Piano-Playing Styles of the Nineteenth Century - Day Four

Piano-Playing Styles of the Nineteenth Century - Day Four

Guest Artists

Date and time
07 Feb 2024 (10:00am - 9:30pm)

Recital Hall, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire

200 Jennens Road, B4 7XR


£20 Day ticket

£55 Conference Pass


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Professor Neal Peres Da Costa

10am Neal Peres da Costa The second presentation from our Keynote Speaker and Artist in Residence

11.30am Break

12pm David Owen Norris (University of Southampton)

1pm Lunch

2pm Pengye Song (piano), Cui Can (violin), Xueer Wu (viola), Sizhe Fang (Violoncello)

3pm László Stachó (Franz Liszt Academy)

3.45pm Break

4.10pm Inja Stanović (University of Surrey)

5pm Malcolm Bilson

7.30pm J.S. Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, Book One.

 As part of Piano-Playing Styles of the Nineteenth Century

10am Neal Peres da Costa 

The second presentation from our Keynote Speaker and Artist in Residence

12pm David Owen Norris (University of Southampton)

Thomas Young’s tuning temperament

Exploring Young as a scientist and musician and the temperament that Haydn took from London back to Vienna. What are the implications for tonality, key characteristics and expressive harmony, and why do we settle for comparatively bland tuning systems today?

2pm Pengye Song (piano), Cui Can (violin), Xueer Wu (viola), Sizhe Fang (Violoncello).

Schumann Piano Quartet in E flat Op.47

RBC students give a performance on period instruments. Then Sharona Joshua discusses “wrist painting” and other techniques with students.

3pm László Stachó (Franz Liszt Academy)

HIP embodiment of late 19th-century and early 20th-century performing practice: A framework and guide to good practices.

During its more than half a century of history, the HIP movement has gradually conquered repertoires from the less distant past, such as late Romanticism and early Modernism. Furthermore, with the advent of YouTube and Spotify over the past decade, historical sound recordings are becoming more and more widely known among both musicologists and performers.

Parallelly with this, a wide range of relevant textual sources from the second half of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century, such as performer-directed pedagogical treatises and analyses, have become available online, thus very easy to reach. This situation appears ideal not only for the researcher but for the historically interested performer as well, who is not afraid of stepping into the role of the performer-researcher to come up with historically informed and originally sounding renditions of compositions and recreations of concert settings from late Romanticism.

In my lecture-recital, I would like to sketch a framework for the performer-researcher for their historically informed preparation process in the production of both creative and ‘authentic’ performances of late Romantics (and early Modernists), grounded in a comparative study of recordings, their close-listening analyses, and various kinds of textual sources, including verbal texts and instructive score editions.

An essential element in such a comparative endeavour is the study of performance style on a deep level, going well beyond the obvious sounding elements and structural-level explanations in order to approach and understand the recorded early 20th-century musicians’ performance style ‘from the inside’, in a genuinely embodied way (i.e., by grasping and embodying the performer’s way of thinking and feeling in the act of performance, and especially how performers direct their attention during playing). I would like to illustrate this through a short introduction (with illustrations) to related artistic–pedagogical projects from my own performing and conservatoire-based pedagogical practice.

Repertoire referenced and/or performed includes Grieg’s Violin Sonata No. 3 in C minor, Op. 45, and a selection from Liszt’s Années de pèlerinage (S. 160 & 163), and Bartók’s Nine Little Piano Pieces (BB 90). 

4.10pm Inja Stanović (University of Surrey)

Chopin’s Nocturnes Revisited: Using early sound recordings as research sources.

This lecture-recital focuses upon a range of late nineteenth-century pianistic expressive techniques, including various types of rubato, rhythmic alterations, non-synchrony between the melodic line and the bass, unnotated arpeggiation, and textual alterations, with particular reference to Frederic Chopin’s Nocturnes. Due to their popularity, Chopin’s Nocturnes have a recording history dating back to the 1890s. As such, there are numerous recordings which can testify changes in performance styles in the intervening time. Importantly, this is not only relevant to piano playing; recordings of Chopin’s Nocturnes were also produced by singers, violinists, flutists, and cellists.

In this lecture-recital, I shall present a range of recordings of Chopin’s Nocturnes made by violinists Jules Conus, Pablo de Sarasate, Bronisłav Huberman, Arnold Rosé., Kathleen Parlow and Wiliam Primrose; cellist Pablo Casals and Victor Sorlin; singers Claudia Muzio and Louisa M. Nicholson; and pianists Vladimir de Pachmann, Ignacy Jan Paderewski, Leopold Godowski, Sergei Rachmaninov, Josef Hofmann, and Raoul Koczalski. The lecture-recital is divided into three parts: Pаrt 1 considers how various text-based sources serve to illuminate aspects of late nineteenth century pianism in context of Chopin’s Nocturnes. Part 2 considers various recordings of Chopin’s Nocturnes, made between 1890 and 1930. Analysis of these recordings was a part of the Leverhulme-funded research project “(Re)constructing Early Recordings: a guide for historically informed performance”.

The three-year research project was based on the reconstruction and simulation of the mechanical recording process to capture performances using wax cylinder and digital technologies, and investigation of the value of reconstructions of passed recording techniques, in terms of preserving forms of performance practice. A broad range of expressive pianistic techniques are then showcased in Part 3, through a performance which clarifies and contextualizes central points of this lecture-recital.

Programme: A range of Chopin’s Nocturnes

5pm Malcolm Bilson

Taste: Examples from Mozart, Schubert, and Chopin.

In this pre-recorded Video Malcolm argues that the great composers are never mundane or predictable when developing their material. Performers should be similarly creative. His exploration of questions of good taste includes the interpretation of phrase marks, agogic inflection of dynamic markings, and a varied approach to handling dotted rhythms.

We are honoured that following the screening of this presentation Malcolm Bilson joins us from the States for a Live (Remote) Questions and Answers.

7.30pm J. S. Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, Book One.

Presented by RBC students on pre-Twentieth Century keyboards 

Book for this recital only here.

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