FREDERICK HISTORIC PIANO COLLECTION
A House Concert
Historical Piano Study Center
30 Main Street, Ashburnham, MA, 01430
Saturday, August 12th, 2017 at 7:30pm
|Matthew Odell, piano|
|from Eight Préludes (1928)
on the 1928 Erard piano, Paris
|1. #1 La Colombe|
|2. #6 Cloches d'angoisses et larmes d'adieu|
|2nd Sonata, Op. 36 in b-flat minor (1931 revised
on the 1907 Blüthner piano, Leipzig
|1. Allegro agitato|
|2. Non allegro|
|3. Allegro molto|
on the 1893 Erard piano, Paris
|#3. Une barque sur l'océan|
|#4. Alborado del gracioso|
|#5. La Vallée des cloches|
|from Four Impromptus, Op. 90, D.899
on the c.1830 Bösendorfer piano, Vienna
|#3 in Gb|
|#4 in Ab|
|Adagio in B minor K.540 (1788)
on the ca.1790-’95 Viennese type piano by an unknown maker
The 1928 Erard, the
“youngest” piano in the Collection, was owned by singer and
voice teacher Thérèse Leschetizky, daughter of important piano teacher
Theodor Leschetizky. Thérèse reportedly acquired the piano
her father’s famous pupil, Ignaz Paderewski.
The nine-foot, 1907 Blüthner concert grand piano can produce the most ethereal pianississimo in response to the player’s touch, without the soft pedal. Melodies emerge in layers, through a mist, without obscuring one another. Debussy’s own piano for the last thirteen years of his life was a smaller Blüthner grand, made in 1904, which he purchased in 1905. Elaine Greenfield’s recording of all of the Préludes, Books I and II, is on this piano.
The 1893 Erard, the same model as composer Maurice Ravel’s own studio piano, while smaller than a full-size concert grand, has plenty of tone for a modest size concert venue. It is parallel-strung, with a composite iron frame, built at a time when several makers’ pianos were adopting Steinway’s crossed-over bass strings and single-piece cast iron frame ideas. Erard pianos are known for their liquid clarity, from the lowest notes to their sparkling trebles. Perhaps their tone explains why so many compositions by Mendelssohn, Chopin, Liszt, and the French Impressionists referenced water. This liquid quality is very present in Ravel’s musical depiction of Ondine, the water sprite, from his suite, Gaspard de la nuit, and his Jeux d’eau (fountains); in Debussy’s Poissons d’or (Goldfish), and Jardins sous la pluie (Gardens in the Rain); and Liszt’s Jeux d’eau à la Villa d’Este (Fountains at the Villa d’Este), among others. The Frederick Collection includes seven Erard pianos, a make prized by composer/pianists throughout the 19th century, well into the 20th.
The Bösendorfer piano of around 1830 is one of the earliest pianos by that maker, during the time he was establishing himself as successor to the famous Viennese builder, Joseph Brodmann. The name on the front, printed on blue paper under glass, calls Bösendorfer “Brodmann’s pupil”. Slightly later Bösendorfer pianos, like the one in the collection at Yale, have a white paper label, saying “Formerly Brodmann”.
The Unsigned Piano, c.1795, in the Viennese style, maker unknown, is the earliest restored member of the Frederick Collection. This piano, with just over five octaves, FF to g3, would have been state-of-the-art about the time Mozart died. It reminds us the highest and lowest notes in Mozart’s music were the extremes of the keyboard he knew. Instead of pedals, one of the two knee-activated levers lifts the dampers; the other, a “moderator,” places fabric tabs between the hammers and the strings to mute the sound. The handsome marquetry on the case was refitted from a longer, narrower harpsichord. As musical styles changed, harpsichords, designed to play an earlier style of music, were being discarded. Fortunately, the decoration of one of them was salvaged to grace this piano. The “reverse-color” keyboard, black naturals and white sharps, was as common at the time as the design we are used to. Keyboard color was not standardized around Vienna until about 1810. Beethoven and Haydn were composing for pianos like this.
All pianos played in the concerts are from The Frederick Collection.
The Historical Piano Study Center, 30 Main Street, Ashburnham, MA, 01430. The building is wheelchair accessible.
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