Father's Day, Hummel, a Macchiato, a Fortepiano & a 1954 Silver WraithSaturday, June 18, 2011
|Paul Luchkow & Michael Jarvis|
I am writing this blog for Saturday, today Sunday which is Father’s Day. I reflect on the idea that a good father’s best way to celebrate the day is to somehow be that good father. I have not been such a father as my interest and concern in being a grandfather to, first, my older granddaughter Rebecca, 13, and then my younger one, Lauren, 8. I have not been a good father to my oldest daughter Ale in Lillooet and my younger Hilary (who is Lauren and Rebecca’s mother). I have taken my granddaughters to the theater, to concerts, to films, to the art gallery at the expense of their mother and aunt.
This is why tonight’s concert of the music of Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778-1837) was especially satisfying. I attended it with Hilary whose smile throughout gave me a rewarding sense of satisfaction.
It was Hilary who at a very young age (7 or 8) could identify the composer of any of my classical LPs wherever I might drop the needle. In the late 80s when thieves walked into our home in the middle of the night (I used to leave the door unlocked) and left me with not one of my classical and jazz CDs, Hilary was able to compile a complete list (all the correct titles and interpreters) of the stolen material. With this list my home insurance coughed up with the money for replacements.
I had really forgotten my daughter’s sensitivity and appreciation for good music because her daughter Rebecca by age 6 could discern the difference between the sound of a cello and a viola da gamba. I stopped taking Hilary to concerts and Rebecca became my constant and appreciative musical and theatrical companion.
At age 13, texting, Lady Ga Ga and an iTouch (which I unfortunately gave to her as a gift) have replaced any interest in “higher” music. Rebecca is even in a post Justin Bieber transition, and who she listens to, is a mystery to me.
|Michael Jarvis (fortepiano) & Paul Luchkow (viola)|
I knew that asking her to attend a special concert featuring violinist (and violist) Paul Luchkow and keyboardist Michael Jarvis (two men that Rebecca knows well) would have resulted in a disappointing, “ No!” I invited her mother instead and we both had a beautiful time listening to intimate music a few ft from the performers while imbibing a San Pellegrino Aranciata (Hilary) and slurpy and sweet macchiato cappuccino with whipped cream (me!). And all this happened while staring at the beautiful Smithers landscapes by Dutch painter Nicholas J. Bott. The reason for the exotic drinks and the paintings is that our concert was held at the Harrison Gallery/The Buzz Café at 901 Homer Street (at Smithe).
There was another artistic surprise as Hilary, during the intermission came up to me and told me, “Do you know that there are paintings here by your friend Chris Dahl?
I had spotted his striking British Steel: 1954 Silver Wraith Sports Saloon but I was not aware that there was more in an ancillary room.
|British Steel: 1954 Silver Wraith Saloon by Chris Dahl|
The purpose of the concert was to “get and edge” in preparation for the forthcoming recording of three Hummel Sonatas, two for violin and fortepiano and one for viola and fortepiano. The unbelievable fact is that only one of these Sonatas has ever been recorded and none ever with period instruments!
Of the three Sonatas, Paul Luchkow and Michael Jarvis wrote in their concert notes:
The two Sonatas we are performing tonight date from 1799/1800 and are the firs real showpieces of Hummel’s career. Why they are not better known is a mystery to us. Only the Viola Sonata has been issued in modern editions, usually with editorial simplifications and emendations. We are performing from a copy of the extremely precise first edition. Our CD recording for , (one of Canada’s most prestigious and respectable labels), will be the world-premiere recording of Sonatas I and II, and the first recording on period instruments of Sonata III. The CD will be available locally through either Paul or Michael, at Sykora’s and HMV and will be released both nationally and internationally in mid October…and makes the perfect Christmas gift!! Marquis Classics
The program cover had one funny typo as Paul Luchkow is listed as a Paul Luchlow. But there was another troubling bit of confusion for me. The facsimile of Hummel’s original edition lists the keyboard instrument as a Piano-Forte while Michael Jarvis is listed as playing a fortepiano (a beautiful piece of art by our West Vancouver instrument builder of note, Craig Tomlinson.
This is what I thought I knew (and I was partially correct) about the confusion. For anybody who has attempted to discern the sound of a harpsichord in a full baroque orchestra you will know that a harpsichord can only pay soft (or piano in musical lingo). Only a harpsichord solo will reveal the sonic treasure of this instrument that began to be replaced by an instrument that instead of plucking the strings (a harpsichord) now hammered at them, the late18th century invention the Italians called a pianoforte. This instrument could play soft (piano) and loudly (forte!).
As orchestras and concert halls became bigger in the 19th century, pianofortes had to me modified to play louder. The frame that held the strings was beefed up with metal and the instruments themselves were made larger. By the beginning of the 20th century these instruments with the potential to play loudly were now simply called pianos. As far as I know this was correct but I was still confused.
Amongst the audience was virtuoso violinist (member and ex-musical director of the local Pacific Baroque Orchestra, the orchestra that Paul Luchkow also plays for, plus member and leader of the Washington DC. Based Axelrod Quartet) Marc Destrubé asked him to explain. His explanation was short and precise, one of Destrubé’s attributes.
The original Piano Forte had its name modified to Forte Piano when the louder instrument became more popular. This modern instrument was called a piano forte and eventually the name was shortened to piano.
The evening ended with an encore that was a pianissimo (very soft!) interpretation of the slow movement of the Sonata II. We left for home in what really was one of the best Father’s Day I have ever had!