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Of all the instruments that have marked the course of musical history, the piano has certainly gone through one of the most remarkable evolutions. It began as an intermediary, transitory stage between two instrumental traditions. Following its invention by Bartolomeo Cristofori at the beginning of the 18 th century, the piano gradually replaced the plucked strings of the harpsichord with a hammered, striking action; this innovation enabled a far wider range of dynamic nuance, increasingly winning over musicians and composers in the 18 th and above all in the 19 th century. After Cristofori, the German keyboard maker Gottfried Silbermann further developed the instrument, and its sound eventually became more like that of the modern piano as we know it. In the quest for interpretations that get as close as possible to those of past eras, some of today’s pianists have adopted the early pianoforte, offering the listener the opportunity to discover the sounds the composer would have heard and conceived. Firmly convinced of the rightness of this approach, Alpha has collected 10 CDs of these recordings, in an attractively produced box-set, presenting works by a number of different composers, including Haydn, Chopin, Beethoven and Schumann, performed by some of the label’s iconic pianists, such as Freddy Eichelberger, Jos van Immerseel, Alexei Lubimov, and Eric Le Sage.

"The sounds on offer here are extraordinarily varied (adding substantially to our experience of each piece), and the recordings capture them with impressive clarity."