Greetings from the Biedermeier times
PERSONAL NOTES by the artists
What was your first encounter with “historical” instruments?
Sheila Arnold [SA]: Everything began in the late 1990s, attending a masterclass at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival. There I met a handsome young guitarist from the class of Pepe Romero. The young guitarist, for his part, was not entirely uninterested in an Indian pianist from the class of Lev Naumov. Pepe soon realized what was going on. He gave Alexander the score of a piano/guitar duet and said: “Go and find a pianist!” The title was full of innuendo: “Papageno wants a sweetheart”.
Alexander-Sergei Ramirez [AR]: No sooner said than done! At least sometimes I did what my teacher told me.
Many years went by as a couple until we actually started making music together. The guitar and the piano are entirely autonomous harmonic instruments that do very well by themselves, or combine ideally with melody instruments.
SA: Our musical approaches are nonetheless quite similar. Eventually we did try out that duet by Mozart/Beethoven/Carulli – but on our modern instruments. Due to their entirely disparate sonorities, the musical liaison was doomed to fail. The piano had to play softly all the time, or not play at all; the guitar was constantly forced to sound as loud as possible. That couldn’t turn out well. Neither of us could elicit any trace of musical charm or start to make nuances in terms of timbre.
It became clear that these works were not conceived for the instruments we were playing
AR: Indeed! They were written in the early 1800s for fortepiano and Romantic guitar, also called “Biedermeier guitar”. Instruments in the 1810-1850 period were built much more intricately and minutiously than their more voluminous siblings of today.
(excerpts from the line notes)