Schubert: 6 Moments Musicaux D780 – Historical Tempo Reconstruction – Alberto Sanna – Fortepiano

Diving into Schubert’s piano music as I do here with the famous Moments Musicaux (D780 ), I felt inspired by the Metronome Marks given in the a 19th century edition made by August Sturm (1852-1923). With the modern reading of the Metronome (half beat), where every “tick” corresponds to the note value indicated, these pieces would not only be extremely fast if not impossible to play on a historical fortepiano, but make not much musical sense either…as with so many historical metronomic tempo indications that we today simply ignore as if they are not part of the historical information as left by musicians or composers of the past.
But these MM’s, also those of Sturm, become suddenly extremely meaningful if we apply the WBMP (Whole Beat Metronome Practice), as this was the most used way to read the MM during the 19th century. With this reading of the metronome, the ticks of the metronome do not indicate the complete note of the metronome mark, but the subdivision. As we still teach to music students in school today: One AND two AND three AND….
Enjoy this experiment and we will come back with more recordings very soon!

Metronome Marks between brackets are August Sturm’s.

Moderato – 1:44 (q=104)
Andantino – 13:24 (q.=60)
Allegretto moderato – 25:02 (q=108)
Moderato – 28:26 (q=120)
Allegro vivace – 37:50 (h=112)
Allegretto – 41:43 (q=144)

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Welcome everybody to yet another video/recording here on Authentic Sound. Feel free to share your impressions and thoughts with this community. Be inspired by a great community, but keep the conversation nice. All we ask for is that you don't hit Enter for a message you would not say in person. It'll make this place even so much better. Here's a quick reminder to our community guideline rules:

AlthougI would also consider the speeds as too slow, I could understand some reasoning and feeling for those type of tempos. That was absolutely impossible for the Wanderer Fantasie. I am wondering however about a different question. If Schubert had those tempi in mind, would the audience of that time really enjoy it? I encourage the search for reports from that time when authentic listeners would have judged on the music. I have another remark on a quite technical side: if the pieces are played at those speeds it would always need a perfectly tuned piano, clavicord or what so ever. Because when you wait for such long times to have the sound evade or vanish, the interaction of a badly tuned piano will be very unpleasantly experienced. But I do not hesitate to admit that I enjoyed listening.

I feel that the more time you spend on the Fritz, Alberto… the nicer your touch is getting and thus the more subtle and richer you are making the Fritz sound!! Lots of really moving moments here. Thank you Alberto!! Wim… great job on the recording. Your recording gear has great dynamic range… even at fairly low listening levels…. I had to actually turn my TV down during the loud passages / movement ( so as not to disturb others ). Oh… and thank you for the wonderful programming…. your selection and order and pacing of what you choose to premiere makes it feel like we are at a real box office and shows the thoroughness and deep thought put into all you do here. Thanks Wim!!!

Mr. Sanna did a good job interpreting these pieces at whole beat tempo. Kudos for his musicianship !! 🙂 Curiosity : Does anyone know which year August Sturm added the metronome marks to this edition of the Moments Musicaux ? Given his dates, his life spans the hypothetical 19th century Whole Beat era (though in the latter half of the 19th c which I thought was already the "fast and furious virtuoso" era per the Whole Beat theory) in to the first quarter of the 20th century which is demonstrably in the modern metronome usage era …. so I assume he was a young man when preparing the edition ? But somehow still adhering to older "slower" traditions of the early 19th century ? Just curious because I never heard of him and there seems to be little info available about him on the net (at least in English).

As if you're not busy enough but I wonder if you'd consider looking at the music of Jan Václav Voříšek, a friend of Schubert who some say inspired these pieces. His Bbminor piano sonata is a largely unknown but very interesting work. I'd be interested in how it sounds at the right tempo on a fine period instrument.

I would guarantee you that even many people who wouldn't dare to use your tempo research in their public performances will use it in private, in their own homes, in practice rooms, in private performances. I know I am doing that now and I can only say I wish I'd been doing it for the past fifty years.

There's so much soul in this! Thank you for playing these pieces so beautifully and letting us listen in. – There are some rhythmic decisions in there that I'd personally disagree with, but it's great to hear what you make of the Moments ^^

What a masterful performance – one where every phrase has meaning. Like the '81 Gould recording of Goldberg Variations, shows that sometimes the slower voice has much more to say.

I found Alberto Sanna's remarks at the beginning to be quite insightful/penetrating. And as I listen here to the first two movements, I feel myself pulled into the music in a way I don't believe I have ever felt before.

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