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Alkan's original Pedal Piano (Erard, circa. 1853) #2750024
07/07/18 01:17 PM
07/07/18 01:17 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 11,078
Philadelphia/South Jersey
Rich Galassini Offline OP
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Rich Galassini  Offline OP
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Posts: 11,078
Philadelphia/South Jersey
Hello all,

I have recently been interested in works written for the pedal piano. As some of you may know, I am a church musician. I can play a metric hymn at the organ, but not anything written for concert performance. Nonetheless, this instrument attracts me. Here is a video of Alkan's original Erard Pedal Piano playing work he wrote for the instrument:



Also, an Italian organ maker is building a "kit" that boasts being able to create a pedal piano from 2 grand pianos. I have never seen the Pinchi Piano Pedal System but I wonder if anyone here has experience with this product.

Roberto Prosedda has performed using the Pinchi system with Bechstein, as in the following video, but he has also used Steinway, Fazioli, and Yamaha:



Anyway, I think this is a cool and underperformed instrument for a variety of reasons, but I also thought there would be interest here in this. I hope some enjoy these videos.

My 2 cents,


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
(215) 991-0834 direct line
rich@cunninghampiano.com
Subscribe to our YouTube channel for great content every week:
https://www.youtube.com/user/CunninghamPiano
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Re: Alkan's original Pedal Piano (Erard, circa. 1853) [Re: Rich Galassini] #2750030
07/07/18 01:39 PM
07/07/18 01:39 PM
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Posts: 26,523
Oakland
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BDB Offline
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Does this portend Cunningham carrying Borgato pianos?


Semipro Tech
Re: Alkan's original Pedal Piano (Erard, circa. 1853) [Re: BDB] #2750039
07/07/18 02:37 PM
07/07/18 02:37 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 11,078
Philadelphia/South Jersey
Rich Galassini Offline OP
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Rich Galassini  Offline OP
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Posts: 11,078
Philadelphia/South Jersey
Originally Posted by BDB
Does this portend Cunningham carrying Borgato pianos?


I love what Luigi Borgato does, BDB, but I do not see us carrying his instruments..... One never knows what the future holds, though. smile


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
(215) 991-0834 direct line
rich@cunninghampiano.com
Subscribe to our YouTube channel for great content every week:
https://www.youtube.com/user/CunninghamPiano
Re: Alkan's original Pedal Piano (Erard, circa. 1853) [Re: Rich Galassini] #2750071
07/07/18 06:06 PM
07/07/18 06:06 PM
Joined: Jan 2006
Posts: 1,859
London
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David-G Offline
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London
Thanks for posting the Alkan. Marvellous! I have a ticket for a concert at the Royal Festival Hall in London in November - Roberto Prosseda will be playing Gounod's concerto for piano-pédalier.

Though I have to say that when I play the piano it seems to absorb over 100% of my brain capacity. How anyone finds enough brain capacity to play the pedal notes as well is beyond me.

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Re: Alkan's original Pedal Piano (Erard, circa. 1853) [Re: Rich Galassini] #2750075
07/07/18 06:31 PM
07/07/18 06:31 PM
Joined: Nov 2013
Posts: 3,713
Southwestern Ontario
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prout Offline
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Southwestern Ontario
Thanks for posting. Loved the Alkan on the Erard and loved the Erard sound. Real piano-pedal music played by a real piano-pedalist.

I don’t know what piece Prosseda was playing, but it sounds like a piece of music written for a pianist who thinks he can play a pedal board. Not a good ad for pedal-pianos.

Cheers

Re: Alkan's original Pedal Piano (Erard, circa. 1853) [Re: prout] #2750077
07/07/18 06:39 PM
07/07/18 06:39 PM
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 26,523
Oakland
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The piece is the Adagio from the Gounod Concerto. If you click on the YouTube at the bottom, you will be taken to the page.

It strikes me that the Erard probably has only one set of strings, while the Pinchis and Borgatos have separate pianos for the pedals. This would make a difference for the resonances, especially since the bass notes in the pedal piano cannot reinforce the treble notes in the manual piano the same way.


Semipro Tech
Re: Alkan's original Pedal Piano (Erard, circa. 1853) [Re: Rich Galassini] #2750079
07/07/18 06:40 PM
07/07/18 06:40 PM
Joined: Nov 2013
Posts: 3,713
Southwestern Ontario
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prout Offline
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Thanks BDB. I’ll check it out. Hope the other movements are a little more challenging. I know nothing of this literature.

Re: Alkan's original Pedal Piano (Erard, circa. 1853) [Re: Rich Galassini] #2750086
07/07/18 06:52 PM
07/07/18 06:52 PM
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 26,523
Oakland
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Frankly, there is not a lot of need for knowing much about this literature. Pedal pianos, and other pedalboards for other instruments, were mainly used for practicing the organ literature. Some composers were enamored by them and wrote a few works, notably Schumann, but for the most part, the literature is as obscure as the instruments.

There are a lot of instruments which are obscure today. Many of them are bass or treble extensions of existing families. My regular bassoonist is not available for the concert next week, and her substitute got a substitute, so I told the personnel manager that it should be a subsubbassbassoonist!


Semipro Tech
Re: Alkan's original Pedal Piano (Erard, circa. 1853) [Re: Rich Galassini] #2750122
07/07/18 09:54 PM
07/07/18 09:54 PM
Joined: Jan 2017
Posts: 58
Augusta GA
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LouisP Offline
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LouisP  Offline
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Posts: 58
Augusta GA
As I own a pedal piano, I thought I'd contribute two more cents to this discussion.

Mine is a Boston-made Henry F. Miller upright from around 1906, I believe, which was restored in 2005.

On mine, the 30-note (C-F) flat, parallel pedalboard acts on the bass keys of the piano, so that the keys move down with the pedals, as is the case with some tracker organs. The pedals play at 16 ft pitch: they transpose down one octave.

There is a small lever that blocks the pedals so that they will not move, and a player can mount or dismount the bench without making a racket, rather like the Pedal Check sometimes found on old tracker organs.

The bench is made like an organ bench. It is wide enough to straddle the pedal board, has vertical pieces at each end rather than legs, and has a sort of stretcher on which you can hook you heels so your feet can shake with nerves when not pedaling.

The pedals have leaf springs under them so that their resistance is far greater than that of the keys.

I use organ shoes.

The pedal board will swing up and out of the way and latch, revealing a duplicate damper and soft pedal. In this configuration, the only clue that there is anything out of the ordinary is the bench.

The main purpose for mine at this time is as a practice instrument for organ music. I've spent some time with the Schumann works, and looked at some Alkan. The Alkan pieces I've tried strike me as the more idiomatic for the instrument. It's my opinion that Schumann's writing is more organistic, but I'll admit to a preference for the Alkan works.

This Henry F. Miller is the only one I've played, but I have assumed the point made by BDB. Having the pedals, including the damper pedal, affect the same strings, bridges and soundboard that the keys are influencing would promote more resonance, allowing the player to build up more sound than would be possible if there were two separate pianos. However, a separate pedal piano would allow for two notes in unison in the event of a doubling between voices. .

I would like to draw attention to the range of the pedalboard of the Erard shown in the YouTube video. The pedalboard of that instrument extends down to A, whereas mine, like that of almost all organs, starts on C. Some of the Alkan pieces call for those extra notes.


I don't have good pictures, but I will try to post some in which the piano, unfortunately, has stuff stacked around it because of a move. Lighting is a problem in the piano's current location, making for some murky views, taken with an iPad.

I have some interest in performing on it, but that will have to wait until after I make another move in a year or so, so no recordings at this time, unfortunately.


LAP
Henry F. Miller Pedal Piano, Decker Brothers Concert Grand, Knabe Grand, Chickering 135 Grand, Mathushek Orchestral Square, Baldwin Hamilton, Challis Harpsichord
Re: Alkan's original Pedal Piano (Erard, circa. 1853) [Re: LouisP] #2750129
07/07/18 10:38 PM
07/07/18 10:38 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 11,078
Philadelphia/South Jersey
Rich Galassini Offline OP
Platinum Subscriber
Rich Galassini  Offline OP
Platinum Subscriber
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 11,078
Philadelphia/South Jersey
LouisP,

Thanks for your reply. You have quite a collection of instruments!

I would love to see your Challis harpsichord. Challis was the Father of American built harpsichords and his later instruments were so interesting. When was yours made?

Yours,


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
(215) 991-0834 direct line
rich@cunninghampiano.com
Subscribe to our YouTube channel for great content every week:
https://www.youtube.com/user/CunninghamPiano
Re: Alkan's original Pedal Piano (Erard, circa. 1853) [Re: Rich Galassini] #2750159
07/08/18 03:17 AM
07/08/18 03:17 AM
Joined: Aug 2011
Posts: 2,623
Philadelphia area
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Dave B Offline
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Philadelphia area
This configuration creates an interesting sustain pedal use for the player. LouisP can you describe how the pedal trap work is designed


"Imagine it in all its primatic colorings, its counterpart in our souls - our souls that are great pianos whose strings, of honey and of steel, the divisions of the rainbow set twanging, loosing on the air great novels of adventure!" - William Carlos Williams
Re: Alkan's original Pedal Piano (Erard, circa. 1853) [Re: Rich Galassini] #2750292
07/08/18 09:10 PM
07/08/18 09:10 PM
Joined: Jan 2017
Posts: 58
Augusta GA
L
LouisP Offline
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Augusta GA
It's Challis #182 from 1957, a small single with one 8' choir, originally quilled in leather, but requilled in Delrin by the Harpsichord Clearing House before I got it. This was done in such a way as to allow it to be returned to leather if desired.

This instrument has a wood soundboard and bridge, with a metal frame underneath. The tuning pins are in bushings inserted into a metal wrestplank. I've forgotten what the bushing are made of. Maybe a phenolic resin? Later instruments had more metal, of course.

The dampers are like tiny piano dampers rather than the usual felt flags attached to the jacks.

There are two pedals: a half-hitch not currently in use as it isn't effective with Delrin, and a lute or buff stop.

The exterior is plain except for Challis' signature hinges. It has a "straight bentside."

For a harpsichord, it is very stable. The old joke about harpists applies to harpsichordists: we spend most of our time tuning, and the rest of it playing out of tune.

If there is something else you'd like to know I'd be happy to try to answer.


LAP
Henry F. Miller Pedal Piano, Decker Brothers Concert Grand, Knabe Grand, Chickering 135 Grand, Mathushek Orchestral Square, Baldwin Hamilton, Challis Harpsichord
Re: Alkan's original Pedal Piano (Erard, circa. 1853) [Re: LouisP] #2750447
07/09/18 02:11 PM
07/09/18 02:11 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 11,078
Philadelphia/South Jersey
Rich Galassini Offline OP
Platinum Subscriber
Rich Galassini  Offline OP
Platinum Subscriber
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 11,078
Philadelphia/South Jersey
Originally Posted by LouisP
It's Challis #182 from 1957, a small single with one 8' choir, originally quilled in leather, but requilled in Delrin by the Harpsichord Clearing House before I got it. This was done in such a way as to allow it to be returned to leather if desired.

This instrument has a wood soundboard and bridge, with a metal frame underneath. The tuning pins are in bushings inserted into a metal wrestplank. I've forgotten what the bushing are made of. Maybe a phenolic resin? Later instruments had more metal, of course.

The dampers are like tiny piano dampers rather than the usual felt flags attached to the jacks.

There are two pedals: a half-hitch not currently in use as it isn't effective with Delrin, and a lute or buff stop.

The exterior is plain except for Challis' signature hinges. It has a "straight bentside."



What you describe is already well off of what a traditional builder would do. I have friends who are harpsichordists who dislike any Challis that "steps off the grid". I admire his attempts to improve the instrument, though.

Thank you for sharing LouisP, and if you wouldn't mind sharing a photo or two, I would love to see this instrument.

All the best,


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
(215) 991-0834 direct line
rich@cunninghampiano.com
Subscribe to our YouTube channel for great content every week:
https://www.youtube.com/user/CunninghamPiano

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