|Review by Julien April 6, 2007 (8 of 8 found this review helpful)
Performance: Sonics (S/MC): /
|As promised, here is my review.
I have a lot of respect for many of the companies that are fully involved in the SACD development. For some, like Pentatone, it is because they bring to us the great and most famous composers by the great geniuses of all times, with the best recording quality imaginable, and usually first rate performances (very few exceptions, like the recent Storioni trio).
For some, like Lyrinx (and many others of course), it is for their cultural effort and huge contribution to let the world discover beauty or originality we do not hear everyday. This, I believe, counterbalances very well with the “warhorses” politic adopted by Pentatone like companies.
Of course, I need both.
This recording is as close as you can get to Mozart’s world, his life and environment.
All (but one) dating from the agitated and so creative period Mozart lived in, and all known and appreciated by the composer, the keyboard instruments played on this recording are a revelation I consider as a lesson for all of us who forget too easily how creative the art of interpretation of the past was.
Composers, players, were in perpetual quest for different sound qualities, and even if like always one form would eventually impose itself and “win” the battle it does not mean that the others weren’t worth the journey.
First of all, let me list the four instruments presented here: the vis-à-vis (Johann Andreas Stein, Augsbourg 1777), the square piano (one by Christian Baumann, Deux-Ponts 1782, and the other by Frederick Beck, London 1773), and the clavichord (built by Thomas Steiner, Basle 1996, after Christian Gottlob Hubert, Anspach 1772).
One very interesting aspect, and I will cite the booklet, is that they have “deliberately respected the different sound levels of each instrument, in order to allow a comparison between them”.
In this matter, the first of them, the vis-à-vis, is impressive. With three keybords, one of which allowing the simultaneous play of pianoforte and harpsichord, it does fill the room with authority.
Here is a link to a Harmonia Mundi page of a the excellent Andreas Staier CD, with further information:
Could they release it on SACD? I would buy it right now.
Anyway, I like the word “mutant” they use. The vis-à-vis is indeed a breathtaking specimen. The rich tone of the harpsichord is already beautiful, and when coupled with the pianoforte sound it “produces an orchestral effect which expresses Mozart’s music perfectly”.
Still in the booklet (excellent booklet by the way), “the vis-à-vis consists of a large rectangular box, in which nestle, nose to tail, the large five-octave harpsichord and the rather short grand piano… A third keyboard at the harpsichord end plays the piano by means of trackers running fan-wise under the instrument, and this keyboard can be coupled to the harpsichord so as to play everything at once.”
Of course, as it is on the Staier CD, the vis-à-vis can be played by two people.
The square piano was the most usual form of the piano at Mozart’s time. The two instruments used on this recording, though, have nearly opposite sound characteristics. The intimate and soft Baumann was appreciated and recommended by Mozart, and the English-made Beck, with shorter and thicker strings has a more rounded and “bigger” sound. Sounding also more like a flute in the treble, the latter later imposed its aesthetic of the piano and is thus the closest to the pianoforte sound we are familiar with.
“For this recording, following contemporary practice, the square pianos were played closed, thereby creating a resonance-chamber under the lid, of which only a flap is left open to let out the sound. In both, the treble dampers were left permanently raised, creating a dulcimer-like cloud of harmonies without muddling the sound of the melody” (the dulcimer, along with the harpsichord, is one of the two "parents" of the piano).
Fascinating. Think of how many ignorant and stubborn pianists refuse systematically, especially in chamber music, to close the lid (even half-way). Artistic expression versus ego.
The Clavichord, always considered as the most expressive of all keyboard instruments, is an instrument that responds better than any other to the most subtle nuances of touch. The richness of tone and dynamics it produces is unbelievable. I think I’ll buy me one when I’ll have the money.
What about the performance?
We just talked about touch. Well, touch is very needed when you play all these instruments, which would not respond well to a powerful modern “bodybuilder” type of play, and all have different physical properties. The player here, Pierre Goy, is someone I hadn’t heard about before (I’ve been in China for too many years), and I am impressed. By his touch, of course, by his style, his phrasing and the attention to detail. Still, Staier’s genius would have a little something more I believe, maybe more out of time magic moments, and greater sense of silence sometimes (silence is often source of the deepest emotions, and only the truly great artists can master it and create this magic resulting in two thousand people holding their breath at the same time). Anyway, the performance is superb, I'm just being perfectionnist.
Another detail: all keyboards are tuned at 415 Hz, with a Valotti temperament.For those interested, here are links to a few explanations:
Actually, we usually tune at 430 Hz for Mozart, but I guess 415 Hz was still frequently used then too. And maybe less tension on the strings of those old instruments was the reason. (By the way, modern pitch for the A is acknowledged to be 440 Hz, which is half a tone higher than 415, but we usually tuned the pianos at 442 Hz, and many orchestra end up tuning at 444 Hz, all this because of the wind instruments getting hotter especially in the hot and dry spaces.)
Merci Monsieur René Gambini, pioneer of SACD in France, I’m waiting for more. I know about the costs, but if you could release all your recordings in hybrid SACDs, you would make many of us very happy because you make some of the best chamber music and solo recordings I’ve ever heard.
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|Review by JJ May 28, 2007 (4 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance: Sonics (S/MC): /
|En un concept discographique original mettant en avant l'instrument plus que le compositeur afin de redonner toute sa valeur à la partition, le label Lyrinx revient au SACD en pur DSD avec un enregistrement intitulé "Claviers Mozartiens". Grâce au concours du conservateur de la collection des instruments du Gemeentemuseum à La Haye, le Dr Michael Latchman, l'enregistrement s'est effectué avec quatre claviers différents que Mozart a connus en son temps et sur lesquelles ses doigts se sont posés pour créer les œuvres que l'on sait. C'est ainsi que le programme débute avec la Sonate KV 282 jouée sur un "Vis à Vis de 1777", suivie par un Prélude en ut majeur KV 284 A et la Sonate en fa majeur KV 332 au "Piano Carré de 1782". La seconde partie nous offre la Gigue en sol majeur KV 574, la Fantaisie en ré mineur KV 397, ainsi que le Rondo en ré majeur KV 485. Toutes ces pièces sont jouées sur un "Clavicorde de 1996" d'après un instrument de 1772. Et pour finir, un "Piano Carré de 1773" nous offre la Sonate en sol majeur KV 283. Le pianiste Pierre Goy, élève notamment de Vlado Perlemuter, restitue avec une parfaite maîtrise du discours musical, toute la palette de couleurs que délivrent ces quatre instruments. Car à l'écoute de ce disque unique le choc est bien réel et soudain, c'est un autre univers qui vient à nous, un univers oublié, abandonné au cœur de nos mémoires, un univers dans lequel Mozart et sa musique se font encore plus proche de nous, de notre sensibilité, de notre désir de partage musical. Sous les doigts de Pierre Goy, les nuances sont innombrables et la lumière de ces notes semble se révéler à nous pour la première fois. Dans ce monde redécouvert, c'est l'âme de Mozart que l'on touche de ses dix doigts. Un Super Audio CD à la prise de son exemplaire, respectant le volume sonore de chaque instrument et qui fera date, pour un plaisir musical renouvelé.
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