When I walked into the Recital Hall in the Redstone campus at UVM last Friday evening for a concert by Peter Sykes, fortepiano , I was totally unfamiliar with the instrument, in the sense that I had never heard one in live recital. By the time Sykes had completed his pre-concert talk about the incident, I had become very well-equipped to understand the place of this instrument in the history of Western music, and to appreciate the music Sykes had programmed to aid the audience to hear what the hysterical music sounded like on this instrument. The whole evening was educational without being didactic and musically delightful. Sykes knows what he's doing.
A descendent not of the harpsichord, but of the clavichord , and capable of great dynamic changes without necessarily ever overriding even at its loudest forte an instrumental soloist or vocal soloist. The volume panel is restricted by the diameter of the strings and the general size of the total instrument.
Sykes programmed music by CPE Bach, Haydn and Beethoven acquainting us with the music of the former composer and his place in the history of the development of music in the West and reacquainting us with the music of the two latter composers. It was an evening during which my appreciation for the burgeoning classical period achieved a perspective that heretofore was absent from my knowledge bank.
Throughout the evening Sykes played impeccably, and with a sense of the music he had selected that rose to the highest peaks of musicianship. The music was both instructive and delightful. From the opening Sonata in C. minor by CPE Bach to the closing measures of his encore, a bagatelle, Sykes shone like the musical star he is, giving as not only an effective foray into the history of music, one that provided also a highly musical glimpse of the importance of CPE Bach, as well as a wonderfully exciting evening of music from the classical period.