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The Gift of Music | CDs | Themed Collections | Jane Austen Piano Favourites
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'The Piano Forte often talks of you; - in various keys, tunes & expressions I allow - but be it Lesson or Country dance, Sonata or Waltz, You are really its constant theme.'From a letter by Jane Austen to Caroline Austen, half sister to Anna, January 23rd 1817Niccolo Piccini1 Overture La Buona FigliuolaJoseph Haydn Sonata in D major Hob.XVI/42 (Moderato)3 MenuetSonata in C major Hob. XVI/14 Allegro5 Adagio 6 MenuetIgnaz Pleyel from Fourteen FavouriteSonatinas, Sonatina 1 in C major7 Menuetto8 AllegroSonatina 2 in D major9 Allegretto e variazione10 AllegroSonatina 3 in F major11 Moderato e due variazioneSonatina 4 in A major12 Andante ma non troppoErnst Eichner, Sonata in A major Op 3/113 Andantino molto14 AllegroMuzio Clementi, Sonatina in C major Op 36/315 Spiritoso16 Un poco adagio17 AllegroSonatina in G major Op 36/518 Presto19 Air Suisse20 Rondo Allegro di moltoSonatina in G major Op 36/221 Allegretto22 Allegretto 23 AllegroMartin Souterplays on pianos of the periodPiano music seems to have been very much at the heart of Jane Austen's life. Her niece Caroline tells us that she practised every day and the majority of music in the writer's music collection at her house in Chawton, Hampshire, includes something to be played on the piano, whether as solo instrument, or a song accompaniment or an important part in a chamber music piece which she would have performed with friends and family. The music by Piccini, Pleyel and Eichner on this recording can all be found in the Chawton music collection. Further volumes of music knwon to have been associated with Jane Austen but not kept in her Chawton house include music by Haydn, and so two of his sonatas were chosen for the recording . Muzio Clementi was such a major musical figure of the time - he was active as a publisher, composer and piano maker - that his music must have been known to Jane Austen. Jane Austen's own piano was made by Stodart and would have been very similar to one of the instruments used on this recording (tracks 7-12) - a Stodart piano of 1807. This small instrument looks rather like a highly decorated small side board which opens up to reveal the keyboard, action and strings of a very fine instrument. Its delicate sound seems perfect for the small-scale, intimate sonatinas of Pleyel which can be found in the fourth of the eight volumes of music in Jane Austen's Chawton collection. The other piano used for most of the music was made by the firm of Broadwood in 1801. This is a grand piano and consequently has a fuller sound than the Stoddart square piano. The Broadwood make was one of the most popular of the time. The firm made pianos for the royal family, having previously made harpsichords. In fact, this piano looks very similar in size and shape to a harpsichord, and certainly is closer in style to the older instrument than to the modern grand piano of today. What both these instruments lack compared to modern instruments is the power and sheer volume of sound that a new piano can generate from its much greater string tension and solid iron frame. Both these old pianos are lightly constructed, but what they lack in power they more than make up for in the clarity and subtlety of their sound. It is certainly the sound that Jane Austen would have known and fits the gentle, elegant character of the music extremely well. These pianos were used in the recent film of Sense and Sensibility and in the BBC production of Pride and Prejudice.Broadwood piano, London 1801Stodart piano, London 1807 (tracks 7-12)Recorded in Finchcocks, Goudhurst, Kent by kind permission of Richard and Katrina BurnettPianos tuned by Alastair LawrenceProduced by Martin Souter
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