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Old 03-09-2006, 02:17 PM
gonrol gonrol is offline
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Default Playing Bach: PianoForte Vs Cembalo

This discussion can be found on several sites. It is a discussion about if it is correct to play Bach on PianoForte considering the fact that while Bach was alive, what we today know as the Piano had not been invented yet.

What is your opinion on this subject?
What words can be used to identify the difference of playing Bach with harpsichord and PianoForte?

Best Regards
RARG
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Old 03-09-2006, 10:47 PM
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Sylvia Sylvia is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gonrol
This discussion can be found on several sites. It is a discussion about if it is correct to play Bach on PianoForte considering the fact that while Bach was alive, what we today know as the Piano had not been invented yet.

What is your opinion on this subject?
What words can be used to identify the difference of playing Bach with harpsichord and PianoForte?

Best Regards
RARG


Hi RARG,

I personally think that it is not correct to play Bach's pieces on the piano. The reason why people do this is because nowadays pianos are much more common to play and to find than harpsichords are.

If Bach supposedly had a piano, he certainly would have composed pieces that expressed to the sublime all of the piano characteristics. For example, he would have accented the legato, and the dolcemente, not the staccato, that is wonderful and completely achievable on the harpsichord itself.
I would not want to hear the Brandeburg concerts on a piano, they already sound magnificient on the harpsichord.

All of the Well Tempered Klavier was written specifically for harpsichord (even the name suggests it), and it would sound almost shallow on a piano. Furthermore, on the Well Tempered Klavier transcriptions for piano, there is a frequent problem of hands overlapping their selves. Obviously, this happens becuase the harpsichord has more registers.

If we want to hear some masterpieces for piano, let's not disfigure Bach's harpsichord (and organ, for that matter) compositions. Let's turn our attention to Beethoven, Liszt, Mozart or Chopin; that lived in when piano had already been invented, and that have written wonderful piano concertos, nocturnes, preludes, sonatas, rondòs, canons... .

In respect to the composer, his compositions should be played as he wanted for it to be played. A musician should be faithful to the directions of the composer.
Some composers instead, like Tschaikowky, left very few directions to the director, leaving great space to individuality. For instance, Piotr's marvellous sixth symphony, was directed by many directors, but Karajan's one will differ greatly from Bernstein's, since Lenny took a much more personal interpretation, that was wonderful, but not very accurate in respecting the few directions Tschaikowsky left.

Following this reasoning, it is obvious that the compositions directed by the composer itself, sound the best they could ever sound. For instance, when Bernstein directed the West Side Story, or Pietro Mascagni the Cavalleria Rusticana, or Gershwin his rhapsody in blue. These modern composers have left us recordings of them directing. I wish there were digital recorders in Bach time...

I must admit that some of Bach's pieces do sound quite pleasant on the piano, but not as much as if he had written expressly for this instrument.

This is my opinion, I'd be glad to discuss it with anyone interested.

Regards,
Silvia

Last edited by Sylvia : 03-19-2006 at 08:50 AM.
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Old 03-10-2006, 02:34 AM
suetuba suetuba is offline
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I think the problem of 'accuracy' in historical performance is unsolvable in any final sense. I certainly prefer hearing Bach performed on harpsichords, and Beethoven on fortepianos, but the reality is that most musicians don't have access to those instruments. If it comes down to Bach on the piano or no Bach....

At a professional level, I think it more fraught with danger to perform on the 'wrong' instrument; however, issues of balance then come into play. A Beethoven piano concerto on an authentic instrument accompanied by a modern symphony orchestra is going to get drowned out, as it lacks the power of, say, a Bechstein or Steinway.

I play ophicleide, cimbasso and serpent in the orchestra whenever possible and historically correct. The problem is whoever is conducting has heard it for years on the historically incorrect, but evolutionally correct tuba, and s/he is often expecting the larger, fatter sound of the tuba, instead of the completely different sounds of the ophicleide, cimbasso or serpent. So although I am playing the 'correct' instrument I have a conductor trying to make me make it sound like a modern instrument!

People's ears are so used to the sound of Bach on a piano, that I doubt you will change them.

Sue
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Old 11-27-2006, 01:46 AM
Paxromana Paxromana is offline
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Personally, I think this:

1) It is extremely expensive to get hold of a harpischord.

2)Overlapping notes can easily be resolved in nearly all cases.

3)There is no huge difference between the pianoforte and the harpsichord.

4)The pianoforte is a vastly superior and easier to handle instrument.

5)I have heard much professional Bach on piano.

6)There is no sound quality lost, as a piano can do everything a harpischord can, and more.

7)If the said piece is an ensemble, piano/harpischord will barely be heard most of the time anyways.

There, I've countered all your points and given my own, Sylvia. If you can prove me wrong on more than half my points, I'll gladly agree with you.
By the way, "clavier" simply means "keyboard".

Last edited by Paxromana : 12-04-2006 at 12:03 AM.
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