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Recital on Chopin's Pleyel
#3014690 08/16/20 07:09 PM
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In the Cobbe Collection of early keyboard instruments at Hatchlands Park, a beautiful country house in Surrey (England), is to be found Chopin's Pleyel piano no. 13819.

Originally Posted by - from the Cobbe Collection web site
The Paris-manufactured Pleyel grand, No. 13819, now in the Cobbe collection, travelled to England with him. He referred to it as his ‘own’ piano and slept his first nights in a London lodging along with it still in its packing case. It is the instrument on which he probably planned to impress the British public (though Broadwood would have other ideas). He had chosen it for his salon in Paris in January 1848, shortly after its completion in the factory, and in the following month gave on it what would be his last Paris concert, in the Salle Pleyel in February. Once in England it was the piano on which he made his London debut at Gore House, the residence of Lady Blessington and Count d’Orsay. Throughout the London season it stood in his drawing-room in Dover Street where he doubtless used it in his busy teaching curriculum.

[Linked Image]

The Cobbe Collection holds a series of recitals during the summer. This year of course these have had to be cancelled, due to Covid. However, some of the recitals have been given on-line, and are now available on youtube. This series includes a recital on 11 July 2020 on the Pleyel, by Krzysztof Moskalewicz, playing the following programme:

Ballade in G minor op.23
Étude in C sharp minor op.25 no 7
Barcarolle op.60
Scherzo op.39
Waltz in A flat op.34 no 1
Ballade in F minor op.52

The recital can be found here.

Recommended! I love the soft warmth of this instrument.

Re: Recital on Chopin's Pleyel
David-G #3014700 08/16/20 07:40 PM
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I found the first minute of the G minor Ballade very disappointing with a weak hollow sounding tone,

Re: Recital on Chopin's Pleyel
David-G #3014723 08/16/20 09:33 PM
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Doesn't sound bad but there's a good reason why pianos don't sound like this anymore. Very interesting though!

Re: Recital on Chopin's Pleyel
David-G #3014780 08/17/20 03:52 AM
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Good post! I didn't realize that Chopin's "perfidious traitor" was known and maintained! I wonder how much of its original character has been retained? 170 years makes for one ancient piano...

Re: Recital on Chopin's Pleyel
David-G #3014790 08/17/20 05:26 AM
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Thank-you. I have to admit also to being a bit disappointed, though, with the tone and wonder if the recording really does the piano justice.


regards
Pete
Re: Recital on Chopin's Pleyel
Wry Guy #3014794 08/17/20 07:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Wry Guy
Good post! I didn't realize that Chopin's "perfidious traitor" was known and maintained! I wonder how much of its original character has been retained? 170 years makes for one ancient piano...
Maybe it sounded a bit better but I honestly think that in particular between mid 19th and mid 20th century a lot of improvements were made in terms of piano sound. That and of course the fact that we're trained from an early age to have certain expectations towards piano sound.

Re: Recital on Chopin's Pleyel
David-G #3014829 08/17/20 08:53 AM
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I'm curious if this piano has had any restoration. At age 170 years the sound board could be (probably is) completely collapsed and the sound seems to indicate that's the case. I just don't think this is anything like the what Chopin heard when he played this instrument. I looked at the Cobbe Collection's web site and no indication is given whether any restoration has been done.

It would seem some would be necessary, given the age, but the amount and degree is not indicated. All of which brings up the question, how much restoration is appropriate for a historic instrument such as this one? For me the answer revolves around how the instrument will be presented to the public. If it's not to be played then it's an object de art, look but don't touch. If it's to be played and performed on then it should be restored as a musical instrument to something approaching what it was when relatively new. I don't think that's been done here but perhaps some of our members in the UK can enlighten us.

Last edited by Steve Chandler; 08/17/20 09:00 AM.

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Re: Recital on Chopin's Pleyel
David-G #3014948 08/17/20 05:24 PM
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I agree its impossible to really know what the piano sounded like in Chopin's time.
I know its impossible to give complete objective judgments about any instrument of that time.

Face the fact that piano was made for another time and a different aesthetic in music. That was the piano that inspired Chopin to write and perform his great works.
We with our "Steinway and Yamaha ears" do not realise that our pianos today would have horrified Chopin and his audience.

Just as Beethoven wrote for the pianos of his day ,so did Chopin ,not for Steinways or Yamaha.
We are not even aware of the plush ,thick tone of the modern grand to say nothing about the standardization of tone.
Even if the piano did have all its original attributes we cannot just relate this piano to what we expect in a wonderfull concert grand of today.
Music does NOT evolve, it CHANGES. Musical Instruments likewise do not evolve they change ., This is especially the case with period instruments.
So perhaps just saying "Oh what can you expect in that time "is
rather short sighted.

Last edited by Lady Bird; 08/17/20 05:26 PM. Reason: spelling
Re: Recital on Chopin's Pleyel
David-G #3014963 08/17/20 06:26 PM
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I have heard quite a few pianos from Chopin's era that are not that different from modern pianos. I think judging all piano from that time by this one example is a mistake.

Re: Recital on Chopin's Pleyel
Lady Bird #3014972 08/17/20 06:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Lady Bird
[...]
We with our "Steinway and Yamaha ears" do not realise that our pianos today would have horrified Chopin and his audience.

[...]

How can you be so sure of that? That's pure speculation. It's quite possible that Chopin would be thrilled with the extra sustain, the singing treble, the extra power, and the greater richness of tone of the modern piano compared to what he experienced with his Pleyel. It's also quite possible that he would not, but let's not state speculation as fact.

Regards,


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Re: Recital on Chopin's Pleyel
BruceD #3014979 08/17/20 07:05 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by Lady Bird
[...]
We with our "Steinway and Yamaha ears" do not realise that our pianos today would have horrified Chopin and his audience.

[...]

How can you be so sure of that? That's pure speculation. It's quite possible that Chopin would be thrilled with the extra sustain, the singing treble, the extra power, and the greater richness of tone of the modern piano compared to what he experienced with his Pleyel. It's also quite possible that he would not, but let's not state speculation as fact.
Correct.

Re: Recital on Chopin's Pleyel
pianoloverus #3014980 08/17/20 07:06 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I have heard quite a few pianos from Chopin's era that are not that different from modern pianos. I think judging all piano from that time by this one example is a mistake.
No one was doing that.I believe !
As I said I was not judging this piano ,as we have no idea what it originally sounded like, Also I never said anything about what I thought of this piano., But if you must know I was also disappointed. Perhaps the recording made it worse.
We would be interested in how many of Chopin's pianos you have heard and about your comparisons .

Re: Recital on Chopin's Pleyel
Lady Bird #3014989 08/17/20 07:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Lady Bird
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I have heard quite a few pianos from Chopin's era that are not that different from modern pianos. I think judging all piano from that time by this one example is a mistake.
No one was doing that.I believe !
You made generalizations about the "aesthetic" of Chopin's time and said Chopin wrote for the pianos of his time.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 08/17/20 08:00 PM.
Re: Recital on Chopin's Pleyel
pianoloverus #3015010 08/17/20 09:50 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by Lady Bird
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I have heard quite a few pianos from Chopin's era that are not that different from modern pianos. I think judging all piano from that time by this one example is a mistake.
No one was doing that.I believe !
You made generalizations about the "aesthetic" of Chopin's time and said Chopin wrote for the pianos of his time.
Well that was his intention,I think he would have been shocked to think his music would still be so "popular" today in 2020 .
The pianos of thier day determined the style of all the composers.
They did not write music for Steinways or Yamaha .This is just an important fact of Performance Practice that all serious artists would consider.(serious concert pianists)

Last edited by Lady Bird; 08/17/20 09:55 PM. Reason: spelling
Re: Recital on Chopin's Pleyel
Lady Bird #3015033 08/17/20 11:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Lady Bird
[...]They did not write music for Steinways or Yamaha .This is just an important fact of Performance Practice that all serious artists would consider.(serious concert pianists)

Well, of course they didn't, since those pianos didn't exist at that time. Are we expected to extrapolate from that piece of wisdom that "serious concert pianists" should not play Chopin's music on a Steinway or on a Yamaha?


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Re: Recital on Chopin's Pleyel
BruceD #3015044 08/18/20 01:36 AM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by Lady Bird
[...]They did not write music for Steinways or Yamaha .This is just an important fact of Performance Practice that all serious artists would consider.(serious concert pianists)

Well, of course they didn't, since those pianos didn't exist at that time. Are we expected to extrapolate from that piece of wisdom that "serious concert pianists" should not play Chopin's music on a Steinway or on a Yamaha?
No Bruce ,
I give you, especially you 😘 permission to play Chopin on any modern piano you wish."Oh happy days are here again"

On a more studious note you cannot go wrong by listening to a few period instruments ., learn about how different pianos affected the style of the music that was written. Brahms ideal piano as opposed to Chopin.........for a start. And yes I was talking of artists as opposed to nearly all of us.

Last edited by Lady Bird; 08/18/20 01:44 AM. Reason: spelling
Re: Recital on Chopin's Pleyel
David-G #3015089 08/18/20 05:52 AM
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I doubt if anybody here underestimates the changes that have been made in the development of the piano, it is just that 'some of us' found that recording to be rather disappointing. There are actually a number of recordings made on 'a Pleyel piano once played by Chopin' on the internet:

1. Fantasie Impromptu: note the position of the piano in the room. To my ears this is really nice, which is why I put it first: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PoSlDhoTJ4

2. Various: to me this is confused, note the position of the piano and who knows where the microphones were: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LyurmW7EaK0

3. Also Various: not as confused-sounding as the previous, but… : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2rYO1WHgPs

Now, there are also differences in the pieces played, but nevertheless the piano sounds good to me in the first recording and is therefore probably in reasonable condition; the others not so good, which implies that the piano, recording, room positioning and so on were , well, not so good. Is it the same piano? Note terribly relevant, tbh, we are just listening to what Chopin would possibly have heard. Nope, I didn't expect the Pleyel to sound like a modern Steinway and I doubt if any of us did.

What I also find interesting is the sustain which suggests to me the Chopin originally wrote these pieces to be played quite fast - whereas, unfortunately, I have a tendency to linger over the harmonies and enjoy the 'internal sounds' and sustain of the piano.

Last edited by petebfrance; 08/18/20 05:54 AM.

regards
Pete
Re: Recital on Chopin's Pleyel
David-G #3015093 08/18/20 06:15 AM
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As an aside, I discussed it with my brother who, along with his wife, knows a lot more about these things, and some (possibly most, really) of the blame for the poor tone could be levelled at the pianist: 'foot jammed on the sustain pedal' as he put it. "Beethoven, who is reputed to have had a Pleyel fall to pieces under the force of his playing and liked Broardwoods, advised playing a Pleyel like a harpsichord and using the sustaining pedal only where notes need to be extended."


regards
Pete
Re: Recital on Chopin's Pleyel
David-G #3015175 08/18/20 11:15 AM
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The Pleyel of the 1830's did not however sound like the Pleyel
of the 1980's and that is for sure !
As all of us said ,we were disappointed in the sound of the piano., thay was probably not how it sounded in 1840.

I only listened to some of the Ballade in Gminor .Beethoven did
not develope his style by using a Pleyel .That is just a fairy tale.
Streicher made pianos for the young Beethoven and he approved them ,I would have to read up about later in his life what pianos he was given .(Broadwood was one ) but we know that he was becoming deaf very early on.
Beethoven wrecked quite a few pianos and by that time the tonal character probably would not have mattered. Perhaps he had a Kawai? (Joke) He could not hear, but I sure he would have I am sure been grateful for any piano he could hear !
But you can bet they did not write music for a modern pianoforte -- not true ! That was not thier world, and we cannot
just superimpose our world and our pianos onto that world.
They sounded different ,yes the pedals were different as well .
Our pianos were not thier ideal .That is is not true.

Last edited by Lady Bird; 08/18/20 11:24 AM. Reason: spelling
Re: Recital on Chopin's Pleyel
David-G #3015298 08/18/20 05:00 PM
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Sorry for my errors above I was in a rush to go out .
Petebfrance,
I understand your concerns., I did not listen to the other recordings ., yes I agree the recordings were terrible ,especially with the Winter Wind Etude ., just a mash of notes.
Here is a recording of a 1840's Pleyel., I do not suppose it belonged to Chopin but it certainly captures something magical.Perhaps this is the sound that inspired Chopin.
To me this Nocturne conjures up " a garden at night , with rose
petals falling ".,
You see apart from being an "old bat" I am still a romantic.
Excuse my earlier enthusiasm for period instruments, and not wanting to seeing your and our other posters point of view.



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