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Pedal piano

Since September 2011, Roberto Prosseda has given regular concerts on the pedal piano (also known as piano-pédalier or Pedalflügel), an instrument much loved by Mozart, Schumann and Alkan, which fell into disuse at the beginning of the 19th century and has been resurrected by Prosseda. On 20 April 2012, the Wall Street Journal published a full page article about the re-discovery of the pedal piano and the repertoire (Mozart, Schumann, Alkan, Gounod).

Prosseda has commissioned a special pedal board from organ builder Pinchi, which can be attached to 2 pianos, so that a pedal piano can effectively be created in any concert hall with minimal transport costs. The Pinchi Pedalpiano system has an extension of 5 octaves and 3 registers (16’, 8’, 4’), which gives the pedal piano a great variety of timbre and richness of sound. The Pinchi Pedalpiano System can be assembled to two grand pianos of any brand in less than one hour. 

Several composers wrote new music for pedal piano dedicated to Roberto Prosseda. Among them, there are Michael Bakrnčev, Nimrod Borenstein, Nicola Campogrande, Luca Lombardi, Giuseppe Lupis, Ennio and Andrea Morricone, Michael Glenn Williams.  

Prosseda is currently the only one who gives regular public recitals and concerto performances with the pedal piano.  


Repertoire for pedal piano and orchestra

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: 
Concerto K 466 in D minor (reconstructed version for pedal piano by Francesco Finotti). 

Charles Gounod:
Concerto in E flat for pedal piano and orchestra (1889)
Suite Concertante for pedal piano and orchestra (1888)
Danse Romaine for pedal piano and orchestra (1885)
Phantasie sur l'Hymne Russe for pedal piano and orchestra (1886)

Cristian Carrara: 
Magnificat for pedal piano and orchestra (2011) 


Pedal piano recital selected repertoire

Bach: Passacaglia in C minor BWX 582 für zwei Claviere mit Pedal

Mozart: Fantasia in F minor K 608 for mechanical organ

6 Etuden für den Pedalflügel op. 56
4 Skizzen für den Pedalflügel op. 58

Boëly: Fantaisie et Fugue op. 18 n. 6 pour piano-pédalier

Liszt: Fantasy and Fugue on the chorale "Ad nos, ad salutarem undam" für Pedalfügel

Benedictus op. 54 pour piano-pédalier
Impromptu op. 69 pour piano-pédalier
13 Prières op. 64 pour piano-pédalier
3 Etudes pour les pieds seulement 
11 Grands Préludes op. 66 pour piano-pédalier

Gounod: Marche Funèbre pour une Marionette (version for piano-pédalier by Giuseppe Lupis)

E. Morricone: Studio IV bis per piano-pedaliera (2011)

A. Morricone: Hommage à JSB (2011)

N. Borenstein: Fireworks (2012)

N. Campogrande: Corale & Pedmix (2013)

M. G. Williams: Tip-Tap (2012)

G. Lupis:
8 Variations on "Ah vou dirai je, mamam" (2012)
Variazioni di bravura per sola pedaliera (2012)

Michael Bakrnčev: 
4 pieces:
I: Let The Sun Shine 
II: Dusk  
III: Melody 
IV: Earth Dance



Press reviews 

'Playing Heart, Soul and Feet'
Italian pianist Roberto Prosseda revives a lost art, recreating the haunting melodies of a pedal piano. The Italian pianist is on a one-man mission to revive the music of the pedal piano, a monstrous double-decker grand piano that was popular in the late-19th century but has long since fallen out of fashion. In addition to the theatrical element, there is the almost architectural quality of the sound, created by the interplay of the two vertically stacked soundboards. In the works for pedal piano by Schumann, that spatial element is given an emotional dimension. [...] 
Corinna da Fonseca Wollheim, The Wall Street Journal, 20/4/2012

'A real winner … one of the very jolliest of piano-and-orchestra recordings to come my way for some time … being Gounod, it is supremely well-crafted melodic music but the kind of material that can collapse like a soufflé without the right cast to show it in its best light … Hyperion's cast is top drawer … given exactly the right light touch and deft execution, abetted by Howard Shelley's stylish accompaniment, Gounod's box of bonbons is an unexpected delight'

'Excellent performances'
BBC Music Magazine

'Very well played by Roberto Prosseda'
The Guardian
'These four works are often charming and witty, sometimes massive and sometimes delicate. Prosseda plays all of the solo parts with Gallic elegance, while Howard Shelley encourages the strings of the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana to play with superb legato, and the woodwinds to combine with the upper register of the piano in delightful tintinnabulations. Hyperion's recorded sound expands and contracts in accord with the sonority of the music. This release is certainly 'off the beaten track' but it is definitely worth exploring' International Record Review
'Gounod composed four works for piano and orchestra, and these are expertly captured on this Hyperion album … the sound world is fascinating; a multi-textured tapestry woven by an empowered soloist. The neoclassical Suite concertante in A major has fire in its belly, full of swooping melodies and earworm motifs. The Concerto juxtaposes light and dark, yet retains a playful character' International Piano
‘Im Klavierkonzert [werden] triumphale Gestik und aristokratischer Habitus allerdings hinter eleganten Arabesken und melancholischen Passagen verschleiert … parallel zu den Orchesterstimmen, von Howard Shelley genau balanciert, kann Roberto Prosseda den nicht allzu virtuosen Duktus makellos in die „Chasse“, in die sehr liebliche Romanze und schließlich bis zur perkussiven Tarantella nahtlos integrieren’ 
Piano, Germany

Deshalb sind auch die Etuden op. 56 und die Skizzen op. 58 von Robert Schumann eher diskrete Experimente mit ein paar zusätzlichen Grundtönen. Doch danach legte Roberto Prosseda mehr Wert auf den pianistschen Überbau. Bei einer Uraufführung von Luca Lombardi eighte er, mit Themen von Mendelssohn und jüdischen Melodien, subtilen Piano-Minimalismus sowie dramatische Fort-Cluster-Gewitter als Schreckensbeschwörungen von Aushwitz. Auf diesem Weg zeighte Prosseda sämtliche Möglichkeiten seines Instruments. Zum Höhepunkt wurde jedoch der alte Klaiertitan Liszt - ohne Pedal, nur mit ein paar sparsamen Basstönen als Verstärkung der orchestralen Fantasien. In der gewaltigen Dante-Sonate nach Sonetten von Petrarca spielte Prosseda alle Register von Liszts Klavierkünsten aus, sein unermüdliches Narrativ, die thetorische Überwältigung, die facettenreiche Tonmalerei un das wogende Aud- un Ab gestischer Beschwörungen. Nach so viel Piano pur blieben nur noch zwei Zugaben von Alkan und Gounod für die Demonstration der exotischen Pedalkünste an diesem Abend.
Suddeutsche Zeitung, 16/2/2015 

Oggi l'unico grande interprete che ha accettato fino in fondo la sfida del Pedal Piano è Roberto Prosseda, che ne è diventato l'alfiere. I risultati sono eccellenti, perché Prosseda è in grado di unire il senso della misura e dell'ordine, pulizia, chiarezza e precisione ad una rara sensibilità per il fraseggio e ad un serio lavoro di scavo interpretativo. Il vigore dell'interpretazione dell'Op. 58 schumanniana lascia senza fiato, sia per il dominio tecnico, sia per lo slancio emotivo: sembra di assistere all'entrata in scena di Florestan, uno dei due "alter ego" del compositore, quello più appassionato e passionale. Così avviene per l'Op. 56, sottratta da ogni lusinga salottiera e calata nel fuoco vivo del Romanticismo. Prosseda esibisce un legato di ottima fattura e pianissimi calibrati con sapienza anche nella Fuga di Boëly, i cui dettagli sono tutti perfettamente a fuoco. Per non dire del Benedictus di Alkan, una pagina emozionante, resa con un fraseggio di grande respiro. Lo Studio e i Preludi di Alkan sono travolgenti per il vigore drammatico e virtuosistico, mentre la Marcia Funebre di Gounod è gustosamente grottesca.
Musica, Luca Segalla, 1/2015

El piano-pédalier tuvo una discreta difusion a lo largo del siglo XIX e interesò a compoisitores come Schumann, Liszt, Aklan y Gounod. Este ultimo escribio cuatro partituras para piano-pédalier y orquesta tras conocer a Lucies Palicot, virtuosa del instrumento. Roberto Prosseda lleva algun tiempo dedicandose a la recuperacion de este repertorio olvidado y lo hace con resultados brillantes.
Stefano Russomanno, ABC Cultural, 2/3/2015


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