which I learnt to play, and it is a wonderful instrument. When I was about twenty I was fortunate enough to get to know authentic
instruments: romantic grand pianos by Érard and Pleyel and older ones by Graf, Streicher etc.
This was a new world of timbres and expressive potential. Naturally, I took the inspiration and revelations provided by these instruments to the
modern grand piano. A stimulating crossfertilisation of expressive and interpretative possibilities was the result. In this way it became increasingly natural for me to play the same repertoire on both old and new instruments. In my desire to share this fascinating crossfertilisation with others, I found the answer to
the above question: a double CD with the same works on authentic and new instruments. This is particularly interesting in the case of Ravel, since
the two types of instrument not only existed in his lifetime, but were actually used by him. The ‘new’ instrument used for the recording is a Steinway. ‘New’ is in inverted commas because the Steinway grand has hardly changed since the late nineteenth century. The authentic instrument on this CD is an Érard – one of the most celebrated makers of the nineteenth century, and immortalised by Liszt. Ravel frequently gave his recitals on a Steinway, while at home he used an Érard when composing.
The different tonal worlds of the two instruments result primarily from the parallel stringing and largely wooden frame of the Érard, and the cross-stringing and steel frame (to accommodate the higher tension of the strings and case) of the Steinway. The sound of the Érard is thus more stringy and dies away
differently, while the various registers are more individual. The Steinway glories in the resonance of the strings and case, and the mélange of the
notes. Since relationships between the immense richness of colour and timbre in Ravel’s music are therefore different, this is naturally of
influence on the interpretative choices made by the performer. The pedalling, dynamic transitions, balance between the parts, harmonic colours, build-up of tension, tempos – all these must be approached differently depending on the instrument used. This is clearest of all in relation to tempos: none of the recorded pieces have the same length on the two CDs. For a musician and pianist this is an inevitable, inspiring, instructive, and in particular a delightful experience in the process of
developing one’s interpretation. I sincerely hope that you will enjoy precisely this aspect of the project as much as I do.