Volume One of this series of recordings was recorded at the Glenn Gould Studio in December 2006. Volume Two was recorded in the sanctuary at St. James Anglican Church in Stratford, where I was Director of Music from 2007-2009. While the 7' Yamaha piano at St. James is one of my favourite instruments and responds well for the subtleties and colourings of Grieg, and my producer Earl McCluskie was able to create the sonic ambience of a concert hall in that space, the logistical complications of disruption to the church community’s routines and the constant worries regarding traffic noise have led me to the decision to return to the Glenn Gould Studio for Volume Three.
The primary factor in deciding on location for all three of these recordings is of course the quality of the instrument. The Steinway pianos at the Glenn Gould offer the kind of range of tone and colour that this music deserves. The excellent care of the pianos there and the fact that the GGS has a tuner-technician on call for the duration of the project, as well as the sound-proof quality of the hall are also great advantages to using that space. The piano that I used in 2006 is known as “Bertha” & is a lovely, responsive 1986 Steinway ‘D’ and I assume this will be my choice again.
Bertha, like many high quality instruments is extremely sensitive. I performed a recital on "her"/it a few years ago, and was shocked at how rough things were sounding and feeling when I arrived for a morning sound-check and short rehearsal. When I asked what had happened to my beloved piano, I was told that there had been a boogie-woogie concert there the night before. Bertha had taken on the character of that music and performer. Within half an hour of my playing that morning, Bertha started to sort herself out and settle into the piano I had remembered her to be. I have had the same experience with the piano at St. James in Stratford. I once called my tuner in a panic before a concert as the piano was very unresponsive, out-of-tune, and dull sounding. By the time he arrived, after I had played it for an hour or so, there was no longer any panic as the piano had returned to its usual glory.
Instruments of this kind of quality are for me sheer bliss, and greatly expand the range of possibility and beauty.