W.A.Mozart :: Sonata in B flat Major, KV 333

I had the privilege last week, to play the Johann Emanuel Schön clavichord in Frankfurt (Oder). This 5 octave, unfretted instrument bears the date 1748 which, in case this would be the effective building date of that instrument, would be remarkably early. At least, according to Joris Potvlieghes first reaction, who was there with me at the museum Viadrina (http://www.museum-viadrina.de/).

0:09 Allegro
9:20 Andante Cantabile
17:43 Allegretto grazioso

Anyway, there are two important facts for me personal, related to this instrument.
Firstly, I know, if only from reactions of you, one of the best audiences one could wish for, that my clavichord sounds powerful with a rather strong base and treble compared to other clavichords, even historical ones. The question is then, if my instrument has too much potential for being a clavichord (the last question being impossible to be answered with yes, since my instrument is made only of parts that are typically for a clavichord in general), or is just an instrument at his full potential made by a very skilled builder? There is nothing Joris does that did not exist in the 18th century and although this instrument is no copy, it is built in the style of the Saxonian instruments. In one way or another, you could argue that this way of building is perhaps a true historical one, as a composer who composes today, based on what was available in that time. But that put aside. BTW: as for the Beethoven recording, I use Joris' own instrument here. Mine has returned, a few minor adjustments made, it is in super condition now, ready for our recording purposes.

So, playing a different instrument than mine, is always partly a search for a recognition towards mine and, more important to me, to see, hear and feel if that instrument is capable of rendering the same music as I play on mine. Being from Bach to early Beethoven.

I must say that this instrument, the Schön clavichord, was very much capable in rendering this Mozart sonata. Or the Beethoven I recorded lately (opus 2/1). Or a Bach partita. It did not sound as firm in the treble, but that might have other reasons. The instrument got a new soundboard in the sixties (which is very regrettable...). But even in the present condition, this music just worked.
I prefer my own instrument, but that's another point.

Secondly, the date of this instrument is important. 1748 is important. Not so much unfretted clavichords, certainly not with a wider compass than C-d''' survived today, from before 1750. I will perform the partitas of J.S.Bach on my instrument, that, being no exact copy, was dated today ca 1760-1770. This date 1748 would urge a revision of that date to, at least, 1745.

We know that unfretted clavichords existed earlier, and also with compasses that suited the music of J.S.Bach, the partitas in particular. We only don't know what instrument (clavichord) he played... And so, the question remains: on what instrument should I play the partitas, if I consider the clavichord to be the most suited instrument for that music? Even with the date 1745, my instrument would, if only musicology, be half a generation too modern. Actually, we don't know that for sure, since we lack much information about the situation of the early twenties. But the point is: am I allowed to perform the partitas on my instrument, just because I KNOW that it is based on 18th c. principles out of Saxony, but at the same time don't know that this is exactly the type of instrument J.S. Bach might have known?
Am I putting myself besides the movement of the so called 'authentic performance practice'? (Notice the difference with the title of this channel...)? Or, should I explain my choice as exactly as I can to "my" audience?

I think the last solution would work. That explanation (no excuse!) gives the position and place of the instrument I use in time, according to what I know at this moment, and with the knowledge that this information might change. Imagine we DO find an instrument directly from Bach's circle in the future, with a compass that would allow us to play the partitas on...
I, today, would say, that the music of J.S.Bach would sound on my instrument in a way the generation of CPEBach would have heard it... being much closer to the original than playing on a Steinway (which can be beautiful as well), but not really spot on.

 

But after visiting this Schön clavichord, things are different again...my instrument became more antique in one hour. And if we would find that instrument Bach had in, let say, 1722, would that be THE reference? Who would make a copy? And if there would be made two copies, or three... they would, as all copies of e.g. the 'Silbermann'-clavichord, sound very different. So, what is the real authentic sound of Bach's clavichord?

All reflections directed to Bach... while playing Mozart.

Me and the 1745 Schön clavichord
Signature on a clavichord key
Bonus: Me and a 1628 A. Ruckers harpsichord! (ex. Beurmann collection)

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