A couple of years ago I posted here about the 1892 Erard I had bought off ebay. It’s a French Erard Gothique, it’s in perfect condition, and everything is original on it. No restoration at all.
Well, a local harpist here in Boston has fallen in love with it and she plays in the Handel and Haydn period instrument orchestra when they need harp. They had a program last night and were doing a scene from Gluck’s Orfeo and Euridice and there’s a lovely tenor aria accompanied by harp. She asked me if she could use my Erard. So this fantastic 1892 instrument, which was probably never played-and I say that because there were absolutely no signs of wear on it- made it’s debut in Symphony Hall last night. It sounded wonderful, and it’s tonal qualities, so different from a modern harp, came through very clearly.
While this is not an 18th century instrument(or copy), a true 18th century instrument would have been completely inaudible in that setting. My feeling is that this harp sounded very similar to an 18th century harp, but had more volume. So it was a good compromise.
By the way, the Handel and Haydn Society in Boston is the oldest orchestra organization in the world! It dates from 1817, and they had actually commissioned Beethoven to write something for them, but he died before he could fulfill the commission.