Friday, November 30, 2012

True love and piano heaven?

Fairly perturbed by London reactions to Andras'/Backhaus's Bechstein - the upper register "cold", "colourless" - ?  As they say on Twitter, WTF? Nothing could be further from my own impression over in Lucerne.

I fell in love with my own Bechstein when I played it at a friend's wedding. Before deciding absolutely to give myself over to my midlife crisis and commit the necessary large sum to buying it, I wanted to be sure I really loved it as much as I'd thought I did. So I went along to Steinway's and played every grand piano in the shop.

They were all perfect. And they didn't do it for me. OK, they also cost a heck of a lot more, so it was just as well I didn't take to them, but there was more than that to it. Where was the character, the depth of sound, the individuality? Back to the Bechstein. Heaven. My beloved model M/P grand has a particular sound, a particular woody deliciousness that you can really get your teeth into, and a different colour in each register. Where does it come from?

It's all about the balance of the tension in the sound-source, especially the soundboard. The way the pieces of wood bond together. The relatively dryness of them. And a lot of passion and dedication goes into producing it. This is all explained in this film, which offers a bit of insight into the Bechstein processes and includes plenty of examples of that special quality of tone. It's called C BECHSTEIN - A LOVE STORY.

Andras's London concerts, by the way, are taking place in the Wigmore Hall which, excuse me, was originally called the BECHSTEIN Hall. The name was changed at the time of the First World War, when anything with a German name became mud in Britain. Is it possible that the ongoing prejudice against some of the most wonderful pianos in the world goes back to that?