It is tempting to think in solid categories about keyboard instruments like the harpsichord and the piano. In reality, they represent a large family of instruments. They come in many shapes and sizes from their medieval and renaissance predecessors to the modern piano as we know it now.
The harpsichord became the central instrument in baroque times. The typical sound comes from the technique with which the chords are plucked. The plucking mechanism developed over time and varies between countries. The number of claviers and their range differs from instrument to instrument, depending on what exact use the builder intended. Each builder created their own colors, depending on personal preferences and on the specific qualities of the used materials. And then there are harpsichords in lighter travel fit format, and other larger instruments with grandiose sound. In other words, each instrument is unique.
This is also true for the historical piano. Around 1700 the harpsichord builder Bartolomeo Cristofori invented a new technique to produce the sound: instead of plucking the chords he struck them with wooden hammers that were coated with a softer material. Apart from a new sound quality, it became possible to give each note its own volume, hence the name ‘forte-piano’ (loud-soft). With this new technique the player could diminish the volume of a musical phrase (diminuendo) or increase it (crescendo) just by pressing the keys softer or harder. This was in contrast with the harpsichord where this effect was only possible by adding or leaving out notes in chords.
Over time the piano underwent great changes. Composers wrote their music for the models of the instrument that they were familiar with and that they had at their disposal. Their compositions are best realized at the contemporary instruments that they were created for. This allows maximal expression of the indications that the composers left in their works. Therefore, in a concert on the historical piano it is the instrument that determines what music should be played on it.
Costantino Mastroprimiano is a master on historical pianos. Depending on the qualities of the instrument, its period of build, etc. he creates a program for that instrument in concert. His repertoire encompasses Haydn, Mozart, Clementi, Hummel, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin and more. In his playing style he looks to communicate as directly and expressive as possible what is included in the composition.