Denzil Wraight - Italian Keyboard Instruments

(with some sound clips)

Cristofori's fortepiano may also be called a pianoforte or piano; it is only a matter of terminology, not of it being a different instrument. In an inventory of 1700 it was described as an "arpicimbalo". Maffei's description of 1711 called it a "gravecembalo col piano". In Giustini's published music of 1732 it was called a "cimbalo di piano e forte detto volgarmente di martelletti", and in Farinelli's will his 1730 piano made by Ferrini was described as a "cimbalo à martellino", literally a harpsichord with hammers. Hammerflügel or Hammerklavier is the normal German description.

What do Cristofori fortepianos really sound like? The sound recorded depends on the room acoustics, the type of microphones used, and their position. Thus, the recordings here do not permit an exact comparison since they have been made in different rooms, quite apart from the different recording techniques used.

All of the fortepianos heard here have leathered covered hammers, with the exception of Nobuo Yamamato's instrument, which hammers are plain glued paper cylinders.

A special effect is available with some Cristofori fortepianos: when the una corda register is selected by moving the keyboard sideways, then only one string is played, the other of the pair being free to resonate in sympathy. This creates a particular effect as can be heard on Nicholson's and Zylberajch's recordings.

N.B. The recordings range in size from 0.9 - 3.5MB so allow time for the download if you are using a slow connection.

Disclaimer: The files available here are copyright material and only offered for private study and information.

Original Instruments :

1720 Cristofori fortepiano :

1976: Lodovico Giustini, all 12 sonatas on 2 LPs, Mieczyslaw Horszowski, Titanic Records Ti-78 and Ti-79, There is a sound clip illustrating how this sounded before restoration to its current state with brass strings. Giustini Suonata I, Balletto. Originating URL: [0.9MB]

1999: Keyboard Classics, Scarlatti, Soler, Seixas. Martin Souter plays the original 1720 instrument in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Seixas, Sonatas in D minor, A, and A; Soler, Sonatas in C, D, C minor; Domenico Scarlatti 2.27 mins, 2.3MBK372 [2.3MB], K373, K360, K371, K384, K378, K379, K376, K377. Classical Communications CCL CD005, 65'10".

2002: Resounding Treasures. A compilation CD from the Metropolitan Museum including the 1720 Cristofori piano on tracks 8 & 9, Scarlatti sonatas K373 and K384 from Martin Souter's CD. [details kindly provided by Dr. Eszter Fontana]

2004: Domenico Zipoli (1688-1726): Sonate d'Intavolatura per Organo e Cembalo, Book II - Suites in B Minor, G Minor, C & in D Minor, Partitas in C and in A Minor. Susan Alexander-Max. Albany TROY 669 (U.S.A.) 08G027. [information kindly provided by Peter Thresh]

(undated) Ludovico Giustini recording by James Bonn. The Metropolitan Museum website offers an audio sample of the 1720 piano played by James Bonn, accessible to members only.

1726 Cristofori fortepiano :

1979: Giuseppe Paladini, Divertimento in G, Walter Bernstein. Tracks 4-6: a recording from the Deutsches Rundfunkarchiv of 21.3.1979 available on a CD "Historische Tasteninstrumente aus dem Musikinstrumenten-Museum der Universität Leipzig" issued in 1995 by the Musikinstrumenten-Museum of the University of Leipzig, VKJK 9501. The museum's address is: Johannisplatz 5-11, D-04103 Leipzig. An mp3 file of part of this work can be heard:

2000: Lodovico Giustini, Suonata IV in E minor, Christine Schornsheim, tracks 17-20 from a CD "Johann Sebastian Bach, Entwurff einer wohlbestallten Music". Raumklang RK 1011, also available from the museum. Part of track 18 (the presto movement) is available as an mp3 file:

1746 Ferrini combination piano/harpsichord :

1996: Luigi Ferdinando Tagliavini and his collection of harpsichords, L.F.Tagliavini plays (among other instruments) his 1746 Giovanni Ferrini combined harpsichord and piano: Scarlatti K109 track 34 & Rutini tracks 35-Giovanni Rutini, Sonata in d minor, Tempo di minuetto, 1.40 mins, 1.6MB37 [1.6MB]). ERMITAGE ERM 427-2 DDD

c.1740-1750 unsigned Portugese fortepiano, Harold Lester Collection

2007: The Portuguese Scarlatti, Jacqueline Ogeil plays Harold Lester's unsigned Portuguese fortepiano (tracks 1-12, K185, K186, K208, K209, K215, K216, K238, K239, K331, K332, K347, K348). This may be the only recording of the instrument currently available. Scarlatti K347 Scarlatti K347, 56 secs. 877KBpart of track 11 [877KB]. (Tracks 13-16 are on an organ in Lisbon made in 1765 by João Fontanes de Maqueixa). ABC Classics 4766221.

1767 Manuel Antunes fortepiano :

1994: The Portugese Fortepiano, 18th-Century Iberian Keyboard Music, Edward Parmentier plays the 1767 Manuel Antunes fortepiano: Albero, Soler, Scarlatti (K28, K227), Giustini (Sonatas Nos. 5 & 11), Seixas, Galuppi (Toccata D minor), Carvalho, belonging to the National Music Museum, Vermillion, South Dakota. WILDBOAR WLBR 9401.

1996: Sonate Da Cimbalo di piano, e forte detto volgarmente di marteletti. Lodovico Giustini di Pistoia, Cremilde Rosado Fernandes plays the 1767 Manuel Antunes fortepiano: Sonatas Nos. part of Giustini Suonata I, Balletto, 3.07 mins, 2.9MB1 [2.9MB], 3, 4, 10, & 11.  (National Music Museum, Vermillion, South Dakota) NUMÉRICA NUM 1047

1997: Treasures of Iberian Keyboard Music, Susanne Skrym plays the 1767 Manuel Antunes fortepiano: Carvalho, Albero, Silva, Seixas, Larranaga Baptista, Soler. (National Music Museum, Vermillion, South Dakota gift shop). Music and Arts Program of America, Inc. CD-985.

Reproductions of Cristofori fortepianos :

1997: Gravicembalo col piano e forte, Wolfgang Brunner plays Reiner Thiemann's copy of the 1726 Cristofori fortepiano. WDR recording of part of a concert at the Tage Alter Musik, Herne, 1996. This recording is for sale from the Kulturamt in Herne as part of a 4-CD set (TAMH 96, but does not have an EAN code). It is probably the first commercial recording of a modern Cristofori fortepiano reproduction. part of Giustini Suonata I, Balletto, 2.39 mins, 2.5MBGiustini Suonata I, Balletto [2.5MB]

1998: Scarlatti Sonatas performed on Fortepiano. David Schrader plays David Sutherland's 1997 instrument (copy of Cristofori 1726). Sonatas K132, K129, K386, K44, K43, K209, K 434, K84, K239, K513, K158, K113, K52, K519, K405, K308, K64, K517. CEDILLE RECORDS CDR 90000 042. 5255 N. Lakewood Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60640.

1999: Freddy Eichelberger plays Reiner Thiemann's copy of the 1726 Cristofori fortepiano. Domenico Scarlatti cantatas, Pur nel sonno; 2nd movement from the sinfonia (an improvisation) to Pur nel sonno almen tal'ora, Astrée Auvidis E 8673.part of Giustini Suonata I, Balletto, 2.39 mins, 2.5MBScarlatti, Pur nel sonno, improvisation from the sinfonia [2.2MB] (details kindly supplied by Jacqueline Ogeil)

1999: Giovanni Benedetto Platti, Sonatas for Clavicembalo, Elaine Funaro plays David Sutherland's fortepiano of 1997 (copy of Cristofori 1726): Sonatas Nos. 7 & Giovanni Platti, part of Sonata no. 8 in c minor, first movement, allegro, 2.19 mins, 2.2MB8 [2.2MB]. WILDBOAR WLBR 9901.

1999: Domenico Scarlatti, Sonate Per Cembalo 1742, Laura Alvini plays Kerstin Schwarz's 1997 fortepiano (copy of Cristofori 1726). Sonatas CD 1: K63, K60, K45, K52, K51, K5, Domenico Scarlatti, Ghigha, Minuet in F major, K78 1.59 mins, 1.9MBK78 [1.9MB], K48, K72, K61, K62, K47, K38, CD 2: K37, K75, K77, K17, K65, K67, K66, K74, K3, K11, K56, K69, K17, K68, K64, K10, K76, K71. FRAME FR9829-2. (2 CD set)

1999: Domenico Scarlatti, J.S. Bach, J.C.F.Fischer, Haydn, and Pasquini. Katzutaka Tsutsui plays Nobuo Yamamoto's replica of the 1726 Cristofori fortepiano. Scarlatti sonatas K4, K3, K8, and K32. Cristofori Japan FPYC 0000 (not for sale) [details kindly provided by Dr. Eszter Fontana]

1999: Michio Kobayashi plays Nobuo Yamamoto's replica of the 1726 Cristofori fortepiano. Scarlatti sonatas K159, K146 (tracks 17 & 18) [sleeve text in Japanese; details kindly provided by Dr. Eszter Fontana]

[undated] Bartolomeo Cristofori gravecembalo col piano e forte, Kikuko Ogara plays Nobuo Yamamoto's 1999 fortepiano. Giustini Sonatas III in F and IV in E minor, Benedetto Marcello Sonata IV in G minor, Platti Giovanni Platti, Sonata IV in a minor, first movement, allegro, 2.02 mins, 1.97MBOp. 4 [2.0MB], Händel Suite no. 6, F sharp minor, Domenico Scarlatti K1, K8, K14, K17. (private recording on CD)

2002: Bartolomeo Cristofori, Sei sonate di varij Autori, Luca Guglielmi plays Kerstin Schwarz's 1997 fortepiano (copy of Cristofori 1726): della Ciaja (Sonata 5), Handel, Scarlatti (K81), Giustini (Sonata 5), Marcello (Sonata d minor), Zipoli (Sonata 1). STRADIVARIUS STR 33608.

2002: Domenico Scarlatti Sonatas, Sergio Ciomei plays harpsichords by Tony Chinnery after Pascal Taskin 1769 (tracks 1-5, K394, K513, K262, K213, K545), Michael Mietke c.1710 (tracks 9-11, K268, K318, K314 and tracks 14-16, K490, K491, K492) and Kerstin Schwarz's 1997 fortepiano (copy of Cristofori 1726; tracks 6-8, K84, K85, K64). Challenge Classics  CC72116.

2003: Domenico Scarlatti, Sonate per cembalo (1742), Francesco Cera plays Kerstin Schwarz's copy of the 1726 Cristofori fortepiano and a harpsichord after Grimaldi 1697 by Tony Chinnery. Fortepiano: K70, K72, K73, K37, K77, K78, K82, K85, K86. Tactus TC 681905, 57'51".

2003: Johann Joachim Agrell, 4 Konzerte, Matthew Halls plays Reiner Thiemann's copy of the 1726 Cristofori fortepiano in tracks part of Johann Joachim Agrell, Konzert G-Dur für Flöte, Hammerklavier und Streicher, Allegro non presto, 3.47 mins, 3.5 MB7 [3.5MB]-9 as the accompaniment (including also two violins, viola and cello) to a traverse flute. Cavalli Records, Ludwigshöhe 4, D-96049 Bamberg, CCD 423.

2003: Giustini (Suonata no. 8), Platti (Sonata II), and Domenico Scarlatti (K159, K9), played by Ella Sevskaya for the BBC Radio 3 programme "The Early Music Show" (broadcast 15 November 2003, 17 April 2004) on my Cristofori-Ferrini 1730 fortepiano.

2004: Platti (Sonata op.4, no.2, 1746) and Galuppi (Sonatas in B flat and part of Galuppi Sonata no. 53 in G major, allegro assai, 1.56 mins, 1.85 MBno. 53 in G [1.9MB]) recorded by Ella Sevskaya on my Cristofori-Ferrini 1730 fortepiano for Bayerischer Rundfunk, 8 April 2004, first broadcast 28 February 2005 in Bayern 4 Klassik.

2004: Scarlatti Sonatas, Linda Nicholson plays my Cristofori-Ferrini 1730 fortepiano. part of K197 played on the una corda registerK197 (una corda), K203, K215, K216, K208, K209, K213, K548, K158, K159, K248, part of Scarlatti K249 in B flat major, 3.17 mins, 3 MBK249 [3MB], K490, K491, K492, Capriccio 67112; 72' 44".

2004: Domenico Scarlatti, Aline Zylberajch plays my Cristofori-Ferrini 1730 fortepiano. part of K481 played on the una corda register, 2.04 mins, 1.9 MBK481 [1.9MB](una corda), K386, part of K282, 1.47 mins, 1.6 MBK282 [1.6MB], K213, K43, K308, K49, K133, K93, K45, K32, K517, K144, K391, K490, K220, K216, K291. ASSAI 222612; 65' 15". This CD was pressed and released for review in November 2004 but the distributor M10 Musidisc had gone into liquidation in December 2004. The CD has been reissued on the Ambronay label AMY002.

2005: C.P.E. Bach sonatas for viola da gamba and b.c. Friederike Heumann (viola da gamba) and Dirk Börner using my 1730 Cristofori-Ferrini fortepiano. Trio in g minor, allegro assai ALPHA 080

page updated 22 February 2008