Franz Liszt has fascinated me since my childhood. In my youth I devoured Zsolt Harsányi's 'Hungarian Rhapsody', a romanticized biography of the pianist, composer and passionate lover. Did I not want to be a pianist? After that I longed for the object that one day came into my possession at an auction at the Erasmushaus in Switzerland: a contemporary photograph of Franz Liszt.
Claude Debussy is said to have once remarked that one ought to compose piano music exclusively for Bechstein. And in reality, on photographs of pianists up until the late 1920s, you nearly always find a Bechstein. – 'Wing, concert wing *– what wonderful words you have for this instrument', the Japanese pianist Miyoko Lotto raved in a masterclass. I described the 'biography' of my grand piano, a Bechstein E, to the cultural magazine 'Parnass'.
*In German the words for 'grand piano' and 'concert grand' [Flügel, Konzertflügel] literally mean 'wing' and 'concert wing' respectively.
A primeval instrument, more than 5000 years old. The making of it is high art: using a baton, the master hits the glowing alloy, which is lifted repeatedly out of the fire by helpers, often more than a hundred times, and then put back again. Over the course of many moons the gong then cools down, in order to find its incomparable sound, whose accompanying surge is again perceived as a fire. "No longer for ears ..." – Rilke strived like no other to poetically capture the essence of this incomparable instrument.
Wilhelm Hemecker plays (click on image):
- Johannes Brahms: Intermezzo in A Major, Op. 118, No.1; 0:00
- Johannes Brahms: Ballade in G Minor, Op. 118, No. 3; 2:01
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Fantasia in D Minor, KV 397; 6:10
- Maurice Ravel: Pavane pour une infante défunte
(Pavane for a Dead Princess); 12:19
- Frédéric Chopin: Scherzo in B Flat Minor, Op. 31; 19:13