SKF NOTE: How inspiring! In a quest for better sound, Messrs. Barenboim and Maene modify the acoustic concert grand piano. Who would have thought? For example, the new placement of the bass strings (see below) makes sense to my way of thinking.
Daniel Barenboim Plays Schubert From Memory on a Piano He Designed
At London’s Royal Festival Hall, pianist Daniel Barenboim is playing all 11 of Franz Schubert’s completed piano sonatas on an instrument he designed.
By ROBERT THICKNESSE — June 1, 2015 5:55 p.m. ET
London — The exclusive little club of the world’s most valuable pianos just got a new member. [T]his new kid belongs to the doyen of classical pianists, Daniel Barenboim, who designed it together with the Belgian piano-maker Chris Maene. It took 4,000 man-hours and 18 months to build, and last Wednesday was its public unveiling….
[I]t is a modern concert piano….
After playing Franz Liszt’s restored piano in 2011.., Mr. Barenboim vowed to create an instrument combining the power of a modern grand with the transparency and discrete notes, colors and registers he had felt and heard there. The concert Steinway played world-wide is an amazing, aristocratic-toned instrument with great consistency, but this venture has made us aware of its near-monopoly in a world that does, after all, contain many more piano-makers.
The new instrument has a beautiful and individual clarity of tone, pellucid and warm; the notes are clean and separate, with the distinct attack you hear in old instruments. There is something orchestral in the different textures of its low, middle and high registers—that is an echo of the old fortepiano—and maybe the bass is more sharply etched than usual (the big technical difference is that the bass strings do not cross diagonally over the others, as on a standard grand, and therefore don’t pick up resonance from them).
In the Sunday concert…Mr. Barenboim took us to worlds only Schubert inhabited, where emotions indescribable in words dance and overlap and music flows and flows, songlike, orchestral, mythic, with vast textural richness and variety. And yes, of course the piano had everything to do with this.