Friday, June 26, 2015

A New Piano - The Jury Is Out...

About a month ago, the acclaimed Argentinian pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim announced the creation of  a newly designed piano, which will bear his name.
To my knowledge, there are two Barenboim pianos extant; one which the pianist will use in future recitals and concerts, the other in  the possession of the Belgian piano maker Chris Maene, who built it for Barenboim.
The little I know of its design:  there is a different positional involvement with the strings, which are in a separated  vertical or horizontal relation to one another, rather than in diagonal opposition positionally, which has been the 'norm'  essentially  from the beginning.  That must mean that the ' blending' created by sympathetic vibration and other aural aspects engendered  by diagonalizing string groups are either gone or altered. Additionally, bridge design and the grain disposition in the sounding board have been redesigned.
All I can gather at this early point is that either hand can now develop its own 'blending,' as opposed to the  overall  simultaneity in blending that is and has been germane  to the piano since the 19th century.
As I know   so little  about the palpable tactics available on the Barenboim piano, my above observations can be classified only, at best, as tentative or suppositional. There is a tiny segment  of Barenboim playing this instrument on YouTube, which gives no clue as to differentiation,  as You Tube cannot pick up the results of design change.
I  can only presume  that Barenboim will now call out to pianists of renown to try the instrument out, in order  for   Maene and  Barenboim  to garner reaction to what supposedly is a piano of  a distinctive lyricism not  heretofore available. As Steinway  itself is a supporter of the Barenboim initiative, the presumption must be that it is not a quest to make a "better piano" than Steinway; rather, to create a different experience  for the coming pianist.
My first and only truly significant  question:
If this new design takes hold, will it mean a change of direction  in the interpretive process? Will the spiritual/intellectual fiber of the pianist (especially the more important performers among us) create a new tactic as reaction to what they now hear, regardless of 'tradition' or the  generally incorporated Expected?
What is of interest to me is that Barenboim, it seems,  received his need to redesign the piano about four years ago,  after playing on a  recently redone  piano, owned and played by one Franz Liszt.

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