F. Schubert :: Der Erlkönig 

transcribed for solo clavichord

It is sooooo simple.
I mean, waking up in the morning with the clear wish (or would you say "desire" in English?) of playing Schubert's Erlkönig. No singer available, so then the soloversion. Go to the IMSLP website, download one of the many 19th century arrangements, print it, go downstairs from my office to the "instrument-floor", looking to the left and to the right, and then remembering that there is only one instrument. The Erard Grand piano still at his side behind the organ, and moreover, the new pianoforte not ready yet. Only the clavichord.
ONLY the clavichord.

1815. Schubert's Erlkönig.

So I open the clavichord, sit down and play. No Erard needed, would be much too late anyway. No pianoforte needed (Anja, please don't read this...), just me and the clavichord.

1815.

What are they going to say about this?
Who's, 'they'?
Well, you know, ... they.
"Hey Wim, are you getting crazy or what??? It's 1815, you know...?! We all know you love the clavichord, but please stay serious. 1815, the clavichord was dead...'

I carefully put the score on the desk so that I can read without having to turn pages. Again the inner-statement: I hate copies...
The clavichord is waiting. Do you know that feeling? When concentration is building up, focusing, but not one note is played yet? The feeling that your instrument is connecting with you, strongly, filling all the gaps where your confidence would need, supportive, waiting firmly. Nothing has been said, been done, been touched, but you know: she (the clavichord is definitely a she), won't let me down.
That feeling was there, that morning, a few weeks back.
I played the first note. And I felt immediately: yes! She'll handle it.
And she did.

1815... of course the clavichords were not dead... who was telling you that?

But simple... no, it isn't.

You know me some time now, and yes, I like approaching the boarders sometime, not for the sake of looking them up, but just because I like the atmosphere of those spots... we've done Beethoven's pathetique, other Beethoven sonata's, and lately some real challenging Clementi sonata's. That felt great, difficult at first, but gradually the borders are moving and at the end... well, let's be honest, one has to stay focused, ... but it doesn't feel any more -essentially spoken- to be that difficult. You know what I mean.
But here... well, this is not evident... the notes can look simpler than the big Beethoven's and Clementi's of this world, but to play this... I needed to focus 100%. From the beginning to the end.

Would that be different on a pianoforte?
I guess not.

Funny: I must think on what Joris said to me after the recording of - I believe- the Clementi sonata in A Major, that if I would play that music with those dynamics on the new pianoforte, he'd had to come within a month to re-leather the instrument, and probably fix some mechanical issues. Ha, it made me think: what's the robust instrument out of the two...?

 

It is such a pity that I can only present you this recording... you should hear this instrument, with all the margins it has. It is hard to record the constant shifting dynamics, or the way the melody rises above the repeating chords, you hear it, but it is much more impressive in reality. Of course it is...
You know, I know that this clavichord is linked sometimes to the sound of the early pianoforte, and that are very, very interesting remarks. Could it not have been the other way around? That our colleagues of those old times, wanted to have the piano's sound like the clavichords they knew? May be more powerful instruments than we think think a clavichord is or was?

Just a question.

And at the end... it is simple... and regardless of what was, is, should be... I've had a great time playing this wonderful piece of music.
And am really happy that I can share this with you all!

Thanks for listening.

Wim

Bonus: My feature on Clavichord International!

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