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Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: Dwscamel] #2057372
03/31/13 01:39 PM
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I always found Steinways to be really nice, and actually they do have pianos for all budgets in there. Of course, it's their own brands they have, Essex, Boston and Steinway, but then it would be unreasonable of them to sell anything else.

Before the Essex was on the market, in the late 90s and before, Steinway Hall in the UK used to sell Kawai pianos. They were priced lower than the Boston and I think Steinway marketed them as 'the best mid-priced piano' on the market. I can't remember the exact words, but the pianos were certainly in the showroom.

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Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: Dwscamel] #2057374
03/31/13 01:44 PM
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I did try the Boston 156 there and I wasn't impressed to be honest. Could be its placement in the room but it sounded enclosed and dull, rated lower than the Yamahas of the same size I tried the same day. More time could have probably formed a different opinion of course.


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Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: Bosendorfer214] #2057378
03/31/13 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by UKPianoMan
Joking, obviously. But I really did not feel welcome and won't be rushing back there. I did explain I haven't the funds for one but wanted to try 'the best' so I could get a good control for testing other pianos.

It would be fantastic if there were centres in London for M&H, Grotrian Steinweg, Shigeru Kawai e.t.c. I guess the market simply does not demand it.


Jaques Samuel near Marble Arch (www.jspianos.com) stocks Faziolis and Kawais (including Shigeru). And the guy there is very friendly. Don't miss the opportunity to try the F278 concert grand, which is periodically loaned out to the Royal Festival Hall and other places for Angela Hewitt's concerts.

I've been to, and played on the grands in Steinway Hall several times, but was always smartly dressed (i.e. no holes in my jeans..... wink ).


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: Dwscamel] #2057393
03/31/13 02:34 PM
03/31/13 02:34 PM
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Oh I forgot Jaques Samuel, I was planning to go there on that day but didn't get to, next time!! I suppose I could've appeared better nevermind. I will see if they let me play the F278, just another taunt at my wallet


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Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: Dwscamel] #2057417
03/31/13 03:12 PM
03/31/13 03:12 PM
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AJF,

In light of your critical comments to me about my citing reasons for Steinways being on the concert stage other than marketing, you might enjoy reading this post from Stephen Hough on his blog. It was in a discussion about pianos, and some comments had been made about the touch of pianos in Chopin's time versus the modern piano, and then Stephen talked about modern pianos. You can find it on his blog here in the comments after the article on Josef Hofmann.
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/cultur...-considered-the-greatest-pianist-of-all/ .

If you think he is likewise "drinking Kool Aid", do take it up with him.

Sophia


"Stephen Hough
09/17/2009 09:31 AM
Opus58 - you make some really interesting points here, and it really requires another post to cover them. But a couple of points for the time being ... I do think that certain ways of shaping phrases (Chopin especially) and creating textures are much harder on a modern Steinway. In fact you are often working against the instrument rather than with it. I suppose there is not one piano (or even one Steinway) which is ideal for everything ... but it is definitely my first choice of what is out there (and that is not influenced by management pressure!). The best New York-built Steinway is for me the best piano in the world; and the Hamburg Steinway is the most consistently good piano in the world. There's no competition for concerto repertoire in the modern concert hall. In recitals I'm much more happy to experiment, and I've played the Stuart piano with great pleasure (and have visited with Wayne at his factory). Pletnev was telling me last week about the modern Bluthner with much enthusiasm - I would like to investigate further. I was made to play a Yamaha in Moscow because of a sponsorship deal. I liked many things about it, but I hate the slippery, synthetic 'ivorite' keyboard. That alone prevents me from playing them more often. I need to go and rehearse now :-) More again ... "

Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: sophial] #2057431
03/31/13 03:45 PM
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Originally Posted by sophial
Pletnev was telling me last week about the modern Bluthner with much enthusiasm - I would like to investigate further. I was made to play a Yamaha in Moscow because of a sponsorship deal. I liked many things about it, but I hate the slippery, synthetic 'ivorite' keyboard. That alone prevents me from playing them more often. I need to go and rehearse now :-) More again ... "


Stephen Hough made his latest recording (Chopin Waltzes) on a Yamaha CF-IIIS. I haven't read his blog, so I don't know whether he explained why, but I believe he chose that piano because he wanted that particular bright, clear, uncolored sound for the waltzes. (He recorded the Ballades and Scherzi on a Steinway many years ago).

Mikhail Pletnev switched from Steinway to Blüthner about 10 years ago. (He's also given concerts on Shigeru Kawai).


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: bennevis] #2057447
03/31/13 04:17 PM
03/31/13 04:17 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by sophial
Pletnev was telling me last week about the modern Bluthner with much enthusiasm - I would like to investigate further. I was made to play a Yamaha in Moscow because of a sponsorship deal. I liked many things about it, but I hate the slippery, synthetic 'ivorite' keyboard. That alone prevents me from playing them more often. I need to go and rehearse now :-) More again ... "


Stephen Hough made his latest recording (Chopin Waltzes) on a Yamaha CF-IIIS. I haven't read his blog, so I don't know whether he explained why, but I believe he chose that piano because he wanted that particular bright, clear, uncolored sound for the waltzes. (He recorded the Ballades and Scherzi on a Steinway many years ago).

Mikhail Pletnev switched from Steinway to Blüthner about 10 years ago. (He's also given concerts on Shigeru Kawai).


Hi bennevis,

That's interesting also in light of his comments about playing Chopin on a modern Steinway in the blog quote. He mentions a "transparency" of sound he was looking for in the liner notes I think for these pieces. I like Hough and his playing a lot-- he's one of the most thoughtful and insightful pianists around, and seems like a very interesting person with a broad range of interests. I enjoy his writings.

Sophia


Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: R_B] #2057816
04/01/13 02:22 PM
04/01/13 02:22 PM
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Originally Posted by R_B
People with LOTS of money ?
To put them in LARGE houses.
> Perhaps with more money than playing ability ?



I'm probably in case #3. I work as a research consultant full time, with only a couple hours/day to spend at the piano

But I think the piano industry shouldn't be discouraging people who can afford them to buy the finest pianos they can, regardless of playing ability. The more top-quality pianos sold, the better it is for everyone. (And no, I don't have the "player option" in my piano.) The fact that some bad amateurs buy very expensive pianos in no way is a negative thing for the industry.

On concert stages in the U.S. I think it's the dealer network that helps cement Steinway and Yamaha on stages for Classical and Jazz performances. They know they can get parts and service for these quickly.

Last edited by Thrill Science; 04/01/13 04:10 PM.

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Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: Thrill Science] #2057827
04/01/13 02:51 PM
04/01/13 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Thrill Science
Originally Posted by R_B
People with LOTS of money ?
To put them in LARGE houses.
> Perhaps with more money than playing ability ?



I'm probably in case #3. I work as a research comsultant full time, with only a couple hours/day to spend at the piano

But I think the piano industry shouldn't be discouraging people who can afford them to buy the finest pianos they can, regardless of playing ability. The more top-quality pianos sold, the better it is for everyone. (And no, I don't have the "player option" in my piano.) The fact that some bad amateurs buy very expensive pianos in no way is a negative thing for the industry.

On concert stages in the U.S. I think it's the dealer network that helps cement Steinway and Yamaha on stages for Classical and Jazz performances. They know they can get parts and service for these quickly.


Some of the negativity in threads like this doubtless can be chalked up to pianist envy.


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Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: ClsscLib] #2058362
04/02/13 03:25 PM
04/02/13 03:25 PM
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Those poor upper-end pianos have a hard time competing with Steinway. These days, name-brand recognition is everything! If someone had asked me about piano brands in 2008, a year before I decided to start playing, I might have answered something like this:


Well, when I was a kid, I heard of Steinway and Baldwin (the large pianos …meaning grands) and our grammar school had these Kimble's or Kimball's (been a while!)(uprights)(I think!) which were all the same model and had that 50’s “blond” finish!

If someone asked me about these brand names, I might have come up with answers along these lines:

Bluthner - (sorry about the missing umlaut!) Ah yes, the Frau! Cloris Leachman in Young Frankenstein!

Fazioli – “Jimmy Fazioli? - wasn’t that Fonzie’s cousin on Happy Days or was it some guy who got “offed” in the second season of The Sopranos?

August Forster – A German guy who changed his name to Foster, (Auggie Foster?)went to Australia and sold beer in large blue cans!

Grotrian – I think that was Walter Pidgeon’s character’s name in Forbidden Planet!

Mason & Hamlin – Opening act for Penn & Teller in Vegas

Sauter and Seiler - Sergeant Schulz’s brother-in-laws from Hogan’s Heroes.

Shigeru - Mr. Miyagi’s first name in The Karate Kid.

Yamaha CF – The engine in Ford Taurus SHO models

Without a TV ad, Obscurity is a Certainty! grin

Last edited by Emissary52; 04/02/13 05:20 PM. Reason: gr

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Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: Dwscamel] #2058384
04/02/13 05:00 PM
04/02/13 05:00 PM
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I think almost all has been told yet.
I agree about Steinway service and marketing (however I heard also about their very unpleasant marketing and almost forcing concert halls to have theirs pianos after WW II, I don't know how much truth is in this) and their luck after 1945, when all Europe was bombarded (bombed?).

However, when you look at the many festivals pianos, on TV and leaflets we can see that they are using many other, mainly Grotrian-Steinweg and Bechsteins in Europe. I don't know why it's so hard to find Steingraeber, maybe due to their relatively very small production volumes.

However, if I would be the pianist non connected with any company to play on their instruments, I would always choose the piano by two reasons:
- overall condition
- repertoire

But I agree, it's sad the wherever you look - almost always S&S. I have nothing against - I love them in fact. But I also love diversity and possibility of choose (choice?). Other thing is that people even don't know about the companies like Steingraeber or Sauter (while they focused mainly on designer pianos).


Regards


Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: kapelli] #2058394
04/02/13 05:34 PM
04/02/13 05:34 PM
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Originally Posted by kapelli
...all Europe was bombarded (bombed?)....

But I also love diversity and possibility of choose (choice?).

Since you asked: bombed in the first one, choice in the second.

-Andy

Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: Dwscamel] #2058415
04/02/13 06:42 PM
04/02/13 06:42 PM
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I'd think that concert halls would be the place to find those brands. If these tier 1 pianos aren't found there, who actually buys them?

There aren't that many people with that kind of disposable income, fewer still with the musical savvy to even want more than one of them.

I did hear (recently) of a piano teacher in the southeastern USA who took out a second mortgage to buy a new Steingraeber, but that's highly unusual.

If I had the money I'd probably want one of each.

On the other hand, there are people like S. Richter who generally did not give a hoot about the instrument. Didn't he once say it was demoralizing to have so many choices?

Last edited by dsch; 04/02/13 06:43 PM.
Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: dsch] #2058507
04/03/13 01:14 AM
04/03/13 01:14 AM
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This has been pretty well covered - but I enjoyed Mr. Hough's comments below and would like to add three of my own reasons for owning a D:
1. Whenever I get to perform on something really good in public, it's nearly always a well prepped Steinway D (or maybe a B in a smaller hall). I know there are other great pianos but I rarely come across them in a recital hall. I feel good sitting down to a piano that seems familiar - no two Ds are exactly alike, but the good ones share something in their personality.

2. Many Ds have a somewhat heavy/stiff action. I think I would struggle to adjust to that in a performance environment if I didn't play on one all the time.

3. Wonderfully professionally hand-crafted rebuilt Ds are out there decent numbers and, truth is, they are a bargain.

Do not take my comments as being critical of other brands...there are many great pianos.
--------------------

Stephen Hough
09/18/2009 12:26 AM
"I'm not alone in preferring the NY Steinways ... Rachmaninov, Horowitz, Cliburn and so on. With the best (and that needs to be emphasized, because most NY Steinways out of the box need a massive amount of work) there is a huge range of colour. They have the power without the strident quality which you heard at the Proms."

Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: dsch] #2058522
04/03/13 02:23 AM
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Originally Posted by dsch
[...]

If I had the money I'd probably want one of each.

[...]


Something like Jay Leno's garage, only for pianos would be my ideal. Perfect climate control, of course, and a full time technician on hand to keep everything in tune and regulated. grin


Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.
Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: Dwscamel] #2058564
04/03/13 06:39 AM
04/03/13 06:39 AM
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Interesting point about the stiffer action on Steinway D's. That's my experience with NY Steinways I've played on - maybe it is not as true with Hamburg D's. Some artists can get around this problem by playing their own Steinways; Horowitz and Pollini come to mind. Everybody else has to just get used to it.

The most fluid, buttery smooth action I have come across is on an F308 which Angela Hewett used last month in a recital. She specifically asked for the second lyre to be put on and she used the fourth pedal to great affect. That piano had to be brought in for the recital, as the management of the hall is obviously not going to have such an instrument in its fleet (at least not yet). Also, Ms. Hewett is known to take the Steven Hough approach to her recital pianos - if she finds a Steinway D in the hall that she prefers to any instrument she can obtain outside the hall, she will take that in a flash.

I think you can put Garrick Ohlsson into that category as well, and it is probably a pretty sound way for top artists to make these decisions. They take into account what's available in and outside the hall, how their repertoire sounds on the instrument, what the projection capabilities of the instrument are, and the quality of the technician prepping the piano. If they are very well-established, they bring their own piano with them everywhere they play.

At this level of artistry, Steinway does not have an advantage per se, except that most halls keep only D's in their fleet, and these instruments become the default choice as long as Steinway makes sure they are top quality and well-serviced. This was not the case 30 or 40 years ago in the US - then only Steinways were heard in concert halls, with perhaps a rare instance where someone would bring in a Baldwin. So you could say progress towards diversity has been made in the US, though we are far from Europe or Asia's standards in this area.

Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: Numerian] #2058575
04/03/13 07:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Numerian

...At this level of artistry, Steinway does not have an advantage per se, except that most halls keep only D's in their fleet, and these instruments become the default choice as long as Steinway makes sure they are top quality and well-serviced. This was not the case 30 or 40 years ago in the US - then only Steinways were heard in concert halls, with perhaps a rare instance where someone would bring in a Baldwin. So you could say progress towards diversity has been made in the US, though we are far from Europe or Asia's standards in this area.


As someone who dealt with large and medium-sized U.S. concert venues 40 years ago, I can tell you that Baldwins were then quite commonly located at such halls, and even a Bosie as a third choice was not all THAT rare. There was always a Steinway, as you would expect.


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Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: Numerian] #2058638
04/03/13 10:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Numerian
Interesting point about the stiffer action on Steinway D's. That's my experience with NY Steinways I've played on - maybe it is not as true with Hamburg D's. Some artists can get around this problem by playing their own Steinways; Horowitz and Pollini come to mind. Everybody else has to just get used to it.


In the past, NY Steinway has been all over the map. Lately (within the past few years), they have been consistently on the light side. If you haven't made a trip to your local Steinway dealer lately, you should make a trip... you'll be pleasantly surprised. (Coming from someone who has historically not been a Steinway fan)

Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: Numerian] #2058691
04/03/13 12:33 PM
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I've just bought Daniil Trifonov's new Chopin CD (Decca), which was recorded on two different Faziolis, F308 (in concert) and F278 (studio).

Of Decca's three new pianists who have signed up in the past two years, two prefer other pianos to Steinway. I hope this will bring a measure of diversity to the classical recording situation: by my estimation, over 95% of piano recordings are on Steinway D, which means that the vast majority of people who listen but don't play will probably never know any other piano sound.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Why Aren't Tier 1 Pianos More Common? [Re: R_B] #2058730
04/03/13 01:34 PM
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Originally Posted by R_B
Perhaps with more money than playing ability

This gave me a laugh. I know it's not specifically answering the question the OP asked, but it's on par with what I was thinking before I read the post (based entirely on the thread title).

I think Marty's answer after it sums it up best: marketing. In the US, especially, Steinway is perceived more often than not as the top-of-the-line. Internationally, where Steinway's influence is not as deeply entrenched, you will see many other brands.


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