Is this a real pianist?

Is this a real pianist?


norman lebrecht

November 03, 2020

We’ve been asked for information about Alina Seidel, a pianist who has published several recordings on Youtube but is mysteriously absent from the rest of the online world.

Listening to the clunkety-clunk of her Bach, we’re wondering if it’s not played by a computer program.

Any thoughts?

As for the Scarlatti…. speechless.



  • Roman says:

    I am convinced that it is computer playing.

    It doesn’t sound like a real piano at all. It could be a cheap electric Casio though, which also explains a total lack of expression. Theoretically she could play with metronome and record MIDI output. But if she is able to play these pieces with such precision, what is the point in recording a totally uninteresting interpretations on a cheap keyboard? I doubt anyone who could play these pieces would do that.

  • A.L. says:

    Yuja and Lola appear Victorian relative to this.

  • ryan says:

    it sounds mechanical

  • John Marks says:

    I started, as a student, making recordings on analog tape in 1967 or 1968, and professionally from 1982. One of the recordings I produced got a Grammy nomination.

    To me, this sounds totally MIDI.

    The flat dynamics, the “snap-to-the-grid” timing.



    • David K. Nelson says:

      My hunch also, for both the phrasing and the sound of the instrument.

      MIDI. At least in an early version, you would set your level of “sensitivity” to the nearest eighth note, or sixteenth note, or 32nd note, and so on (oh I’m sorry how thoughtless of me: set it to quavers, semi-quavers, demisemiquavers, hemidemisemi quavers, and so on — play on the keyboard and it would smooth out the wanderings of your performance on a keyboard (electronic of course) to make your note values “correct” — sort of the note value equivalent of Auto-Tune. And why would you want that? Mainly because you could print music that was corrected to a practical playable appearance and not a bizarre reproduction of the keyboard player’s irregular rhythms.

      But the playback, quite apart from the electronic keyboard sound of the era, had that same “not quite human” feel as others comment on here. I am reminded that in the day of player piano rolls it was someone’s job to “correct” the roll so that the “sensitivity” to note values could be comprehended by the paper punching technology of the time. I am reminded of the famous story about Schnabel who was being enticed to make piano rolls by a company that assured him that their advanced technology could capture 16 nuances of tone and touch. His reply was that was a great pity has he played with 17. I am likely botching the story.

  • Albus Dumbledore says:

    Best interpretation to date.

  • Not a story interisiting. A “truffa” like the Italian say. I prefer to watch on Youtube Berezovsky playing Ravel Buchbinder playing Beethoven and Yeol Eum Son playing Mozart

  • Gustavo says:

    Other pieces look photo-shopped.

  • Malcolm James says:

    The photos of her all seem to be back or side views, so we never see her face. Sounds a bit suspicious.

  • John Borstlap says:

    My fly on the wall tells me that she is an invention of Dr Hofstadter from the IT Unit of the Music Faculty of the Texas Institute of Technology. As he revealed in the September issue of the TIT Montly Magazine: “We have achieved a liveliness and humanlike rendering of musical sophistication that surpasses our earlier lifelike creation of Lola, which could even give our president the impression of a human presence. We expect that future developments will eventually make it possible to dispense with the mediation of the performer in concert life, which so often creates a hindrance to correct representaion of the musical score.”

    • Dragonetti says:

      Of course there’ll be no need of actual players in the future, they’ll all have given up trying to perform! What actually will happen will be “music” like this stuff which we will listen to while traversing giant, futuristic cities in our silent flying cars on our way to our robot-run homes to have our meal replacement tablets which will replace all old-fashioned fresh foodstuffs.
      Oh, hang on a minute, I’m reading my Dan Dare Annual 1955.

    • Kenneth says:

      To Dr Hofstadter… that is simply absurd, as is the rendition of Bach!

      What could possibly motivate the desire of these people to ‘dispense with … the performer’? Do they actively seek out the neutralization and homogenization of our humanity?

      …And, nobody serious can think that sounds anywhere close to adequate. They should familiarize themselves with Richter or Gould or Schiff, and then dare to profess their knowledge of which Bach gives ‘a liveliness and humanlike rendering of musical sophistication’. Disgraceful.

      • Anthony Sayer says:

        Methinks I espy a Texas Institute of Technology.

        • Paul Carlile says:

          Indeed, sir; whopper titty said ins-tit-utionalist..(?), wasn’t a bull to spot irony ….or, is it me, unable to spot the iden-titty of his own irony?
          Apologies for my dylsexier; i should have read the ah-tickle and left tit at that.

      • John Borstlap says:

        I dropped a line to Hofstadter but his wife said he was still working on the device’s lower parts.

  • RW2013 says:

    Can’t a computer programme have a name and white panties?

  • christopher storey says:

    The Bach certainly sounds like a computer rendered performance . Apart from anything else there does not seem to be much in the way of an attempt to separate the voices, and the rallentando at the end of the Fugue is most peculiar. And what on earth is the instrument ?

  • Caractacus says:

    Joyce Hatto lives….!!

  • John Humphreys says:

    Faceless performance..

  • sam says:

    But her PR worked, didn’t it?

    She got a post on SD. She got hits from SD readers. She is now being discussed.

    All because of a couple of sexy photos. Ohhh, we’re such easy baits for clicks just with a shot of her booty and come-hither Lolita lips.

    (We’ll assume that the person is indeed female, but most likely some middle-aged guy catfishing us from the basement of his mother’s house.)

  • Iain Simcock says:

    Sounds dreadfully like a computer to me. Maybe a prank to comment on the shameless publicity stunts of some classical musicians!

  • sam says:

    By the way, it’s 2020, don’t say “it’s a computer playing” to mean mechanical and unimaginative, what is mechanical unimaginative is the computer *programmer*, the computer itself is just as much an inert hardware as a piano.

    Under the wrong hands, a piano can sound mechanical and unimaginative.

    Given the right coding, a computer can produce nuances that 99.99% of human players are incapable of doing.

    • Garech de Brun says:

      That sounds like those Domestos ads, which claim kill 99.9% germs, meaning nothing at all as they cannot say 100% as it would imply sterile and would break advertising standards and fair trading laws.

  • DML says:

    No bum notes!

  • Ned Keane says:

    Automated music is on the rise. It’s a way of stuffing Spotify playlists with recordings that dilute the share owned by major labels. This is a known thing in pop/dance music and various companies have made algorithmic music, but I didn’t know anyone would have bothered with classical music (the share is so tiny anyway, it makes no odds).
    As others have said, it’s probably a MIDI file played through a sampled piano in ProTools or Logic or whatever. The equivalent of having Kindle read out your book to you.

  • Ned Keane says:

    Update: on YouTube these have been posted by the unlikely named Serge Smirnoff. A quick Google shows he’s a Russian researcher into audio quality measurement.

    So, we are all part of his experiment.

  • M McAlpine says:

    Just to mention that the two photographs appear to be of different people as one has fair skin and the other dark skin.

  • Paul Carlile says:

    Surely Sir, “The Well Tampered Cleverer…?”

  • yujafan says:

    bring back Yuja, please! at least she’s a real pianist, not to mention a real WOMAN, and not a faceless pseudo dreamed up by a computer geek in a basement

    • Paganono says:

      Yuja would do just fine if she were to leave her rump out of the equation, but for poor Alina, even copious amounts of T&A can’t save her.

  • Garech de Brun says:

    Methinks she works in a “knocking shop” by her scanty apparel!

    Yes it rather sounds as if a robot is playing, it must be a con trick she has not made any records on bona fide labels where you can read the book of words about when and where it was made.

  • Pierre says:

    Someone should contact Garin Chadwick, the photographer of the 2nd picture, and tell him his photo is (probably) being used without copyright 😛

    In any case, seeing his other pictures, I’m happy to have found his work…

  • Papageno says:

    why should this get you all excited? A majority of classical /opera people are high on gayosity or so I presume.

  • David Boxwell says:

    If Martha Argerich had worked more on her glutes and lats, she would have been a bigger star and a greater artist!

  • William Safford says:

    Anytime someone tries to tell you that a musician should just play the notes on the page, that there is no place for expression or interpretation in a particular piece, just play this recording for them. You’ll change their mind.

  • William says:

    Still better than Brendel.

  • JCF30 says:

    It’s Joyce Hatto.