Alexander Melnikov (photo Francoise Bolechowski)

Alexander Melnikov plays 7 composers on 5 different pianos

A journey through the history of music with 5 keyboard instruments

Alexander Melnikov is a long known lover of historical keyboard instruments. His new concert on April 26 in Muziekgebouw is as much an exploration of keyboards as it is the fantasia – 5 different and carefully chosen instruments are presented: 4 historical early keyboard instruments and the Steinway grand piano of Muziekgebouw. This concert follows his concept album of 2023 : Fantasia on Harmonia Mundi, where he traverses a wide range of eras from the Baroque to the 20th-century, with each instrument being paired with a work of the same era.

Two fortepiano’s (ca. 1795, 1828) and an Érard piano (ca. 1885) from Alexander Melnikov's collection (photos Alexander Melnikov)

A program as authentic as possible

Many of Alexander Melnikov's previous programs and discs have seen him performing on a piano that is appropriate to the composer and period. Here again, we can discover the pieces as they sounded at the time of their creation. At least nearly so as Melnikov says, since it’s impossible to reproduce exactly the same sound, nor the way the pianists were playing back then.

There's a good chance that Beethoven would burst into fits of hysterical laughter at any attempt of a historically accurate performance. But we have to do our best.’ (Melnikov in interview for Preludium, 2023)

There are different reasons for that, from the way the piano’s were produced in the past, for example the leather on the hammers, to the way the pianists were playing the pieces. There is of course no record of that.

7 emblematic works of the "fantasie" genre

The "fantasie" is, by definition, a genre apart in music: possessing no fixed rules, no pre-established codes, it provides scope for experiments of all kinds, for freedom and subjectivity. In this program, Alexander Melnikov introduces us to some of the most personal and expressive works of the composers he has selected: Johann Sebastian Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Frédéric Chopin, Aleksandr Skrjabin en Alfred Schnittke.

Alexander Melnikov on his program: "For Western music, the reference point is Johann Sebastian Bach, who continues to influence composers since three hundred years. This program is a ‘handshake game’ of sorts, the pieces are chosen in such a way that each fantasia has its share of stylistic or instrumental quotations from the previous one, while always circling back to J. S. Bach. As vehicles for this game, different instruments were used and the borders between them are also blurred. Those wonderful objects are indeed time machines of sorts."

Alexander Melnikov (photo Julien Mignot)

The man with the many pianos

Alexander Melnikov

Fri 26 Apr 2024 20:15 - 22:10