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Queen Victorian's Piano at the Proms
#2881861 08/20/19 11:33 PM
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Stephen Hough plays Chopin's Nocturne in E-Flat Major, op. 9, no. 2, at the BBC Proms:



The piano has quite a history:

https://www.rct.uk/collection/2426/grand-piano

A short documentary:






WhoDwaldi
Howard (by Kawai) 5' 10"
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Re: Queen Victorian's Piano at the Proms
WhoDwaldi #2881886 08/21/19 03:14 AM
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Thank you so much for posting. I have seen the latter video posted previously, but the former was all new to me. I enjoyed them both today :-)

I have never heard an Érard in person. I would be interested to experience how the straight strung instrument differs from the modern piano live. It is anyway great to see such a treasure being experienced by a larger audience. I would not have liked to be the piano mover though.

Here is some more info about the restoration process:
https://www.rct.uk/collection/conservation/conserving-the-erard-piano

Re: Queen Victorian's Piano at the Proms
WhoDwaldi #2881899 08/21/19 04:36 AM
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I was at the performance.

That piano has not aged any better than Queen Victoria.

Weak dynamics, almost absent lower registers with an overall tinny sound. Not at all suited for a venue the size of Albert Hall.

Last edited by sfhombre; 08/21/19 04:36 AM.
Re: Queen Victorian's Piano at the Proms
sfhombre #2881904 08/21/19 04:55 AM
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Originally Posted by sfhombre
That piano has not aged any better than Queen Victoria.


ha

Re: Queen Victorian's Piano at the Proms
sfhombre #2881911 08/21/19 05:35 AM
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Originally Posted by sfhombre
I was at the performance.

That piano has not aged any better than Queen Victoria.

Weak dynamics, almost absent lower registers with an overall tinny sound. Not at all suited for a venue the size of Albert Hall.


I respect your opinion sfhombre. It appears that Hough played the Mendelssohn Scottish concerto. I think the slow movement should have worked marvelously. This was a huge experiment. Wasn't this the very first time this piano was used outside of the palace? Ever?

I would think it best to suspend our 21st century taste and listen to what was arguably the finest piano technology of the 1850's in the Erard, at least from an action point of view. After all, Albert played piano quite competently and wrote music as well. He must have gone beyond British borders for a reason to choose this piano. At that time, Erard was a fine choice.

But it is not a modern concert grand like we are now used to hearing in a space like Albert Hall.

At any rate, the encore was beautifully performed and the concept was wonderful as well.

My 2 cents,


Rich Galassini
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Re: Queen Victorian's Piano at the Proms
WhoDwaldi #2881934 08/21/19 06:47 AM
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I thought Hough was marvelous, and had I done proper research about the piano I would have expected what I heard.

But I didn't (my bad) and as a result I visibly winced when the first notes were played.

Granted the Erard may have been "state of the art" in Albert's day but for me, using it at the Hall I think was a bit of a gimmick.

In a small venue I'm sure I would have enjoyed it far more.

P.S. I thought the encore was fabulously played too.

Re: Queen Victorian's Piano at the Proms
Rich Galassini #2881946 08/21/19 07:18 AM
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Rich:
The Erard was purchased on the advice of Albert's friend, Felix Mendelssohn.
Bye the way, my teacher, Marcel Dupre, had a large Erard from the '90s that I played quite a lot. Compared to a "modern" piano, one would need an ear-trumpet to hear it. BUT, it had many, many fine qualities, not least of which was a fabulous action that had a slightly lower key-dip. One could play the glissando in the Waldstein sonata without risk of bodily harm. I'm sure I don't have to mention that it seemed ideal for Chopin. Erards have a very dark, soulful sound that suits Chopin, especially anything in a minor key .
Karl

Last edited by Karl Watson; 08/21/19 07:24 AM.
Re: Queen Victorian's Piano at the Proms
WhoDwaldi #2882025 08/21/19 10:51 AM
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The melody carries well in the recording. For 1850, this was an excellent piano. The fact that it remains eminently playable is wonderful. And no, it is not a better overall piano than a properly done modern scale for a recital in a large hall.


In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com
Re: Queen Victorian's Piano at the Proms
Karl Watson #2882038 08/21/19 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Karl Watson
Rich:
The Erard was purchased on the advice of Albert's friend, Felix Mendelssohn.
[...]


Online sources date this piano from 1856; that was the year it was purchased by Queen Victoria. Mendelssohn died in 1847. How was this piano then recommended to Prince Albert by Mendelssohn?

As one of the videos (above Marsden, of the Royal Collection Trust) points out, Mendelssohn could not have played this piano unless sources are wrong and the piano predates the indicated date by ten years.

Regards,

Last edited by BruceD; 08/21/19 11:27 AM.

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Re: Queen Victorian's Piano at the Proms
BruceD #2882045 08/21/19 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by Karl Watson
Rich:
The Erard was purchased on the advice of Albert's friend, Felix Mendelssohn.
[...]


Online sources date this piano from 1856; that was the year it was purchased by Queen Victoria. Mendelssohn died in 1847. How was this piano then recommended to Prince Albert by Mendelssohn?

As one of the videos (above Marsden, of the Royal Collection Trust) points out, Mendelssohn could not have played this piano unless sources are wrong and the piano predates the indicated date by ten years.

Regards,


Vicky and Bertie had other pianos. 😁 Prince Albert must have taken his time shopping for his next Erard.

This piano sounds like it has a "dead soundboard" to me. I wonder if it's tone carried better when new (like that modern straight-strung piano that Barenboim sometimes plays)? It reminds me a lot of one of Liszt's pianos:







WhoDwaldi
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