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Best overall piano for all styles of music

Posted By: Edward J

Best overall piano for all styles of music - 05/25/08 02:13 AM

While leading a simple somewhat boring life I sometimes think of questions which are of little importance in the overall scheme of things. My most recent example, of which I have been pondering all afternoon is which piano would be the best all around piano. I have heard that Yamaha is great for jazz while not so good with classical music. I have also heard that it makes a difference within the classical world as to which composers music your playing.

Now, if someone were to rate pianos from say 1 to 10 with 1 being poor and 10 being great, and you were to rate them for all styles of music which piano would end up with the best score?
For example lets take piano brand "A". It gets a 1 for classical but a 10 for jazz. Now rate it for all styles of music, total up all the scores and then divide by the number of styles to get the average score.

Now it would be quite possible, actually very likely I think, that the best piano overall would not excel in any one specific type of music. It would have the best average score but could never really compete with the winner of each category.
Yet it would be the most satisfying piano to someone who plays all types of music.

Using the above hypothesis which piano do you think would be the best all around piano?

Thanks for your time
Posted By: Norbert

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 05/25/08 05:21 AM

Honestly?

*Sauter*.

That's why I got one myself at home.

Coming home after being in a store all day with a lot of pianos - missing nothin....

P.S. own only *upright*...

Norbert shocked
Posted By: schwammerl

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 05/25/08 06:18 AM

Norbert could be right.

Some 4 years a go the salesman of a local Steinway DISTRIBUTOR who also carries Sauter, demonstrated a Sauter next to a Steinway (can't remember the piano types anymore).

The first piece was classical (Chopin): both sounded great (the salesman said the Streinway was slightly better of course).

The second piece was jazz: the Sauter was excellent, the Steinway was OK but nothing special and only (as the salesman explained in detail) after he deliberately changed his playing technique on the Steinway.

Two examples of clasiical vs jazz on a Sauter thumb

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Y5d0vOiFGw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=850jPH_HfCU&feature=related

schwammerl.
Posted By: turandot

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 05/25/08 06:50 AM

A third vote for Sauter...crisp attack without too much sustain, clean and transparent neutral tone without being harsh...very versatile. Close runner-up: Yamaha S series.

For players who like their jazz mellow and their classical sweetened, Bosendorfer

For players who like their jazz lush and their classical the full-blown romantic variety, Steinway.
Posted By: Wzkit

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 05/25/08 03:32 PM

Agree about the Sauter..but then again I am biased :p

How about Shigeru Kawai?
Posted By: Always Wanted to Play Piano

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 05/25/08 03:37 PM

A good digital?

(Ducks, runs for cover...)
Posted By: Keith D Kerman

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 05/25/08 05:56 PM

If a piano works well in the big romantic repertoire, ie Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Scriabin etc it can handle any standard piano music from Bach to Bartok to Jazz to pop easily. It will not necessarily be " the best" for everything, as individual brands that have a more ideosyncratic tone and tone production can definately favor specific styles.
Now, a piano that sounds well in Bach, Schubert and Mozart will probably also work well for Pop and Jazz, but not necessarily in the bigger romantic pieces.
Debussy is also an interesting matter. I have heard pianos that sounded absolutely gorgeous in the more delicate works of Debussy that crashed, burned, choked and died in his more demanding music.
To me, and I find this interesting, several of the traditional European brands sound best in
Jazz, but don't handle much of the meat and potatoes of the 19th century European Romantic repertoire nearly as well.
This opinion is not based on the out of context sound of any instrument, which I believe people adjust to fairly rapidly. It is based on my perception of what can be done with that sound.
Posted By: Keith D Kerman

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 05/25/08 06:02 PM

Oh, and to answer your question, in my opinion, American pianos ( NY Steinway, Mason & Hamlin, Baldwin ) along with American style pianos ( Fazioli, Steingraeber, Hamburg Steinway ) are the pianos that handle the widest range of repertoire.
Followed by Japanese pianos.
Posted By: wruess

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 05/25/08 06:07 PM

Quote
from Norbert:

Honestly?

*Sauter*.

That's why I got one myself at home.

Coming home after being in a store all day with a lot of pianos - missing nothin....
Absolutely agree that the Sauter feels right playing just about anything - one of a number of reasons why I bought a Sauter 220 (Omega).
Posted By: Art Olson

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 05/25/08 07:32 PM

when I think about this question it makes me glad I own a piano store and have the luxury of changing my preference every day. In fact, everyone should buy at least 3 good pianos.
Posted By: Edward J

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 05/25/08 11:08 PM

Thank you all for your opinions.

I would like to modify my original question somewhat. What would we find if we removed all classical music from the equation? Would it change any of your opinions?

I would like to ask another question. If a person were not playing classical music, would having a deep powerful base be less important? If one were to purchase a grand piano, would one at 5'6" be satisfactory? If an upright, would a 47" model be as satisfactory as a 52" model?

Does playing classical music raise the bar of necessary equipment to have a satisfactory result?

I read this forum quite often. I find it more entertaining than watching most movies. Thanks for your responses.
Posted By: Mark...

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 05/26/08 12:44 AM

Quote
Originally posted by Edward J:
Thank you all for your opinions.

I read this forum quite often. I find it more entertaining than watching most movies. Thanks for your responses.
We have to get you cable... laugh
Posted By: Janet O

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 05/26/08 01:20 AM

Keith Kerman wrote:

Quote
Oh, and to answer your question, in my opinion, American pianos ( NY Steinway, Mason & Hamlin, Baldwin ) along with American style pianos ( Fazioli, Steingraeber, Hamburg Steinway ) are the pianos that handle the widest range of repertoire.
Followed by Japanese pianos.
Keith,

Thanks for sharing your opinion to an interesting question. I tend to share your opinion about the versatility of the pianos that you listed.

Because your experience with these pianos is much more than mine (and many on this forum), I was wondering if you comment on the following:

1. Among well-prepped NY Steinway, Hamburg Steinway, and Steingraeber, where do you see strengths and weaknesses in the performing Baroque, Classical, and Romantic music? I realize we are "dancing on the head of a pin," as all of the instruments you mentioned are outstanding pianos, but there are likely some differences that I'd appreciate your perspective on.

2. I know you carry and think highly of Estonia. Where would you put Estonia in its versatility to perform different types of music, relative to the pianos you listed and the Japanese pianos?

Please note: In asking these question, I am not trying to start an inflammatory discussion about how good this or that brand is; these are all fine pianos. I am only trying to understand the subtle but real differences among fine pianos.
Posted By: Keith D Kerman

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 05/26/08 03:05 PM

Quote
Originally posted by Janet O:

Keith,

Thanks for sharing your opinion to an interesting question. I tend to share your opinion about the versatility of the pianos that you listed.

Because your experience with these pianos is much more than mine (and many on this forum), I was wondering if you comment on the following:

1. Among well-prepped NY Steinway, Hamburg Steinway, and Steingraeber, where do you see strengths and weaknesses in the performing Baroque, Classical, and Romantic music? [/QB
Well, I am going to generally dodge this question, as a good answer would be absolutely enormous, and still not measure up in any way shape or form to someone simply playing a variety of music from the periods you mention on examples of these pianos. This is the only way for the strengths, weaknesses and differences to become clear.
My favorite could be any of these 3 examples, depending on the specific instrument, and how much work PianoCraft has put into it.

Quote
Originally posted by Janet O:
2. I know you carry and think highly of Estonia. Where would you put Estonia in its versatility to perform different types of music, relative to the pianos you listed and the Japanese pianos?
[/QB]
Hmm.....if there was a scale, with one side representing the classic American sound ( Steinway, Mason & Hamlin ) and the opposite side representing the classic European sound ( Bosendorfer, Bluthner ) I would put the Estonia at about 82.39846% towards the American side. wink
I hope you have a chance to play some well prepped Estonias and find out for yourself!
Posted By: Steve Cohen

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 05/26/08 03:09 PM

Great answers Keith.
Posted By: turandot

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 05/26/08 03:22 PM

originally posted by Keith Kerman
Quote
To me, and I find this interesting, several of the traditional European brands sound best in Jazz, but don't handle much of the meat and potatoes of the 19th century European Romantic repertoire nearly as well.
This opinion is not based on the out of context sound of any instrument, which I believe people adjust to fairly rapidly. It is based on my perception of what can be done with that sound.

Of course jazz welcomes freedom in interpretation. A whole lot different playing from a lead sheet with a few chord symbols than slavishly tending to every detail in strictly interpreting a classical score; not to say that there isn't room there for interpretation, but that you are certainly judged more as a player on your ability to fulfill the composer's intent than to flush out a musical sketch.

Keith,

I remember a post of yours (too lazy to dig it out) where you talked about pianos that provide a signature tone vs. pianos that allow you to build your own. I'm getting a sense that that observation is not the basis of your choices here. What is driving your choices? Is it the tone, the scale design's ability to build a thick texture of overtones, the resonance, the rate of decay? It seems to me that some of the 'American sound' pianos get a bid muddy when the notation is dense and the time signature moves the music quickly. Would you disagree?
Posted By: Norbert

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 05/26/08 03:22 PM

Quote
.....if there was a scale, with one side representing the classic American sound ( Steinway, Mason & Hamlin ) and the opposite side representing the classic European sound ( Bosendorfer, Bluthner ) I would put the Estonia at about 82.39846% towards the American side.
Funny, I was just gonna write I'd put the Estonia at 82.39846% towards the *European* side.

Norbert wink
Posted By: Keith D Kerman

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 05/26/08 03:52 PM

Quote
Originally posted by turandot:
Keith,

I remember a post of yours (too lazy to dig it out) where you talked about pianos that provide a signature tone vs. pianos that allow you to build your own. I'm getting a sense that that observation is not the basis of your choices here. What is driving your choices? Is it the tone, the scale design's ability to build a thick texture of overtones, the resonance, the rate of decay? It seems to me that some of the 'American sound' pianos get a bid muddy when the notation is dense and the time signature moves the music quickly. Would you disagree? [/QB]
There is something to the generalization that American pianos have a more complex sound and European pianos have a more pure sound.
To further generalize, romantic music often requires a kind of accumulation of sound that, IMO, the American ( or American style ) pianos are more comfortable with. This accumulation of sound is not only required in big music ( Brahms F min sonata, Rach 2nd sonata ) but also in more subtle music ( the blurred harmonic effect in a Chopin nocturne ).
Part of the greater versatility I ascribe to the American style pianos is that it is easier to bring out clarity in an American style piano, when required, then to create an accumulative effect with many of the European style pianos.
Posted By: turandot

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 05/26/08 10:34 PM

Quote
originally posted by Keith Kerman
There is something to the generalization that American pianos have a more complex sound and European pianos have a more pure sound.
To further generalize, romantic music often requires a kind of accumulation of sound that, IMO, the American ( or American style ) pianos are more comfortable with. This accumulation of sound is not only required in big music ( Brahms F min sonata, Rach 2nd sonata ) but also in more subtle music ( the blurred harmonic effect in a Chopin nocturne ).
Part of the greater versatility I ascribe to the American style pianos is that it is easier to bring out clarity in an American style piano, when required, then to create an accumulative effect with many of the European style pianos.
Thanks, Keith. I think I understand what you are saying. I think I might have been digging under the same tree when I posted that a pianist who liked his jazz lush and his classical full-blown-romantic would probably choose a Steinway.

The accumulation of sound is the most interesting element here. In many ways we can thank (or blame) Lizst, Brahms, Rachmaninoff and other full-blown romantics for the tendency to prefer an accumulated sound. We can also thank or blame them for piano concerti which have the pianist competing with the orchestra rather than complementing it, and for the bravura style of playing in general.

Personally I think the 'American sound' pianos' ability to bring clarity to the accumulation rests mostly in the composer's layering of a singing treble melodic line over what is often a muddy accumulation in the bass. [Anyone out there who disagrees please feel free to skewer and roast me over open coals for that comment. laugh ] Whether it's Jarrett's prolonged bass riffs in the Koln and Bregenz Concerts or Horowitz's and later Weissenberg's absolute domination of the Rachmaninoff 3rd, I think a close listen to busy bass material on an an 'American sound' piano reveals more texture than clarity (not that texture can't be beautiful). Contrast that with Corea's use of a Yamaha acoustic, assorted moogs, an Odyssey Arp, and a Fender Rhodes on My Spanish Heart where there is clarity is in every register and the assortment of instruments somehow seems to make sense.

I'll stop at that with apologies for taking this further off-topic and regrets for using examples that show how old I am. If there is a point I'm trying to make, it is that the classical repertoire that sells the most tickets and stirs the most passion exploits fully the capabilities of the American sound while masking some of its shortcomings. If solo piano concerts featuring Satie, Mompou or the like had people waiting in line to buy tickets on the first day of sale, or if economic realities allowed top-level artists to perform in smaller venues that generate less revenue, then there might be more 'pure sound' instruments on concert stages.

Here's what Jarrett himself says about the beginnings of his performing career:

Quote
"First, I asked that I be given a grand piano and ran into all kinds of instruments. I've played Steinways since my childhood I can't remember the first one I played, thoughout over the years it occurred to me that a Steinway piano would have the kind of consistency that would allow me to mold my work through it. There are other grand brands of piano out there. I don't have my own material, however, and the older I get, the more sensitive I am about instruments having enough colors in the palette to be able to cover what's in my head."
http://www.steinway.com/features/KeithJarrett.shtml
Posted By: TLuvva

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 05/27/08 12:19 AM

I thought Rach was considered post-romantic. Or rather, not with Chopin, Lizst, and that mid-19th century bunch. I thought Scriabin was too late for that too.

It would in fact be cool to find out what Chopin or really any of the great composers thought of the great pianos of today. Although the answers might disappoint if they didn't dissect every nuance the way we might imagine that they would.

Interestingly, Oscar Peterson apparently preferred Bosendorfer. That doesn't fit this discussion, does it?
Posted By: Barbara G

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 05/27/08 12:59 AM

TLuvva,
The great writer and expert Jeremy Siepmann in his book "The Piano:The complete illustrated guide..."
says that Rach and Scribian were romantics. He writes about Rachmaninov, "The fluidity and elegance of his left-hand parts, combined with a predominantly Lisztian view of the piano in general (full of massive chords, orchestral textures and blazing octave passages), helped to bring the great romantic piano tradition to a belated and final climax." He has this to say about Scriabin, " Few composers have travelled so far in style as Scriabin, who began his composing career as an ingratiatingly brilliant, seductively romantic neo-Chopin and ended it as something akin to a revolutionary anarchist. No composer was more open in paying his artistic debts. The forms and titles of his early works come straight from Chopin: mazurkas, nocturnes, preludes, waltzes, studies. So does his imaginative and resourceful use of the pedals. Later he moved onto larger works: ten remarkable, and remarkably different, sonatas, in which his increasing modernism took shape, as he moved through Lisztian and Wagnerian phases before abandoning them and moving into uncharted waters, where conventional notions of rhythm, key and colour dissolve in a style of extraordinary originality, blending the mystical and the sensual in a manner quite impossible to describe without recourse to jargon."
Posted By: Mat D.

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 05/27/08 02:20 AM

Steinway B C D IMHO....you have 2 varieties to chose from, NY and Hamburg.....lots of possibilities there. If I had to choose just one, it would be the Hamburg C.

just my $.02
Mat D.
Posted By: LJC

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 05/27/08 02:32 AM

For Jazz, It depends on the style thats why the great O.P. played a Bosie and Joe Sample plays a Steinway (hes recorded on both Ny and Hamburg Ds.)
As for the greatest composer or at least my favorite Rachmaninoff he is generally considered to have closd out the Romantic period. I have to agree....As for my opinion y'all know what I like but I have to say For Bach Mozart and a few more the bosie works well. I like a big D for the Romantic composers-all of them.
Posted By: turandot

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 05/27/08 03:02 AM

Quote
from Matt D.
Steinway B C D IMHO....you have 2 varieties to chose from, NY and Hamburg.....lots of possibilities there. If I had to choose just one, it would be the Hamburg C.
I think Keith Jarrett has reached the same conclusion. He obtained at his own expense (is there any other way wink ) a Hamburg Steinway for his personal use although I think he still maintains a NY Steinway that he's had for many years.


Quote
from LJC
For Jazz, It depends on the style thats why the great O.P. played a Bosie and Joe Sample plays a Steinway (hes recorded on both Ny and Hamburg Ds.)
As for the greatest composer or at least my favorite Rachmaninoff he is generally considered to have closd out the Romantic period. I have to agree....As for my opinion y'all know what I like but I have to say For Bach Mozart and a few more the bosie works well. I like a big D for the Romantic composers-all of them.
I believe Bill Evans was a Steinway guy too. You've gotta assume that he and Peterson both chose what they thought shaped their musical ideas best. It's hard to argue with the results. I don't know what Brubeck played, but I can imagine his music on a Sauter.

Thanks for clarifying who the greatest composer is. laugh Rachmaninoff certainly fits Steinway like a glove.

TLuvva,

Rachmaninoff was a post-romantic by era, but he was almost an anachronism if judged against his contemporaries. He didn't do a whole lot structurally that had not been done before, but no matter. He took romanticism to the limits and gave pianists some incredible material that still brings down the house today.
Posted By: Jan-Erik

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 05/27/08 08:58 AM

Disputes about brand always seem to rise great interst among forumists. (Reminds me of supporters of football teams).

How would you evaluate my August Förster 125 G uppight?

When the sound varies from piano to piano it can be misleading to generalize.one famouspianist said the brand does not matter, it is the preparation. And of course how you play.
Posted By: RafaelSF

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 05/27/08 02:09 PM

Quote:

I believe Bill Evans was a Steinway guy too. You've gotta assume that he and Peterson both chose what they thought shaped their musical ideas best. It's hard to argue with the results. I don't know what Brubeck played, but I can imagine his music on a Sauter.

I'm kind of new to the board, so I haven't quite figured out how to "quote" passages properly, so this is my crude cut 'n paste attempt.

At any rate, I read somewhere that Brubeck (one of my top influences) preferred a Baldwin grand and that may be what he has at home. However, since Baldwin is not as prominent as it once was or as Steinway, Yamaha, Bosendorfers and others are today, I suspect very few of his recordings will be on that Baldwin. Open to corrections from members. But I remember this factoid because I would have thought for sure he'd be a Steinway guy and was not aware that any of the "giants" of jazz used Baldwin.

BTW, my choice for versatility of styles would in fact be a Steinway B.

To display my ignorance, I never even heard of Sauter when I was finalizing my piano shopping last year. They must not be represented very well---or at all---in San Francisco.
Posted By: turandot

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 05/27/08 02:21 PM

from Jan-Erik
Quote
Disputes about brand always seem to rise great interst among forumists. (Reminds me of supporters of football teams).

How would you evaluate my August Förster 125 G uppight?

When the sound varies from piano to piano it can be misleading to generalize.one famouspianist said the brand does not matter, it is the preparation. And of course how you play.
Jan-Erik,

I don't think there's any dispute or attempt to rate here. Like the OP said, versatility does not necessarily mean the best at any one thing. It's just a fun topic.

You're of course right that piano prep and the ability of the player are big factors, but the particular composition makes a big difference too. Take the Beethoven sonatas. You could choose a different piano for different sonatas (or even different movements) depending on the invidividual demands of the material.

What repertoire do you think makes your Förster shine? From my limited acquaintance with A. Förster, I would assign it to the first movement of the Waldstein Sonata where I could depend on it to maintain complete clarity in all registers. Then I would haul out a Bösendorfer for the slow Introduzione, and replace it with a Steinway to carry the singing treble of the Rondo (keeping pedalling to a minimum to limit the 'accumulation' in the bass. laugh
Posted By: erad1948

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 05/28/08 01:30 AM

I have heard alot of this about different pianos sounding better with different types of music but I am not sure I buy into it. If a piano has a great sound, it has a great sound... clarity, tone, harmonics, sustain, power... Shouldn't anything sound great on a great piano? If a piano is dull, fuzzy, tinny, lacking bass, etc... don't you think anything you play will sound bad? This website is frequented by so many highly qualified musicians and technicians, I wouldn't want to dispute their claims... In the book "Grand Obsession" the author talks about particular composers sounding better on one instrument than another... She is not even talking the difference between Jazz and Classical, but from one composer to another. (though I understand that the composers can be from different eras or types of classical music).
Maybe I just don't have the ear! I love my August Foerster 215 (7'2")and have played all types of music on it. It all sounds great as long as the piano has been tuned well. That's another thing... what about tuning and temperaments? That will definitely affect how certain music will sound!
Posted By: gutenberg

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 05/28/08 02:26 AM

I think I read that for her recent recordings of Beethoven's Op. 101 and 106, Uchida used 2 different Steinways. She was after a particular sound for each sonata.
Posted By: TLuvva

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 05/28/08 02:43 AM

I want to say that when I read the opening post in this thread, I thought I was going to have to put on my sunglasses and watch the fireworks from a safe distance. I thought I would hear that tired old tone, touch, appearance, price mantra again along with others mocking the original poster for asking such a question.

I'm pleasantly surprised to see the discussion here and the big plug for the Sauters. Makes me want to try one for sure. Thanks all for the open-minded discussion, all.
Posted By: turandot

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 05/28/08 05:05 AM

Tlluva,

I agree with you. This thread has been fun. I hope you (or I) don't kill the thread eek . Maybe Keith Kerman can spare us a little more of his time.

Regarding the Sauter 'plugs', RafaelSF said:

Quote
To display my ignorance, I never even heard of Sauter when I was finalizing my piano shopping last year. They must not be represented very well---or at all---in San Francisco.
I had never played a Sauter until late last year. I normally don't even play sticker-shock pianos in showrooms since it might lead me to want one, but I had read so many favorable comments about Sauter in this forum that when I saw one, I couldn't resist. The piano that has been impossible for me to find is a new Steingraeber. I'm going to try to remedy that this summer. I'm really curious after reading all the glowing reports here.
Posted By: Furtwangler

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 05/28/08 05:09 AM

Both Sauter and Steingraeber are represented by R. Kassman in Berkeley. Call Russell for an appointment and go see them! They are both really something. He has Bluthner too!
Posted By: Jan-Erik

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 05/28/08 08:00 PM

I think it can couse difficulties to switch pianos during a recital. However, if the action response is similar, then it might be O.K.

IMO all part of one work should be perfomed on the same instrument. But - I am not sure. Who is the first to try in public the use of two or three grands?

It could be very interesting to hear something else than a Steinway.
Posted By: stevepiano

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 05/28/08 11:22 PM

Steinway, vintage era, restored correctly. Model A and larger. Over 30+ years of being around them and every other piano under the stars leads me to that conclusion.

Steve Drasche
AC Pianocraft, Inc.
acpianocraft.com
Posted By: pianistical

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 05/29/08 09:50 AM

Quote
Originally posted by Keith:
Part of the greater versatility I ascribe to the American style pianos is that it is easier to bring out clarity in an American style piano, when required, then to create an accumulative effect with many of the European style pianos.
Well put.

But oh that clarity!
Posted By: PianoPro

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 05/29/08 09:24 PM

Quote
Originally posted by Always Wanted to Play Piano:
A good digital?

(Ducks, runs for cover...)
I like Roland. Particularly impressed with the HP207.
Posted By: Glenn Treibitz

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 05/29/08 11:03 PM

Quote
Originally posted by PianoPro:
Quote
Originally posted by Always Wanted to Play Piano:
[b] A good digital?

(Ducks, runs for cover...)
I like Roland. Particularly impressed with the HP207. [/b]
From the stand point of versatility it is hard to beat a digital. HP207 is impressive.
Posted By: LJC

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 05/30/08 01:00 AM

Rachmaninoff was a post-romantic by era, but he was almost an anachronism if judged against his contemporaries. He didn't do a whole lot structurally that had not been done before, but no matter. He took romanticism to the limits and gave pianists some incredible material that still brings down the house today.

IMO S.R. used traditional formats but with non traditional progressions and chord structures. Many of his melodies are unmatched in beauty harmonized in a deep lush spiced sound.

To add one I think Fazioli would be equally great for Bach, etc but a little too straight laced for the Romantics IMO.

Uchida uses a Hamburg D. Her tech did my voicing and told me she has 3 of em.

As for anything sounding good on a great piano well I agree however some instruments do lend themselves more to certain styles. Maybe Pique could chime in here since she is the author referred to.
Posted By: Aliwally

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 09/02/11 04:29 AM

Originally Posted by turandot
Tlluva,

I agree with you. This thread has been fun. I hope you (or I) don't kill the thread eek . Maybe Keith Kerman can spare us a little more of his time.

Regarding the Sauter 'plugs', RafaelSF said:

Quote
To display my ignorance, I never even heard of Sauter when I was finalizing my piano shopping last year. They must not be represented very well---or at all---in San Francisco.
I had never played a Sauter until late last year. I normally don't even play sticker-shock pianos in showrooms since it might lead me to want one, but I had read so many favorable comments about Sauter in this forum that when I saw one, I couldn't resist. The piano that has been impossible for me to find is a new Steingraeber. I'm going to try to remedy that this summer. I'm really curious after reading all the glowing reports here.



I know this thread is about 3 years old but I think it can continue. During this time Turandot (which is not the original OP, see page 1) stated that he could not find new Steingraeber. Recently Keith has put up videos of Shaun playing a Steingraeber. People agreed that Sauter was nice for all styles of music. Keith stated that the American Pianos are nice too.

Three years later has anything changed. Do most people feel the same? As far as American pianos go, would a Charles Walter qualify? I heard they sound great for romantic period music, but not great for jazz/pop music. More people have joined in the past three years. Feel free to give your opinion on the subject matter.

Hope it's alright with the moderators to open an old thread. It seems Keith never came back, maybe he would like to continue too. How would the Steingraber compare to the Sauter, Steinways, Mason & Hamlins? The one I heard recently here seems like it would sound great for all styles of music.
Posted By: R_Dorothy

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 09/02/11 06:48 AM

Quote
How would the Steingraber compare to the Sauter, Steinways, Mason & Hamlins?


I too would also like to know. Zombie thread!
Posted By: wouter79

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 09/02/11 11:13 AM

My vote is on Grotrian. Works great for classic stuff yet also works great with Joplin, Debussy and pop; I'm sure it will work fine with Rachmaninoff (can't play that yet but if I strike a few chords of it..).

If you leave out classic, not much is left, right?
Posted By: sophial

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 09/02/11 03:47 PM

I think most professional pianists would say Steinway, particularly NY Steinway, due to its potential for tonal color variety. There is probably no other piano that has a wider tonal palette, which translates to greater versatility in a wide range of repertoire. As folks said before, you can get clarity, but also a full lush range of sounds perfect for Romantic works. Also the Steinway sound has power and projection without breaking up or choking at full volume, essential for concerto work where the piano has to be heard over orchestra. This means it can be used for not only solo recitals but for concertos or ensemble playing.
Posted By: turandot

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 09/02/11 04:29 PM

Quote
During this time Turandot (which is not the original OP, see page 1) stated that he could not find new Steingraeber. Recently Keith has put up videos of Shaun playing a Steingraeber.


Turandot has played a few in the meantime. None of them were as balanced as the specimen that Keith has been showing off here in videos. Most had a degree of brilliance that he didn't care for personally.

Quote
People agreed that Sauter was nice for all styles of music.


I think that people who chose Sauter were understanding the question to mean a piano that wasn't too cold or too warm in tone, that emphasized the fundamental tone but not to the near-exclusion of overtones, that decayed slowly but no too slowly, and that had an extremely responsive action which unlocked a very wide dynamic range. At least that was what prompted me to mention Sauter.

Quote
Keith stated that the American Pianos are nice too.


Keith chose from the basis that the full-blown romatnic classical repertoire was the toughest to handle. He chose the pianos that he felt could 'handle' it best. In some of that lit, the piano is functioning as a one-man orchestra. Take the Liszt transcriptions of symphonic or operatic works as examples. In other cases the piano is competing with a full orchestra rather than complementing it (Rachmaninoff III as opposed to a Beethoven piano concerto). In still other cases the composer is trying to push the piano to its limits as a solo instrument (Liszt/ B minor Sonata; Mephisto Waltz)

I think Keith was coming at the versatility question from this angle, IOW considering very densely written classical piano music where the variety of color available helps keep the thing from turning to mud. So he had specific tests in mind for a piano to pass in order to be versatile. Maybe some don't appreciate that particular type of piano lit quite as much as Keith does, and didn't see passing that particular test as a necessary condition of versatility.


Quote
Three years later has anything changed.


IMO a lot of European headline brands are continuing to lose their individuality of tone as they move towards sheer brilliance and power with their choice of hammers and voicing. Japanese brands continue to improve on existing models. Chinese brands are offering more diversity to tone. Brands made in the US have changed little in their sound. Not to be forgotten, digital simulation of acoustic piano sound continues to progress.

Quote
Do most people feel the same?

I do, but it's very subjective. I still like Sauter of the Europeans and Yamaha C series of the Japanese as being the most versatile, not that those two are very similar. I don't think that jazz and pop are translated well by 'American sound' pianos like M&H and Estonia, but that's just my opinion of how I think that type of lit should sound.

The thing that made this old thread fun was that it wasn't just a roll call of 'my favorite piano is X'. Usually that's the way these things turn out.
Posted By: bennevis

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 09/02/11 05:34 PM

Never mind the piano brand: you need to have different pianos for different composers grin. When I attended a concert by the late Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, he used two of his own pianos shipped over from Italy: one for Debussy, the other for Beethoven. Both were (?Hamburg) Steinways, but the one he played Debussy on was slightly mellower.

Classical music is the most demanding on tonal nuances, especially at the far ends of the dynamic spectrum: the variety of tone a pianist can obtain between ppp and pppp can single him/her out as a most singular pianist...which is why jazz and pop pianists tend to prefer pianos with cutting, bright tones (like Yamaha) while classical pianists prefer Steinway - unless/until they have the clout to request the piano of their choice. Thus Hewitt plays exclusively on Fazioli these days (Bach to Beethoven to Schumann), and Lortie and Demidenko play on Fazioli too, if they get the chance. And Andras Schiff plays Bösendorfer for Mozart and Beethoven, but Steinway for some other composers. And some classical pianists are now preferring the more rounded, mellower sound of Blüthner for all their concerts.

For me, I'd rate Yamaha as 2 for classical and 9 for jazz, Steinway as 8 for classical and 5 for jazz. Bösendorfer's tone is so unique that it's difficult to rate for the genre of music - you either like it or loath it, and if you like it (as I do), I'd use it for all piano music. Blüthner's mellow sound probably won't cut through densely-scored concerto textures like those of Brahms or Rachmaninoff, but it's great for solo piano recitals. Steingraeber is also somewhat on the mellow side while Sauter can sound almost like Steinway.
Posted By: Inlanding

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 09/02/11 05:45 PM

Originally Posted by sophial
I think most professional pianists would say Steinway, particularly NY Steinway, due to its potential for tonal color variety. There is probably no other piano that has a wider tonal palette, which translates to greater versatility in a wide range of repertoire. As folks said before, you can get clarity, but also a full lush range of sounds perfect for Romantic works. Also the Steinway sound has power and projection without breaking up or choking at full volume, essential for concerto work where the piano has to be heard over orchestra. This means it can be used for not only solo recitals but for concertos or ensemble playing.


+1 - Well said!

However, there are so many good pianos out there and it does become a matter of personal preference, too. A well-prepped/voiced piano can perform quite nicely in most any setting if it fits the performer's preferences.
Posted By: Keith D Kerman

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 09/02/11 05:56 PM

Originally Posted by Keith D Kerman
If a piano works well in the big romantic repertoire, ie Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Scriabin etc it can handle any standard piano music from Bach to Bartok to Jazz to pop easily. It will not necessarily be " the best" for everything, as individual brands that have a more ideosyncratic tone and tone production can definately favor specific styles.
Now, a piano that sounds well in Bach, Schubert and Mozart will probably also work well for Pop and Jazz, but not necessarily in the bigger romantic pieces.
Debussy is also an interesting matter. I have heard pianos that sounded absolutely gorgeous in the more delicate works of Debussy that crashed, burned, choked and died in his more demanding music.
To me, and I find this interesting, several of the traditional European brands sound best in Jazz, but don't handle much of the meat and potatoes of the 19th century European Romantic repertoire nearly as well.
This opinion is not based on the out of context sound of any instrument, which I believe people adjust to fairly rapidly. It is based on my perception of what can be done with that sound.


I found this thread interesting, I wonder why......I was going to write something here, but I found this bright fellow's post from a few years back to sum it up nicely! smile
Posted By: turandot

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 09/02/11 08:26 PM

Originally Posted by bennevis
Never mind the piano brand: you need to have different pianos for different composers grin. When I attended a concert by the late Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, he used two of his own pianos shipped over from Italy: one for Debussy, the other for Beethoven. Both were (?Hamburg) Steinways, but the one he played Debussy on was slightly mellower.


Consider yourself doubly blessed.
1) He actually showed up and played. grin
2) He gave you two different piano sounds.

Originally Posted by Benevis
Classical music is the most demanding on tonal nuances, especially at the far ends of the dynamic spectrum


I guess you're thinking like Keith. Personally, I don't understand why the piano that passes the bar exam for a particular classical composer or grouping of composers should be considered the most versatile piano. Classical European lit occupies a relatively small space in the universe of what is communicated worldwide musically, even though it can be all that really matters to those obsessed with it.

Oh!!!!!.....the sameness of it all. grin The ritual of the oft-repeated concert program that please the patrons. The classical recordings (what few there are) that generate sales. The artists all tricked out in their black and white penguin suits or strapless gowns. The prescription of the composer's intricate notation allowing nary a skosh of creative freedom.

Sophial can tell me that all the great artists perform the overblown stuff on an NY Steinway. Fine, then I want to hear the guy or lady who doesn't perform it on a Steinway. There's always the chance that I'll hear something that I've never heard before and not simply refresh my memory.

In jazz and pop, at least the music is written in such a way that each artist has a lot of leeway. No two artists perform the same standard with the same phrasing or even with the same exact notes. The particular piano isn't as relevant. Other elements suplied by the interpreter count for more.

Posted By: Keith D Kerman

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 09/02/11 09:42 PM

Turandot,

Come on.........
Posted By: morrisonpiano

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 09/02/11 10:09 PM

As I continue my search for a dream piano, I am becoming very aware that the best piano, whether specific to composer or not, isn't really the issue--it's mostly about the skills, or lack of, of the doofus sitting on the bench. It does make me wonder whether my search is a little pointless. Not to say I'm not enjoying the process of finding the "best" piano, but my pursuit is making me clearly see the far greater importance of investing in what I can do at the piano versus what I spend on the piano.

Agemoz
Posted By: turandot

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 09/02/11 11:06 PM

Originally Posted by morrisonpiano
As I continue my search for a dream piano, I am becoming very aware that the best piano, whether specific to composer or not, isn't really the issue--it's mostly about the skills, or lack of, of the doofus sitting on the bench. It does make me wonder whether my search is a little pointless. Not to say I'm not enjoying the process of finding the "best" piano, but my pursuit is making me clearly see the far greater importance of investing in what I can do at the piano versus what I spend on the piano.

Agemoz


No one who realizes that can be a doofus, but even if you are correct in putting the burden on yourself, you still want to choose your instrument wisely. You most likely don't need a racehorse that leads the pack from the quarter mile pole to the finish line, but you don't want a nondescript tone that bores you to death or an action response that lets you down as you progress. Just be patient. Develop your piano knowledge and your ear as you go along. You'll discover what your taste really is and you'll find something that suits it whatever your budget is..
Posted By: Kurtmen

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 09/03/11 12:20 AM

Edward, Morrison,

In my opinion you should probably disregard the music genre and figure out what do you like the most in a piano. For example:
Percussive well defined attack moderate sustain.
Soft attack rich harmonic envelope with long sustain.
Percussive attack with a narrow harmonic envelope and plenty of sustain etc.

Once you identify what do you like in a piano; any music genre play in that piano will sound good to you.
Why? Because it has that element you preferred in a piano.

Piano manufacturers are always compromising in order to achieve a goal therefore; they prioritize what element of the tone is more important. This is why you have to figure out what are your preferences within the components of the tone.
Posted By: hoola

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 09/03/11 02:25 AM

The best way to answer this question is "blind test" as usually done in Wine Contest.

I can regconize different sounds from different brands but I believe that we are strongly influenced by the name and other pre-conceptions.

I watched some demo of old pianos (around 1850s) such as Bechstein, Pleyel ... on Youtube, and found that their voices are miserable, I don't expect better because I know that a lot of factors make them sound not at their best, not the same sound as they produced in their first 10 years.

The problem is a lot of comments saying that they sound fantastic, and pianos such as Yamaha sound crap next to them, these listeners seem impressed by the prestigious names and give more than true compliments or critics.

But we would be the same too. We can be easily influenced by names, pre-conditions etc... therefore why not suggesting to dealers to participate in blind test, the ideal place would be show such as NAMM.

Posted By: Pianolance

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 09/03/11 02:54 AM

I don't think it's very likely that a piano would be a 10 on one type of music and a 2 on another. A good instrument is a good instrument. That's not to say that it might be better at somethings and not as special at others, but it would most likely be a 10 in one catagory and an 8 in another. I know that my piano sounds best playing American popular literature from the 20's, 30's and 40's which I find interesting since it was made in 1927. I play a lot of contemporary worship music and it doesn't excel at that type of music, but it's not a real stinker either. My piano isn't going to score a 10 in any catagory, it's too small, but if it's an 8 in older american literature it's still a 7 in contemporary worship music.
Posted By: AJF

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 09/03/11 03:10 AM

Originally Posted by sophial
I think most professional pianists would say Steinway, particularly NY Steinway, due to its potential for tonal color variety. There is probably no other piano that has a wider tonal palette, which translates to greater versatility in a wide range of repertoire. As folks said before, you can get clarity, but also a full lush range of sounds perfect for Romantic works. Also the Steinway sound has power and projection without breaking up or choking at full volume, essential for concerto work where the piano has to be heard over orchestra. This means it can be used for not only solo recitals but for concertos or ensemble playing.


From my experiences most guys prefer the Hamburg over the NY (when they have the chance to play on of course). The Hamburgs I've played ALL had the wide tonal palette and rich sound typical of Steinway and an even and solid action. (note: I've only played approx. 5 or so Hamburgs over the years). The best NY steinways I've played share the same level of expressiveness and control as the Hamburgs but the problem is that they have been all over the map in terms of consistency--including ones I've played on showroom floors). I've loved every Hamburg I've ever played. I've loved maybe 40% of the NY's, liked another 40 and hated the remaining 20% for being unevenly voiced and regulated with a piercing high register and a dead middle register.
Just my 2 cents.
I think ANY piano can potentially be the best piano for any style depending on which doofus is sitting behind the keyboard:)
Posted By: sophial

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 09/03/11 04:46 AM

Originally Posted by AJF
Originally Posted by sophial
I think most professional pianists would say Steinway, particularly NY Steinway, due to its potential for tonal color variety. There is probably no other piano that has a wider tonal palette, which translates to greater versatility in a wide range of repertoire. As folks said before, you can get clarity, but also a full lush range of sounds perfect for Romantic works. Also the Steinway sound has power and projection without breaking up or choking at full volume, essential for concerto work where the piano has to be heard over orchestra. This means it can be used for not only solo recitals but for concertos or ensemble playing.


From my experiences most guys prefer the Hamburg over the NY (when they have the chance to play on of course). The Hamburgs I've played ALL had the wide tonal palette and rich sound typical of Steinway and an even and solid action. (note: I've only played approx. 5 or so Hamburgs over the years). The best NY steinways I've played share the same level of expressiveness and control as the Hamburgs but the problem is that they have been all over the map in terms of consistency--including ones I've played on showroom floors). I've loved every Hamburg I've ever played. I've loved maybe 40% of the NY's, liked another 40 and hated the remaining 20% for being unevenly voiced and regulated with a piercing high register and a dead middle register.
Just my 2 cents.
I think ANY piano can potentially be the best piano for any style depending on which doofus is sitting behind the keyboard:)


AJF: The question was what is the most versatile piano for all styles.. The point I was making is that arguably the NY is more versatile due to its great color range . Stephen Hough discussed this in his blog posts from 9/09 (in comments following an article about Josef Hoffman). He stated his preference for the Steinway overall and the best of NY over the Hamburg due to its wider color range and the ability to get power without stridency. I'd quote excerpts from it but I was concerned about copyright issues. He supposed no one piano is ideal for everything but it was his top choice and even stated this was not influenced by management pressure (lest the objection that he is toeing the party line be raised.). He also commented that the NY pianos needed more prep work to get the best out of them. He noted that Rachmaninoff, Horowitz and Cliburn preferred the NY as well.

His blog is interesting and well-written on a variety of topics.

Posted By: turandot

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 09/03/11 05:31 AM

Originally Posted by Keith D Kerman
Turandot,

Come on.........


Where are we going? grin

I was only half serious about the sameness of it all and the penguin suits, but with all due respect to you, I have a problem with the idea that the piano which handles the challenge of late romantic classical lit is by default the most versatile piano.

The same bright fellow who posted today and three years ago that the piano that can handle Rachmaninoff, Liszt, and Scriabin will have no problem with anything else...this bright fellow also posted recently about one piano confronted with a demanding Liszt selection: "It gives and gives some more, and most other pianos would cap out there the way Shaun is pushing it."

I think the bright fellow meant 'crap out' instead of "cap out" but in either case this bright fellow's meaning is quite clear. Pianos that pass the sternest technical challenge go straight to the head of the class. I don't see it that way at all.

When I wrote that if you tell me that all save one of the great artists perform the Racmaninoff III on a Steinway, the lone dissenter is the one that I want to check out. I believe that a piano is a lamp that illuminates a manuscript, and even if a piano craps out at certain points, the lone dissenter's piano may provide illumination otherwise impossible if everyone else is committed to the same piano. If that artist has his act together and knows the strengths and limitations of his instrument, it may not even appear to crap out depending on how he works the material.

I don't know if you recall the Pletnev recordings of Beethoven Concertos on a Blüthner. When I heard them I felt the piano didn't quite measure up technically in some places in meeting the not so severe challenges of the writing. I also felt the tone was pretty flat. However, the clarity of that Blüthner illuminated Beethoven's manuscript in a way that I appreciated. Of course most of the credit goes to Pletnev, who learned to make the most of some truly crappy pianos in his younger days, but I appreciated what the Blüthner had brought to the party, and I appreciated the fact that Pletnev, who I much admire, had brought the Blüthnerr with him. He added to my understanding and appreciation of the music, music I had easily heard dozens of times before, at times while reading the manuscript. Pletnev and his Blüthner did not contribute to "the sameness of it all".

Assuming that I buy your premise that a piano is best suited for diverse types of music because it meets the severest technical challenges to be found in classical literature, would we conclude that the pianist best suited for playing diverse types of music is the one with the biggest killer technique? Would we say that the most versatile car is the one that can go the furthest on the rock-strewn Baja desert without crapping out or breaking down? Would we conclude that the best all-around athlete is the guy who completed the triathlon? Is the most versatile boxer the guy who is wearing the belt in the Heavyweight class?

This is the problem for me in buying your premise. I'd rather celebrate the diversity in pianos than make the one that excels under stress the champion. If diversity is the question, I'd much rather go with the jack of all trades but master of none than conclude that the one that can 'handle' a certain situation that others can't is easily capable of 'handling' any other situation.

Posted By: AJF

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 09/03/11 05:47 AM

Originally Posted by sophial
Originally Posted by AJF
Originally Posted by sophial
I think most professional pianists would say Steinway, particularly NY Steinway, due to its potential for tonal color variety. There is probably no other piano that has a wider tonal palette, which translates to greater versatility in a wide range of repertoire. As folks said before, you can get clarity, but also a full lush range of sounds perfect for Romantic works. Also the Steinway sound has power and projection without breaking up or choking at full volume, essential for concerto work where the piano has to be heard over orchestra. This means it can be used for not only solo recitals but for concertos or ensemble playing.


From my experiences most guys prefer the Hamburg over the NY (when they have the chance to play on of course). The Hamburgs I've played ALL had the wide tonal palette and rich sound typical of Steinway and an even and solid action. (note: I've only played approx. 5 or so Hamburgs over the years). The best NY steinways I've played share the same level of expressiveness and control as the Hamburgs but the problem is that they have been all over the map in terms of consistency--including ones I've played on showroom floors). I've loved every Hamburg I've ever played. I've loved maybe 40% of the NY's, liked another 40 and hated the remaining 20% for being unevenly voiced and regulated with a piercing high register and a dead middle register.
Just my 2 cents.
I think ANY piano can potentially be the best piano for any style depending on which doofus is sitting behind the keyboard:)


AJF: The question was what is the most versatile piano for all styles.. The point I was making is that arguably the NY is more versatile due to its great color range . Stephen Hough discussed this in his blog posts from 9/09 (in comments following an article about Josef Hoffman). He stated his preference for the Steinway overall and the best of NY over the Hamburg due to its wider color range and the ability to get power without stridency. I'd quote excerpts from it but I was concerned about copyright issues. He supposed no one piano is ideal for everything but it was his top choice and even stated this was not influenced by management pressure (lest the objection that he is toeing the party line be raised.). He also commented that the NY pianos needed more prep work to get the best out of them. He noted that Rachmaninoff, Horowitz and Cliburn preferred the NY as well.

His blog is interesting and well-written on a variety of topics.


Don't you OWN a NY steinway?
Posted By: sophial

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 09/03/11 03:14 PM

Originally Posted by AJF
Originally Posted by sophial
Originally Posted by AJF
Originally Posted by sophial
I think most professional pianists would say Steinway, particularly NY Steinway, due to its potential for tonal color variety. There is probably no other piano that has a wider tonal palette, which translates to greater versatility in a wide range of repertoire. As folks said before, you can get clarity, but also a full lush range of sounds perfect for Romantic works. Also the Steinway sound has power and projection without breaking up or choking at full volume, essential for concerto work where the piano has to be heard over orchestra. This means it can be used for not only solo recitals but for concertos or ensemble playing.


From my experiences most guys prefer the Hamburg over the NY (when they have the chance to play on of course). The Hamburgs I've played ALL had the wide tonal palette and rich sound typical of Steinway and an even and solid action. (note: I've only played approx. 5 or so Hamburgs over the years). The best NY steinways I've played share the same level of expressiveness and control as the Hamburgs but the problem is that they have been all over the map in terms of consistency--including ones I've played on showroom floors). I've loved every Hamburg I've ever played. I've loved maybe 40% of the NY's, liked another 40 and hated the remaining 20% for being unevenly voiced and regulated with a piercing high register and a dead middle register.
Just my 2 cents.
I think ANY piano can potentially be the best piano for any style depending on which doofus is sitting behind the keyboard:)


AJF: The question was what is the most versatile piano for all styles.. The point I was making is that arguably the NY is more versatile due to its great color range . Stephen Hough discussed this in his blog posts from 9/09 (in comments following an article about Josef Hoffman). He stated his preference for the Steinway overall and the best of NY over the Hamburg due to its wider color range and the ability to get power without stridency. I'd quote excerpts from it but I was concerned about copyright issues. He supposed no one piano is ideal for everything but it was his top choice and even stated this was not influenced by management pressure (lest the objection that he is toeing the party line be raised.). He also commented that the NY pianos needed more prep work to get the best out of them. He noted that Rachmaninoff, Horowitz and Cliburn preferred the NY as well.

His blog is interesting and well-written on a variety of topics.


Don't you OWN a NY steinway?


yes I own one. Hope that does not disqualify me from participating in the discussion. I thought Hough's comments were interesting and bear on the question of versatility and tonal color.

My enjoyment of Steinway doesn't mean that I don't also find many other pianos beautiful and enjoy the different voices they have and how they may fit certain repertoire or settings very well.

Perhaps to get off the brand question and sensitivities, I think it can be argued that having a broad tonal range, a balance of clarity and harmonic overtones and the ability to work well in a variety of venues and purposes as well as for different styles of music would make a piano versatile.
Posted By: turandot

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 09/03/11 04:04 PM

Quote
yes I own one. Hope that does not disqualify me from participating in the discussion.


Hardly.

Sophial, I think the reason you find yourself in a life and death struggle with Adrean (in which the quotee boxes are beginning to resemble the vanishing point in visual art grin ) is your statement that most professionals would say Steinway, particularly NY Steinway is best suited for a wide variety of genres.

You know very well that those artists housed comfortably in the Steinway stale would find it very awkward to say publicly that anything other than Steinway is better at anything else on the planet. Nor, with rare exceptions, would these professionals insist on playing anything else unless Steinway's concert artist program could not supply them a piano for a performance. It's not nice (or pragmatic) to bite the hand that feed you.

You also know that if a Steinway artist appears in North America, the piano supplied will almost always be a NY Steinway whereas if the same artist appears in Europe (s)he will almost invariably be supplied a Hamburg Steinway.

Most professional pianists play only one genre professionally. They are extremely unlikely to comment on what piano professionals in other genres should choose, especially since genres other than classical allow for a far greater degree of freedom in how the music is played and interpreted. It would be quite silly for Ketih Jarrett to comment that Chick Corea would be better served by a Steinway even though at times his idiom overlaps Chick's particular genre. Similarly, it would be quite silly for Adrean to tell you that you'd be better off with a Shigeru or for you to tell him he'd be better off with a Steinway.

I'd suggest that you stay with the color, power, and projection points and drop the line that Steinway artists prefer NY Steinways. That's not going to carry any weight with people who understand the dynamics of the situation. When it comes to top professionals, what they might think is one thing. What they "would say" for public consumption is quite another.

Posted By: Tweedpipe

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 09/03/11 04:28 PM

I appreciate that this is an old thread and that giving one's opinion on 'the best' of anything will always be subjective.
However I'm aware that apart from a few YouTube clips of Sauter grands, there appear to be even fewer sound clips of Sauter uprights. Also from what I read, finding one to audition in the U.S. and elsewhere outside of Europe would appear to be difficult.
The popular factory-voiced options proposed to me were Classical or Modern. I opted for the Classical, which I find most agreeable for many styles of music.
Below are a few sound clips of varying styles which I hope may assist some to identify with these relatively unknown pianos.

Easy style

Classical Etude

Stomp Style




















Posted By: sophial

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 09/03/11 05:09 PM

Originally Posted by turandot
Quote
yes I own one. Hope that does not disqualify me from participating in the discussion.


Hardly.

Sophial, I think the reason you find yourself in a life and death struggle with Adrean (in which the quotee boxes are beginning to resemble the vanishing point in visual art grin ) is your statement that most professionals would say Steinway, particularly NY Steinway is best suited for a wide variety of genres.

You know very well that those artists housed comfortably in the Steinway stale would find it very awkward to say publicly that anything other than Steinway is better at anything else on the planet. Nor, with rare exceptions, would these professionals insist on playing anything else unless Steinway's concert artist program could not supply them a piano for a performance. It's not nice (or pragmatic) to bite the hand that feed you.

You also know that if a Steinway artist appears in North America, the piano supplied will almost always be a NY Steinway whereas if the same artist appears in Europe (s)he will almost invariably be supplied a Hamburg Steinway.

Most professional pianists play only one genre professionally. They are extremely unlikely to comment on what piano professionals in other genres should choose, especially since genres other than classical allow for a far greater degree of freedom in how the music is played and interpreted. It would be quite silly for Ketih Jarrett to comment that Chick Corea would be better served by a Steinway even though at times his idiom overlaps Chick's particular genre. Similarly, it would be quite silly for Adrean to tell you that you'd be better off with a Shigeru or for you to tell him he'd be better off with a Steinway.

I'd suggest that you stay with the color, power, and projection points and drop the line that Steinway artists prefer NY Steinways. That's not going to carry any weight with people who understand the dynamics of the situation. When it comes to top professionals, what they might think is one thing. What they "would say" for public consumption is quite another.


I think I may not have been clear enough in what I was originally trying to say at the beginning of that exchange . What I wrote was "I think most professional pianists would say Steinway, particularly NY Steinway, due to its potential for tonal color variety." Meaning that they would say Steinway is the most versatile (not necessarily their preference or the best, heaven forbid) and that the color potential of the NY might give it the edge in the versatility dept. That does not mean that they might not prefer the Hamburg or something else on another basis.
I had recently read Stephen Hough's blog and comments on this topic, in which he stated his reasons for preferring the best of the NY over Hamburg (and yes, he noted the inconsistency and amount of prep NY models needed to bring out their best) and so that was fresh in my mind as well. He based this primarily on the larger color range he finds in the NY models and the ability to get power and projection without stridency in them and felt he was not alone in this opinion. He also pretty convincingly stated this was his honest opinion and not the result of feeling any pressure to say so (and given that he is based in London and would typically be playing on Hamburg models it was fairly striking). I've heard other high level players make similar comments in private conversations.

Does tonal color variety equal versatility in all styles of music? I think it's a big part of it but certainly not the whole story. Let a thousand flowers bloom..... smile








Posted By: Keith D Kerman

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 09/03/11 05:35 PM

Tdot,

A piano that works well in 2 types of music is more versatile than a piano that works well in one of those 2 types of music. 3>2. 4>3 etc etc
Vesatile does not equal best in everything or in anything, other than perhaps the most extreme case in which it may be the only piano capable.
And yeah, you got me, I do consider virtuoso late romantic piano literature to be the ultimate test of a piano. I do not consider it the ultimate test of the pianist, or of music.

This does not in any way negate a particular piano sounding best with a particular style and a particular pianist. I also don't think my opinions are mutually exclusive with celebrating diversity, although I do have pretty strong opinions about what good enough is for a piano for demanding piano music.
Posted By: AJF

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 09/03/11 06:30 PM

Originally Posted by sophial


Perhaps to get off the brand question and sensitivities, I think it can be argued that having a broad tonal range, a balance of clarity and harmonic overtones and the ability to work well in a variety of venues and purposes as well as for different styles of music would make a piano versatile.


Absolutely true. And I think that in the right hands MANY pianos from a variety of makers fit this description--and some with far greater consistency out of the box than is found typically with NY Steinways. The "best" NY Steinways out there are, IMO, as good as it gets. But Steinway's continued marketing angle tries to convince us that they build a piano that is far above all others out there today--and that's just ridiculous marketing hype. Anyone who can truly appreciate what makes a Steinway a great instrument can also appreciate that there are a number of other pianos on the market that are equally excellent -- and often for a significantly lower price tag because of the lack of prestige attached to them.
I own and drive a Vespa 300 GTS. I love it. I paid close to $9000 dollars for it. There are scooters on the market by Yamaha and Honda and Kymco that drive as well and go as fast or faster and cost as much as 40% less. They do all the same things as a Vespa but they AREN'T a Vespa. Most of the premium you pay is for the romance and prestige (the image of Audrey Hepbourn in Roman Holiday comes to mind) of having a Vespa. Piaggio's marketing team would have you believe that you're paying for the superior Italian craftsmanship that goes into every Vespa built. There are two types of Vespa owners: Those who buy the hype, and those who know it's hype but don't mind because it's ok to be a little superficial:)
I think this same hype applies in the world of pianos in particular to Steinway. They are great pianos AND they are the most prestigious piano to own--in the eyes of the general public anyway. If you buy the hype then, oh yes they are clearly the obvious choice of any discerning pianist regardless of style or genre. But if you don't buy the hype then they are simply a really good instrument inside of a market of other really good instruments.
Posted By: sophial

Re: Best overall piano for all styles of music - 09/03/11 06:41 PM

AJF,
You make good points but the original question was versatility, not price or marketing strategy. And yes, there are a lot of really good instruments out there that have their own strengths and weaknesses too-- with some more versatile than others as a result of those different strengths and weaknesses. I happen to think that one of Steinway's strengths compared to many other good instruments is its versatility due to its colorful sound, tonal profile and dynamic range. But I agree that there are many very capable and beautiful instruments out there. .
smile

Sophia
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