I want to apologize first that my English isn't the best.
I would like to introduce myself in this posting. I am 30 years old, and I played guitar in my youth (an AC/DC coverband) until I came to classical music about 14 years ago. I was especially interested in opera, my favourite opera was and is "Salome" by Richard Strauss (based on Oscar Wilde's play of the same name).
I also enjoyed listening to instrumental music: symphonies, concerts, chamber music, etc.
However, I could never make friends with the modern piano, I didn't like the sound of this instrument, no matter which model or which pianist it was. Accordingly, I was reluctant to listen to piano concertos. They bored me, no matter how often I tried to find an access to them.
A few years ago I became aware of the Historically Informed Performance
(HIP) through the books of the conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt. One sentence struck me particularly, because I recognized myself and my hearing experiences in it:
"A radical example is the piano. Today you hear practically no overtones at all. That's a tone as if you were hitting glass. I now know why I refused to play the piano as a child - because I found the tone so ugly. I liked what you can play on it, but the sound of the piano itself wasn't interesting to me. I suddenly found that the old keyboard instruments were full of overtones, humming bass tones, and pure sounds with timbres that had long since disappeared".
Although I cannot judge whether the statement with the overtones is correct, I share his subjective sound impression.
My curiosity was aroused by this statement, and so I listened to Mozart's piano works on period instruments - and was overwhelmed! These full, humming, yet transparent basses, the character of the different keys, the sharper dissonances and how they dissolve into "more pleasant" chords, and how the instrument mixes with the other period instruments in sound!
Through my intensive occupation with period instruments and Mozart's music I came across the opera "Le Nozze di Figaro". Between the individual arias there are recitatives, which are accompanied by a continuo instrument; usually this is a fortepiano. I used to think that recitatives were boring, but I was wrong. Recitatives are only boring if you play them wrong. If you look at the notes in these recitatives, you can see how artistically Mozart modulates, how he uses the character of each key for certain purposes. And that's what I want to experience as a listener.
I am not saying that the modern piano is "bad". I personally do not like its sound and prefer the fortepiano and the works written for it. In any case, I am glad to have finally found access to the piano. And a beautiful one at that.
Harnoncourt once was interviewed about Mozart:
Q.: Can you do anything with the saying that the angels, when they are with God, play Bach, and when they are alone, Mozart?
H.: Nonsense. Anyone who says that should hear a real Mozart, he will immediately notice how the doors of heð—…ð—… open.
I can absolutely understand this statement, too, after having listened to many of his works on period instruments. No more thick layers of patina that have accumulated over time through various performance practices and perspectives.
Instead, to me this music, with a style of playing that is oriented on historical sources (instead of the performing-traditions of the 19th or 20th century), sounded vivid, fresh, exciting and often as it has just been composed.