When pianist Gayle Martin Henry first visited the Frederick Collection of Historical Grand Pianos last year, she was fascinated and a bit overwhelmed by the variety of tone colors and keyboard responses represented by these European instruments built between 1790 and 1907.
Gayle Martin Henry will return for a performance at 4 p.m. Sunday, June 5, at the Ashburnham Community Church, Main Street.
As sole American laureate of the sixth International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow, the third American woman ever to reach the finals, Ms. Henry is not one to shrink from a challenge. She left the Frederick Collection yearning to play a concert on the beautiful 1805 piano by the London firm of Clementi & Co. What could be more appropriate than to celebrate the Â¬â€ piano’s 200th anniversary in 2005 with a recital of music by Haydn, Clementi and Field, all of whom had some connection to the instrument — First, however, she needed to learn a new kind of touch, eschewing arm weight in favor of lightly dropping the fingers into the keys, from arms suspended above the keyboard. Ms. Henry located owners of early piano replicas in her area, and arranged practice time to familiarize herself with this technique. Returning to the Frederick Collection last month to prepare for her June 5th concert, she was delighted to discover she no longer sounded like (in her words) “a galumphing elephant” when playing the delicate older pianos.