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15 November 2007

Recovering Albeniz's Lost Impromptus: A World Premiere

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  • Volume: 47
  • Presented at: 2007 National Conference

Additional Presenter: John Q. Walker

Isaac Albéniz’s brilliance as both a pianist and composer is indisputable and well-documented. There is only one extant sound recording of Albéniz’s playing: three wax cylinders created sometime during 1903. On these he performed three impromptus, each about two minutes or less, that were neither written in manuscript form nor published. The recording quality is poor, even for a wax cylinder.

In collaboration with Zenph Studios, Inc., I am quantizing and notating these three short pieces for publication. In the second phase of our project, Zenph Studios will use the notation files and copies of the cylinder recording to re-create, using their software-based processes, the precise, nuanced keystrokes and pedal motions that Albéniz used as he played the originals. This is done in a new format which can be played back with phenomenal reality on corresponding high-resolution computer-controlled grand pianos. Albéniz will literally play them "live" again for re-recording.

We would like to present a lecture recital at the CMS National Conference consisting of three parts:

1) I shall discuss the history of these unique cylinders, and present the method used to create the score using only the cylinder copies.
2) I shall perform the world premiere of these impromptus, from the newly-created scores.
3) The president of Zenph Studios will explain the second phase of our project, the modern re-performance and eventual re-recording of Albéniz’s three impromptus. 

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