After trying lots of pianos – and that i mean Lots of pianos – with the objective of replacing my ancient Chickering baby grand – those I liked best were 4 Steinway Bs at Steinway Hall inside london as well as a Steingraeber Phoenix 205 at Hurstwood Farm Pianos.
Auditioning instruments on this quality raises a fundamental essential question that is how will you select just one?
My answer I thought was you don’t decide. Just pick the right one. Or “you don’t opt for the piano. The piano picks you.”
Nice try. But this didn’t get me any nearer to a decision until …
The Steinway Bs – Hamburg Steinway Bs this is because I’m in Europe rather than America – responded to everything I played. When i state “everything” I’m imagining Gary Oldman intensity as he shouts for everybody! Those Bs spoke!
Gorgeously exquisitely tuned, they produced a million colors and timbres, all of these leapt effortlessly gracefully into the room. Playing a basic interval on those pianos – a great fifth – was actually a revelation. They spoke with a whisper as well as every other dynamic. They sounded large, full, and complete with only a melody surely nothing else.
The steingraeber pianos san francisco – which, however, was ultimately the “one” – was actually a completely different beast. I liked it when I first sat down to play it. It was actually precise in such a way I’ve never find before. It comes with a dynamic cover anything from almost inaudible ppppp to decimating ffff. In between and amongst those extremes comes floating sound, literally, from instrument to aether and air. Beautiful round warm graceful wonderful sound.
But up to I liked the Steingraeber, I couldn’t coax it to look from your feel of my method to the dialect of sound I used to be after. It was actually as if the piano had it’s own mind, just as if it knew better. Maybe it did.
Then the magic. Geoffrey Sapsford, the amazing technician at Hurstwood Farm Pianos made some adjustments over an hour or so.
I sat down again and played a number of notes. That same Steingraeber Phoenix 205 that has been an absolutely wonderfully precise instrument through which I couldn’t pull sound as completely when i wished now responded everything I played: exactly, precisely, totally. Full keep with lid fully open, half stick with lid halfway closed, tiny one-eighth stick to lid open a bit, no stick to lid fully closed.
I have no idea what Geoff did towards the piano and it’s very possible he used incantations only. Regarding selecting a piano and the way to decide between this, that a person, or anything else: My experience arrived at play, try, think, listen, talk, enable settling – then repeat as frequently as necessary. And collaborate with an amazing technician.