February 9, 2012

My Blind Speed-date with Oliver and Bertha

Prior to the recording sessions, I was given the opportunity to try out both of the Glenn Gould Studio pianos: Bertha and Oliver.  Things change, especially regarding pianos that are so well-loved and often-used, so I wanted to be sure I was making the right choice for this Volume 3 recording of Grieg piano music, and not just assuming that since Volume 1 was recorded on Bertha, that I should stick with her.

I asked that the pianos' identities be kept secret from me while I tried them out so that my opinion would not be swayed by any pre-conceived notions.  So, I began with a few preliminary arpeggios for just a minute or two on each piano.  There was no immediate "Aha!" so I continued by playing the same piece on each piano, alternating back and forth between the two instruments.

The one piano ("Piano Number One") seemed to have a more lively personality and a fairly strong bottom end, yet I couldn't quite coax it to sing in the treble the way I had hoped. I know that I usually take about an hour and a half to crack the code of any Steinway I am presented with, so I would not rule out this instrument yet.  It seemed to have plenty of colours available.

The other piano seemed a little reticent at first, but all of a sudden it gave me back an arpeggio that was so exquisite, controlled, and beautiful...at that moment, I started to fall in love.

Then back to the first piano to see where we would go next, and I noticed that I was tensing up in response to some "barking" back at me. Back and forth, back and forth, and still I found my love for "Piano Number Two" growing. It was able to draw me into a more intimate sound, and seemed to be more of a calming personality.

By now quite smitten, I continued to play the entire recording program on Piano Number Two and increasingly felt as though we were becoming friends and that all would be well.  I still had no idea of whether this Piano Number Two was Bertha or Oliver. As I was leaving the GGS when there was no one around to clarify, I actually did not know until I arrived in the morning to start recording that I had in fact chosen Bertha! Again.

1 comment:

  1. Hey - You have a blog! Cool. Love this - I had no idea choosing a piano could be such an intimate thing - but why not? All good instruments have their own voice. Cheers to Bertha!