>> DANIEL ADAM MALTZ: Welcome to Jause, a snack-sized slice of Viennese classical music
and Austrian culture.
I’m your host, Daniel Adam Maltz.
This Jause is an excerpt from Classical Cake, op. 5.
In this excerpt, we’re talking with Paul McNulty and Viviana Sofronitsky, producers
of some of today's best fortepianos, about using the
right instrument for classical and Romantic music.
One thing I'm particularly interested in is what is your philosophy when building a copy?
Do you try to make exact replicas based on research
or do you make modifications to, for example, suit
the sound world expected for modern audiences?
>> PAUL MCNULTY: No, you cannot design a piano to the architecture.
That was Steinway and it was done once.
And the architecture of 1870 is what we hear now.
The Musikverein 1870, the Concertgebouw 1878 stuff like this.
And those buildings gave Brahms to reply to a request for a European tour involving these
new concert halls.
He said, just make sure there’s an American Steinway if you want me to play in
And that distinction is on the basis of architecture, not music.
So I'm interested in the pursuit of the sound recognizable to a builder of this instrument
who could walk by without noticing a difference.
>> VIVIANA SOFRONITSKY: And, what I see from our customers is that they come to us and
they are not saying, ‘Oh, this instrument is
good I want to have this.’
They say, ‘Oh, I love Mozart, I want an instrument where Mozart will sound
And then they choose Walter or Stein, which Mozart was writing pieces for.
Because when Mozart got this instrument, he tried it, he
improvised, and he created the best music which
could fit and sounded the most beautiful on these instruments.
So if we play it on something else, then it will sound disadvantaged, as Anton Rubinstein
>> MALTZ: When I was first introduced to historic instruments as a young student, it was
presented in a way that seemed to say that this is an oddity and you shouldn't pay it
So, historical music practice I think is sometimes looked down upon by modern piano
performers and easily dismissed.
Do you see a world in which historical performance becomes
at equal footing with modern performance practice?
>> MCNULTY: As much as they may claim as a person who rather dismisses these
early instruments, but yet claims to be in some
sympathy with the composer – they're closing a door, which is unfortunate, that they shouldn't
There comes upon a musician a profound difference with this exposure and with some
exploration into the taste and the practicalities.
So how do you create a sound, you know?
These are big questions which are answered necessarily in a different way because the
instrument is so wildly different to the Steinway people grew up on.
So to, as a matter of convenience, to dismiss a whole galaxy of
the sound spectrum…
And, in any other way that you can connect the validity of an instrument
to its music is, I think maybe that idea is a bit out of
date, you know?
MALTZ: Yeah, absolutely.
Thanks for watching.
Please subscribe and be sure to join the conversation in the comments.
This video was an excerpt from Classical Cake, op. 5 – “The Art of Building a Fortepiano.”
Visit classicalcake.com for more.
I’m Daniel Adam Maltz.
Bis zum nächsten Mal.