I am not totally in love with the film, but this playing is very beautiful.
It’s a very good idea to use an old Blüthner grand for this music.
This was written at a time when the so-called modern piano evolved (modern, as opposed to the harpsichord and the fortepiano) A Blüthner has a frame of cast iron for the strings, which all «modern» pianos have, but there is in the piano sound of this instrument still very much the feeling of wood, which was used as a frame in the older types, fortepianos, harpsichords etc, and also in fortepianos that grew into the size of the modern grand in the early 19th Century. It is of course also the material, basically, for the rest of any acoustic piano.
The feeling of this and a corresponding idea of sound must have lasted long into the 1800s and probably beyond.
Steinway pianos, which I guess everybody love, me too, has normally a slightly different approach to sound. It is still handcrafted and absolutely with the possibility of singing-when-playing, but less wood than this, in a way, maybe a little more a feeling of industry or modern handicraft, and more…something else, metal, I guess, water was always an idea I had in my head from the start when I played as a kid, anyway a usually pretty clear blend.
Schubert died in 1828, so his world is the sound world of the wood, totally. Franz Liszt was born in 1811 and lived until 1886, so the “modern grand” was a new invention then, which he explored to the limit.
The singing sound of the piano in this recording, especially in the middle and deeper range, is also very attractive and very much in style.
I am not sure whether the pianist Beka Lagadze actually thinks like that in the treble parts, though, the sound from the upper parts of the keyboard sounds more like a glockenspiel like I was talking about. Both ways, maybe, or it may be a problem of the instrument in the upper range, which is common, especially with old pianos.
Musically, of course, the melody in the middle range and the echoes in the treble in the last part are two distinctly different voices.
The instrument itself, the Blüthner, invites you to play like this, with an open voice, so to speak, like a choir director will ask his choir to do.
A brand new grand piano that I tried once did the opposite, the sound seemed to be completely closed in.
I spoke to a piano tuner the other day, and he said, in passing and told as a cliché, pianists were not really into sound as such, more obsessed with mechanics of the instrument of the kind that allows you to repeat the key fast enough and play as pianissimo as you like. I don’t know whether it is true or not, and if it is, how many who think like this, but I believe I was taught to sing with the instrument, or anyway picked up the idea other places than in piano lessons too.
I don’t really know whether there is a development in this direction going on, but it would be sad if the old approach disappeared. Especially 19th Century European classical music is pretty obsessed with sound, as oppised to rhythm, I guess, although all music contains both, it is an important focus point in this period. It is possible to do with all instruments, I believe, and of course when you actually sing.
This is a serenade, a song thought out to attract someone’s love, and Franz Liszt, the composer, or rather, the arranger of Schubert’s music, was famous for attracting women in his youth, so not totally wrong to involve beauty of this kind in the film that accompanies the music. After all, music is not only structure or ideas, it contains things…
But with no irony or comment implied in the filming it becomes merely an imprint of beauty, not really a story, for me, and perhaps a dream of something unfamiliar.