My instrument is the piano, and I have always been fascinated to explore the outer reaches of its enormous repertoire and discover how its size, range, sound, character, special effects and social role changed over its three centuries of existence.

Stephanie McCallum

I was fortunate to have opportunities to try other keyboard instruments and get a feel for differences in sound and keyboard action from my teachers. Gordon Watson allowed me to try Bach on his harpsichord, and also introduced me to the works of the reclusive virtuoso Charles-Valentin Alkan (1813–1888), a composer of originality and depth and a friend and neighbour of Chopin. With the great Alkan performer, Ronald Smith in the UK, I worked on a wide range of repertoire including Alkan, and also tried Mozart on his historic Clementi square piano.

Back in Sydney, while preparing to record the four beautiful sonatas of Carl Maria von Weber (1786–1826) for ABC Classics, I kept feeling the modern piano fought against the speed and lightness needed. These gloriously...