This project aspires to bring together three types of art: the art of composition, the art of restoration and performing art. The Piano Museum provided us with numerous opportunities for this offering a wide selection of instruments. Our choice fell on the following three: Bluthner (1908), Carl Goetze (1895) and Diederichs Frères (end of 19th c.).
On sound recording and music as a live process
Sound recording brought about a new approach to music. It offers the listener a certain unchangeable, fixed standard. The reality of music, however, is different. Any performance is a live process which depends on a myriad of nuances that must come together at a certain point in time, such as the acoustics of a concert hall, the mood of the audience and, lastly, the performer’s frame of mind. This is the reason why every subsequent performance differs from the previous one in many fine details and a discerning listener is perfectly capable of sensing it.
By recording the same sketches on different pianos we aimed at capturing the musical process itself rather than a piece of music as such, in which every instrument expresses itself and somehow suggests its own interpretation of the music, so that one and the same musical piece could be perceived as different each time it is being played.
On restoration: Alexey Stavitsky
The practice of restoration belongs to the 20th century. In the 19th century restoration was virtually non-existent because the world was changing at such a rapid pace that all things obsolete were being left far behind without any need to bring them back to life.
The design of the instruments changed with every new decade, these changes being a reflection of various aspects of differing ways the sound and the music were viewed. And this is the very thing modern restoration intends to demonstrate.
On the instruments: Varvara Myagkova
It is my belief that period instruments possess their own unique personality. Every musical instrument certainly has one, but with those with long history it is definitely more pronounced, they possess something special modern instruments just can’t quite capture. It has been repeatedly noted by different performers that the sound of the piano can “adapt” to the performer’s mindset and keeps that same voice for a while even after a different musician has started to play. And this is amazing!
On musical text and its interpretation: Sergey Akhunov
A good musical text contains from the outset every single mood, emotion, character and meaning implied by the composer, which the performer “reads” and offers to the attention of the audience. This, in my view, is the essence of the art of interpretation. The deeper the meanings the richer and more varied the performer’s approach to the music – and vice-versa, the poorer the text the lesser the scope for interpretation. In the end, the only musical piece able to outlive its creator is that which can be interpreted infinitely without any changes to its meanings.
On performing art: Varvara Myagkova
It’s the composer I’m searching for in music. If you’re still at a stage where you can’t avoid bringing yourself into the music, well, that makes you feel uneasy. I hope one day I will cease to exist and the composer and the music are the only things left.
The piano belonged to a well-known Russian tenor Dmitry Alexeyevich Smirnov. After his emigration in 1919 it was in possession of his wife Taissia Vasilyevna Smirnova, the marriage being most likely over by that time.
Several years later the piano was owned by the family of Tatiana Igorevna Balakhovskaya, presently Director of the Pyotr Kapitsa Museum in Moscow, who donated the instrument to the Piano Museum in 2018.
Diederichs freres 1895
The piano belonged to the prominent Soviet music historian and pianist Natan Lvovich Fishman. In 2017 it was donated to the museum by his daughter Yulia Natanovna Klumova.
Carl Goetze. 1895
The piano was commissioned in 1890 by a Moscow merchant for his daughter. After the revolution it ended up in a communal flat where it remained up until the 2000-s when it was given to the Chistyakov family of pianists who, in turn, donated it to the museum.