Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Your 'hot spot' for all classical music subjects. Non-classical music subjects are to be posted in the Corner Pub.

Moderators: Lance, Corlyss_D

Post Reply
Lance
Site Administrator
Posts: 18505
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 1:27 am
Location: Binghamton, New York
Contact:

Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by Lance » Thu Apr 12, 2012 1:35 am

Image
Naxos 94048, six (6) CDs, DDD

Music by:
•Field (complete Nocturnes) [1823 Broadwood] *
•Chopin: (complete Nocturnes) [1837 Erard; 1823 Broadwood] *
•Chopin's contemporaries: music by Pleyel, Kalkbrenner,
Clara Schumann, Lefébure-Wely, Edmund Weber, Alkan,
Glinka, Szymanowska, Dobrzynski [1837 Erard] *
Chopin: Early works [1826 Graf] **
•Chopin: Mazurkas [1847 Pleyel] ***
•von Weber: Sinata No. 3 [1828 Trödlin] ****
•Alkan: Barcarolle, Petit Conte [1858 Pleyel] *****
•Liszt: excerpts from Transcendental Etudes [1842 Erard] ******

Keyboardists:
* Bart van Oorn
** Costantino Mastroprimiano
*** Cor de Groot
**** Jan Vermeulen
***** Stanley Hoogland
******Fred Oldenburg

This six CD set charts not only the development of the nocturne as a musical form, but also the development of the piano from the closing years of the 18th and first half of the 19th centuries. Two great "piano schools" had emerged, each having some of the greatest performers and composers of the day associated with them. Some of these composers were highly successful businessmen as well - Clementi and Pleyel in particular established highly successful piano manufacturing- and music publishing firms. The English school, with its powerful instruments (of which the pianos of John Broadwood and Co. are the best examples) enabled London based composers such as Cramer, Clementi and Dussek to write music with a singing almost bel canto quality. The larger instruments had sustaining pedals long before the lighter, crisper sounding Vienese school pianos. Composers such as Hummel and Kalkbrenner were equally happy on either, but Hummel (a pupil of Mozart and friend of Beethoven) had a preference for the Viennese instrument as it managed to sound better with an orchestral background, and it's action was lighter and offered superior response than the English pianos. Chopin was greatly influenced by Clementi's Irish pupil John Field. Field pioneered—indeed invented the musical nocturne—and Chopin played Field's music throughout his life, eventually meeting him in 1833. The irascible and often drunk Field didn't warm to Chopin: "he has the talent of the sick room". Also included on these discs are nocturnes and works by composers contemporaneous with Chopin including all the Field nocturnes performed on a Broadwood, and the great Third Sonata of Weber, a highly virtuosic work that displays the Viennese piano admirably. A generous selection of Chopin's nocturnes and mazurkas and his early works complete this fascinating survey of piano music from the years between 1810 and 1850. Included: Comprehensive booklet notes, many rare works.

There is one glaring error in the layout of the contents. On CD 4, Track 1 indicates "Alkan" for the "Nocturne alla Field in B-Flat Major." It should be credited to Ignaz Pleyel.

Of great interest is the inclusion of two Nocturnes in A-flat Major, Op. 121/1 and F Major, Op. 121/2 for THREE hands [Les Soupirs de la Harpe Eolienne]. Assisting the indefatigable and outstanding Bart van Oort with the third hand provided by Agnieszka Chabowska.

While Bart van Oort performs most on most of the CDs included in the box - and an oustanding job he does bringing glorious qualities to these pianos, the sound of which never really interested me until I heard people such as Stanley Hoogland, van Oort, Fred Oldenburg, and Jan Vermeulen, who performs von Weber's Sonata No. 3 on a Tröndlin instrument from 1828, which offers lovely tonal characteristics especially in the mid-to-upper treble. This music, like von Weber's Sonata No. 2 is so rich with both sonatas bordering on a Romantic-music concept sound better on present-day concert grand pianos as performed by Sviatoslav Richter (#3) and Emil Gilels (#2). Here, of course, we are hearing it as von Weber heard it.

An especially intriguing little gem is Louis Lefébure-Wely's Nocturne in D-flat Major, Op. 54/1 ("Les Cloches du monastère") [Monastery Bells]. One wonders, nonetheless, what a von Weber, Chopin, Field, or any of the composers listed herein, would do with a modern-day concert grand instrument where the bass and mid-range is ultimately stronger and clearer with a generally more even sound across the entire keyboard. All this music, of course, sounds or would sound supremely good on present day pianos.

Brilliant also issued a four CD set [92202], which offers only the repertoire performed by Bart van Oort, i.e., the Field and Chopin Nocturnes and other repertoire marked as played by van Oort above. Also, all four of the von Weber sonatas can be heard by the exquisite Jan Vermeulen on his extraordinary Leipzig-made Tröndlin piano made in 1828 [Brilliant 92441, 2 CDs]. Just why Brilliant breaks up their repertoire into different boxes remains a mystery to me. Fortunately, if one has to duplicate, it doesn't break the bank for most collectors.

Highly recommended, but not quite making me a believer in hearing original keyboard music performed on original instruments. Still it makes for interesting listening. ♫
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

Image

Lance
Site Administrator
Posts: 18505
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 1:27 am
Location: Binghamton, New York
Contact:

Re: Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by Lance » Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:28 am

I would be interested in hearing from the "purists" (or piano music lovers in general) with regard to this music performed on original instruments. I updated this post to include a couple of comments on, particularly, Carl Maria von Weber's Piano Sonatas Nos. 2 and 3.
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

Image

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by John F » Mon Apr 16, 2012 2:13 am

"Purists" in what way? HIP purists who disdain Steinways in older music or those who disdain obsolete pianos in present-day performances? (I guess that gives away which side I'm on. :mrgreen:)

I'm all in favor of uncovering or discovering unfamiliar music, even if it turns out not to be very consequential, and if there's only one opportunity to hear it in performance or on records, I'll take whatever instrument and whatever player is on offer, good bad or indifferent. But the Naxos throw-together box includes few real discoveries and quite a lot of familiar music (Chopin, Liszt, Field, Weber), and since I've never heard of the pianists (other than Cor de Groot who was recording Mozart concertos 50 years ago), it really has no interest for me.

In a time when charismatic classical musicians are in short supply, and the central repertoire of the finest music of the past has been recorded and rerecorded by masters who put most of today's performers in the shade, much of today's classical music recording seems pretty pointless, except as the creation of new "product" to keep the "market" and the business going. So I no longer read record review magazines or miss the bricks-and-mortar record stores where I used to look for new releases with curiosity if with diminishing expectations.

The one area where I believe record companies can do music-lovers a real service - and the area in which the most prominent and best financed are least likely to - is the dissemination of new music. I mean really new music, not everything composed since 1945. Here too, the current scene offers few established masters whose every new work is keenly anticipated; we have no Stravinskys or Shostakoviches now. But even those we have, such as Elliott Carter, productive as ever in his second century, are sparsely represented in new recordings, and few of the less celebrated or emerging compositional talents get even that much attention. No doubt the market for such recordings is smaller than for yet another run-through of the Beethoven or Mahler symphonies, but at least they would serve the art of music.

This isn't the kind of thing Lance was asking for, but it's one CMG member's explanation why his original post in this thread got no response, until now.
John Francis

josé echenique
Posts: 2521
Joined: Sun Jan 03, 2010 10:01 am

Re: Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by josé echenique » Mon Apr 16, 2012 8:08 am

Image

Is this gorgeous instrument obsolete?
Maybe for Prokofiev´s 7th Sonata, but obviously it will never be obsolete for the music of Mozart and Haydn, music that was never meant to fill 3,000 seats auditoriums.
Not any more than the Steinway is going to be obsolete in 200 years for the music of Elliott Carter.

nut-job
Posts: 1717
Joined: Tue Mar 17, 2009 6:06 pm

Re: Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by nut-job » Mon Apr 16, 2012 8:26 am

John F wrote:"Purists" in what way? HIP purists who disdain Steinways in older music or those who disdain obsolete pianos in present-day performances? (I guess that gives away which side I'm on. :mrgreen:)

...

In a time when charismatic classical musicians are in short supply, and the central repertoire of the finest music of the past has been recorded and rerecorded by masters who put most of today's performers in the shade, much of today's classical music recording seems pretty pointless, except as the creation of new "product" to keep the "market" and the business going. So I no longer read record review magazines or miss the bricks-and-mortar record stores where I used to look for new releases with curiosity if with diminishing expectations.
I find it astonishing to find someone that seriously believes that the artists working today have less to say than the artists of the 'good old days.' The rediscovery of the old instruments and performance practices has unleashed a surge of creativity which has influenced performances artists using modern instruments as well. Independent of that trend, we have a series of unique talents who have their own artistic visions which I find do not at all suffer from comparison with past masters.

karlhenning
Composer-in-Residence
Posts: 9816
Joined: Wed Apr 20, 2005 11:12 am
Location: Boston, MA
Contact:

Re: Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by karlhenning » Mon Apr 16, 2012 8:32 am

I've a couple of discs of Liszt played on instruments of his day (& preference), and (without suggesting that I have any great problem with Liszt played on a modern piano) the recordings are luminous.

I'm also having great fun with the box, The Virtual Haydn, Tom Beghin's survey of the complete solo keyboard works on instruments modeled after those of the composer's environment.

Cheers,
~Karl
Karl Henning, PhD
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston, Massachusetts
http://members.tripod.com/~Karl_P_Henning/
http://henningmusick.blogspot.com/
Published by Lux Nova Press
http://www.luxnova.com/

nut-job
Posts: 1717
Joined: Tue Mar 17, 2009 6:06 pm

Re: Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by nut-job » Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:12 am

I've collected Brautigam's recordings of the Beethoven Piano sonatas, made using reproductions of Fortepianos from Beethoven's era. While I have no intention of forsaking my favorite recordings made using modern instruments, they old-style instruments bring a transparency and urgency to the music that is unique. A different sound makes possible a different interpretation. Brautigam's performance of the first movement of my favorite sonata, Op 101, wouldn't be the same on a modern Steinway.

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by John F » Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:30 am

nut-job wrote:I find it astonishing to find someone that seriously believes that the artists working today have less to say than the artists of the 'good old days.' The rediscovery of the old instruments and performance practices has unleashed a surge of creativity which has influenced performances artists using modern instruments as well. Independent of that trend, we have a series of unique talents who have their own artistic visions which I find do not at all suffer from comparison with past masters.
You can't really find such a widely shared opinion "astonishing," so I assume that's a rhetorical flourish. Anyway, you speak for yourself, I speak for myself.
John Francis

josé echenique
Posts: 2521
Joined: Sun Jan 03, 2010 10:01 am

Re: Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by josé echenique » Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:33 am

And I speak for mine! :D

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by John F » Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:45 am

That piano you posted may look great, but it sounds like a barroom piano in need of tuning. :mrgreen: Mozart and Beethoven used such instruments because they had to - it's all there were. We don't have that handicap, or that excuse.
John Francis

josé echenique
Posts: 2521
Joined: Sun Jan 03, 2010 10:01 am

Re: Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by josé echenique » Mon Apr 16, 2012 10:10 am

John F wrote:That piano you posted may look great, but it sounds like a barroom piano in need of tuning. :mrgreen: Mozart and Beethoven used such instruments because they had to - it's all there were. We don't have that handicap, or that excuse.
I must have missed something because I have never read of Mozart or Beethoven calling their instruments barroom -or tavern at the time- pianos. Of course, they were all there were, Steinway, Baldwin, and ugh, Yamaha were still some years ahead, but that didn´t prevent them from writing the greatest keyboard music of all time.
But really John, not all fortepianos sound like barroom pianos. Try any Andreas Staier recording, the sound is gorgeous, and there are no tricks, I have heard him live and the sound indeed IS gorgeous.


Image

nut-job
Posts: 1717
Joined: Tue Mar 17, 2009 6:06 pm

Re: Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by nut-job » Mon Apr 16, 2012 11:12 am

josé echenique wrote:
John F wrote:That piano you posted may look great, but it sounds like a barroom piano in need of tuning. :mrgreen: Mozart and Beethoven used such instruments because they had to - it's all there were. We don't have that handicap, or that excuse.
I must have missed something because I have never read of Mozart or Beethoven calling their instruments barroom -or tavern at the time- pianos. Of course, they were all there were, Steinway, Baldwin, and ugh, Yamaha were still some years ahead, but that didn´t prevent them from writing the greatest keyboard music of all time.
But really John, not all fortepianos sound like barroom pianos. Try any Andreas Staier recording, the sound is gorgeous, and there are no tricks, I have heard him live and the sound indeed IS gorgeous.


Image
I love that recording, but I think this one is even better:

Image

Unfortunately, it is out of print and difficult to find.

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by John F » Mon Apr 16, 2012 11:21 am

josé echenique wrote:
John F wrote:That piano you posted may look great, but it sounds like a barroom piano in need of tuning. :mrgreen: Mozart and Beethoven used such instruments because they had to - it's all there were. We don't have that handicap, or that excuse.
I must have missed something because I have never read of Mozart or Beethoven calling their instruments barroom -or tavern at the time- pianos.
What you missed is the point, which is that they couldn't have our perspective on the instruments they had no choice but to play. Of course they wrote great piano music, but the music itself testifies to the inadequacy of their instruments to their conceptions. Both wrote passages in their concertos that needed an extra octave at the top to be properly finished off, and lacking that, they ducked - Mozart elegantly, Beethoven obviously. Modern pianists playing modern pianos that provide the missing octave, have the option to fix those passages, and many have done so in Beethoven's 4th concerto. The Mozart, far less often played and with its ad hoc solution less obvious as such, is played as written, but I've heard Robert Levin play a fixed version in a lecture-demonstration and the option is there for those not chained to the letter (if that's the word) of the score.
josé echenique wrote:But really John, not all fortepianos sound like barroom pianos. Try any Andreas Staier recording, the sound is gorgeous, and there are no tricks, I have heard him live and the sound indeed IS gorgeous.
I do have a Staier CD of music by Johann Ladislaus Dussek, because I wanted to hear the music and Staier's the only one to have recorded it. The 1805 Broadwood he plays is in tune - that can be assured in a recording session - and its dynamic range and pedaling are within the ballpark of modern instruments, which rather undercuts the case for playing a Broadwood. But its tinny sound throughout its compass sounds to me quite unsuited to this proto-Romantic music. Or any music, when it comes to that. Gorgeous? Not to these ears, though other period instruments do sound worse. Staier himself is very good - how much better if he'd been playing a Bösendorfer.
Last edited by John F on Mon Apr 16, 2012 11:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
John Francis

nut-job
Posts: 1717
Joined: Tue Mar 17, 2009 6:06 pm

Re: Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by nut-job » Mon Apr 16, 2012 11:22 am

John F wrote:You can't really find such a widely shared opinion "astonishing," so I assume that's a rhetorical flourish. Anyway, you speak for yourself, I speak for myself.
I don't find it astonishing that you would express this opinion, because it is a widely espoused canard. It is precisely that you will hear so many people express this opinion that I find astonishing. Sure Furtwangler (or name you favorite golden-age conductor) was a genius, but I find just as many arresting new interpretations of appearing in new recordings. I can still remember the first time I listened to Harnoncourt's Concertgebouw recording of Mozart's Symphony No 35 or his Vienna Symphony recording of Schubert's Unfinished Symphony, and Lortie's recording of the late Beethoven Sonatas absolutely blew me away.

All hyperbole aside, that someone would dismiss our current crop of classical music performers literally astonishes me.

maestrob
Posts: 6966
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 11:30 am

Re: Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by maestrob » Mon Apr 16, 2012 11:35 am

JohnF wrote:
In a time when charismatic classical musicians are in short supply, and the central repertoire of the finest music of the past has been recorded and rerecorded by masters who put most of today's performers in the shade, much of today's classical music recording seems pretty pointless, except as the creation of new "product" to keep the "market" and the business going. So I no longer read record review magazines or miss the bricks-and-mortar record stores where I used to look for new releases with curiosity if with diminishing expectations.
John, I find the above a very sad statement. In the days of yore, there were many recordings (and performances) that were disappointing: some of them have thankfully disappeared, but others reappear from time to time in box sets. Luckily, the best recordings are still mostly with us, so we can appreciate them. But let's not get spoiled by thinking that the greatest of past eras was the average performance, it was not.

I'm astonished at the sheer virtuosity of modern fortepianists and HIP groups nowadays, musicians who find real beauty and energy in music of whatever period in performances that stack up against the best of Bernstein, Toscanini, etc. on modern instruments. I'm happily exploring both worlds, modern and HIP, in new recordings of interest. It's true that much of today's performances and recordings seem pointless, I'll agree with you there, but only by pointing out that the same was true 50 years ago. My point is that now, as well as then, the greatest performances have and will survive, and that's what makes it worth my while to acquire them. The quality of the best examples of today's music-making keeps my curiosity alive.

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by John F » Mon Apr 16, 2012 11:48 am

nut-job wrote:
John F wrote:You can't really find such a widely shared opinion "astonishing," so I assume that's a rhetorical flourish. Anyway, you speak for yourself, I speak for myself.
I don't find it astonishing that you would express this opinion, because it is a widely espoused canard. It is precisely that you will hear so many people express this opinion that I find astonishing. Sure Furtwangler (or name you favorite golden-age conductor) was a genius, but I find just as many arresting new interpretations of appearing in new recordings. I can still remember the first time I listened to Harnoncourt's Concertgebouw recording of Mozart's Symphony No 35 or his Vienna Symphony recording of Schubert's Unfinished Symphony, and Lortie's recording of the late Beethoven Sonatas absolutely blew me away.
Out of curiosity, I've listened to a Harnoncourt Mozart 39th on YouTube, not the Concertebouw recording but presumably like it.



After hopping and skipping through most of the slow introduction as if it were Baroque music, he picks up on Furtwängler's idea of slowing the chromatic transition into the Allegro, but it isn't integrated with his conception of the rest of the introduction, and in its own right is a half-hearted imitation of an extraordinary original. Still, at least it's an expressive moment, suggesting if not fully realizing the pathos of those few remarkable bars. The slow movement does have some feeling, unlike most recent performances I've heard. The minuet, marked Allegretto, is ludicrously, destructively fast. The finale more or less plays itself, I've never heard a poor performance of it, but here Harnoncourt makes an interpretive decision that others have also done but far too seldom: he repeats the second half, so that the joke in Mozart's closing bars makes its full effect. There are some eccentric accents and other dynamic nuances along the way, but all in all I'd be pleased to hear this in the concert hall. For repeated listening at home, I can do better.
nut-job wrote:All hyperbole aside, that someone would dismiss our current crop of classical music performers literally astonishes me.
[/quote]
What I actually said is that charismatic classical musicians are in short supply, not that there aren't any. That's not a dismissal, it's a critical opinion based on pretty long experience. I still go to live performances, though I no longer buy recordings, and occasionally one comes along that's not just musicianly and honest but inspiring. Unfortunately they're too few, as evidently are performers capable of them.
John Francis

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by John F » Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:16 pm

PS. Here's the first movement of Mozart 39 in Furtwängler's performance, for comparison with Harnoncourt's handling of the end of the introduction.



I don't know about you, but despite the poor sound of the off-the-air recording, for me this is just overwhelming, the screaming dissonances of the introduction followed by a glimpse of the sorrows of the world, in a symphony generally felt to be light-hearted. And again at the retransition from the development. Which might be partly explained by the date of the performance, 1942-3, but I think is relevant to the music itself.
John Francis

nut-job
Posts: 1717
Joined: Tue Mar 17, 2009 6:06 pm

Re: Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by nut-job » Mon Apr 16, 2012 2:45 pm

John F wrote:I don't know about you, but despite the poor sound of the off-the-air recording, for me this is just overwhelming, the screaming dissonances of the introduction followed by a glimpse of the sorrows of the world, in a symphony generally felt to be light-hearted. And again at the retransition from the development. Which might be partly explained by the date of the performance, 1942-3, but I think is relevant to the music itself.
I prefer Furtwangler's Mozart to the light, polite style typified by Marriner, but to characterize Harnoncourt's Mozart performance style as merely an imperfect imitation of Furtwangler misses the point, I think. I had owned multiple recordings of the late Mozart Symphonies when I first heard Harnoncourt's Concertebouw recordings and it entirely changed my view of Mozart's style.

Beckmesser
Posts: 492
Joined: Sat Jan 19, 2008 12:11 pm
Location: Columbia/Westchester Counties NY

Re: Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by Beckmesser » Mon Apr 16, 2012 4:09 pm

John F wrote:"Purists" in what way? HIP purists who disdain Steinways in older music or those who disdain obsolete pianos in present-day performances? (I guess that gives away which side I'm on. :mrgreen:)
I think I probably side with John on this issue. If I never hear another fortepiano it will be too soon.

Do they sound like bar room pianos? I always associate them with the kind of old uprights that one finds in church basements. Why do they have that plinky-plunky sound? Is it because the strings are under less tension? Are there fewer strings per note? Are they hard to keep in tune?

Give me a modern grand any day.

Oh, by the way, I have recently listened to the dozens and dozens of Scarlatti sonatas on my iPod and have come to the conclusion that some sound better on the harpsichord and others sound better on a piano. To my ears, anyway.

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by John F » Mon Apr 16, 2012 4:24 pm

nut-job wrote:I prefer Furtwangler's Mozart to the light, polite style typified by Marriner, but to characterize Harnoncourt's Mozart performance style as merely an imperfect imitation of Furtwangler misses the point, I think.
Once again you aren't paying attention to what I'm saying. Look again. I compared one expressive nuance in Harnoncourt's first movement, a few bars in all, to a Furtwangler performance, but suggested no other resemblance, and did not characterize "Harnoncourt's performance style" at all.
Last edited by John F on Mon Apr 16, 2012 4:26 pm, edited 2 times in total.
John Francis

jbuck919
Military Band Specialist
Posts: 26867
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Stony Creek, New York

Re: Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Apr 16, 2012 4:25 pm

John F wrote:That piano you posted may look great, but it sounds like a barroom piano in need of tuning. :mrgreen: Mozart and Beethoven used such instruments because they had to - it's all there were. We don't have that handicap, or that excuse.
This is what happens when one is a Johnny-come-lately to a thread (meaning myself, not you). I was going to echo you by saying "gorgeous in what way"? but you beat me to it yourself. My only emendation is that it's not a matter of tuning because it sounds equally bad when the barroom piano is as well tuned as it's ever going to get.

Let me throw in my opinion, though I am doing the thread an injustice by skipping over many interesting comments. I cannot stand the sound of the fortepiano, agree with John F completely on this, and think that in the concerto and chamber repertory the need for a modern piano should drive the decision toward modernity for the rest of the forces (yes, including Mozart), even if historically informed versions of such forces can be wonderful in other combinations and genres.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

nut-job
Posts: 1717
Joined: Tue Mar 17, 2009 6:06 pm

Re: Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by nut-job » Mon Apr 16, 2012 4:28 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
John F wrote:That piano you posted may look great, but it sounds like a barroom piano in need of tuning. :mrgreen: Mozart and Beethoven used such instruments because they had to - it's all there were. We don't have that handicap, or that excuse.
This is what happens when one is a Johnny-come-lately to a thread (meaning myself, not you). I was going to echo you by saying "gorgeous in what way"? but you beat me to it yourself. My only emendation is that it's not a matter of tuning because it sounds equally bad when the barroom piano is as well tuned as it's ever going to get.

Let me throw in my opinion, though I am doing the thread an injustice by skipping over many interesting comments. I cannot stand the sound of the fortepiano, agree with John F completely on this, and think that in the concerto and chamber repertory the need for a modern piano should drive the decision toward modernity for the rest of the forces (yes, including Mozart), even if historically informed versions of such forces can be wonderful in other combinations and genres.
The fortepiano is not practical for a large modern concert hall, and I would not claim that I prefer the sound in an absolute sense. But the fortepiano has a shorter sustain than the modern piano, and that forced those who composed for it to keep the fingers moving incessantly. I find that textures that tend to become to muddy when performed on a modern piano open up when performed on fortepiano. Mozart's piano quartets are examples of that.

Ted Quanrud
Posts: 573
Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 5:00 pm
Location: Bismarck, North Dakota

Re: Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by Ted Quanrud » Mon Apr 16, 2012 8:40 pm

Lance wrote:I would be interested in hearing from the "purists" (or piano music lovers in general) with regard to this music performed on original instruments. I updated this post to include a couple of comments on, particularly, Carl Maria von Weber's Piano Sonatas Nos. 2 and 3.
I would not describe myself as a "purist," but I am an avid collector of fortepiano recordings, as well as other HIP performances of baroque and classical era music. I have Brautigam's complete Mozart and Haydn and the 10 volumes of Beethoven he has issued so far; the complete Chopin on early pianoforte, the Brilliant Classics box described by Lance that started this thread and numerous CDs by the likes of Robert Levin, Andreas Staier and Melvin Tan. I enjoy them immensely, but not one has displaced any of the recordings the same works by the likes of Rubinstein, Lupu, Serkin, Kapell, Fleisher, Perahia, Zimerman, Argerich and on and on. They are simply different and considered interpretations of the same music with the added benefit of a glimpse of the composer's sound world and an appreciation of their resources and what they had to work with. It is vain of us to think they would have preferred modern instruments or at least the instruments we prefer. It might be quite possible that Mozart or Beethoven would have spurned a Steinway, Bechstein or Bosendorfer in favor of an electronic keyboard with features such as different stops that had beenavailable of some fortepianos but are absent from current pianofortes.

josé echenique
Posts: 2521
Joined: Sun Jan 03, 2010 10:01 am

Re: Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by josé echenique » Tue Apr 17, 2012 10:42 am

Image
Image

Fortepianos were not meant for modern large auditoriums, that is a fact, any more than a classic Bugatti Royale was meant for high-speed highways. So, why we need fortepianos? because the music that was composed for them sounds just perfect in them. Personally I MUCH prefer Andreas Staier and the Concerto Köln in a Mozart piano concerto than Murray Perahia and the English Chamber Orchestra.
And here between us, isn´t the old Bugatti much more beautiful and imposing than the mean looking modern one?

jbuck919
Military Band Specialist
Posts: 26867
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Stony Creek, New York

Re: Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by jbuck919 » Tue Apr 17, 2012 4:09 pm

josé echenique wrote:And here between us, isn´t the old Bugatti much more beautiful and imposing than the mean looking modern one?
I think you've been influenced by the doll in the front seat. :wink:

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

josé echenique
Posts: 2521
Joined: Sun Jan 03, 2010 10:01 am

Re: Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by josé echenique » Tue Apr 17, 2012 5:03 pm

Ain´t she cute? 8)

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by John F » Tue Apr 17, 2012 7:34 pm

Speaking of cars, Ferdinand Alexander ("Butzi") Porsche died on April 5. He designed this:

Image

And this:

Image

How's that for thread drift?
John Francis

josé echenique
Posts: 2521
Joined: Sun Jan 03, 2010 10:01 am

Re: Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by josé echenique » Tue Apr 17, 2012 8:54 pm

Nice cars, but I´m more of a discrete Volvo person.

jbuck919
Military Band Specialist
Posts: 26867
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Stony Creek, New York

Re: Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by jbuck919 » Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:37 pm

josé echenique wrote:Nice cars, but I´m more of a discrete Volvo person.
Wasn't the fortepiano invented by Bartolomeo Christo-Ferrari?

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

josé echenique
Posts: 2521
Joined: Sun Jan 03, 2010 10:01 am

Re: Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by josé echenique » Thu Apr 19, 2012 7:00 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
josé echenique wrote:Nice cars, but I´m more of a discrete Volvo person.
Wasn't the fortepiano invented by Bartolomeo Christo-Ferrari?
Hand built in Maranello, Italy. And oh, they only come in black, red and yellow. I think Domenico Scarlatti preferred the Rosso Corsa.

Lance
Site Administrator
Posts: 18505
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 1:27 am
Location: Binghamton, New York
Contact:

Re: Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by Lance » Fri Apr 20, 2012 1:41 am

Fortepianos to cars! I love it ... nice transition. Love the cars ... the dollies are nice, too!

I have a lot of admiration for Andreas Staier and have some of his recordings. One of the most interesting is of him as a harpsichordist in Spanish fandangos (particularly one with castanets ... what an ear opener!). That's on Teldec [21468]. Another outstanding Staier recording is of him as a pianist in piano concerti by Dussek with Concerto Köln [Capriccio 10444]. I don't have the any Mozart concerti by him, but I'm not about to give up my complete sets by Anda, Perahia and others. I am, nonetheless, interested in hearing what Staier has to say in Mozart. I guess I'm just completely in love with the modern grand piano.
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

Image

josé echenique
Posts: 2521
Joined: Sun Jan 03, 2010 10:01 am

Re: Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by josé echenique » Fri Apr 20, 2012 9:18 am

I love the modern Steinway of course, but I also love the charm and texture of those old pianos.
I´ve just received the Chopin and Contemporaries box, and I immediately played cd 4 with music of Pleyel, Glinka, Clara Schumann, Alkan and others with Bart van Oort playing a 1837 Erard. Predictably, I liked it very much. I have heard van Oort in Mozart and Haydn before, but this is the first time I encounter him in Romantic repertoire and I thought he was fully up to it. It was a very good start to this album.

nut-job
Posts: 1717
Joined: Tue Mar 17, 2009 6:06 pm

Re: Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by nut-job » Fri Apr 20, 2012 10:10 am

Lance wrote:Fortepianos to cars! I love it ... nice transition. Love the cars ... the dollies are nice, too!

I have a lot of admiration for Andreas Staier and have some of his recordings. One of the most interesting is of him as a harpsichordist in Spanish fandangos (particularly one with castanets ... what an ear opener!). That's on Teldec [21468]. Another outstanding Staier recording is of him as a pianist in piano concerti by Dussek with Concerto Köln [Capriccio 10444]. I don't have the any Mozart concerti by him, but I'm not about to give up my complete sets by Anda, Perahia and others. I am, nonetheless, interested in hearing what Staier has to say in Mozart. I guess I'm just completely in love with the modern grand piano.
Why do fortepiano rejecters continuously bring up this false dichotomy, that you have to "give up" modern piano recordings if you enjoy performances on the fortepiano? They are two different instruments. I have enough regard for Mozart that I feel I should at least hear his music performed on the instrument which he intended to perform it on. If a compelling performance can also be made on a modern piano, all the better. The case for fortepiano is weaker for Beethoven, I think, since he didn't know what his late works sounded like on a fortepiano, and he might well have been imagining something closer to a modern piano.

karlhenning
Composer-in-Residence
Posts: 9816
Joined: Wed Apr 20, 2005 11:12 am
Location: Boston, MA
Contact:

Re: Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by karlhenning » Fri Apr 20, 2012 10:40 am

nut-job wrote:Why do fortepiano rejecters continuously bring up this false dichotomy, that you have to "give up" modern piano recordings if you enjoy performances on the fortepiano? They are two different instruments.
Well said. As if a fondness for Haydn meant forever giving up The Bonzo Dog Doo/Dah Band!

Cheers,
~Karl
Karl Henning, PhD
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston, Massachusetts
http://members.tripod.com/~Karl_P_Henning/
http://henningmusick.blogspot.com/
Published by Lux Nova Press
http://www.luxnova.com/

josé echenique
Posts: 2521
Joined: Sun Jan 03, 2010 10:01 am

Re: Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by josé echenique » Fri Apr 20, 2012 11:38 am

nut-job wrote:
Lance wrote:Fortepianos to cars! I love it ... nice transition. Love the cars ... the dollies are nice, too!

I have a lot of admiration for Andreas Staier and have some of his recordings. One of the most interesting is of him as a harpsichordist in Spanish fandangos (particularly one with castanets ... what an ear opener!). That's on Teldec [21468]. Another outstanding Staier recording is of him as a pianist in piano concerti by Dussek with Concerto Köln [Capriccio 10444]. I don't have the any Mozart concerti by him, but I'm not about to give up my complete sets by Anda, Perahia and others. I am, nonetheless, interested in hearing what Staier has to say in Mozart. I guess I'm just completely in love with the modern grand piano.
Why do fortepiano rejecters continuously bring up this false dichotomy, that you have to "give up" modern piano recordings if you enjoy performances on the fortepiano? They are two different instruments. I have enough regard for Mozart that I feel I should at least hear his music performed on the instrument which he intended to perform it on. If a compelling performance can also be made on a modern piano, all the better. The case for fortepiano is weaker for Beethoven, I think, since he didn't know what his late works sounded like on a fortepiano, and he might well have been imagining something closer to a modern piano.
In Mozart´s time orchestral music was still mostly chamber music since large concert halls didn´t exist. One of the first was the 500 seat Gewandhaus that opened in 1781, after many years of playing in the Three Swans Inn in Leipzig's Brühl neighbourhood.
The fortepiano had to evolve from a basically chamber instrument into a more sonorous one to fill the XIX Century concert halls.
I too love many modern instrument recordings of Mozart and Haydn. The Emil Gilels/VPO/Böhm recording of Mozart´s 27th is still my favourite recording of a Mozart piano concerto. But with the new generation of masterful fortepianists like Staier, Brautigan and van Oort new possibilities and experiences widen our understanding of these supreme masterpieces.
Sometimes you have to face 2 generally excellent options in CD. For example the Haydn keyboard concertos with Leif Ove Andsnes and Andreas Staier. Both recordings have the same concertos, both are superbly played and both are very enjoyable, the difference is the style of playing and the instruments. Personally, I´d take Staier because I feel he takes us that bit closer to Haydn´s sound World, but there´s no denying that the Andsnes is admirable too.

Image
Image

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by John F » Fri Apr 20, 2012 11:49 am

I believe Haydn's key verboard concertos, except for the D major, were first played on the harpsichord.
John Francis

josé echenique
Posts: 2521
Joined: Sun Jan 03, 2010 10:01 am

Re: Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by josé echenique » Fri Apr 20, 2012 7:05 pm

John F wrote:I believe Haydn's key verboard concertos, except for the D major, were first played on the harpsichord.
I believe that´s correct, but it wouldn´t have been unlikely that they were played in the fortepiano too in his lifetime.

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by John F » Fri Apr 20, 2012 11:43 pm

josé echenique wrote:
John F wrote:I believe Haydn's key verboard concertos, except for the D major, were first played on the harpsichord.
I believe that´s correct, but it wouldn´t have been unlikely that they were played in the fortepiano too in his lifetime.
But probably not by Haydn himself. If all this matters. The point is that if we're to be governed by the instrument(s) for which a piece of music was written, then most of Haydn's keyboard concertos - and many of Mozart's keyboard pieces at least into his teens - were harpsichord music. If we say that Haydn might at some time have played them on a piano if it were available to him, well, he might have played them on a Steinway if that were available to him. But I believe Haydn wasn't playing concertos later in life; he wasn't a virtuoso soloist like Mozart, and his job at Esterhazy was not court musician but court maestro di cappella. He definitely was at the keyboard in performances of his symphonies which he led, but of course that's a very different role.
John Francis

Lance
Site Administrator
Posts: 18505
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 1:27 am
Location: Binghamton, New York
Contact:

Re: Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by Lance » Sat Apr 21, 2012 1:31 am

It's just a quick comment—the matter of "giving up" one form for another—rather than a staunch rejection. I don't "reject" the matter of fortepianos and certainly have heard many recordings of works originally written for harpsichord or fortepiano. My "personal preference," however, is to hear music originally conceived for the fortepiano (or any early keyboard instrument) on a modern-day piano. There are those who take the opposite approach and really ONLY want to hear music as performed on original instruments. It's simply a choice we all make, one way or the other, sometimes both. It must also be said that the piano as we know it has taken the lead insofar as keyboard instruments are concerned. From Bach, Haydn, Mozart and others of those time frames, and into the earliest "keyboard" compositions, it is all adaptable to pianos as we know them from about 1845 forward.
nut-job wrote:
Lance wrote:Fortepianos to cars! I love it ... nice transition. Love the cars ... the dollies are nice, too!

I have a lot of admiration for Andreas Staier and have some of his recordings. One of the most interesting is of him as a harpsichordist in Spanish fandangos (particularly one with castanets ... what an ear opener!). That's on Teldec [21468]. Another outstanding Staier recording is of him as a pianist in piano concerti by Dussek with Concerto Köln [Capriccio 10444]. I don't have the any Mozart concerti by him, but I'm not about to give up my complete sets by Anda, Perahia and others. I am, nonetheless, interested in hearing what Staier has to say in Mozart. I guess I'm just completely in love with the modern grand piano.
Why do fortepiano rejecters continuously bring up this false dichotomy, that you have to "give up" modern piano recordings if you enjoy performances on the fortepiano? They are two different instruments. I have enough regard for Mozart that I feel I should at least hear his music performed on the instrument which he intended to perform it on. If a compelling performance can also be made on a modern piano, all the better. The case for fortepiano is weaker for Beethoven, I think, since he didn't know what his late works sounded like on a fortepiano, and he might well have been imagining something closer to a modern piano.
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

Image

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by John F » Sat Apr 21, 2012 6:51 am

nut-job wrote:Why do fortepiano rejecters continuously bring up this false dichotomy, that you have to "give up" modern piano recordings if you enjoy performances on the fortepiano?
I don't know any who actually say that - I certainly don't say it. But I do know HIPsters who put it the other way around, that if you want to hear 18th century music properly you should give up performances on modern instruments. Which of course I reject in the strongest terms.
nut-job wrote:I have enough regard for Mozart that I feel I should at least hear his music performed on the instrument which he intended to perform it on.
It's not about "regard for Mozart" personally, who's dead and doesn't care. And it isn't really about "the instrument which he intended to perform it on," but rather the instrument he actually did perform it on. When in Vienna he used his own piano, which he had transported to the concert venue just as Horowitz nearly always used his favorite Steinway. Mozart the keyboard virtuoso bought the latest and best piano he could, but who knows what he might choose as the latest and best in 2012? It's false piety to suppose that what Mozart had to play, he would have chosen to play given other options. Maybe yes, maybe no. Surely "regard for Mozart" should be entirely focused on his music, not his hardware.

By the way, Mozart also had a special pedal keyboard built for his piano, but "regard" for him hasn't led any pianist I know of to do likewise and figure out what use Mozart made of it in his concerts.
nut-job wrote:If a compelling performance can also be made on a modern piano, all the better.
Say what?! Compelling performances of Mozart's music have been made on modern pianos for the best part of a century; there's no "if" about it.
nut-job wrote:The case for fortepiano is weaker for Beethoven, I think, since he didn't know what his late works sounded like on a fortepiano, and he might well have been imagining something closer to a modern piano.
To the contrary, surely: the piano sound in Beethoven's head, if any, would have been that of the instruments he played when he could still hear them properly. There's no biographical reason to suppose that he was imagining some different piano sound which neither he nor anyone else had ever heard.

Whenever a discussion like this is based on supposed historical fact, the HIP-inclined and even the musicians, musicologists and critics (who should know better) often make statements for which there's no sound basis in the facts. Nothing I've said here is meant to suggest that people who like the sound of 18th century instruments, or even prefer them, are wrong. There's no arguing about taste. My argument is against the reasons often given to justify the preference - and also against those who claim that those who prefer the sound of non-18th-century instruments are wrong.
John Francis

Teresa B
Posts: 3057
Joined: Thu May 26, 2005 11:04 am
Location: Tampa, Florida

Re: Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by Teresa B » Sat Apr 21, 2012 8:59 am

I always find this argument of period pianos vs modern pianos to be insoluble, and I would take the Buddhist "middle ground" here and say we are dealing with an issue that has no one-or-the-other answer. personally I don't like the sound of fortepiano. Last summer at the music workshop I attended, the piano coach happened to be a professor at the college. She took our group up to her studio and showed us a gorgeous fortepiano. She demonstrated a bit, then I got to play some Mozart on it. Everyone was expressing how cool it was, including myself, but I actually hated the sound of it!

I don't see why everyone can't be happy, as we have many performances on period instruments to savor if we are so inclined--and I do think music students ought to be exposed to it, because it enriches one's own backdrop for appreciating/performing such music. I was very happy to be able to try out the fortepiano, even though I didn't like the sound. I can also appreciate the point of those who say some special flavor is lost when mozart is played on modern instruments.

And I don't see how anyone could deny that modern piano performances of Mozart and Beethoven can be sublime. There's room for all of it!
:)
Teresa
"We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad." ~ The Cheshire Cat

Author of the novel "Creating Will"

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by John F » Sat Apr 21, 2012 9:16 am

I've talked with a couple of pianists who've used both kinds of pianos, and they have interesting things to say about practical matters. (They're Robert Levin, who plays fortepiano in 18th century music and a Steinway for his other repertoire, and Jeffrey Kahane, who's only played a fortepiano a few times in public but does Mozart concertos on a Steinway all the time.)

It's probably Jeff, but it might have been Bob, who observed that when playing Mozart concertos in which the soloist has to "accompany" individual players or groups in the orchestra, he has to play a modern piano "on tiptoe," as it were, to get a proper balance. The fortepiano's limited dynamics make it possible to play more normally without drowning the others out.

In a recording this isn't an issue - microphone placement and mixing can ensure good balances whatever is actually going on in the studio - but I have heard Mozart concerto performances when important lines in the orchestra were covered by subsidiary figures in the piano. Also performances that were impeccably balanced, including one of the D minor with Shura Cherkassky at Mostly Mozart, so it isn't just specialists in the repertoire who can turn the trick with a modern piano.
John Francis

Teresa B
Posts: 3057
Joined: Thu May 26, 2005 11:04 am
Location: Tampa, Florida

Re: Recordings of fortepiano music on original instruments

Post by Teresa B » Sat Apr 21, 2012 12:57 pm

John F wrote:I've talked with a couple of pianists who've used both kinds of pianos, and they have interesting things to say about practical matters. (They're Robert Levin, who plays fortepiano in 18th century music and a Steinway for his other repertoire, and Jeffrey Kahane, who's only played a fortepiano a few times in public but does Mozart concertos on a Steinway all the time.)

It's probably Jeff, but it might have been Bob, who observed that when playing Mozart concertos in which the soloist has to "accompany" individual players or groups in the orchestra, he has to play a modern piano "on tiptoe," as it were, to get a proper balance. The fortepiano's limited dynamics make it possible to play more normally without drowning the others out.

In a recording this isn't an issue - microphone placement and mixing can ensure good balances whatever is actually going on in the studio - but I have heard Mozart concerto performances when important lines in the orchestra were covered by subsidiary figures in the piano. Also performances that were impeccably balanced, including one of the D minor with Shura Cherkassky at Mostly Mozart, so it isn't just specialists in the repertoire who can turn the trick with a modern piano.
...Of course not!
http://www.classicalmusicguide.com/view ... 53#p265875
:mrgreen:
Teresa
"We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad." ~ The Cheshire Cat

Author of the novel "Creating Will"

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests