Posts Tagged RCM
Daniel Barenboim reveals radical new piano design to the world and proclames that he has fallen in love with it. Conceived in 2011, the Barenboim piano has taken 18 months and 4,000 people hours of work to build – the piano has been compared to Steinway and may one day go into wider production
“I’ve fallen in love with it,” beamed Daniel Barenboim as he unveiled what he believes is a groundbreaking new piano, one which he conceived and commissioned, and has been dreaming about since 2011. “I want to spend as much time with it as possible.”
To a small audience of journalists, Barenboim played 30 seconds from the slow movement of Beethoven’s Appassionata Sonata on his traditional Steinway before playing the same notes on his new piano.
Some were thrilled by the difference. Others furrowed their brows at the similarity. What no one could disagree on was the maestro’s passion for his new instrument.
Barenboim declared it a “sound alternative”. One piano was not better than the other but: “There is a difference in the quality of the sound … it has more transparency, more clarity and by itself less blend but it gives you the opportunity to create a blend yourself as a player – and I like that.”
The exterior looks much the same as any other modern concert grand piano but inside there are some dramatic differences.
Designed by the Belgian instrument maker Chris Maene, the Barenboim has straight parallel strings instead of the diagonal-crossed ones of a contemporary piano. The wooden soundboard veins go in different directions. The bridges, ribs and bracings are specially-designed and the hammers and strings (yellow brass rather than red brass) have been repositioned.
All of this creates a piano which has a different sound and one which he has to play in a different way, he said. “It is a different relationship between the tip of the fingers and the key. And the peddling … the transparency of the sound makes you rethink the use of the pedals.”
Barenboim’s epiphany came in September 2011 when he visited Siena and got the opportunity to play on Franz Liszt’s restored grand piano. Struck by the difference in sound he began to dream of a brand new piano which combined the evenness of touch, stability and power of a modern instrument with the “transparent sound quality and distinguishable colour registers” of Liszt’s 200-year-old piano.
Almost all concert pianists today play a Steinway and even alternative makers base their instrument on the Steinway D, first built in 1884.
Its ubiquity is part of its strength, said Barenboim who has been happily playing one for 65 years. “The great advantage of Steinway is that over the years it has created an instrument that has enormous homogeneity. If you listen to some of the old pianos which still exist in recordings this homogeneity of the sound is quite obvious and wonderful.”
Barenboim approached Steinway to see if they could create his dream piano. They could not, but pointed him towards Maene who then stressed the need to have Steinway involved, not least because they would have to provide all the components.
“Let me make it very clear,” said Barenboim. “It is not a question that there was anything wrong with Steinway. What this provides is a sound alternative and as in everything in life, everything has advantages and disadvantages.”
As things stand, there are only two examples of the new piano, one for Barenboim, one for Maene.
It has taken 18 months and 4,000 people hours of work to build it and Maene is hopeful it may one day go into wider production. “I’m sure there will be a demand from artists who want something else.”
Next year he will be back, in what will be the 60th anniversary of his first appearance at the Royal Festival Hall aged just 13, performing both of Brahms’ piano concertos back to back.
In between the energetic 72-year-old will be at this summer’s Proms as a soloist and conductor of his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, consisting of young Arab, Israeli and European musicians.
Each time he will have his new piano. Even though he has only had the finished instrument for six weeks, his passion for it seems boundless.
But it was, he said, like falling in love with a new person. “You want to go with them everywhere … I want to play everything.”
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0161 977 0076
12th January 1928
Even with the rise of jazz and pop music during the period, the 1920s and 30s was a time when performances of classical music, both live and on radio, drew enormous audiences in the. Of the many composers, conductors and performers who became household names during this era, none made a bigger splash than a young pianist from Kiev named Vladimir Horowitz. From his first U.S. performance on January 12, 1928, Horowitz established a special bond with American audiences—a bond that would make him the best known and most beloved pianist in his adopted country for the next 60 years.
Horowitz was not the primary draw for the concertgoers attending his debut at Carnegie Hall. The headliner that night was Sir Thomas Beecham, acting as guest conductor of the New York Philharmonic, it was his first time in front of the orchestra and his first time on the podium in America. The dynamic Beecham—”crouched like a panther, ready to spring upon a piece of counterpoint the instant that its head projected from its lair”—drew raves in the next morning’s New York Times review. But it was the young Russian pianist playing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 who clearly stole the show.
The Times’ Olin Downes was reserved in his assessment of Horowitz’s artistic promise: “Very possibly Mr. Horowitz is a great musician as well as virtuoso….But he has that to prove.” But the critic left little doubt about the impact on the audience of the young man who “caused most of the intermission to be occupied in applauding and cheering him and calling him back to the stage. It has been years since a pianist created such a furor with an audience in this city.”
What that initial review referred to as Horowitz’s “electrical temperament, his capacity for animal excitement” was the basis of harsh critiques that followed Horowitz throughout his career. American critic and composer Virgil Thompson saw Horowitz as an artless panderer, a “master of distortion and exaggeration.” But there could be no denying the effect of Horowitz’s playing both on audiences and on musicians of future generations.
On the occasion of Horowitz’s death in 1989, the American pianist Emmanuel Ax offered an assessment that was probably shared by the audience in that first American concert 61 years earlier: “He brought the idea of excitement in piano playing to a higher pitch than anyone I’ve ever heard….There was the sense of an unbelievable energy being harnessed, and the feeling that if he ever let it go, it would burn up the hall.”
Today was the 1st day of viewings and the bids are in already. We thought it would be nice to share a selection of pictures with you of the pianos around the room. We took the pictures after we had closed at 8pm so you didn’t have to see the scarfs and jackets !
Here is a nice shot of Lot 24. Bechstein Model E concert grand
Not to sure Beethoven is happy about being sold again !
From left to right can you name the piano makes?
Bluthner & a late entry that arrived today:
August Forster Arts and Crafts style upright Est. £200 – 300 !
What makes do you recognise here?
Oh the captions we could of wrote for this photo!
A concert grand for £1000 – £2000……
Its like a scene from a pianist dream…
Lot No. 1 Kawai Anytime piano Est.£1,000 – £2,000 !
This is an extra lot:
Lot 47 A Bluthner upright piano in an ebonised case Est. £500 – 1,000
Two classic makers
Bechstein & Steinway, Both with fretwork music desks
A Timeless classic…
Chappell and Bluthner
This Yamaha C5 piano has a base that could take on most pianos of similar size and bigger
Well here is the last pic of the 1st viewing day after we closed the doors. I hope you have enjoyed having a ‘cyber’ look round the room and we do hope to see you tomorrow or Saturday.
On Saturday the doors open 9am the auction opens 12 noon
The UK central piano auction in Manchester has changed venue and is now held at:
Britannia Piano Auctions
The Auction Room
It is time to be thinking about the piano for you at the right price
If you have any questions about this auction insight or any other please don’t hesitate to contact us on:
Tel. 0161 977 0075
An online listing will be on the website a week prior to the auction. We also have each auction live online where you can register to bid, if you would like details on live internet bidding then please call or email us.
Our fully illustrated catalogue for the December auction is available to purchase from us and is delivered to your door at a cost of £5.00, or, you can request a yearly subscription for £20.00 so you don’t miss an auction.