The people who seem to appreciate the reproducing piano most are
pianists. The (London) Player Piano Group occasionally visits the
Finchcocks collection of early pianos at Goudhurst in Kent; on one
occasion about eight years ago we were treated to a two-keyboard
Mozart sonata on fortepianos by the proprietor Richard Burnett and
a professional fortepianist Lorna Fulford who "sat in" there from time
Lorna had a problem with her cat and, as I do animal therapies (highly
unorthodox ones, to avoid the law which apportions anything respectable
to vets), I had the chance to visit her house, where she had an original
fortepiano for her own enjoyment and a replica for recitals. Also,
there were two Steinways.
What were they for ? Oh, she had a sideline (I was reminded of Joshua
Rifkin and ragtime) which was dressing up as Cecile Chaminade and
playing her music -- the Peter Pan collar, the winsome smile and the
glimpse of thigh for the gentlemen ...! She played some, which was of
course hugely familiar to me from 88-note rolls.
I said immediately, "Oh, you must hear Chaminade herself playing on
piano rolls!" but nothing happened for several years until Denis Hall,
who was borrowing Chaminade's Duo-Art rolls to put on a private CD with
her even earlier disc recordings he had managed to get copies of,
suggested Lorna came and had an audition of them while he had them
in the house.
An evening was made of this and he even had some Chaminade played by
Charles Spross as well, which I didn't think nearly as convincing.
Lorna was quite captivated and, I think, secretly pleased that she had
captured just the right touch herself. So we went on to Paderewski and
the others afterwards and it was a great success. It's very unlikely
an ordinary member of the public would have appreciated the occasion
quite like that.
Dan Wilson, London