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Pleyel but what age?
#3051689 12/01/20 02:52 PM
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Stumbled on this, and it has a unique extraordinary sound. Very Beethoven? The sound is very intimate and compelling for the Choral Fantasy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4I8AT3S3iRc

I read a thread the other day and discovered this. The subject was pianoforte's by Streicher. Maybe the mods should move this to the pianists corner. But I post it here because this was the original forum.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLIIvXNV9hE

All told this is an extraordinary performance, and I am posting it here because it illustrates that what my teacher told me is not true. The piano we hear now in this recording is actually better for the music it was composed and developed for that instrument. It has power, dynamics and whatever you require for Schubert.

So,,, she was wrong. Another poster asked about pedaling with Scarlatti in the pianists forum. Well, if the Christofori pianofortes were about what they were at that time then they would have had sustain, as is evidenced in the evidence we have. Imagine playing K466 without colour - it would not work. But from bar 16 - 20 it will, in the left hand with a gentle staccatissimo and cantabile in the right hand The music is extraordinary in its construction and gentle nuances.

We sometimes forget that pianists of that era and of that period had feelings and and express that in their music.

For Pianoloverus - the Scarlatti you are referring to is K32, and Gilels has an absolute feast with it@ He introduces a whole new dimention to this simple but extraordinary Aria, letting us understand that in the 17th century you were allowed to expand on construct and improvise.

Hopefully I have not made myself a sudden fool on this forum.

Deon


1928 Knabe grand. Currently fantasizing and preparing Beethoven op. 110. Still struggling with Baba Black sheep.
Re: Pleyel but what age?
manykeys #3051730 12/01/20 05:33 PM
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Interesting post, thank you.

When discussing early pianos it may sometimes be a dilemma whether to post here or on Pianist Corner, especially since the nature of the instrument is likely to affect the performance. Personally I am very happy to see such posts here.

I love the Choral Fantasia, and this was a terrific performance, greatly helped by the period orchestra and piano - although the piano is many years later (perhaps 60 or 70?) than the premiere of the Fantasia.

The Schubert D958 sounds wonderful on the Streicher. It has colour, clarity and dynamics. I have heard Sir Andras Schiff playing Schubert on his slightly earlier Viennese Brodmann. I thought then, and I think now, that I greatly prefer this sort of performance of Schubert to hearing it on a Steinway, where I always seem to find the bass muddy. These early instruments have greater clarity, and have different timbres for the different registers which is a great advantage, made use of by composers of the period.

To hear (early) Beethoven on a piano of appropriate date, try listening to this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxeQAyGR1hU&t=993s

This is a recent concert at the Cobbe Collection at Hatchlands Park in Surrey. Steven Devine is playing Haydn's Longman and Broderip of 1795. Haydn took this instrument back with him to Vienna when he returned from his second visit to London. L&B was the principal rival to Broadwood in London at that period. It seems possible that this was the very instrument on which Beethoven performed his three sonatas dedicated to Haydn, at the concert in Prince Lichnowsky's palace to celebrate Haydn's return to Vienna. It has a wonderful Una Corda which can either play two strings or one, instead of the full three - Steven Devine takes great advantage of the different colours that this offers. I always feel that Beethoven played on period pianos has a sheer visceral thrill which is hard to replicate on a modern instrument.

I am curious about your teacher. What did she tell you that is not true?

Re: Pleyel but what age?
manykeys #3051744 12/01/20 06:03 PM
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The Schubert piece certainly is nicely rendered on the Streicher fortepiano in the recording. Not all fortrpianos produced sound with the power of a Streicher, however. Whether or not the fortepiano version is preferred to a rendering on a modern piano is a matter of taste.

Insisting on a period instrument as being the most appropriate is perfectly fine, but it also would mean using harpsichords for harpsichord compositions of Bach and Scarlatti. I thus think it is best to avoid imperatives about period instruments.

The Pleyel grand in the other video is a piano with an iron frame but is straight strung. This piano is later than Beethoven's time, and can produce sound with greater power than Beethoven's pianos. It is closer to a modern grand than it is to a fortepiano.


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Re: Pleyel but what age?
manykeys #3051844 12/02/20 01:17 AM
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Beethoven's music was influenced in his by Streichers pianos and the Steicher pianos were influenced by the composer. They later became powerful insyruments. Beethoven also used the Graf instruments. These pianos as they developed became powerful Germanic sounding instruments. Schumann and Brahms preferred the tone and action of these later Viennese instruments. ( like the Graf)
The English (like Broadwood) and French pianos (like pleyel) were more elegant sounding instruments they influenced composers like Chopin .He developed his particular aesthetic
style through an instrument like the Pleyel. It is an aesthetic related to that of Mozart who liked the the early Stein fortepiano .(which may have been influenced by the English made Clemente instrument)
I cannot have imagined that Beethoven ever would have chosen a Pleyel of his day to perform on .They were not instruments which inspired his music.

The Pleyel pianos were established in 1807 ., they were developed from the best features of English pianos. Chopin of course was given a Broadwood piano .Earlier Beethoven was also given a Broadwood piano(good marketing) .While Chopin rather appreciated this piano, I am not sure if Beethoven did. I am also not sure if he could even truly hear the instrument at the time. (his deafness)
However I cannot imagine Beethoven choosing Pleyel as his piano to perform on or be inspired by. His aesthetic in music was more along the lines of the later Brahms .
Still I loved the recording of the Choral Fantasia and the pianist's interpretation of that piece .That Pleyel piano being a later instrument works well with that piece. Something new and fresh ! Thank you !

Last edited by Lady Bird; 12/02/20 01:21 AM. Reason: spelling
Re: Pleyel but what age?
manykeys #3051898 12/02/20 07:03 AM
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I may be wrong, and someone competent will eventually properly identify this Pleyel, but my guess is that it is a much more modern instrument, possibly built in the 1930's. To me it sounds much more like a Cortot Pleyel than a Chopin Pleyel, let alone Beethoven. Concert Pleyels went through a difficult period in the 1900's because of unsufficient metal framing to cope with the new high tension strings from Germany. This was only solved in the thirties.

But the fact that this is a Pleyel is unimportant. That piano should be branded "Not a Steinway". And not a Fazioli or a modern Bechstein either, as these magnificent instruments have to acknowledge that they are out there to try and beat standards set by Steinway.

So here is my controversial point : Steinways rule for two reasons : they are pimped-out to shine on brightness, volume and glamour; and they make up for the deficiencies of the huge concert halls built in the early twentieth century.

The point was made that the Chris Maene Baremboim piano was barely audible in London's Royal Festival Hall. With due respect to my British friends, and as a long-time London resident, I will say that this ugly brutalist building has the worst acoustics I know of. It's not alone : the Salle Pleyel in Paris and the Avery Fisher Hall in New York (or whatever donator name it has today) are notorious for awful sound. All these places, and that trend started with the Opera in Paris and Albert Hall in London, were built to satisfy the egos of sovereigns, billionnaire sponsors, and statement-making architects, not musicians. Steinway, with its powerful instruments that could cut through the brouhaha, came to the rescue.

Wagner in Bayreuth was the first to take music's requirements seriously, but even in his case the drama features came first. When I was younger and first travelled to Japan, I was amazed by the discovery of the new 1984 Suntory Hall (I had not yet been to Berlin, so I only later discovered its inspiration). So a Japanese booze maker had finally rediscovered the secrets that the greek geniuses who built Epidaurus in 440 BC knew !!

It is only recently that serious consideration has been given to better acoustics and therefore smaller purpose built venues. The Philarmonie in Paris was only built a few years ago. For political reasons it is located in the most wretched and violence-prone part of this city, so I won't normally go (gentrification will however eventually solve this issue), but at least music can be heard at its most pristine. My favourite new hall is the Elbphilarmonie in Hamburg. London and New York, Mecca's of great classical music, still lack a decent modern venue.

The point is that in a smaller newer purpose-built hall a harpsichord or a fortepiano can be heard, a soprano does not need to scream, and the beautiful sound of the more subdued pianos Cortot and Kempff used can be rediscovered. Chris Maene and Baremboïm are right.



Steinway "A". Roland LX 706. Viscount Sonus 45 hybrid organ with 165 real pipes. Harpsichord by Marc Fontaine.
Re: Pleyel but what age?
manykeys #3052719 12/04/20 02:24 AM
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Quote
I may be wrong, and someone competent will eventually properly identify this Pleyel, but my guess is that it is a much more modern instrument, possibly built in the 1930's.
With a straight strung design, it almost surely is much earlier than the 1930's. I once owned a similar piano, an 8'4" Chickering straight-strung grand from the early 1870's. The overstrung plate became pervasive shortly after that. I would estimate the age of the Pleyel piano as 1860-1880 era.

Quote
But the fact that this is a Pleyel is unimportant. That piano should be branded "Not a Steinway". And not a Fazioli or a modern Bechstein either, as these magnificent instruments have to acknowledge that they are out there to try and beat standards set by Steinway.

Erard invented the double escapement action in 1810. Subsequently there was a period in which Erard pianos arguably were the best available. The iron plate is an important distinction between a modern piano and a fortepiano. The iron plate was invented by Alphaeus Babcock in the US in 1825. He was hired by Chickering and by 1840, Chickering was producing pianos with an iron plate, and in the middle of the 19th century, there was a period in which Chickering arguably made the best pianos. Steinway invented the overstrung plate in the 1870's, and by the late 19th century, overtook Chickering. In the early 20th century, I think Steinway, Bechstein, and Mason & Hamlin were generally regarded as the best concert grands.


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Re: Pleyel but what age?
manykeys #3052734 12/04/20 04:40 AM
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The author, David Crombie, says Steinway introduced cross stringing and a cast iron plate in their square pianos in 1855 and an overstrung grand in 1860.

Last edited by Withindale; 12/04/20 04:42 AM.

Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 140cm
Ibach, 1905 F-IV, 235cm
Re: Pleyel but what age?
manykeys #3052739 12/04/20 05:44 AM
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I've just played a straight strung Erard Extra Grande Model de Concert dated 1913. There you go.

Re: Pleyel but what age?
Sweelinck #3052740 12/04/20 05:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Sweelinck
With a straight strung design, it almost surely is much earlier than the 1930's.

You are absolutely right if indeed it is a straight strung, but from the video I could not be sure of that. Again I could easily be wrong but it seemed to me that the harp was cast and some stringers appeared oblique. A Pleyel expert will for sure tell us.



Steinway "A". Roland LX 706. Viscount Sonus 45 hybrid organ with 165 real pipes. Harpsichord by Marc Fontaine.
Re: Pleyel but what age?
manykeys #3052749 12/04/20 07:10 AM
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This is the answer from Sylvie Fouanon, one of France's top expert :

"Bonjour
Merci pour votre intérêt.
Ce piano est un Pleyel grand concert modèle 1 des années 1890/1900 à cordes croisées, cadre fonte coulé et mécanique à double échappement.
Il s’agit du piano d’Insula Orchestra en résidence à La Seine Musicale.
Sa restauration l’a fait sonné plutôt moderne.
Cordialement..."

This piano is a Pleyel grand concert model 1 from the 1890/1900 years with crossed strings, harp in cast iron, and double escapement action. It is a piano belonging to the Insula Orchestra in residence at La Seine Musicale.
Its restauration makes it sound rather modern.


(Note: La Seine Musicale is a new hall just opened in Boulogne, adjacent to Paris)

So we are not entirely wrong either of us....



Steinway "A". Roland LX 706. Viscount Sonus 45 hybrid organ with 165 real pipes. Harpsichord by Marc Fontaine.
Re: Pleyel but what age?
David-G #3052811 12/04/20 10:58 AM
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Originally Posted by David-G
Interesting post, thank you.

When discussing early pianos it may sometimes be a dilemma whether to post here or on Pianist Corner, especially since the nature of the instrument is likely to affect the performance. Personally I am very happy to see such posts here.

I love the Choral Fantasia, and this was a terrific performance, greatly helped by the period orchestra and piano - although the piano is many years later (perhaps 60 or 70?) than the premiere of the Fantasia.

The Schubert D958 sounds wonderful on the Streicher. It has colour, clarity and dynamics. I have heard Sir Andras Schiff playing Schubert on his slightly earlier Viennese Brodmann. I thought then, and I think now, that I greatly prefer this sort of performance of Schubert to hearing it on a Steinway, where I always seem to find the bass muddy. These early instruments have greater clarity, and have different timbres for the different registers which is a great advantage, made use of by composers of the period.

To hear (early) Beethoven on a piano of appropriate date, try listening to this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxeQAyGR1hU&t=993s

This is a recent concert at the Cobbe Collection at Hatchlands Park in Surrey. Steven Devine is playing Haydn's Longman and Broderip of 1795. Haydn took this instrument back with him to Vienna when he returned from his second visit to London. L&B was the principal rival to Broadwood in London at that period. It seems possible that this was the very instrument on which Beethoven performed his three sonatas dedicated to Haydn, at the concert in Prince Lichnowsky's palace to celebrate Haydn's return to Vienna. It has a wonderful Una Corda which can either play two strings or one, instead of the full three - Steven Devine takes great advantage of the different colours that this offers. I always feel that Beethoven played on period pianos has a sheer visceral thrill which is hard to replicate on a modern instrument.

I am curious about your teacher. What did she tell you that is not true?

Well, she was the true denier of technological development. Having her Ph. D in baroque music ( and she was rather good) her firm conviction was no pedal and no embellishment in ornamentation at all. Strict adherence to rhythm and osculating between repeated sections and stick to the score. Having listened to the recordings we now have available renditions of similar works on comparable instruments of the period, so I beg to differ.

Especially Scarlatti with the early pianofortes. That would have ignited a totally different level of playing, a different sound and thus a different dimension to the music and it's content. Especially the rhythmic pulses. I sometimes wonder why editors changed the hand positions for works like K54. The delay in hitting that bottom D is magical. Almost like Wolfgang Rubsam playing Bach with a twist. As I implied in the opening post, listen to Gilels. I think he has it spot on, but K141 is just lazy. Forgetting that he is a poetical performer and maybe that is what folks like.

I think, given the capabilities of the modern piano, we can just improve on the experience of playing a Scarlatti sonata, the joy of actually engaging the instrument, and I wonder what he would have done with it.

I think he would have had a ball. And so would Beethoven if he could still hear that Streicher in full song.

Deon


1928 Knabe grand. Currently fantasizing and preparing Beethoven op. 110. Still struggling with Baba Black sheep.
Re: Pleyel but what age?
manykeys #3052814 12/04/20 11:09 AM
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Edit to reply

This - Cristofori-Ferrini 1730 fortepiano, reproduction by Denzil Wraight. This, I think gives us a good idea. Those early instruments are worn out. Not fresh. Not peak. Thus maybe a reproduction, like in this case would give us a more authentic sound. 300 years old is not going to sing along convincingly.

Deon

Cristofori-Ferrini 1730 fortepiano, reproduction by Denzil Wraight

www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPXbtKWoDU0

Last edited by manykeys; 12/04/20 11:11 AM. Reason: Omit paste

1928 Knabe grand. Currently fantasizing and preparing Beethoven op. 110. Still struggling with Baba Black sheep.

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