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piano vs fortepiano

  • piano

    Votes: 12 66.7%
  • fortepiano

    Votes: 6 33.3%
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You are confusing the terms "fortepiano" with "pianoforte". A fortepiano was the precursor of the modern piano, a term which was shortened from pianoforte.

That said, I prefer a good performance no matter which instrument is used, although I think it is easier to put across music from the 18th century on the appropriate period instrument.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
You are confusing the terms "fortepiano" with "pianoforte". A fortepiano was the precursor of the modern piano, a term which was shortened from pianoforte.

That said, I prefer a good performance no matter which instrument is used, although I think it is easier to put across music from the 18th century on the appropriate period instrument.
Thanks for the correction. Mods, if you could please correct in the poll and title, I'd appreciate it.
 

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I can enjoy either. A modern piano brings a different sound world to this repertoire from what would have been available at the time, and gives the performer more possibilities with some interpretive decisions. However, it can be great to listen to a great performance on the fortepiano too, and that can bring an interesting and different perspective to the music. It has more to do with the performer being sensitive to the music for me, rather than whether the instrument is a piano or fortepiano.
 

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When HIP players first came out, the fortepiano sounded like a piano with a head cold. I think fortepiano players have finally got to the point that they can make a fortepiano sound like it should, displaying all of its inherent capabilities, so they don't bother me like they used to. But I still prefer a piano.
 

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To my ears a fortepiano sounds similar to a harpsichord, with the addition of dynamics. What makes a modern piano sound "modern" is the stability, and added sustain of the brass frame.
 

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I think it is easier to put across music from the 18th century on the appropriate period instrument.
I think that's true with most string and brass music, but I'm not so sure with keyboard music. Like Manxfeeder says, fortepianos sound like pianos with a head cold. Maybe I've never heard a good one, or a good recording of one, but the 5 or 6 recordings I have heard all sound dull, slightly out-of-tune ("natural" tuning), with no dynamics or sustain. Like a harpsichord with the flu.
 

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Have a look at:


"The frustration with playing Mozart, and I think the problem that many performers on the modern piano face - is that there is this constant battle between the instrument that we have at our disposal, let's say the Steinway, and the music in question.

And so as a young pianist, you grow up playing these pieces, and everyone yells at you all the time about playing "mezzo piano", and gracefully, and "grazioso", and not too heavy here, and don't bend too hard, and phrasing and all this..
And it was very clear to me early on that this couldn't be right. The man who is precocious, and full of attitude, and has all these strong ideas, and a very high opinion of himself as well, could not be the same person who plays this kind of constant "mezzo piano" on the Steinway.

So when I discovered the fortepiano, I suddenly could play in an unbelievably visceral, dramatic style. I could play very "fortissimo" and very "pianissimo", and the scale of the piano didn't go too far. It went just far enough that one could recapture this sense of Sturm und Drang and tempestuousness that I'm sure is present in Mozart's music and that he would have wanted.."
I think the "masses" are "brainwashed" into thinking the terrible run-on sentences they hear in non-HIP Mozart performances are what Mozart actually intended.


"there is the famous D minor Concerto, which has this theme in the piano... ( A-A'-C# ) ( E-D-D ) ... As we can see, in the score, these connecting slurs, are very, very clearly marked by Mozart, and they separate this...( A-A'-C# )... from this...( E-D-D )... In my opinion, that's what the expression is.

Let's play it over here on the Steinway. I don't believe it's really possible to do this here because if I separate... Those separations sound very artificial. The reason again that they do, is here is this large powerful instrument that is endeavoring to carry the tone for a long time and I'm cutting it off in the middle of its singing.

I'm sure there are people who think ( A-A'-C#-E-D-D ) is more expressive than ( A-A'-C# ) ( E-D-D ). But it's absolutely there in the score, and it really is, in my opinion, the essence of Mozart. You know there are sketches of Mozart, incomplete scores of Mozart. In Piano Concerto K537, he didn't even bother to write in the left hand, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piano_Concerto_No._26_(Mozart)#The_unfinished_keyb oard_part but there's never a single bar without these articulation slurs - because they are what makes the music speak - and that's what they thought in the 18th century. "Music is like speech and it must be inflected properly.""
"People sometimes say that if Mozart or Beethoven knew the Steinway, let's say, that they would have preferred it. I would say that there's no way that we could prove that one way or another, but one thing is rather clear- to the extent that masters such as they would have written exactly the pieces they wrote, for the Steinway rather than the instruments which they had, to that extent- they would be rather poor composers. Because one writes for the acoustical and aesthetic properties of the instruments at hand and one cannot separate the master works of music from the forces and the instruments and the vocal training, which is associated with these things."
"It doesn't mean that we can be sure that everything we do will be identical with that which was done 200 years or more ago but it certainly gives us a sense of what is expected because every instrument wishes to be played in a certain way, and you either learn that, and you get the instrument to sound the way it wants to sound, and then it will do anything for you. Or you fight it and if you fight it, you will lose the battle."
 

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Both: Fortepiano for works during the 18th century, and early 19th century; modern piano for 20th century works. In between period pianos, e.g. Erard, Bechstein, and other makers from the mid- and late-19th century.
 

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For solo/4 hands/2 pianos things, I like either one. For concertos I prefer the modern piano.
Modern pianos are better suited for concertos because they produce more volume. The brass frame allows the doubling and tripling of strings as notes get higher. The tension from that many strings would cause a wood frame fortepiano to buckle. It's also worth bearing in mind what they called a large orchestra in the days of the fortepiano, we'd call a chamber orchestra today. Fortepianos didn't have to compete with such a loud orchestra.
 

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I think that's true with most string and brass music, but I'm not so sure with keyboard music. Like Manxfeeder says, fortepianos sound like pianos with a head cold. Maybe I've never heard a good one, or a good recording of one, but the 5 or 6 recordings I have heard all sound dull, slightly out-of-tune ("natural" tuning), with no dynamics or sustain. Like a harpsichord with the flu.
I like the sound of this Silbermann copy:
 
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