NATS and early pianos

Last week I was able to spend several days in Denton, TX at the University of North Texas for our regional NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing) competition.  One of the perks of my position is that I get to participate in the full diversity of a School of Music - choirs, singers, instrumentalists, etc.  It's particularly enjoyable to experience the range of talent on display at NATS (there were over 600 students entered, from high school to graduate school), and to see the art of collaborative piano on display as well.

One of the highlights of the conference was a presentation by the UNT professor of collaborative piano, Elvia Puccinelli, and her vocal colleagues involving Lieder performances with early pianos.  We heard Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and Brahms on pianos for which the pieces were originally composed.  What a treat!  Prof. Puccinelli was kind enough to allow me some practice time on the Walter replica by Paul McNulty, for which I am profoundly grateful.  The performance also featured an original Streicher piano from 1869, and the audience was audibly overwhelmed by its beauty and richness of tone.  If you have never had the pleasure of experiencing the sound world of early pianos, check out these excerpts by my friend and colleague, Bart van Oort.  Hearing these masterpieces in their "original language" is a revelatory experience.  More on that subject later!  For now, back to work...time to practice some MacDowell.  (Anyone have a Chickering I could try out for this music?)

Richard FountainComment