Me and Bosendorfer
The pleasure of playing nuances (Title)
Giuseppe Mariotti, Dean of the Music Faculty of the Tokushima Bunri University
Interview: Morioka Yō, Photographer: Mutō Akira
Giuseppe Mariotti is an Italian-born pianist from Vienna, who has a performing career as soloist, chamber musician and accompanist of vocal music. Since 2003 he is professor at the Tokushima Bunri University, within an academic exchange agreement with the University of Music of Vienna, and he currently teaches students and serves as Dean of the Music Faculty, while traveling between Vienna and Japan. We talked about the charm of Bösendorfer pianos’ tone, which he loves since many years as musician and performer.
This beautiful timbre vibrates in my heart since I was fourteen.
“I was born in Northern Italy, where I studied piano, composition and pipe organ. I played my first solo recital at the age of 14 on a Bösendorfer, and I was fascinated by the warm sound of that piano, such a deep sound that spoke to me. Before that, I was practing on the old Bechstein piano that was at my parents’ house, but I was surprised by a completely different touch and tone. Bechstein is also a wonderful instrument, and I love it, but the magnificent sound that touches the heart of Bösendorfer fascinated me. When I was nineteen I went to Vienna to study, and played many Bösendorfer pianos, until today. I also used it for concerts and for the recording of all the piano works by Ferruccio Busoni”.
It expresses Vienna’s temperament: sorrow in cheerfulness.
“Although it is difficult to tell the charm of Bösendorfer in one word, it seems to me that its warm and deep tone reflect the traditions of the Habsburg empire and the temperament of the people of Vienna. The population of Vienna of the Habsburg era was mixed, with many citizens originally born in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy and Germany. Musicians from all over Europe gathered to Vienna to create excellent music, and maybe their homesickness added a warm and wistful atmosphere to their music. It is often said that the sound of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra is bright and clear, but I feel also something like nostalgia in that brightness. The sound of Bösendorfer is the same, it makes you feel an acute nostalgia. It has something like in the character of Viennese people, you can perceive grief in their cheerfulness, there is often weep under a smiling face… like in Schubert’s music, isn’t it? Only Bösendorfer can express such an atmosphere where sadness casts a shadow over a brilliant mood.
Moreover, the same kind of wood of the soundboard is used for the side plate of the frame, making a Bösendorfer piano resound like a big string instrument, very suitable for accompaniment of chamber and vocal music. A most appealing quality is the capacity to play with a fantastic range tone colours, from a soft and beautiful pianissimo to the most dynamic forte”.
Bösendorfer leads you to a colorful and exquisite musical expression.
“When I arrived at the Tokushima Bunri University, one of the things that made me most happy was to find a full concert model “Imperial” and many other Bosenendorfer pianos. Students who can learn on these pianos are also happy. When students play a Bösendorfer for the first time they are a little timorous. Many pianists, even if they admit the splendor of Bösendorfer, tend to shy away from it, but this is a prejudice. A flute or violin player has to imagine the sound he wants before he plays, then he can produce delicate nuances and variegated timbres with the power of his mind. Because the sound production of the piano is much easier than other instruments, many neglect to imagine the tone before placing the fingers on the keyboard, but with Bösendorfer is more possible to attain the music that you desire, because the control of the sound is unforced and easy. You don’t need to be afraid, you will find that it is a rather approachable piano. It has possibly the most versatile tone of any piano. This is one of the biggest advantages of using Bösendorfer in a lesson”.
In the second part we will talk about performance style and points related to the music of some composers.