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Interestingly, I think that Badura-Skoda brings a bit too much modern pianism to the performance on the fortepiano. Hard for us to believe, long trained to use it, but syncopated pedaling was probably not the norm in Beethoven's time. Further, he makes use of a great deal of arm weight to produce big accents. To me the piano, more wood than steel, well nigh screams at the assault. One technique that Badura-Skoda uses but rarely is the rhythmic anticipation and I tend to think that this provides a very forceful accent more in keeping with instrument and music. I'd love to have a conversation with him about it sometime -- after I'd done a great deal of homework, for Paul Badura-Skoda is very well informed.

But one element is crucial to Paul Badura-Skoda's musicianship: he still loves the sound of music. This may sound trite (and may remind us too much of the syrupy film) but when so many pianists and musicians play with a bored perfectionism this simple affection for the very substance of music is too rare.

I think there is a psychological aspect to it: that the musician remains effected by the very sound of the intervals. The grinding seconds, the desolate fourths, the radiant thirds. These sounds still have an effect. And then over and above this the different kind of sounds that are possible to create at the behest of the composer: lush sounds, sharp sounds, powerful sounds, magical sounds.

Paul Badura-Skoda
Paul Badura-Skoda

Paul Badura-Skoda continues his North American tour and I strongly recommend that people check their local listings for concerts. The Calgary concert was sold out and the standing ovation was a genuine expression of the audience's enthusiasm for the performance.

Copyright © 11 March 2003 Gordon Rumson, Calgary, Canada



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