Monica Jakuc

Monica Jakuc: Fantasies for Fortepiano

$14.60 $16.98
Product Type: CD
Artist: Monica Jakuc

Title: Fantasies for Fortepiano
Label: CD Baby
Product Type: COMPACT DISCS

This CD is an exploration of piano fantasies by Mozart, Beethoven and others, performed on a fortepiano, so that it is possible to hear the music as it may have sounded to the composers themselves. Monica Jakuc has specialized for years in this music and these period instruments, and renders fine, authentic and extraordinarily musical performances. This recording is a very special treat for lovers of classical piano music. About the Artist Monica Jakuc (pronounced Ya-kutch) is the Elsie Irwin Sweeney Professor of Music at Smith College, where she has taught since 1969. New York audiences first heard Ms. Jakuc at Alice Tully Hall in 1980 in 'A Program of Twentieth-Century Music for Two Pianos' with colleague Kenneth Fearn. Her performance of Bach's 'Goldberg' Variations at Merkin Hall was hailed by The New York Times as 'an auspicious debut...one will observe Ms. Jakuc's career with more than usual interest.' Her 1988 London debut included the premier of a piece written for her by Ronald Perera. She has toured Japan and Alaska and appears often on both U.S. coasts. Ms. Jakuc also delivers lecture-recitals on women composers and has been a featured artist at International Association of Women in Music concerts in London and Washington, D.C. Inspired by Malcolm Bilson, Ms. Jakuc has performed on early pianos since 1986. She is a frequent guest artist at the E.M. Frederick Collection in Ashburnham, Massachusetts, and was an organizer and performer at the international HaydnFest 1990, co-sponsored by Smith and the Westfield Center for Early Keyboard Studies. She is a frequent guest performer with Arcadia Players, Pioneer Valley's early music ensemble, and often features her 6 1/2 -octave Paul McNulty Graf replica in Schubert concerts. Ms. Jakuc's discography includes fortepiano sonatas by Marianne von Martinez, Marianna von Auenbrugger, and Joseph Haydn on Titanic Records, and Francesca LeBrun's complete Opus 1 Sonatas for fortepiano and violin, with Dana Maiben, on Dorian Discovery. Born in Newark, New Jersey, Ms. Jakuc received B.S. and M.S. degrees from Juilliard, where she studied with James Friskin and Beveridge Webster. She has also worked with Leon Fleisher, Russell Sherman, and Konrad Wolff, a pupil of Artur Schnabel. About the Fortepiano The fortepiano used in this recording, made in the year 2000 for Smith College is a 5 1/2 octave (FF - c'''') instrument made by Paul McNulty after the design of Walter & Sohn of Vienna. It is mahogany with brass trim, and features moderator and sustaining knee levers, the equivalent of pedals on the modern piano. The moderator inserts a piece of cloth between the hammer and the strings, thereby softening and mellowing the sound. The sustaining knee lever is the equivalent to the damper (right) pedal on the modern piano. Paul McNulty, an American living in Divisov, Czech Republic, is one of the most highly respected builders working today. The first pianos, made by Bartolomeo Cristofori about 300 years ago, were named pianoforte or fortepiano (soft-loud or loud-soft) because, unlike the harpsichord, they could play both soft and loud, with the dynamic controlled by the player's touch. The only other keyboard instrument, with such touch control was the clavichord, whose overall sound was considered too soft for use in concert. Contemporary usage has ironically shortened the modern instrument's name to "piano," and in the past twenty years the term "fortepiano" has come to signify historical pianos, or reproductions of historical pianos. The earliest fortepianos had a range of five octaves (FF - f'''), similar to that of the harpsichord. As time went on, this range increased, as can be seen most poignantly in the piano sonatas of Beethoven, in which the highest and lowest notes become farther and farther apart as the sonatas continue. Because this McNulty fortepiano represents ideas from a number of different Walter instruments in existence around the turn of the 18th century, it is difficult to date itthough I like to attribute it to circa 1803. It is perhaps interesting to note that between 1780 and 1820 there were over 300 Viennese piano builders registered in the guild, and most of them did not date their work. The graceful curve of the Smith piano's case is not a Walter feature, but rather typical of Ferdinand Hofmann, the guild president at that time. Why I Play Fortepiano Why do I play this fortepiano? Essentially for two reasons: because it is close to the instruments for which this music was composed, and because it casts new light on the music I have recorded. The instrument used in this recording is perfectly suited to the "Moonlight" Sonata, composed in 1801. The other works I play might be more appropriate to the five-octave pianos that were used in the 1780s, but one plays what one has, and the differences between 5-octave and 5 ½-octave instruments are not that great. What is great is the difference between a fortepiano from circa 1803 and the modern piano from circa 1875 (by which time, except for a number of mechanical improvements, the modern piano had assumed it's definitive shape). What do we notice about this very beautiful instrument, so different from the modern piano? First, and most obviously, it's size and scale. This fortepiano is physically far smaller and far more intimate than the modern piano. It's range is 5 ½ octaves rather than the current 7 ½ octaves. It is made almost entirely of wood, and needs no iron plates to accommodate the higher tension of the wider and thicker strings that give the modern piano it's bigger, thicker and longer-lasting sound. The scale of the instrument matches the scale of the music written for it: early Beethoven is one thing, late Prokofiev, for example, quite another. This instrument was made to be played in a relatively small room, which is why I have chosen to make the recording in my Morningside Music Room, and not in a large concert hall. Each note has a clear initial attack, a fast decay, and a clean release. A smaller, lighter hammer, covered with leather, not felt, produces the clear attack. The clear release results from dampers that are mostly covered with leather in the bass and middle range. The life of the tone as described above is ideal for the detailed nuance and articulation of the music of the classic period; playing this instrument, I feel at ease in interpreting the notes and the spaces between the notes. Because I can control a greater variety and precision of releases and attacks, more tools are available to me than would otherwise be the case for the creation of expressive nuances. On the early pianos, the keys are narrower, the key dip (the distance to the keybed from the top to the bottom of the stroke) is smaller, and the action is much lighter. These differences enable me to play the fast octave passages at the end of the Haydn Fantasia as octave glissandi, rather than as individual notes. The joy of the slide adds to the merriment that Haydn creates. Malcolm Bilson has said that the relationship between the musical message and the feel of the keyboard is a subtle but important one for interpretation. On the fortepiano, as Penny Crawford says, you don't project tone, but rather musical ideas and gestures. The faster decay allows for the use of longer pedals. I have chosen to record the Adagio of the "Moonlight" Sonata without dampers, as Beethoven indicates at the beginning of the movement. With no pedal changes, some of the harmonies blur slightly and then clear, and certain kinds of moaning effects in the melody become noticeable. The resulting sound is ghostly, and to me, poignant. Playing the Adagio on the fortepiano allows me better to understand what Beethoven's pupil Czerny wrote about the movement: "It is a night scene, in which the voice of a complaining spirit is heard at a distance." This fortepiano also has more attack or definition at the beginning of the sound, something that makes possible the incredible clatte

Tracks:
1.1 Fantasy in C minor, K. 475 By W.A. Mozart
1.2 Sonata in C minor, K. 457 By w. A. Mozart - I. Allegro Molto
1.3 Sonata in C minor, K. 457 By w. A. Mozart - II. Adagio
1.4 Sonata in C minor, Ki. 457 By w. A. Mozart - III. Allegro Assai
1.5 Fantasia in C Major w. 61/6 By Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach
1.6 Fantasia (Capriccio) in C Major Hob. XVII:4 By Joseph Haydn
1.7 Moonlight Sonata in C# Minor, Op. 27 No. 2 By Ludwig Van Beethov
1.8 Moonlight Sonata II. Allegretto
1.9 Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, Op. 27 No. 2 III. Presto Agitato

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