Were you excited by the news of the Phoenix Piano Display in London opening on February 23rd? Well, I was, as I had already planned a trip over from Norway to London this week with my family. We stayed at a location between the Waterloo Station and London Eye, overlooking a concealed Big Ben which was up for restoration.
Now, how do you append a visit to the House of Phoenix onto an already busy schedule? As luck would have it, Friday was the only day that was not pre-planned. On their web site there are a number of options listed for transferring from where you are to where you ought to be; in the piano display room. Included in this list was the river boat which is an ideal option if you are visiting from overseas as in my case.
After taking the kids to London Eye, Madame Tussauds and Harry Potter outside of London it was time to hit the river Thames on Friday with the Thames Clipper boat service. Just as you would take a boat on the river Spree when visiting Berlin to see a C. Bechstein, the Thames offers an excuse to navigate down to the Greenwich Pier for a Phoenix Display. I was accompanied by my son who was equally enthused by the trip and the destination.
After a sedate start with the boat we picked up speed after London Bridge at which point the passangers started to miss their exits... We managed to disembark at Greenwich Pier however, and headed for the House of Phoenix, which I had read was 6 minutes walk away; it turned out out closer to 15 minutes of brisk walk alongside the river though, which was quite pleasant.
As we entered the building the first thing that happened was... not a lot. A person sat in what looked like a reception minding his own business so we just continued on inside. Something was about to happen though. From their website I knew there would be some event sometime in the day, and a quick look at my arm wrist told me that we were not late, nor too early.
I spotted the 130 piano and a 170 grand from Hurstwood. There were some brochures, price lists, and two different CD’s featuring Anton Lyakhovsky and Oliver Poole under a display TV in off position. For an opening day it was rather... empty.
Can we just sit down and play? I am a bit bewildered. But after a a good 5 minutes of contemplation I decided a bit of light playing to these fine instruments could do them no harm, but as I reached for the piano a nice man approached and asked: ‘Are you here for the Chinese New Year?’, while at the same time offering us what I assume were wrapped sweets out of a tray. I was caught off guard as I had the distinct impression that the Chinese New Year for 2018 was Friday, 16th of February.
There is an expression ‘This is all Greek to me’, now that is quite meaningless if you are Greek; so the Greeks have another saying, it is all Chinese to me. And as I looked around, it was indeed all Chinese, apart from the pianos and a number of people cleaning, as if in a hurry. There was obviously going to be some sort of official celebration later, so just as well we missed it.
After clearing out that the goal for our visit was literally within hands reach, he gave us some leaflets and a price list and confirmed that we were indeed entitled to try out the instruments, so that was a relief.
The 170 was exhibited in burl walnut fall fascia, lyre and desk. The underlid was in maple. The remaining was finished in black high polish polyester. All which I believe comes as standard unless requested otherwise. Underneath you could see the carbon fiber sound board, which was covered in wood veneer on the top to
‘protect it from UV light and slightly modify the sound. ‘
trigalg693 wrote in another thread. It also looks good. The Phoenix bridge aggraffe coupling system was also easy to spot. On either side of the instrument there were some oversized stickers showing the Phoenix. They were either put on in a hurry or suffered from sun exposure, the latter being less likely. Subjectively I like the name, but find the logo a bit over the top in size and quantity.
Both instruments were a joy to play, so much that neither of us wanted to let the other play. Be warned, go alone if you can... The 170 had a surprising body. The base could easily fool you belonging to a much larger instrument. I know it sounds cliche but I fairly confident this could have been measured objectively, but don’t take my word for it, try it out for yourself. The dynamics were great on both instruments and overall it gave a very satisfying playing experience. If you want a smaller grand, this 170 should be on your list of instruments to evaluate. The room acoustics was not great, despite that we both enjoyed ourselves immensely. Unfortunately time was limited, as is the patience of a nine year old.
Next time I am in England, I would be tempted to take a train from Victoria Station...
Ok, that was enough typing on a phone. Already back in Oslo.