Print

Print


Years ago I assembled what appeared to me the complete series of
Counterpoint/Esoteric Lps featuring the Siena Pianoforte. There were six
albums:

Esoteric ESP-3000, 1955
Charles Rosen plays 6 Sonatas by Scarlatti and Mozart's Sonata K. 333

Esoteric ESP-3001, 1956
Anatole Kitain plays works by Bach in arrangements of Busoni, Hess and Petri

Esoteric ESP-3002, 1956
Marisa Regules plays works by Albéniz, Mompou, Turina and Villa-Lobos

Esoteric ESP-3003, 1956
Marisa Regules plays works by Debussy

Esoteric ESP-3004, 1956
Kathryn Deguire plays works by Mozart

Esoteric ESP-3005, 1956
Grace Castagnetta "Christmas on the Siena pianoforte" (well-known xmas songs
and hymns in her own improvisations).

That Mr. Drori mentions Glenn Gould as one of the pianists who recorded on
this instrument puzzles me. I have never seen such recordings released. Yet,
that does not mean they don't exist, of course.

I also have the book he mentions, released two times over here in German
translation under the title "Das unsterbliche Klavier". The first one in
1965, Heimeran-Verlag, the second in 1985, Urachhaus-Verlag. The original
American edition is said to have been published in 1960 as "The Immortal
Piano". A publishing house is not mentioned, only the 1960 copyright by
Avner and Hannah Carmi. I have kept an article which was published in 1996
in the German weekly journal Der Spiegel. At that time Carmi was dead
already and the piano was owned by his daughter Smira Borochowicz (68) who
was about to put it on auction. It seems that someone in Japan had shown an
interest in it, as the article closes with the following lines: "The
prospect that the holy wood from Solomon's Temple should now pass from
Jewish into Japanese hands does not bother her: "What matters most is that
it's gone finally!"

Reading the book I cannot help believing it is spinning an entertaining yarn
with a couple of hairraising moments (e. g. Liszt discovering the piano in
Italy and playing on it the first version of his "La campanella"; or
Rommel's troups in Africa getting hold of it somehow and misusing it as a
"beer organ", only to be followed by the British capturing it after the
battle of El Alamein, the instrument now being covered with plaster which
made the British believe at first they had gotten some German secret weapon;
Carmi finally found it when
he rumaged around in a depository of the British mandatory forces near Tel
Aviv in 1947, and more of that kind of revelations). The book's subtitle
("The adventurous and honest story of the long-forgotten and resurfaced
Siena Pianoforte" - my re-translation of the German subtitle) sounds more
like a fairy tale.

EL