bach on the arno
During 2017 and 2018, I recored the six keyboard Partitas of Johann Sebastian Bach on the Arno 284 piano. The recording will be published as a two CD set by Fleur de Son Classics and distributed by Naxos, the largest distributor of classical music recordings in the world.
Written between 1725 and 1730, the Partitas of Johann Sebastian Bach are a set of six suites originally written for harpsichord. They were the last of his keyboard suites and are the most technically demanding and musically mature of his keyboard works.
Modern piano construction directly conflicts with the goals of this music, making this translation a challenge. The modern concert piano excels in music written in the late 19th century and is essentially unchanged in its design since the 1880s. The cross-strung design, whereby the bass strings cross over the tenor strings, creates a very powerful, blended, and even sound. Because the bass and tenor strings share the same resonating space on the soundboard, individual lines are difficult to discern and the distinction between each register is lost. Most performances and recordings of Bach on the piano miss the primary aesthetic value of this music, the independence of voices.
I have unique access to the Arno 284, the only one of its kind in the world. It is nine feet four inches long and straight-strung. The straight-strung plane allows the polyphony of composers like Bach to be revealed like no other instrument before, particularly in the low-tenor and bass areas where clarity typically suffers. The builder, Arno Patin, precisely calculated each string length on the Arno 284 to achieve maximum overtones, stress rate, and tension. The instrument features a dynamogenous soundboard, a revolutionary design that allows sustain and clarity through the entire range of the piano. Performers frequently rely on the pedal to sustain notes on modern pianos, yet use of the pedal also adds to muddiness. The Arno 284 is built so that the tone sustains and sings without it. After ten years in production, the piano debuted in the beginning of 2016. In April 2016, I gave the very first concert on the piano.
This recording will present this significant literature on an instrument that can truly allow it to be heard with the clarity and beauty that is needed to fully express its content. It will be the first recording ever made on the historic Arno 284, an instrument that is poised to change the way pianos are designed. I suspect the recording will garner a lot of attention from the piano recording and performance fields.
I have received support for this project from Eastern Michigan University and private donors.
Please consider donating to help me finish this project. As of April 1, I am seeking $5000 in order to cover recording, editing, and production costs.
Feel free to contact me with any questions. Thank you in advance!