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Thread: The louder a modern piano is played, the less musical it becomes

  1. #151
    Senior Member EdwardBast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hammeredklavier View Post
    All this sounds like Wim Winters fans complaining "Chopin would never have wanted his pieces played in the tempo they're played today. Too much obsession on speed. Needlessly showy, emotionless, boring. By comparison, Wim Winters truly knows how to interpret Chopin. Even Chopin himself would have loved Wim Winter's interpretation of his music."


    Some people want to hear NOT Ashkenazy's Beethoven, NOT Argerich's Beethoven, NOT LangLang's Beethoven on the brand new grandiose Steinway,
    BUT Beethoven's own Beethoven.
    You must understand that.

    If you think the fortepiano is not the right instrument for Haydn, Mozart, Clementi just because you don't like the sound of it, what's the difference between you and Wim Winter's fans who think classical music should be played twice as slow as they're played today just because it sounds better that way for them?

    I'd say the only difference is you're more massive in number.
    Beethoven wrote for the grandiose Steinway, not the fortepiano. He just happened to do so before the Steinway existed.
    Last edited by EdwardBast; Oct-09-2019 at 00:24.

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  3. #152
    Senior Member Larkenfield's Avatar
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    Wim Winters’ performance sounds labored and non-flowing, non-virtuosic, and played on an instrument that Chopin probably would have found entirely unappealing. It has an unpleasant sonority. Even when Winters plays the etude more slowly, he could have played it more flowingly, more legato and sweepingly, but evidently it never occurred to him. Regardless of any metronome markings, I believe some make up their own way of playing Chopin without actually hearing how poor it sounds. I find his example unlistenable on an unappealing out of tube instrument. Can’t he hear it’s out of tune? Do listeners genuinely believe that authentic Chopin sounds like a stiff labored beginner? Winters takes the verve and vitality out of the performance. This is an etude where all the meaning and challenge has been lost.



    Today’s pianists are doing just fine interpreting Chopin—there is no crisis of tempo or interpretations—whether it’s his etudes or anything else, on modern rather than antiquated instruments:

    Last edited by Larkenfield; Oct-09-2019 at 07:44.
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  4. #153
    Senior Member tdc's Avatar
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    Modern pianos were built for the demands of the music being composed - the instruments themselves had to catch up to composers like Haydn and Mozart etc.

    There is a reason Mozart's most imaginative and brilliant piano works are his concertos and Haydn his piano trios - they could use other instruments to mask problems such as a weak bass and lack of sustain found on the fortepianos of their time.

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  6. #154
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    Quote Originally Posted by tdc View Post
    Modern pianos were built for the demands of the music being composed - the instruments themselves had to catch up to composers like Haydn and Mozart etc.

    There is a reason Mozart's most imaginative and brilliant piano works are his concertos and Haydn his piano trios - they could use other instruments to mask problems such as a weak bass and lack of sustain found on the fortepianos of their time.
    Can you give me an example of a Mozart sonata which you think works better on a modern piano than it does on an authentic Mozart piano? Or indeed a Haydn one (though I know that music less well!)
    Last edited by Mandryka; Oct-09-2019 at 15:09.

  7. #155
    Senior Member isorhythm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hammeredklavier View Post
    Some people want to hear NOT Ashkenazy's Beethoven, NOT Argerich's Beethoven, NOT LangLang's Beethoven on the brand new grandiose Steinway,
    BUT Beethoven's own Beethoven.
    We all want a lot of things but unfortunately Beethoven is dead.

  8. #156
    Senior Member Baron Scarpia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tdc View Post
    There is a reason Mozart's most imaginative and brilliant piano works are his concertos and Haydn his piano trios - they could use other instruments to mask problems such as a weak bass and lack of sustain found on the fortepianos of their time.
    That is my point, Mozart didn't write for a hypothetical idea piano that he hoped would be created, he wrote to take advantage of the characteristics of the instruments that existed at the time. He wrote music that took advantage of the short sustain of the fortepiano. He used to cello to reinforce the bass. The piano trios and quartets are works of Mozart that I find come off particularly well using a period piano, and which are difficult to bring to life using modern instruments. Mozart may have loved the modern piano, but he would have written different music for it.
    Last edited by Baron Scarpia; Oct-09-2019 at 18:26.

  9. #157
    Senior Member Larkenfield's Avatar
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    Toward the end of his life, even Beethoven couldn’t hear his own Beethoven and the softer, lighter weight fortepiano kept evolving into the modern piano that was louder, more powerful, and with a greater octave range, though I’ve heard Brautigam pound just as hard on a fortepiano as on a grand piano to get the sound out as loud and forcefully as he wanted. He might as well have been playing a modern grand and not have to work as hard. Most of the antiquated instruments do not sound good, and even most of the modern reconstructions do not sound good, but the fortepiano enthusiasts rarely if ever mention that. That’s the problem, and those who push these instruments on the general public evidently can’t hear how bad most of them sound. Nevertheless, a good vintage instrument is worth hearing, no matter how rare it is, and believe me, it’s rare with many unbearable examples being posted on this forum of how poor and unsatisfying most of them are. It’s hard to imagine they sounded as bad in Beethoven’s day. In fact, I doubt if they did because they were new instruments then and not 200-year-old relics.
    Last edited by Larkenfield; Oct-09-2019 at 22:05.
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  10. #158
    Senior Member tdc's Avatar
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    I think all the Haydn and Mozart piano sonatas sound better on a modern piano, but I think in parts of the orchestral/chamber pieces musicians should alter dynamics somewhat because as noted Mozart and Haydn knew the instruments of their time well, but couldn't foresee exactly how future instruments would blend. I think this small compromise is a better idea musically than historical reconstruction and continuing to use the weak sounding fortepianos.

    For those that like the sound of the fortepiano, to each their own. Fortunately today we have a wide selection of different recordings and approaches to choose from.
    Last edited by tdc; Oct-09-2019 at 21:38.

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  12. #159
    Senior Member Baron Scarpia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tdc View Post
    I think all the Haydn and Mozart piano sonatas sound better on a modern piano, but I think in parts of the orchestral/chamber pieces musicians should alter dynamics somewhat because as noted Mozart and Haydn knew the instruments of their time well, but couldn't foresee exactly how future instruments would blend. I think this small compromise is a better idea musically than historical reconstruction and continuing to use the weak sounding fortepianos.

    For those that like the sound of the fortepiano, to each their own. Fortunately today we have a wide selection of different recordings and approaches to choose from.
    True enough.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tdc View Post
    I think all the Haydn and Mozart piano sonatas sound better on a modern piano, but I think in parts of the orchestral/chamber pieces musicians should alter dynamics somewhat because as noted Mozart and Haydn knew the instruments of their time well, but couldn't foresee exactly how future instruments would blend. I think this small compromise is a better idea musically than historical reconstruction and continuing to use the weak sounding fortepianos.

    For those that like the sound of the fortepiano, to each their own. Fortunately today we have a wide selection of different recordings and approaches to choose from.
    Ah I understand, it’s just that you like the sound of the modern piano! I thought you were saying something about the music.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Oct-10-2019 at 04:51.

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    Senior Member isorhythm's Avatar
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    I know from experience that there is an issue with passages in Mozart's violin sonatas where the violin is playing thirds underneath a melody in the piano, but that's the fault of the modern violin, not the piano! Anyway you can compensate for it.

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  17. #162
    Senior Member Baron Scarpia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    Ah I understand, it’s just that you like the sound of the modern piano! I thought you were saying something about the music.
    That is a useful distinction. There is no doubt I find the sound of a modern piano more satisfying than that of the typical period fortepiano. My issue is that I often find that the fortepiano is more effective at bring out Mozart's artistry. (I like the sound of an oboe more than the sound of a clarinet. That doesn't mean I want the clarinet parts in Brahms symphonies played by oboes.)

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  19. #163
    Senior Member tdc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    Ah I understand, it’s just that you like the sound of the modern piano! I thought you were saying something about the music.
    Good one Mandryka!

    You're such a hipster.

    But your post also doesn't say anything about the music.

    If you (or anyone) would like to present an example of a particular sonata that you feel sounds better on a fortepiano, and discuss why you feel it is more effective in bringing out the artistry, please do, I will listen with an open mind.

  20. #164
    Senior Member Baron Scarpia's Avatar
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    My example is the Mozart Piano Quartets. I have them by Beaux Arts Trio+, and others using modern instruments. It was like a new piece when I listened to the recording by Sonnerie, probably hard to find now since the label, ASV, is defunct.


  21. #165
    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Glenn Gould had the action on one of his pianos changed radically, so that it would respond more like an older piano or harpsichord. He also had that detached staccato touch that he learned from his Canadian teacher. Combine those, and we have a different thing than 'modern' piano.
    Maybe the touch is a factor in pianoforte versions, which maybe affects the performer more than the listener, because it affects his approach. Maybe Glenn Gould had the best of these two worlds: the sound of a piano, but the touch of an older keyboard.

    I think the Two & Three Part Inventions feature this modified piano, and mention it in the liner notes. On certain tracks, you can hear a "tic" in one note, which bounces back. Gould let this pass, and it's on the recording.

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