Many fortepianists play meticulous modern copies of instruments from the 1820s and 30s, but Olga Pashchenko has the real thing. plays three of the best known Beethoven sonatas – the Waldstein Op 53, Appassionata Op 57 and Les Adieux, Op 81a – on a piano made by Conrad Graf in Vienna in 1824, which is now housed in the Beethoven Haus in Bonn.
Pashchenko clearly relishes the range of sonority that this venerable instrument offers her – not only the deliberately unhomogenous sound, which gives a distinctive character to each register and is founded on a lean, clear bass that never overwhelms the higher pitches, but the tonal effects available from the three extra pedals that were standard on Graf’s models. Most of all, though, she makes full use of the light, even touch of the keyboard, which gives her performances tremendous vitality. There is no hint of the rather forbidding wall of sound that modern-instrument performances of the Appassionata so often generate, while the outer movements of both the Waldstein and Les Adieux have genuinely athletic momentum
Thu 3 Aug 2017