There is no excuse for untuned pianos on discs!

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There is no excuse for untuned pianos on discs!

Post by Lance » Sun Sep 03, 2017 1:38 pm

Oddly, I was surprised when my late, good friend, Harris Goldsmith, made some recordings that were ultimately issued with the piano being very obviously badly out-of-tune. The recordings were made in the studio, to boot! I had the pleasure of preparing Goldsmith's piano on occasions for some recitals, and I have always felt him to be a wonderful pianist, but most of all, a superb reviewer. He taught me many things about truly "listening" to music. I have noted this with other pianists as well. The big standout for me is the "bad note" in Artur Rubinstein's recording of Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 1 with Reiner leading the Chicago Symphony. One wonders why such ears as Rubinstein's or Reiner's would not catch such a thing prior to release. One hears it in some of Horowitz's recordings too ... not so much the studio recordings but in live performances. In a live concert with huge works, the poor piano can (and does) go out a bit on some notes, understandably, given the overpowering technique of some artists.

The recording that prompts this post, however, is a three-CD set of the music of Marie Jaell in, especially, four-hand music. Not all tracks, but some. Obviously, the tuner came out and fixed the problem at some point in the recording session, thankfully, but once recorded, it is always there!

It happens with VOICES, too, of course. Much as I love Birgit Nilsson's voice, among others, (Farrell, too), they don't always "come up" to the pitch. Unfortunately, piano tuner-technicians cannot fix that situation.
Lance G. Hill

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


John F
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Re: There is no excuse for untuned pianos on discs!

Post by John F » Sun Sep 03, 2017 2:11 pm

Especially in her later years, Birgit Nilsson did have a tendency to sing sharp. (Unusual - most singers as they age tend to go flat.) As for pianos, Lance's ear is much better than mine, and the only recordings that make me cringe in that respect are some of Sofronitsky's live performances in the Scriabin Museum, playing Scriabin's piano. Easy to see why it may have been hard to keep that old and much-used piano in tune through a whole recital by a powerful virtuoso, but it is hard on the ears.
John Francis

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