is the most accurate one. It is all business. Some editions get sponsored by other companies just to make more profit themselves.
Whatever your choice is in the purchase of pieces, bear in mind that nobody will be able to contradict your way of performing if you have a fundamental opinion of what you are doing.