Off the Record is a revealing exploration of piano performing practices of the high Romantic era. Author and well-known period keyboardist Neal Peres Da Costa bases his investigation on a range of early sound recordings—transfers of reproducing piano rolls, and† acoustic and electrical recordings—that capture the playing of generations of highly-esteemed pianists, some trained as far back as the mid nineteenth century. Placing general practices of late nineteenth-century piano performance alongside evidence of the stylistic idiosyncrasies of legendary pianists such as Carl Reinecke (1824–1910), Theodor Leschetizky (1830–1915), Camille Saint-SaŽns (1838–1921) and Johannes Brahms (1833–1897), he examines prevalent techniques of the time—dislocation, unnotated arpeggiation, rhythmic alteration, tempo fluctuation—and unfolds their background. Throughout, Peres Da Costa demonstrates that these early recordings do not simply capture the idiosyncrasies of aging musicians as has been commonly asserted, but in fact represent a range of established expressive practices of a lost age.
An extensive collection of these historic recordings of the Romantic age masters (some of them rarely heard before) are available on this companion web site, and in addition, Peres Da Costa illustrates points made throughout the book with his own playing. Of great value to students and professional pianists, historical musicologists of 17th to early-20th-century performing practice, and also to the general music aficionado audience, Off the Record is an indispensable resource for scholarly research, performance inspiration, and listening enjoyment.