BEETHOVEN: Save us from the tyranny of ‘period instrument’ fanatics. Beethoven belongs on a Steinway

writes as follows: “Early Beethoven belongs to an intimate sound world best evoked these days on period pianos, rather than on a loud Steinway,” declared John Allison in his review of Steven Osborne’s recent Wigmore Hall recital. Much as I admire Mr Allison as a critic, he's dangerously close to the mindset adopted by proponents of Historically Informed Performance (HIP): our way or the highway.

I’m thinking especially of that dark, diseased decade the 1970s, during which performances of pre-Classical music on anything other than period instruments were denounced with Inquisitorial zeal by ascetic trailblazers. Their approach has softened in recent years, at the same time being extended further and further forwards to embrace Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert and even Chopin. Yet there remains a curious undercurrent of derision towards anyone daring to play, say, Bach on the piano and using the instrument to its fullest extent.

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