Restoring Ingredients

Bernard D. Sherman

in Inside Early Music

Published in print October 2003 | ISBN: 9780195169454
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199865017 | DOI:
Restoring Ingredients

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In 1976, Andrew Porter wrote that audiences and pianists, having once discovered the tone colors, clarity and alertness of wooden-framed pianos with thin strings and buckskin-covered hammers, will want to hear more of them. That time has yet to come, however. Even in the early music world, the fortepiano has fewer friends than we might expect. The harpsichordist Christophe Rousset speaks for many when he called it an imperfect instrument which had yet to evolve. Part of the problem is that in a large modern concert hall, the instrument becomes little more than a tinkling symbol. Malcolm Bilson, who mastered the Steinway long ago, argues for the advantages of the fortepiano. In making a case for the older instrument, Bilson addresses a more basic issue, still a touchy one for fortepianists: why might historical instruments matter at all? He also discusses changes in playing style, involving approaches to articulation and phrasing that are diametrically opposed to what has become the standard modern practise.

Keywords: Malcolm Bilson; fortepiano; historical instruments; articulation; phrasing; Alfred Bendel; Ludwig van Beethoven

Chapter.  8622 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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