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Period v Modern Instruments samhaywood
Wed Feb 7 2001 21:00
Hi! I am giving a recital at the Purcell Room, London on Feb 19th and have decided to use both fortepiano and modern Steinway. On the fortepino (a reconstruction of a Walter from around 1800) I'll be playing Haydn and Beethoven and on the Steinway, Chopin, Bach-Busoni and Liszt.

I feel increasingly strongly that the fortepiano makes so much more sense of Haydn, Mozart, early Beethoven etc. There is a wonderful freshness, vitality and clarity to the sound and many of the figurations typical to the classical period (like the alberti bass) have so much more life without the need for exaggerated articulation.

In fact, I am also becoming increasingly allergic to modern interpretations of Baroque and Classical works in general - the excessive vibrato, the enormous forces employed, the slow "meaningful" tempi. I have just bought a recording of Bartoli singing Rinaldo with Hogwood and the Academy of Ancient Music. I think it is a wonderful illustration of how early instruments and awareness of performance practice can give these amazing old works a freshness and vitality that is completely contagious!

I suppose one problem in using early instruments such as the fortepiano in modern concert halls is the question of volume. Being wooden-framed and having the strings under significantly less tension than modern pianos obviously means they are a lot quiter. After all, they were not intended for large halls - rather for more intimate soirees.

Anyway, I'd be very interested to hear any ideas on this matter and if you are interested in the concert there are further details on my website

Very best,

Sam Haywood


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