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Ionarts in the Low Countries: Expo Musica Antiqua Brugge

Johann Zahler fortepiano, ca. 1805 (all photos by Michael Lodico)
The Expo Musica Antiqua, as part of the 44th annual Brugge Early Music Festival, began July 25th as part of the Flanders Festival and offers visitors an exhibition of early keyboard instruments, most of which are new instruments constructed after historical examples. Among the many exceptional instruments in the Expo is an antique circa 1805 5.5-octave (FF-c4) fortepiano by Johann Zahler of Brünn, now known as the Czech city of Brno. Besides being unique as apparently the only example of Zahler’s work in known existence, the instrument may be heard on two recent Mozart recordings from Harmonia Mundi by Richard Egarr -– the newly appointed director of the Academy of Ancient Music -- Mozart Fantasies and Rondos (2006) and Mozart Violin Sonatas, 1781 with violinist Andrew Manze (2005).

Wanckel and Temmler, ca. 1845 (notice that the strings do not cross)
Washington, D.C., audiences will hopefully remember Egarr’s exceptional performance at the National Gallery of Art earlier this year. Having had the opportunity to spend some time with the instrument at its restorer’s Amsterdam workshop (Gijs Wilderom), later at the Expo I found it special to realize that it is possible for the public to also get to know this instrument via professional recording.

Wilderom found the Zahler instrument in not-so-good shape in the Czech Republic and indeed had to “warp it back” into condition. In addition to its visual beauty, the aural results of the restoration include a tone that is light, yet deep, a superb clarity of sound, and the possibility of absolute pianissimos with or without the modulator (soft-pedal). It is no wonder that Wilderom is hesitant to let the instrument go. Wilderom’s Opus 1, a circa 1805 5-octave (FF-g3) copy of an Anton Walter instrument in a private Prague collection, is also on display.

Other instruments of note at the Expo include an early 18th-century Lute-Harpsichord -– J. S. Bach supposedly possessed two of them –- reconstructed only from early writings about music since no actual or iconographic examples of this warm-sounding instrument exist; a copy of a Clavicytherium by an anonymous builder from 1480; and a gentle-sounding antique Wanckel and Temmler piano with intact Viennese action from circa 1845 (restored by Roeland Moorer).

The Festival van Vlaanderen's Brugge Musica Antiqua continues through August 8th and includes among many things the various early music competitions, a harpsichord performance by Gustav Leonhardt on July 31, and a semi-staged production of Monteverdi’s Orfeo by La Venexiana on August 4, exactly 400 years to the day after its premiere. See the Ionarts reviews of recent performances of Orfeo in Aix-en-Provence and Siena.


Javier said...

Hellow, I currently own a wnckel & Temmler piano, it looks very similar to the one in the photograph.
I have this piano en Mexico city, Do you have any idea where I might be able to sell it?
Thank you very mucho.
javier gamiz

Anonymous said...

Hello Javier,

Just to have an idea, how much are you asking for this piano?


Anonymous said...

Hello, I own a very good Wanckel and Temmler piano. It is more 100 years old. I will sell it. If anyone interested, please send me mail: