J Bach .S. / Helmchen,Martin - Six Partitas | RECORD STORE DAY
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Martin Helmchen belongs to the category of great piano virtuosos who are also interested in early instruments: 'One of the most thrilling moments of my life as a pianist was when I encountered the intact, original Spat & Schmahl tangent piano from 1790. My initial doubts about a pianist of today being able to master such an instrument rapidly gave way to the swelling conviction that here one could make certain things in Bach's music sound in a way that is impossible on both the harpsichord and the modern piano. Everything here subjugated me: the colours, the symbiosis of the characteristics of the harpsichord, clavichord and early piano, the buff stop, the opening up of polyphonic textures.' It is true that this instrument was built forty years after Bach's death, but, Helmchen continues, 'the greatest composers, including Beethoven, complained about the limitations of their instrument, and it's fascinating to play keyboard instruments that were ultimately an extension and improvement of the ones those composers knew'.