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Awkward questions

Two Mozart keyboard CDs -

'There is no doubting his dexterity ...'

W A Mozart: Klavierwerke I. Richard Fuller, fortepiano (c) 2002 Palatine Recordings

On the face of it, Richard Fuller could not be more authentic than when playing Mozart on a fortepiano copied from Anton Walter. Yet awkward questions arise. Walter was established in Vienna during 1780, and two years later Mozart acquired an instrument from him. Walter developed a notable industry in fortes (my abbreviation), which continued through the first quarter of the next century. Fuller's replica resurrects a 1795 instrument, when Mozart was already four years in his pauper's grave. Walter gradually perfected the 'Viennese' action, and Mozart's forte (now in the Salzburg Mozarteum) was much modernised by its maker after the composer's death. The pity is that Mozart did not have Beethoven's chance to own and admire a forte made in England. The touch would have been heavier, but Edinburgh University has on loan an Americus Backers instrument of 1772. Already it has the una corda device unknown to Vienna at the time, a pedal that migrates the whole keyboard to strike only one of the two strings to each note. The effect is magical.

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Copyright © 3 November 2002 Robert Anderson, London, UK


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