Los pianos de Beethoven II

Por si el lanzamiento anterior con pianos de la época fuese poco, Avaxhome publicó recién la integral de Beethoven, por Badura-Skoda al pianoforte.

The Hammerkiavier Sonata is the last work that I studied with my great master Edwin Fischer, who was to die in 1960. At that time, he had offered me his book "Ludwig van Beethovens Kiaviersonaten" with this dedication: "to the dear Paul Badura-Skoda, the predestined interpreter of these sonatas, affectionately dedicated by Edwin Fischer". But at that time I was still very far from playing this Sonata - the most difficult of all - according to my inner vision of it. It cost me years of efforts and trials before I was able to approach this ideal! At times I had the impression that! was fighting not for the Hammerkiavier but against it. And sometimes I was so strongly gripped by the work that I wanted to write a book about it, a sort of synthesis of a structural analysis and a poetic commentary, with historical considerations on the process leading to its conception, and an approach to the problem of interpretation. This book has remained unfinished to this day but it has been a source of maturation for me.
Despite my familiarity with the pianofortes of Beethoven's time, I doubted for a long time that an adequate reproduction of opus 106 might be possible on an instrument of the period. For this Sonata, as no other, looks more resolutely towards the future and seems to anticipate the widest resources of the modern piano, its more expressive plenitude of tone, its singing high register and its more elaborate mechanism. I owe to the initiative and insistence of Michel Bernstein to have attempted such a daring experiment. I myself was surprised by the result: the insufficient volume of Conrad Graf's piano is compensated by its dramatic intensity, its amazing songlike expressiveness and a sometimes unimaginable richness of colours. We thus have additional evidence that even in his last creative period Beethoven was a realist to a much higher degree than is generally thought. Indeed the instrument is used here to its farthest limits, probably farther than its maker of genius could have envisaged. Beethoven's phrase "the piano must be broken" ("Brechen soil das Klavier!") takes its full meaning here.
I do not think that a pianist, were he the greatest, can assume by himself all the aspects of this Sonata. But if I succeed in conveying a significant part of this exalting and overwhelming musical experience, I shall have attained my goal.


Translated by Josine Monbet

De la misma página, una nota sobre la importancia de tomar en cuenta las diferencias existentes entre distintos tipos de piano, por más que pertenezcan a la misma época, Beethoven resalta como un estudioso del mecanismo:


Interpreting Beethoven's Sonatas on an instrument dating from the composer's time poses at the outset the difficult problem of the sonority wished for by Beethoven and also of his relationship with the instrument-makers of the period : indeed the greatest evolution in the history of piano construction took place during Beethoven's life.
As composer, improviser and interpreter of his own music, Beethoven studied intensely the problems of mechanics, sonority, range and power. Besides, he was in constant contact with Nanette Streicher who, with her husband, had transported to Vienna the workshop of her father, the famous Stein of Augsburg by whom Mozart had been so impressed in 1777. Beethoven may never have bought a piano himself as instrument-makers were very interested in gathering his observations. The Streichers built instruments according to the wishes of their patrons and Beethoven must have thought more interesting, at least during his youth, to confront himself with their diversity rather settle on one. However it may have been, the three pianos that have been preserved as having belonged to Beethoven were presented to him. Beethoven was never satisfied with the first, sent him off by the Paris instrument-maker Sébastien Erard in 1803. The second one, built by Thomas Broadwood in London in 1817, was to reach Vienna in the middle of the next year. The last one came finally from Conrad Craf's workshop and was delivered to the composer as a permanent loan in 1825.
In Beethoven's time, piano-making drew on two opposed principles of mechanism: the Viennese action and the English one, the latter of which was also to be adopted by the French. In the Viennese action, the key is directly connected to the hammer and it produces a sensitive, light, clear tone and a rather soft volume. The English action on the contrary, ancestor to our modern repetition action, is heavier and stiffer, making for a fuller, rounder,
more powerful tone, better able to employ the acoustics of large concert-halls. The Viennese action was preferred by German-speaking countries for a longtime, for the Anglo-French one was reproached for its lack of sensitivity. If the latter did finally supplant the former in the history of piano-making, it was thanks to the adoption of the double escapement by Sebastien Erard in 1822, an invention which Beethoven never came to know.
Long considered as a decisive progress in pianoforte making, the double escapement has nowadays been questioned by some commentators
for in fact it only solved the action problem of the Anglo-French mechanism, a very heavy one which impeded the quick repetition of a note.
But Beethoven seems to have remained faithful to the Viennese action all his life, as evidenced in some passages of Opus 106. Because it offered a six-octave range - instead of the five on the pianos which Beethoven had long been using - the Broadwood piano's role (Beethoven received a model in 1818) has been overestimated. Actually he had then already composed his Sonata Opus 101, whose demands outstripped the capabilities of the Broadwood. Therefore, it is the piano constructed by Conrad Graf which no doubt comes closest to the composer's ideal in terms of keyboard at the end of his life.


Translated by Josine Monbet.

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Nam stat fua cuiq~ dies, breue et irreparabile tempus.