Nearly every instrument in an orchestra has changed over the past three centuries. Some differences are obvious: a harpsichord, in which the strings are plucked by a mechanical quill, evolved into a piano, where the strings are struck by a felt-padded hammer; the French horn sprouted valves; the bassoon grew larger.
The question completely broadsided me, because the idea of a world without Early Music seems as bereft as a world without Renaissance history, with the paintings of Titian banished to decommissioned nuclear bomb shelters, and St Mark’s Church in Venice hidden behind tall plywood hoardings.
Sherkin’s was a Steingraeber & Söhne baby grand, a high-end piano packed with goodies to raise the highest of brows. Thanks to his sponsor, Grand Piano House Inc., he will have a full concert-size instrument to work with whenever he plays at the Jane Mallett Theatre this season.
Anyone with even a glancing knowledge of Western music history knows that Beethoven first rattled the cage of Classical form, then demolished it with oupourings of emotion using then-unconventional means. But so much of the Beethoven we hear on symphony stages sounds so tame. Is this really the music that shocked listeners 200 years ago?
Ahead of the first of four concerts with Tafelmusik in his Toronto début this week, fortepiano master Kristian Bezuidenhout eloquently answered questions about what makes his instrument different from a modern concert grand.