Yesterday evening (30 April) it was a real pleasure to play a concert at the fantastic Cobbe Collection of Composer Keyboard Instruments at Hatchlands Park with Ensemble DeNOTE.
The instrument I was privileged to play was a 5-octave South German piano, most likely from the workshop of Johann Andreas Stein, one of the finest makers of keyboards – though there is, sadly, no firm attribution of the instrument to Stein himself. But, whoever, made it,  this is a superb instrument. Restrung last year, its tone is blossoming superbly now. I last played it back in September 2012 (its first concert since the restring, I believe) and a few weeks later when I next heard it in a recital it had developed tonally in all sorts of ways (greatly aided by Kris Bezuidenhout’s playing!). Now it is even better. 
DeNOTE played two Mozart Piano Quartets, the G minor, K.478, and the “other” E flat (not K.493, but the arrangement – possibly by Mozart’s pupil, Freystädtler – of the Piano and Winds Quintet, K.452). The “Stein” handled all of the varied demands superbly, from the rich and majestic opening of K.452, to the dark drama in parts of K.478, and especially the lightness of K.478’s finale. In the final reprise of the secondary theme here, I was able to capture on this piano something of the effect of Papageno’s bird-luring flute, so light and responsive is the touch. Its capabilities for Haydn’s E flat Sonata, Hob.XVI:49 were revelatory. True, an instrument of this build does not have the solidity and depth of tone of later Walthers, for instance, but it was possible, in the dramatic outburst in the middle of the slow movement, to capture this rather unsettling passage through the edginess of the sound, and the stark tonal contrasts across the registers. What a fantastic instrument! Go and hear it if you can.

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