Devices & Desires


David Owen Norris’s Early Piano Project

Newly discovered repertoire
New insights into musical expression
Lost mechanisms restored
(for information about The Cloven Pedal, clearly shown in the logo above, click sherlock).

The Concert Series
The Jupiter Ensemble (Katy Bircher, flute; Caroline Balding, violin; Jonathan Byers, cello; David Owen Norris, 1828 Broadwood Grand Pianoforte) presents a completely unknown repertoire, in collaboration with Professor Mark Everist. In the half-century from 1820, more than a hundred orchestral works were published in London for this quartet combination. Moscheles & Clementi arranged Beethoven and Haydn for it; the virtuoso pianist-composers Cramer & Hummel chose it for their deepest thoughts on Mozart, rewriting his concertos for the new generation of pianos, incorporating their own embellishments and bravura passages. A series of three concerts will be given at concert halls around the country – dates are currently being arranged. The programmes will include Overtures by Beethoven & Rossini, Concertos by Mozart, Symphonies by Haydn & Beethoven, and the Mendelssohn Octet, all as they would have been heard by music-lovers throughout the nineteenth century.

The Recordings
As well as the Mozart Concertos described above, the recordings will include Mendelssohn’s Songs without Words, performed in the light of the remarkable insights of the edition of his friend, J.W. Davison, and a selection of Mendelssohn’s piano music that absolutely demands the divided sustaining pedal found on Broadwoods of the period – carefully composed effects, never heard before. Also the complete songs and chamber music of Mendelssohn’s friend and disciple, Sir William Sterndale Bennett, with songs by Sir Hubert Parry, his pupil. And a double CD of the songs of Sir Arthur Sullivan, also Bennett’s pupil, and the first holder of the Mendelssohn Scholarship in Leipzig. The Mendelssohn discs will include bonus tracks recorded at pianos belonging to Gustav Holst and to the surpassing piano virtuoso, Sigismund Thalberg, whose playing Mendelssohn preferred even to that of Liszt.

Special Events
These will include a Festival of Keyboard Temperaments, exploring the way pianos were tuned in the nineteenth century, and Songs without Words Days for amateur pianists to explore the new discoveries about expressive performance. More will be added as the project develops. This website will keep you up-to-date.

Visit the National Centre for Early Music.

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