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#2082204 - 05/14/13 12:49 AM Re: The Late Romantic Piano v The Modern Piano [Re: Withindale]
gsmonks Offline
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Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 635
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
The homogenised sound of the modern piano has its analogue in the other orchestral instruments. The misguided collaboration between Berlioz and Antoine (Adolphe) Sax is such an example. Sax talked Berlioz into his way of looking at brasswinds. Sax spend many years developing an homogenised family of brasswinds in the form of Saxhorns, which ranged from Eb contrabass to piccolo. The remaining horns are the two Bb baritones (large- and small-bore), Eb tenor (aka alto) horn, and the Infanterie-model Saxhorn in Eb soprano and Bb alto (mistakenly referred to as flugelhorns).

Modern orchestrators and historians have spent many years undoing the damage inflicted upon Berlioz' earlier works such as Symphonie Fantastique by getting rid of the homogenic garbage and using period instruments, each of which had its own distinct voice. The period recordings that are emerging sound a thousand times better than the homogenic version using modern brass, strings and woodwinds. You can hear everything, for one thing.

I heard a recording recently of a straight-string piano, which I was keenly interested in specifically because I'd heard so much about the variation in tonal quality throughout the register. The experience for me was very much like several other experiences I'd had with period instruments and ensembles, including the original brass bands from the 1830's and 1840's which were a mixture of keyed and valved brass.

In the case of the brass band, here was another example of the damage done the sound by making it homogenous. Aping his friend, Antoine Sax, Berlioz referred to such brass ensembles as "organ-like".

Modern choral ensembles are yet another example. The tendency today is to try to mask the sound of the individual voices in order to create an homogenous sound. The Talis Scholars come to mind.

Again, they sound like absolute crap to my ears. I want to hear the individual voices. This homogenous malarky literally cuts the heart and the character out of the music. I don't give a rat's arse if the older instruments and manner of singing aren't as in-tune and perfect. It's the imperfection and idiosyncrasies that make the music poignant, have character, be listenable.

Here's a piece that was written the same year as Symphonie Fantastique, by a composer you've probably never heard of:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EkZWDUzDRzM

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#2082349 - 05/14/13 09:45 AM Re: The Late Romantic Piano v The Modern Piano [Re: gsmonks]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Originally Posted By: gsmonks
The homogenised sound of the modern piano has its analogue in the other orchestral instruments. The misguided collaboration between Berlioz and Antoine (Adolphe) Sax is such an example. Sax talked Berlioz into his way of looking at brasswinds. Sax spend many years developing an homogenised family of brasswinds in the form of Saxhorns, which ranged from Eb contrabass to piccolo. The remaining horns are the two Bb baritones (large- and small-bore), Eb tenor (aka alto) horn, and the Infanterie-model Saxhorn in Eb soprano and Bb alto (mistakenly referred to as flugelhorns).

Modern orchestrators and historians have spent many years undoing the damage inflicted upon Berlioz' earlier works such as Symphonie Fantastique by getting rid of the homogenic garbage and using period instruments, each of which had its own distinct voice. The period recordings that are emerging sound a thousand times better than the homogenic version using modern brass, strings and woodwinds. You can hear everything, for one thing.

I heard a recording recently of a straight-string piano, which I was keenly interested in specifically because I'd heard so much about the variation in tonal quality throughout the register. The experience for me was very much like several other experiences I'd had with period instruments and ensembles, including the original brass bands from the 1830's and 1840's which were a mixture of keyed and valved brass.

In the case of the brass band, here was another example of the damage done the sound by making it homogenous. Aping his friend, Antoine Sax, Berlioz referred to such brass ensembles as "organ-like".

Modern choral ensembles are yet another example. The tendency today is to try to mask the sound of the individual voices in order to create an homogenous sound. The Talis Scholars come to mind.

Again, they sound like absolute crap to my ears. I want to hear the individual voices. This homogenous malarky literally cuts the heart and the character out of the music. I don't give a rat's arse if the older instruments and manner of singing aren't as in-tune and perfect. It's the imperfection and idiosyncrasies that make the music poignant, have character, be listenable.

Here's a piece that was written the same year as Symphonie Fantastique, by a composer you've probably never heard of:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EkZWDUzDRzM

Well stated. Homogeneity of sound can be very boring -imagine an orchestra made up only of one type of instrument - there goes all the colour the composer had desired. Even with just strings there is a huge colour variation that is prized amongst the four registers. A violin and viola may play in the same pitch range but, oh my, what a wonderful difference in tone quality.
You probably know that there is historical precedence from J.S. Bach's day that his works, such as the B minor mass, were sung with one voice per part, that is to say, the soloists sang the choruses as well. I have heard this technique. I do not like it. In this case, I find the lack of colour change that should, IMHO, occur between the solos and the choruses boring.


Edited by Mwm (05/14/13 09:48 AM)

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#2082904 - 05/15/13 04:30 AM Re: The Late Romantic Piano v The Modern Piano [Re: Withindale]
joe80 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/30/09
Posts: 1145
I'll be brief, and reply when I get home, in more depth.

The modern concert grand piano, at least from the mid 20th century has become a terrible unmusical beast in some quarters. The glassy, homogenized sound of Steinway, Kawai and Yamaha in particular can be problematic for producing good tone and a musical performance that can actually breathe.

In England and France they were still making straight strung grand pianos in at least the very late 19th Century and possibly the early 20th Century. I know two people who own Broadwood concert grands from the 1890s, straight strung under damper - by then Steinway had already produced the model D (or equivalent), so it was a matter of taste rather than the fact that things hadn't progressed.

Today we still have pianos that are sweet and have variation between the registers - Thing Bechstein, Bluthner, Sauter, Grotrian.

Don't think Yamaha, Kawai, Fazioli, Steinway (even Shigeru Kawai can sound crap in comparison

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#2082952 - 05/15/13 07:35 AM Re: The Late Romantic Piano v The Modern Piano [Re: Withindale]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Registered: 05/29/01
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I find anyone who says (what is really just) their personal preference about pianos is objectively better highly unconvincing.

Having heard the Frederick Collection of pianos in Massachusetts some months ago, I would not trade the entire collection for a nice Hamburg Steinway, Fazioli, Boesendorfer, Yamaha CFX, or even my Mason BB.

There have been many YouTube postings at PW of historical instruments and a few on this thread I guess. While I found some of them interesting, there were none that I found particularly impressive or as good as modern pianos. Of course, this is just my personal taste.


Edited by pianoloverus (05/15/13 09:20 AM)

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#2082963 - 05/15/13 08:12 AM Re: The Late Romantic Piano v The Modern Piano [Re: pianoloverus]
Withindale Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/09/11
Posts: 1936
Loc: Suffolk, England
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
... the Fredrick Collection of pianos in Massachusetts ...

Thank you very much, PLV, for pointing us to these historical pianos, spot on for this thread.

I am looking forward to this evening when I'll be able listen to Patricia Frederick talking about her collection on YouTube.
_________________________
Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 55" upright
Ibach, 1922 49" upright (project piano)

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#2083290 - 05/15/13 07:48 PM Re: The Late Romantic Piano v The Modern Piano [Re: Withindale]
Withindale Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/09/11
Posts: 1936
Loc: Suffolk, England
Originally Posted By: Withindale
I'll elaborate on the term "late romantic" later.

I'm learning a lot from all the answers and comments in this thread.

Like Marty, I hadn't heard heard the term "late romantic" applied to a piano before.

That was until last November when a 1905 Ibach popped up out of the blue. I spoke to the gentleman who had done some restoration work on it; he said I had to be aware it was a late romantic instrument not a modern one. He had gone to some trouble finding the right felt for the hammers; it was all too easy to make a piano sound like a Yamaha, as he put it.

I thought no more about it then, on Saturday, I came across an 1997 article about a 1905 Steinway B restored by Ed McMorrow. The author of the introductory note said it was "gloriously musical".

The article itself suggested the "romantic" Steinway piano had evolved to parallel the bel-canto style of the late 19c. It asked why doesn't the modern Steinway sing like its predecessors?

What do you think? Is there a late romantic piano sound? Listen to Liszt's Chapelle de Guillaume Tell from Années de pèlerinage, première année, S 160 "Suisse" played by:

1. Libor Novacek playing a modern Steinway or Alfred Brendel on a noisy recording.

2. Tomas Dratva on Richard Wagner's 1876 Steinway (restored)


_________________________
Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 55" upright
Ibach, 1922 49" upright (project piano)

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#2083378 - 05/15/13 11:02 PM Re: The Late Romantic Piano v The Modern Piano [Re: Withindale]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 1957
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
In the late 1980's I wrote a book for piano technicians titled "The Educated Piano". In the book I detailed how the hammers have changed over time-specifically they have gotten heavier because the amount of tapering of the sides and wood of the moldings has changed. The late romantic pianos had lighter hammers than new pianos do now. (Of course this is a overly broad statement that I cannot directly support with specifications, but my ears are pretty experienced at sensing this just by listening).

In fact the same general weight of hammer that would work well on Cristofori's piano is the same as a modern piano requires because the strings are all tuned to nearly the same pitches. (Don't bug me about A435 or A450 etc please it makes no difference for this issue.). In terms an engineer would use, the first principle of the hammer string interaction is; the inertia of the hammer must be in proportion to the periodicity of the string. In more prosaic terms you could say that a piano hammer is a type of damper. An exciting damper if you will to unite two opposites.

The Ronsen Piano Hammer Co. in NY state makes hammers that are quite light and I think are even better than the old really good hammers. So we are not lacking hammer sources to get that old fashioned great tone and touch. (I do not get paid for mentioning them.) Other hammer makers are also paying close attention to weight now since my book was published.

Everything works better about a piano if the hammer weight is carefully matched to the compass of frequencies. In my book I disclosed my LightHammer Tone Regulation Procedure that uses the leverage of any given action to guide the shaping of the hammer down to the weight that unites the feeling of dynamic control with the development of the instruments voice.
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#2083595 - 05/16/13 09:45 AM Re: The Late Romantic Piano v The Modern Piano [Re: Withindale]
joe80 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/30/09
Posts: 1145
Going back a bit earlier, when you hear Chopin for instance, on a period instrument, certain questions about texture are answered. The transparency of sound reveals more of the music than the modern piano can. The modern piano has a much longer sustain, and a much thicker sound - even the modern pianos I enjoy have this! The lighter touch and more transparent sound seems to be more suited to that type of music.

Chopin is one composer who preferred pianos that were a bit quieter and lighter, that is quite well documented. Liszt on the other hand was pushing for more sonority, more power. He wasn't too impressed when the touch got so heavy, but he was even complaining about that on Erard instruments. The Erards of Paris are probably tonally the most similar mid-19th century instruments to the pianos we have today - I mean compared with Pleyels, Broadwoods, old Bosendorfer, Streicher etc, all of which were much less powerful than today.

There is the question of aesthetic - is it better to perform on modern pianos? Are the instruments superior? Certainly in terms of stability of touch and tuning, modern pianos are far better than the mid-19th century pianos.

The late romantic pianos, as you put it, are closer to what we have today in that they are virtually modern pianos, but there are certain differences. The problem is identifying what the real differences are. When a piano has aged beyond a certain amount, or has been rebuilt a particular way, it can be very difficult to tell what the original sound was. OK, there will be something of that sound there, due to the design of the frame etc, but it is difficult to fully understand the tone.

In general I have noticed that modern pianos produce a much heavier more penetrating tone, with quite a lot of harmonics. There are makes that have less harmonics - Fazioli has a purer sound than a Steinway, Bluthner has a more mellow sound than Fazioli but still with the purity, Bosendorfer has the capability to be exceptionally delicate or exceedingly powerful but still with clarity, and Steinway are of course excellent for power and speed, and penetrating over a large orchestra for instance.

The old late romantic Steinways were still quite powerful instruments. I know someone with a Style 2 (7 feet 2) and it has all the power and range you'd expect from a Steinway. It's a little different because the scale is different from a modern model B, but all the elements of the Steinway sound are in place by 1872 - the year this style 2 was made.

I think the main difference between the late romantic period and today (well, certainly until about 20 years ago), is that there was more choice of sound, more variations between the instruments, the homogeneity hadn't yet fully set in. There is a return to the differing voices with more makers producing instruments with a unique sound rather than trying to copy the standard. Yamaha are producing pianos with a more crystalline and less harsh sound, Kawai are capable of a wonderful cantilena, as are Bluthner are Fazioli. Steinway retain the sound that is their signature voice - it works for them and people like it. Grotrian, Sauter, Seiler etc are all producing beautiful instruments, all with individual personalities and with a more frequent appearance on the concert stage than before. Part of the reason is the recession is making people think twice about shelling out for a Steinway which, in Europe, is never discounted, so other makers are able to gain a footing. I know a few societies in the UK that decided to go for Bosendorfer before the Yamaha take over, because they were able to buy an instrument for half to two thirds the cost of a Steinway. As it happens they are more than happy with the pianos they chose, although Steinway was their first choice because it's the best known amongst pianists internationally.

As a matter of style, I've noticed that on some older pianos, particularly early 20th Century Bluthners, it's easier to be faithful to Beethoven's pedal marks and Debussy's instructions. It's not possible on modern instruments because they have too much power, so you have to adapt.

There are other changes in style that are perhaps not so related to the pianos as to fashion - for instance these days you rarely hear arpeggiated chords in pieces, usually it's fully synchronized, but up until even 1930 (yes, 1930 not 1830) and maybe even after, it was common place to de-synchronize and play arpeggios. It was also popular to prelude between pieces, right up until the second world war, when it became far less fashionable perhaps due to recordings.

Remember that when Beethoven was composing his sonatas, the idea that someone would sit down and perform the whole sonata - first to last movement - in a public concert, was almost unheard of. They may select a movement, and it would have been quite common to embellish it.

In order to fully understand the style of the late romantics, you need to look back to the Baroque period. Many of the performance practices in the 19th C. are actually residual from the harpsichord players of the Baroque. We tend to have lost sight of this in our recording age. I'm not saying one is better than the other - why shouldn't performance practice change? everything else does after all, however, I feel it's important as a performer to know something of what went on.

It's not such a big step back in time. Remember, there are many pupils of ARTUR Schnabel still alive, not to mention pupils of his son, Karl Ulrich. Artur was in Leschetizky's class - Leschetizky was highly aware of the various styles of his day. He was perhaps most famously a pupil of Czerny, but there were other influences. Czerny was a Beethoven pupil, and from there you see that it's not so far to the baroque. Beethoven's parents would have been alive at the time of the Baroque period, and there would have undoubtedly been teachers in Beethoven's and CERTAINLY Mozart's circle who played fortepiano with Baroque sensibilities.

Whether the style change is down to the instrument is a very large question, and a very important one. I think many things happened at once - the recording age, the increase in competitions, the founding of conservatoires (remember they are relatively recent in music history), and of course the change in piano design and structure.

It would be interesting to go back to the fortepiano and see what alternatives might have happened in the design - what if overstringing hadn't taken off for instance? There is at least one maker producing straight strung instruments again - I think it's a man who used to design a Wendl und Lung piano.

Pianoloverus made the point that the older pianos don't impress him as much as the modern ones. Fair enough and a valid point when one considers that they are less powerful with shorter sustain. But there are certain things about the modern piano that just make me wonder - the fact that the piano has to have the same tone throughout the register is relatively recent for instance, and in fact some makers of the 19th Century deliberately made them different between tenor and treble. Most of the things that happened are seen as improvements, and certainly for many situations they are improvements - notably greater stability over all, and more power for larger performance spaces, and some modern instruments have a much sweeter sound than the older ones. There are bad and good pianos from every era.

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#2083697 - 05/16/13 02:09 PM Re: The Late Romantic Piano v The Modern Piano [Re: joe80]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19265
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: joe80
Pianoloverus made the point that the older pianos don't impress him as much as the modern ones.
I haven't heard either in person or on the internet an old piano that IMO even comes close to a modern one.

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#2083706 - 05/16/13 02:53 PM Re: The Late Romantic Piano v The Modern Piano [Re: joe80]
Ed Foote Online   blank
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 1124
Loc: Tennessee
Originally Posted By: joe80
Remember that when Beethoven was composing his sonatas, the idea that someone would sit down and perform the whole sonata - first to last movement - in a public concert, was almost unheard of. They may select a movement, and it would have been quite common to embellish it.


Greetings,

I have never hear of this. Beethoven's publisher convinced him to replace the 2nd mvt of the "Waldstein" because in the publisher's opinion, it was too long. That wouldn't have been a problem if the piece wasn't being played, in toto.
The sonata is an integrated piece of fairly defined key relationships, which would mean nothing if only only the individual movements were played.
Regards,

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#2083854 - 05/16/13 10:26 PM Re: The Late Romantic Piano v The Modern Piano [Re: Withindale]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Somwwhat OT, but here is a modern Yamaha with Alexandre Tharaud playing Bach concerti with period instruments.

http://www.allmusic.com/album/js-bach-keyboard-concertos-mw0002202773

There are a number of youtubes as well under Alexandre Tharaud Bach.

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#2083897 - 05/17/13 12:05 AM Re: The Late Romantic Piano v The Modern Piano [Re: Withindale]
Norbert Offline
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Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14136
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
Quote:
My use of the term "good facsimile" would include every musically satisfying performance of a composers work no matter what the instrument.


This was never true nor considered "ideal" historically speaking.

From early hapsicords to modern forte piano in its many various stages variety, not uniformity was the spice of life.

"One size fits all" may seem ideal to some from a practical point of view, but not to dedicated artists.

Everyone preferring a slightly different paint brush to do his/her art...

Norbert wink


Edited by Norbert (05/17/13 12:40 AM)
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#2083902 - 05/17/13 12:18 AM Re: The Late Romantic Piano v The Modern Piano [Re: Norbert]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 1957
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
Norbert, if you are quoting me you are misunderstanding my words. My statement supports variety, the test is if it is "musically satisfying". Does the performance convey the emotional information in a sound structure outlined by the composer-is the test.
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#2084179 - 05/17/13 01:37 PM Re: The Late Romantic Piano v The Modern Piano [Re: Withindale]
joe80 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/30/09
Posts: 1145
Ed foote, and everyone else, read "after the golden age" by Kenneth Hamilton.

In purely practical terms, its good that there are pianos like Steinway that can perform the whole repertoire convincingly even if its not a perfect solution for everything. Perhaps from the modern bunch you'd prefer bosendorfer for Mozart and bluthner for Beethoven, and perhaps bechstein for mid to late romantic, and yamaha or Fazioli for baroque and contemporary, but as a practical performer its good we have some one size fits all.

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#2084582 - 05/18/13 05:45 AM Re: The Late Romantic Piano v The Modern Piano [Re: pianoloverus]
Withindale Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/09/11
Posts: 1936
Loc: Suffolk, England
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: joe80
Pianoloverus made the point that the older pianos don't impress him as much as the modern ones.
I haven't heard either in person or on the internet an old piano that IMO even comes close to a modern one.

My attempts to typify the late romantic piano sometimes leave me thinking, "A piano is a piano, is a piano."

While I'm gathering my thoughts on that conundrum, here is Liszt's Vallée d'Obermann played by Shaun Tirrell on a Mason and Hamlin CC-94 to set against Tomas Dratva's performance on Wagner's old Steinway that Liszt liked to play. The performances sound poles apart but do both satisfy Ed McMorrow's test of being "musically satisfying"? "Does the performance convey the emotional information in a sound structure outlined by the composer"?

What would be interesting is to hear Shaun Terrill play Vallée d'Obermann on a Steingraeber. Instead Pianocraft have put up his performance of Liszt's transcription of Isolde's Liebestod. Makes me think Steingraeber might just carry off Joe's prize for the piano for all seasons.
_________________________
Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 55" upright
Ibach, 1922 49" upright (project piano)

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#2084680 - 05/18/13 11:06 AM Re: The Late Romantic Piano v The Modern Piano [Re: Withindale]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7239
Loc: Rochester MN
Here's a little bit of ear candy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNXpCP1OjHM
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It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#2084768 - 05/18/13 01:34 PM Re: The Late Romantic Piano v The Modern Piano [Re: Withindale]
Withindale Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/09/11
Posts: 1936
Loc: Suffolk, England
Thanks, Marty, Erard 1890. Some Chopin and Liszt too:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-lj6g8U4b8


Edited by Withindale (05/19/13 02:00 PM)
_________________________
Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 55" upright
Ibach, 1922 49" upright (project piano)

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#2084810 - 05/18/13 03:10 PM Re: The Late Romantic Piano v The Modern Piano [Re: Withindale]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Withindale
Thanks, Marty, Erard 1990. Some Chopin and Liszt too:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-lj6g8U4b8
I find the tone of that piano rather ugly...kind of the opposite of sweet or singing. Almost like a metallic thud. I realize others obviously think differently, but frankly I have yet to be impressed by any of these old pianos.

For me the most important thing is what I'd simply and somewhat vaguely call beauty of tone, and I find modern pianos far more satisfying in this area. I am far less interested in things like whether the registers have a different tone, if the bass notes are incredibly clear, or other qualities that those who prefer older instruments seem to value.


Edited by pianoloverus (05/18/13 07:35 PM)

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#2084869 - 05/18/13 06:09 PM Re: The Late Romantic Piano v The Modern Piano [Re: pianoloverus]
schwammerl Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/06
Posts: 2012
Loc: Belgium
Quote:
For me the most important thing is what I'd simply call beauty of tone, and I find modern pianos far more satisfying in this area.


Have to come back here on this forum after many months of absence simply to agree with pianoloverus this time.

Watching and listening to Yves Henry - a proponant of period instruments - I always do prefer his Chopin preludes played on the contemporary Pleyel as compared to the 1838 Pleyel:
Yves Henri - Chopin etudes - Pleyel 2004 vs 1838

But of course this is merely my preference.

schwammerl

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#2084882 - 05/18/13 07:01 PM Re: The Late Romantic Piano v The Modern Piano [Re: schwammerl]
jim ialeggio Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/03/05
Posts: 621
Loc: shirley, MA
Originally Posted By: schwammerl
Quote:
For me the most important thing is what I'd simply call beauty of tone, and I find modern pianos far more satisfying in this area.

Watching and listening to Yves Henry - a proponant of period instruments - I always do prefer his Chopin preludes played on the contemporary Pleyel as compared to the 1838 Pleyel:


These two comments bring up an interesting point.

That is, "historic" instruments, or basically "historic" anything, is the embodiment of lots of research, and lots of speculation...its unavoidable. The interpretations of historic ways of doing anything, like anything else go in and out of vogue.

Is the way these instruments sound now, with 150 year old everythings the way they sounded when Chopin or whomever wrote for them?

I can see that, given the type of structure the instrument used to produce sound,certain portions of the tonal profile probably sound reasonably similar to the way it sounded originally. But then on the other hand, 150 year old hammers, or reproduction hammers...or 150 year old wire or reproduction wire...only sorta maybe.

I also find the tone of the Viennese mid-century instruments strident in a way I find improbable as to assume it was the original intent. Particularly knowing how a piano is such a tonal moving target, to assume the voice has not shifted at all in 150 yrs is a bit hard to believe...and strict conservation is at odds with messing with the sound to try and "improve" it, should something sound off the modern ears...the whole thing becomes a bit of a neural loop if you think about it too hard.

I don't get that stridency from pianos prior to the period the thread is discussing...but then again Withindale likes this sound...so whose to say???

Jim Ialeggio
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Jim Ialeggio
www.grandpianosolutions.com
advanced soundboard and action redesigns
978 425-9026
Shirley Center, MA

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#2084907 - 05/18/13 08:05 PM Re: The Late Romantic Piano v The Modern Piano [Re: Withindale]
Withindale Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/09/11
Posts: 1936
Loc: Suffolk, England
Even if it's strictly OT listen to this amazing performance on an 1844 Pleyel Chopin used to play:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fEIZnclrFvY.
_________________________
Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 55" upright
Ibach, 1922 49" upright (project piano)

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#2084932 - 05/18/13 08:50 PM Re: The Late Romantic Piano v The Modern Piano [Re: schwammerl]
Lluís Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/09/09
Posts: 313
Loc: Barcelona,Spain, European Unio...
Originally Posted By: schwammerl
[quote]
Watching and listening to Yves Henry - a proponant of period instruments - I always do prefer his Chopin preludes played on the contemporary Pleyel as compared to the 1838 Pleyel:
Yves Henri - Chopin etudes - Pleyel 2004 vs 1838


Yves Henry doesn't know nothing about how sounded this instruments. This restoration is really of a very bad quality. Hammers are restored with leather in order to reproduce the sonority of a Pleyel.Problem with leather is that in 5 years aproximate it becomes hard and doesn't offer a good sound but a hard sonority. In order to avoid this Ignace Pleyel et Cie replaced leather with rabbit hair in c.1840 and the material used were a high quality felt applied with no tension that didn't changed the sonority (All this information comes from many writtings contemporany to Chopin period. The kind of leather and how its been aplied is not a good referent and if the intention of the restorer is to reproduce the sonority of an old Pleyel (wich is not a good sonority because all materials are in bad shape)I have to say that they go through a wrong way.

The felt Pape (Wich uses rabbit hair and other ingredients in the building of felts) were quickly replaced by wool felt because of the new inventions and commercial demands of pianos in year 1850, so is there in those 10 years where we can find a good approximation of the sonority of Pleyels of Chopin period, in the felt d'invention Pape. As this is felt and not leather (Wich doesn't get hard with the pass of the time if not used...)we can get a very accurate result of the original sonority of Pleyels and other period instrument of 1830-1849 period from some fortepianos that still has got Pape's felt like hammers from Gioachino Rossini's Pleyel fortepiano.

If you look at some videos of this piano:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5H_4wP5dv4 you won't be judging this sonority because the hammers of this Pleyel had been changed and are now of some kind of romantic wood felt made by an european brand wich are in my sense too hard.

During this post I've linked to you some videos with a still not definitive but nearly aproximate sonority of Chopin period fortepiano.



Edited by Lluís (05/18/13 08:52 PM)
_________________________
1942 Challen Baby Grand Piano

1855 Pleyel Pianino (Restoring -> www.pleyelrestoration.blogspot.com )

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#2085257 - 05/19/13 03:14 PM Re: The Late Romantic Piano v The Modern Piano [Re: Withindale]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
A general comment about recordings: They Do Not, nor can they ever, represent the true sound of a piano. For any of us to comment on the quality of an instrument that has been posted on this forum is pointless. The quality, position and phasing of the microphones, the quality, and rate of the ADC, the quality and rate of the codec used to reproduce the sample, the quality of the DAC, and finally, the quality of the amplifier and the sound reproducer all affect the sound. If any of you have actually heard live or played the instruments being posted here, then your opinion matters, and it should be noted that your perception of a recording of the same instrument that you have heard live will be biased ( your brain will make the recording sound the same as the live experience). Note that I too posted a link to a recording, so I am as guilty as the rest of you in proving pointless evidence.

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#2085360 - 05/19/13 06:28 PM Re: The Late Romantic Piano v The Modern Piano [Re: Withindale]
Lluís Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/09/09
Posts: 313
Loc: Barcelona,Spain, European Unio...
I played all the pleyels from the videos I posted !!
_________________________
1942 Challen Baby Grand Piano

1855 Pleyel Pianino (Restoring -> www.pleyelrestoration.blogspot.com )

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#2085369 - 05/19/13 06:50 PM Re: The Late Romantic Piano v The Modern Piano [Re: Mwm]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19265
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Mwm
A general comment about recordings: They Do Not, nor can they ever, represent the true sound of a piano. For any of us to comment on the quality of an instrument that has been posted on this forum is pointless. The quality, position and phasing of the microphones, the quality, and rate of the ADC, the quality and rate of the codec used to reproduce the sample, the quality of the DAC, and finally, the quality of the amplifier and the sound reproducer all affect the sound. If any of you have actually heard live or played the instruments being posted here, then your opinion matters, and it should be noted that your perception of a recording of the same instrument that you have heard live will be biased ( your brain will make the recording sound the same as the live experience). Note that I too posted a link to a recording, so I am as guilty as the rest of you in proving pointless evidence.
Although, depending on your point of view, recordings may not be ideal or even close to ideal, I think the alternative would be trying to just use words to describe tone(this is even less ideal IMO)or only discussing a piano's tone when people are actually there to play the piano in question. So I think there's very little choice in this matter.

If someone creates a video with idea of promoting some piano I think it's their responsibility to make a video that is as honest and accurate as possible. If they create a poor video that makes the piano sound poor, I don't see how they can really complain if people don't like the piano's sound.


Edited by pianoloverus (05/19/13 07:22 PM)

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#2085376 - 05/19/13 07:10 PM Re: The Late Romantic Piano v The Modern Piano [Re: Withindale]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7239
Loc: Rochester MN
Without the use of recordings, this discussion would not even be possible. The general characteristics of various instruments can still be identified with modern, and even simple, recordings. Audio technology has come a long way since the 1950's. One can easily hear the difference between a wooden flute and a metal instrument. One can even hear the difference between silver or platinum. The same holds true for the basic tonal structure of different pianos. Recordings are a valid means of comparison.
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Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#2085446 - 05/19/13 10:26 PM Re: The Late Romantic Piano v The Modern Piano [Re: Minnesota Marty]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
Without the use of recordings, this discussion would not even be possible. The general characteristics of various instruments can still be identified with modern, and even simple, recordings. Audio technology has come a long way since the 1950's. One can easily hear the difference between a wooden flute and a metal instrument. One can even hear the difference between silver or platinum. The same holds true for the basic tonal structure of different pianos. Recordings are a valid means of comparison.


I disagree. Much of the discussion that goes on here at PW speaks of the characteristic sound of a particular piano brand, all without the use of recordings. The assumption is made, when discussing that particular piano, that the participants have played that brand and are aware of the characteristic sound. No recording need be posted to help the discussion along.

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#2085609 - 05/20/13 07:45 AM Re: The Late Romantic Piano v The Modern Piano [Re: Mwm]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7239
Loc: Rochester MN
Originally Posted By: Mwm
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
Without the use of recordings, this discussion would not even be possible. The general characteristics of various instruments can still be identified with modern, and even simple, recordings. Audio technology has come a long way since the 1950's. One can easily hear the difference between a wooden flute and a metal instrument. One can even hear the difference between silver or platinum. The same holds true for the basic tonal structure of different pianos. Recordings are a valid means of comparison.


I disagree. Much of the discussion that goes on here at PW speaks of the characteristic sound of a particular piano brand, all without the use of recordings. The assumption is made, when discussing that particular piano, that the participants have played that brand and are aware of the characteristic sound. No recording need be posted to help the discussion along.

That is simply because modern instruments are available to play and form one's own opinion. Earlier instruments are simply not available to make a personal assessment. In the US, instrument museums are rarely just down the street to go and form an opinion from direct experience. Also, the European brands from that era, Erard, Pleyel, etc., are not common commodities.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#2085664 - 05/20/13 10:08 AM Re: The Late Romantic Piano v The Modern Piano [Re: Minnesota Marty]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
Originally Posted By: Mwm
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
Without the use of recordings, this discussion would not even be possible. The general characteristics of various instruments can still be identified with modern, and even simple, recordings. Audio technology has come a long way since the 1950's. One can easily hear the difference between a wooden flute and a metal instrument. One can even hear the difference between silver or platinum. The same holds true for the basic tonal structure of different pianos. Recordings are a valid means of comparison.


I disagree. Much of the discussion that goes on here at PW speaks of the characteristic sound of a particular piano brand, all without the use of recordings. The assumption is made, when discussing that particular piano, that the participants have played that brand and are aware of the characteristic sound. No recording need be posted to help the discussion along.

That is simply because modern instruments are available to play and form one's own opinion. Earlier instruments are simply not available to make a personal assessment. In the US, instrument museums are rarely just down the street to go and form an opinion from direct experience. Also, the European brands from that era, Erard, Pleyel, etc., are not common commodities.

You are quite correct. While I accept that we can glean from a recording the essence of the sound of a piano, due to confirmation bias if we already know the instrument live, the recorded sound of one particular 19th C Peyel is not going to help one discern the actual live sound of that piano to the extent that one can, as is being done in this thread, make a value judgement of that piano relative to other, including modern, pianos.

I know from my own recordings of my own piano that the resultant sound, when played back electronically, is nothing like the sound when sitting at and playing the actual instrument. Most of the recordings of the same brand and make (in my case, a M&H BB) that I have listened to here on PW and on the web, sound almost identical to my own recordings, yet they do not actually sound like the actual instrument. This is both good and bad. Bad because we can't simulate the real instrument, and good because we can't simulate the real instrument.

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#2085864 - 05/20/13 04:23 PM Re: The Late Romantic Piano v The Modern Piano [Re: Withindale]
Lluís Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/09/09
Posts: 313
Loc: Barcelona,Spain, European Unio...
Much is lost throught recordings, if I love how that Pleyel sounded in videos, in the reality ,a concert with a Pleyel pianino is an experience like drinking the best wine you ever drunk! The sonority is as dense as the good flavour of a wine... nice for hearth...
_________________________
1942 Challen Baby Grand Piano

1855 Pleyel Pianino (Restoring -> www.pleyelrestoration.blogspot.com )

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