The other day at Classical:NEXT I had a go on a fortepiano - one recently built - and was amazed at the lightness of the touch and the ease with which it produces a beautiful, singing tone. How come pianos have kept on being made larger, heavier and more unwieldy, playing ever-louder with sensitivity suffering the while? Gergely Boganyi in Budapest unveiled a new piano a few months ago - one with a reasonably space-age design; the fashion for Fazioli (which sometimes convinces me and sometimes doesn't) has been gathering pace; and now it could be that Barenboim's initiative is going to point the way forward to something of a revolution in how we play and listen to the instrument.
I will report back after the concert. Meanwhile, here's the info...
|Photo (c) Chris Maene|
"The new Barenboim-Maene piano combines the touch, stability, and power of a modern piano with the transparent sound quality and distinguishable colour registers of more historic instruments. While on the outside it does not differ significantly in looks from a modern concert grand, most of its components – including the braces, soundboard, cast-iron frame, bass strings, keyboard and action – have been specially-designed and tailor made, and the positioning of others, such as the hammers and strings, is radically different.
"Barenboim was inspired to create a new piano after playing Franz Liszt’s restored grand piano during a trip to Siena in September 2011. Struck by the vital differences in sound of an instrument constructed with straight, parallel strings rather than the diagonal crossed ones of a contemporary instrument, he set out to create a brand new instrument that combines the best of the old and the new and offers a real alternative for pianists and music-lovers in the 21stcentury."
|photo (c) Paul Schirnhofer/DG|
Daniel Barenboim says:
“The transparency and tonal characteristics of the traditional straight-strung instruments is so different from the homogenous tone produced by the modern piano across its entire range. The clearly distinguishable voices and colour across its registers of Liszt’s piano inspired me to explore the possibility of combining these qualities with the power, looks, evenness of touch, stability of tuning and other technical advantages of the modern Steinway. I am so delighted to have worked with Chris Maene, who had the same dream and I must pay tribute to his incredible technical expertise and his deep respect for both tradition and innovation. I must also thank Steinway & Sons, for bringing us together and for delivering key components for our new instrument, thus enabling a perfect match of the traditional qualities and modern advantages.”