Italian pianist Roberto Prosseda, internationally known for his Mendelssohn Discoveries CD series for Decca, is now promoting a new project, dedicated to the revival of a rare and interesting instrument: the ‘piano-pédalier’ (or pedal piano). He claims to be currently the only concert pianist playing the ‘piano-pédalier’ in public. Since June 2012, Roberto Prosseda gives recitals with original repertoire for pedal piano by Schumann, Liszt, Boely, Alkan and contemporary composers (Morricone, Nyman and others). The pedal piano recital programs can also include transcriptions from works for pedal harpsichord, piano, mechanical organ or Flötenuhr by Bach Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Franck.
In September 2011 Prosseda premiered Gounod’s Concerto (1889) for ‘piano-pédalier’ and orchestra (which he rediscovered) with the Toscanini Orchestra and Jan Latham Koenig, and he has scheduled many further concerts with European orchestras. He also discovered that Mozart’s Piano Concerto K. 466 was originally conceived for ‘piano-pédalier’; he has letters and documents showing evidence of this. The reconstruction of the pedal piano version of Mozart K 466 has been completed by musicologist and organist Francesco Finotti.
For his first concerts in 2011, Prosseda has played the ‘Doppio Borgato’, the only modern model of pedal piano, but only in Italy, due to the logistical challenges of transporting the instrument. Confident that the pedal piano could have a new appealing life in the contemporary musical world, he conceived – together with the famous organ builder Pinchi – a new idea which develops the potentiality of the pedal piano: the ‘Pinchi Pedalpiano System’, a pedal board with extended features, including the 16′- 8′- and 4′ stops. The ‘Pinchi Pedalpiano System’ can be easily transported and allows Prosseda to give concerts worldwide.
In fact this new system can be combined with any grand piano, to obtain a ‘piano-pédalier’ in any theatre where there are two grand pianos available: one of the two pianos would have the three legs replaced with shorter legs provided by the Pinchi system, and would be placed under the other piano.
Prosseda is developing a new interest in this new instrument among contemporary composers, commissioning new works for ‘piano-pédalier’ (solo or with orchestra) from several leading composers of our time. An electroacoustic version of the ‘piano-pédalier’, equipped with a virtual pedal board and a motion-capture control system, compatible for remote concerts in real time, is another long-term project which Prosseda is developing now.
In 2011-12, several contemporary composers have already written pieces for ‘piano-pédalier’, Cristian Carrara (Magnificat for pedal piano and orchestra), Giuseppe Lupis (Variazioni di bravura for solo pedal board), Ennio Morricone (Studio per ‘piano-pédalier’), Andrea Morricone (Hommage à JSB), Nimrod Borenstein (Fireworks), Michael Glenn WIlliams (Tip-Tap). Michael Nyman is also preparing a pedal piano Concerto for Prosseda.
Roberto Prosseda in concert with piano-pédalier (selected dates)
January 17, 2013, Lahti Philharmonic (Gounod Concerto for piano-pédalier)
February 23, 2013 Rome, IUC, Pedalpiano recital
March 1, 2013, Livorno Teatro Goldoni, Pedalpiano recital
March 17, 2013 Lucca, Pedalpiano recital
April 7-8 2013, Weimar Staatskapelle, Leopold Hager Gounod, Concerto for piano-pédalier)
October 20, 2013, Venezia, Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Recital (all-Alkan)
October 22, 2013, Pinerolo, Accademia di Musica, Recital (Schumann-Boëly-Alkan)
November 2013, Palermo, Orchestra Sinfonica Siciliana (Mozart: Concerto K466, version for Pedalflügel)
Schumann: Skizze für den Pedalflügel op. 58 n. 1
Schumann: Skizze für den Pedalflügel op. 58 n. 3
Schumann: Skizze für den Pedalflügel op. 58 n. 4
Schumann: Kanonische Etüde op. 56 n. 2
Schumann: Kanonische Etüde op. 56 n. 3
Schumann: Kanonische Etüde op. 56 n. 4
Schumann: Kanonische Etüde op. 56 n. 5
Boëly: Fantaisie et Fugue op. 18 n. 6
Alkan: Benedictus op. 54 (World Premiere on piano-pédalier)
Alkan: Etude no. 1 « pour les pieds seulement »
Alkan: Prélude op. 66 n. 3 for piano-pédalier (World Premiere on piano-pédalier)
Alkan: Prélude op. 66 n. 4 for piano-pédalier (World Premiere on piano-pédalier)
From Mark Whitty
In 1980 I made a piano with 15 bass pedals. The notes were all touch sensitive including bass pedals. I was ridiculed by other « pianists ». I even called myself a « Piano Player ». 34 years later I am still playing the same bass pedals keyboard. In the « Norties » I went MIDI and included B4 Hammond organ in a laptop Using a fast Midi switch.
I was complimented by Roberto Prosseda who has made a brilliant pedallier using 2 Steinways with 37 pedals.