More on Badura-Skoda

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Lance
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More on Badura-Skoda

Post by Lance » Fri Nov 10, 2017 10:37 pm

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As you know, I'm doing a month of broadcasts commemorating Paul Badura-Skoda's 90th birthday. Badura-Skoda was a man of so much music and all its counterparts, even insofar as being a collector of historical keyboards. For me, of all the keyboards we know of, nothing seems to surpass the piano for just about any music written for keyboards, with some obvious exceptions, of course. I was listening to Beethoven's Triple Concerto Op. 56 and the Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58. Near as I know -- and I have many recordings of the Triple Concerto -- this is one of the few using original instruments, including the piano, with Franzjosef Maier, violin; Anner Bylsma, cello; and Badura-Skoda at the piano. I have never really liked the sound of historical keyboards with the exception being the harpsichord. The early pianos just didn't have the power, dynamics, and tuning stability that the modern piano has. In this Harmonia Mundi CD [77063] the Collegium Aureum assists Badura-Skoda. The instrument he uses is out of balance with the other instrumentalists and the Collegium; one has to strain a bit to hear the piano clearly. One wonders if Beethoven had one of a number of great concert grand pianos today, if he would have conceived his piano music differently. All his music works so well for the contemporary piano yet there are those who would prefer to hear historical instruments just as Haydn, Schubert or Beethoven would have heard them.

Conversely, the G Major Concerto fares a bit better with balancing between piano and orchestra. Closer miking might have helped in the Triple Concerto.

Anyone else familiar with this particular recording and thoughts on historical pianos in music generally hear today on the modern piano?
Lance G. Hill
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John F
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Re: More on Badura-Skoda

Post by John F » Sat Nov 11, 2017 6:49 am

I've heard the 4th concerto in that recording and rather like it, not for the tinkly sound of the obsolete piano but for Badura-Skoda's sensitive playing. If he and the Collegium Aureum recorded the Emperor Concerto, I doubt that I'd like it. :)

As for Beethoven himself, I doubt that he cared what piano his music was played on, but I haven't looked that up and could be wrong. After he was deaf, of course, it didn't matter. However, he did write some passages in his piano music that turn under rather than proceeding upward when the old piano ran out of keys at the top. One of these is in the 4th concerto.

Mozart is the composer who kept pace with the improvements in the piano, as he remained active as a performer throughout his life. He even had a pedal keyboard built and used it in his concerts, though his music has no independent line for the pedals and most likely he doubled the bass line an octave lower, as with cellos and double basses in the orchestra. Mozart liked a strong bass line; he praised a French orchestra that had more cellos and double basses than violas, and six (!) bassoons.
John Francis

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