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NYC in October -- the reports

Posted By: Bernard

NYC in October -- the reports - 10/19/03 04:44 AM

Preliminary report:

I'm so glad I got to meet:
Frank Baxter (CT), RKVS1 (Kansas), RealPlayer (NYC), Rich D. (VA), Phlebas (NYC), calin (Bucharest), Axtremus (NH), Ockie (NYC)

And I'm so glad I got to meet again:
David Burton (NY), pique (Montana), Lucy In The Sky, Alan and Allegra (NYC)

And I'm thankful for having had the pleasure of experiencing the company of these sincere and beautiful people all afternoon. The most charming individuals with which to spend a day.

A cool and beautiful autumn day in NYC, where the 8th Avenue street festival delighted us on our way from one store to the next. A day of the science and art of piano restoring, with tours of the facilities at A.C. Pianocraft, Inc. and Klavierhaus. And a day of beauty: The beauty of people, the beauty of music, the beauty of NYC, the beauty of art, the beauty of pianos. Oh, what a beautiful day.

Albiet, I'm exhausted. Who would have thought that looking, playing and listening for an afternoon could take such a toll? I never thought I'd see so many pianos in one day! Especially of such high caliber. Wow. I will be seeing and playing pianos in my sleep tonight; for certain. It's almost like having too much candy in one day!

Many thanks to our hosts at A.C. Pianocraft, Inc., Klavierhaus, Faust Harrison, and Beethoven Pianos. All very graciously opened their doors to us. A finer group of warm and professional retailers you will not find.

There are some really fabulous and inspiring pianists (and composers--Axtremus) amongst us! Heard lots of music and I'm not going to even try to list it all. I'll just say that the middle section of Rachmaninov's G minor prelude is one of my favorites and Rich D. played it with all the soulful (and transporting) passion that one could ask for.

Everyone played beautifully. A marvelous day. I can't believe it actually happened, and is over frown . We must do this more often!

(I have pictures and I know others have too. I'll start working on mine.)
Posted By: Bernard

Re: NYC in October -- the reports - 10/19/03 06:19 AM

You know the old saying, don't put off till tomorrow what you can do today... Especially if tomorrow is a full day! So I've been at work on my photos, here's some:

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One down, 3 to go. Phlebas, Rich D., RealPlayer, David Burton, Frank Baxter.

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Rich D. (Rachmaninoff?); background: Frank Baxter, RKVS1 at the piano.

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Phlebas (Beethoven)

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Axtremus, calin, RKVS1, Rich D., Phlebas

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Axtremus playing his own composition with David Burton obviously enjoying what he is hearing.

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RKVS1 (Bach)
Posted By: Bernard

Re: NYC in October -- the reports - 10/19/03 06:25 AM

And more ...

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David Burton at a 9' Fazioli; calin

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Frank Baxter

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Axtremus, Phlebas, calin

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RealPlayer, really playing some serious classic ragtime

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Ockie; RKVS1
Posted By: Bernard

Re: NYC in October -- the reports - 10/19/03 06:29 AM

And some more...

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Lucy In The Sky and Ockie in the foreground; RKVS1 behind Lucy; David Burton's friend; calin behind Ockie. Waiter standing.

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Ockie, calin

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Alan (Lucy In The Sky's husband), RKVS1, Lucy In The Sky

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Lucy In The Sky and her daughter Allegra

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Posted By: Linda in PA

Re: NYC in October -- the reports - 10/19/03 04:06 PM

Bernard - Thank you very much for the wonderful pictures and summary of the day. I thought of all of you so many times, yesterday, and wished that I could have been with you. My sister is still in the hospital, so it just wasn't going to happen for me.

I received a message last evening from Michael Meltzer at Klavierhaus. He was delighted to host the group and indicated that everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. I know that jealously is not a good thing, but I am absolutely green with envy.

Look forward to reading posts from the other revelers. If you care to write, I'd enjoy want hearing all about your favorite piano, impressions of the Fazioli pianos, and more details regarding the tours at A.C. Pianocraft and Klavierhaus.

Lucy - glad to see that brought Allegra with you. Did you bring her to the dealerships or just for dinner? In either case, it was good for her to meet some of the people with whom she'll be exchanging posts in just a few short years!

I appreciate the kind words from everyone on the original thread. I sincerely hope that we can meet in the not-too-distant future. Anyone up for a December Holiday Adventure in the city?

Cheers . . . Linda
Posted By: Piano World

Re: NYC in October -- the reports - 10/20/03 12:23 AM

Just got back from moving daughter in to her new apartment (in Manhattan), too tired to give a full report. I promise I'll write up a real one (and post pictures) soon.

I would like to say a heart felt thanks to all our Piano Forums Crawl members for making it a most memorable and enjoyable day. And I'd like to thank everyone involved in organizing this wonderful day, it went perfectly.

I'd also like to thank our gracious hosts for opening their stores up to us, and for putting up with the crazy kids from the forums as they ran from one gorgeous piano to another.
It reminded me a little of the kids in the Willy Wonka Factory:-)

I must say I was most impressed with the musical talents of our members and the sincere friendship everyone extended to each other.

More later, must get through the 5000+ emails (mostly junk) that piled up while I was out of the office.
Posted By: Calin

Re: NYC in October -- the reports - 10/20/03 12:59 AM

Hello everybody!

It's been wonderful meeting so many people and having such a good time while visiting some very interesting piano shops. Thank you for organizing it!

=> Click here to see the pictures of the meeting

Well, I hope you'll also comment on your the instruments you saw and played yesterday.

My personal favourites were a new Mason & Hamlin BB (from Faust Harrison), the Fazioli 212 (from Beethoven pianos), which I think were very responsive, but with completely different tone characters, the Mason being dark and smooth, and the Fazioli brilliant and strong.
I also liked the sound of the inlaid Bechstein model V (Klavierhaus) with a very rich and brilliant sound, and the small Pleyel (Klavierhaus) next to it, with a rather small and sweet sound, but both neeeded further action refinement.


P.S.: The Thai restaurant was also very nice - I really enjoyed the food and company :-)
Posted By: lucy in the sky_dup1

Re: NYC in October -- the reports - 10/20/03 02:10 AM

This is my first free moment since the piano crawl. While Alan, Allegra and I got mired in traffic and missed a great deal of it, it still was wonderful fun. I enjoyed meeting new people, including intrepid souls who had traveled thousands of miles to join the fun. And it was a joy to see Bernard and Pique again. Unfortunately, about two hours of the expectedly 45-minute drive to Klavierhaus we got mired in traffic. I jumped ship and ran the last two miles (my Duoderm-clad feet pay testiment to my decision) to meet up with people at the restaurant. Next year, we'll get the timing right. I hope that many others will be able to join us, including Linda.

Warm regards,
Posted By: David Burton

Re: NYC in October -- the reports - 10/20/03 07:36 AM

Correction, the Faziolis were at Klavierhaus.

The most recent NYC Piano Forum meeting has just concluded. We managed to visit and sample wares at A&C Pianos, Beethoven's, Faust Harrison and Klavierhaus. We then had dinner in a fine Thai restaurant in the neighborhood. It seems that a great time was had by one and all.

There were certain themes in this event:

1) It reminded me at times of being near the practice rooms of a music school, a lot of people playing all at once, something childlike almost, the fascination of contact with dozens of incredible musical instruments, "toys" someone said, stimulating everyone to try their latest repertoire out.

2) People were playing some pretty impressive pieces fairly convincingly. This is what I was really hoping for. A piano sounds differently when it is being listened to being played by someone else compared to when one is playing it. It was wonderful to hear others playing and so well too.

3) There were opportunities to meet and discuss things with new people. I'd really like more of this in future.

Impressions of the instruments:

All four of these piano stores have factories behind them that do what I have been describing here for years; they make old pianos into brand new pianos that in many ways exceed what many new pianos can do.

A&C Pianocraft, new to me, was certainly a revelation. Alex Kostakis was our host, one of the owners, who considered himself a master mechanic more than anything else as he didn't play, as maybe a lot of piano retailers don't play, after all there's only so much one can do. The level of the instruments at A&C Pianocraft as well as everywhere else, was in that stratospheric level way above what's usual, and so were the prices. I was most impressed by the way these pianos played, "like butter" as well as their consistent sound. They had rebuilt some no name small piano, name escapes me now, Alex didn't like the piano, but the thing played and sounded VERY well. A&C is flat out a wonderful advertisement for Steinway, not just as it was or is but in some more ultimate sense. There were any number of their pianos that I would have been very happy to own. When it comes to Steinway increasingly I like an A. They also had a very nice Bechstein and a nice Mason & Hamlin BB.

Beethoven's, it's a more relaxed, "artsy" kind of a place. The owner, Carl Demler, was our host. They have such variety, Bluthner, Boserndorfer, an old Baldwin D waiting to be restored in the back, two incredible old Steinways up front, each probably better now than they were when new. Look forward to Grotrians arriving in November. There are always changes going on in the piano business especially in New York. Beethoven's has had Feurich, Bosendorfer, Bluthner, I saw an Ibach upstairs (in need of a rebuild), and people are coming in from the industry to get them to try something new (which they wont). You can count on pretty good prep from them and they listen to any suggestions to improve what they are doing. It was here that the "practice room" ambience created something of a collage, one could hear a piece of Rachmaninoff superimposed on something by Bach or Scarlatti with a smidgeon of Beethoven of Chopin here and there.

Beethoven's had one kind of antique Steinway concert grand, Faust Harrison had another. Theirs was a foot shorter, a real "Centennial" grand from 1876 that had been rebuilt and designed to produce a more antique sound, sweeter, rounder, less projecting. It was a beautiful instrument to play (and I even tried the beginning of my own 1st sonata on it) but there were others like the subdued A on which Bernard played some wonderful Ravel. We discussed the characteristics and differences of various pianos almost as though they were vintage wine. Faust Harrison has now really picked up the Estonia line and they will be having many of these come into their store in the future.

Finally there was Klavierhaus and Fazioli. What is a Fazioli like? Well for one thing one feels a sort of instinctual response from the instrument, if you want it louder or softer you don't have to do much to make it so, it responds right away to your touch. It reminded me of playing an Ibach. It sort of sounded like one too come to think of it. One might really become quite a pianist if one played one long enough. But are there cheaper substitutes? For one Fazioli of any size I could buy almost two of anything else of considerable quality, like a Mason & Hamlin BB, or dare I say it, a Fandrich.

It was as Bernard said, a wonderful day. Maybe we could do another in the Spring?
Posted By: Axtremus

Re: NYC in October -- the reports - 10/20/03 07:39 AM

Originally posted by Linda in PA:
Look forward to reading posts from the other revelers. If you care to write, I'd enjoy want hearing all about your favorite piano, impressions of the Fazioli pianos, and more details regarding the tours at A.C. Pianocraft and Klavierhaus.
Below are my impressions comparing a Hamburg Steinway D and a Fazioli F-278, both about 9 ft long, side by side. Sincere thanks to Klavierhaus for having actually placed those two 9-footers side-by-side in one room and made the room available to the group. I don't know how old that Hamburg Steinway D was or what kind of work has been done to it, others who know please comment. The F-278 was new.

I ran through the same set of six-minute material on both pianos. In terms of touch/action and pedal control, both are equally precise and responsive as far as I can tell. The F-278's action felt slightly heavier than the D.

Before commenting on the tone/sound, I'd like to qualify that by describing the room. I guesstimate the room size was something like 25 ft. by 40 ft in area, and may be 10 ft in height. Those 9 foot pianos are likely designed for venues 20 times bigger in area and 100 times bigger in volume. This comparison is subject to this room size limitation.

In that room, the F-278 sounded much brighter than the Model D. The F-278 also appeared to have bigger volume and more raw power in the low end of the bass. The Model D has more depth and more warmth in its tone. The D's bass is also more refined, and powerful in a more restrained sort of way.

In the middle of big chords, the F-278 allowed me to bring out the melodies in the mid-registers in a more pronounced manner, though the more pronounced melody came in a little stiffer and "stuck out" more than I would have liked. For my ears, the D gave better balance for carrying melodic lines in the midst of thick chords.

When playing cantabile style melodic lines in the upper treble, it took more effort to play those at pianissimo on the F-278 than on the D. The warmer/mellower tone on the D helped a lot in this respect.

Overall, the way I heard them in that smaller-than-ideal room, the F-278 was much brighter, louder, clearer going from note to note, and appeared to have more raw power; the D has more warmth and better tonal balance/blend, more restrained and more refined in tone.

(Also, an apology to pique -- I bumped her out of the Model D at the last 12 minutes at Klavierhaus to make the comparison. I didn't realize that she traveled from far away to come play those pianos and she seemed quite enjoyed playing Haydn on the Model D, -- at the time, I thought she was a New Yorker who could revisit Klavierhaus at any day. frown )
Posted By: piqué

Re: NYC in October -- the reports - 10/20/03 11:50 AM

yes, axtremus, i'm still mad at you. wink i may have to take away one of your stars!

i am in the city another week + and do hope to get back to play that d. it had some tonal properties that were completely new to me and i do want to explore them a bit more. i hope KH will let me into the back room to try it again!

meanwhile, you've shared impressions with us that I probably could not have. the little that i played the two instruments, i would generally have to concur with your description of them.

to go further, i really didn't care for the faziolis. there is a perfectionism about them that pushes the bounds until they are kind of cold and soulless. they felt the most like machines of any piano i have played. though rich d. did tell me that the smaller one in the front showroom was a much more "human" instrument. at any rate, it is more power, volume, and brilliance than i shall ever have any need of.

i did think, though that the rest of pianoworld might be green with envy that we lucky few got to entertain each other on a ten foot fazioli, a quite rare piano. the staff at KH had kindly set up folding chairs for us to sit as an audience and listen to each other. it was like being provided with our own private concert hall! quite wonderful!

my favorite piano at KH, as someone already mentioned, was the old lady pleyel, in some sort of rococo style of gold leaf and paintings and a piano stool that i hope someone took a picture of and will post. terribly ornate.

i hope some real pianist out there who can appreciate that pleyel musically will also like it's outer appearance and can afford it (i didn't ask the price.) all i can say is that the chopin waltz i played played so incredibly on that pleyel, it sounded as if chopin himself must have composed that work for that piano. it is sensitive and delicate and full of warm, rounded color. i love subtlety in a piano, and this one is full of subtlety.

i think it is probably generally rare that great musical instruments are housed in art case pianos, but that pleyel is clearly the exception.
Posted By: RealPlayer

Re: NYC in October -- the reports - 10/20/03 03:13 PM

Hi everyone, particularly other piano revelers!

I had a great time on our Piano Day, as I believe everyone did. I'll post my photos as soon as I can figure out how. I'm new to the digital camera/downloading thing.

It was terrific meeting all of you, sharing our love for the instruments and appreciation for those craftspeople who dedicate their lives to building and rebuilding them.

You all gave me so much by treating me to your playing. You all really sound so good. It was actually so different, and such a welcome change from the atmosphere around my professional pianist friends. Not that they are less friends, but thereís a subtle vibe where youíre always comparing yourself to others, as to skills, career progress, personality, business acumen, etc. So, to be with a group of people who just enjoy playing is a tonic and a pleasure for me. I hope you do not mind these rather personal observations.

At the same time, I must apologize for my own playingÖI just didnít have any solo things really worked up at the moment, and I really should have.

As to the specific pianos, Iíll admit I didnít try that many. I listened more than played. And I missed some folks' playing when I was upstairs at Beethoven's or downstairs at Klavierhaus.

Iíve always had a soft spot for Grotrians, and the small one at Beethovenís was one Iíd like to have explored more. Thereís something mysterious and intriguing about the Grotrian sound and even feel, a lot of depth. Wish I could explain it.

There was a Steinway B (or was it an A?) at Faust Harrison that intrigued me too, one piano away from the back wall. Fine sounding piano, and Michael Harrison confided that although it sounded so great, they were reluctantly considering voicing it up because it sounds less bright than customers are used to hearing Steinways. Don't do it, Michael!

I'll agree with Pique' about the somewhat antiseptic properties of the big Fazioli compared to the Steinway D. However, it's interesting that I often apply the same term to many Steinways when comparing them to Masons or other brands. I find the Dís much nicer than the Bís in general, which sound kind of industrial-grade to me -- not warm or intimate, just a practice tool. Of course, regulation/voicing have something to do with this.

Had a great time at dinner, talking about various and sundry, including pianos and other things in all our lives. I did leave the after-dinner repartee to catch the end of a concert, but otherwise would have stayed longer. Did you all go out to another spot afterwards?

Well, I did not plan on being so long-winded. I had a great time. Next time I hope Linda and others can attend. Thank you all so much.
Posted By: Rich D.

Re: NYC in October -- the reports - 10/20/03 03:24 PM

Well I certainly had a great time at the piano crawl. It was especially nice to meet such a great group of folks who post on Piano World and of course Frank who created the wonderful site. Thanks also to the folks AC Pianocraft, Klavierhaus, Faust Harrison and Beethovens who allowed us to wander throughout their store playing all of their great instruments. All great hosts and I especially appreciated Alex's presentation at AC Pianocraft on the quality work they do to rebuild a piano.

Enjoyed everyone's playing. Bernards playing of a movement of one of Beethoven's sonatas (Opus 90) made me put that on the top of the list of the next pieces I plan to learn. Realplayer is a fantastic player, a full time musician and Michael Harrison pointed out one of the premier interrupters in the country of modern classical composers. Realplayer by the way owns a M&H CC piano, which I'm really envious of.

As for the pianos, there were many great ones. AC Pianocraft had a couple of Steinway As(III)that were truely wonderful to play. I also enjoyed most a Mason & Hamlin BB and a 90 year old or so Bechstein. Beethovens had the most variety of fine instruments and Carl is a real gem. Speaking of gems, in the basement was a 48" Bechstein upright which some lucky person will get to own. The 212 Fazioli at Klavierhaus was especially nice and I also liked the Pleyel that Pique mentioned. Faust Harrison had another Steinway A III which was one of the best sounding pianos I've played and both their BB Masons were outstanding.
Posted By: Phlebas

Re: NYC in October -- the reports - 10/20/03 04:07 PM

It was an absolutely wonderful experience meeting all of you last Sat., hearing you play, and listening to your opinions of the various pianos.
The highlight of the day for me was hearing everyone play.
Dave Burton played some of Brahms op.118#2 (wished he had played the rest of it). He also played the begining of the Pathetique sonata (he could give a master class on how to play the left hand tremelos in that piece).
Pique played a Chopin waltz - don't know the opus #. She has a very nice intimate sound, and her playing had a rhythmic lilt that was suitable for that piece, and it sounded even better on the Pleyel art case at KH.
Axtremus played an original composition, which we all liked a lot. He has a lot of dynamic range in his playing, and gets a nice big sound without ever banging.
I missed hearing Rich D playing the Rach. (I hope I wasn't banging on another piano at the same time). I did hear him playing some Liszt - I think - and it sounded great.
RKVS1 played a Bach prelude from the WTC II - can't remember which one - but he played with a lot of authority, and has a nice big sound.
I was able to hear Bernard play the second movement of the Ravel Sonatine, and although he says it's his first Impressionist piece, he certainly has a feel for that style. Wish I had heard him play some of the Beethoven op 90.
After some arm twisting, RealPlayer played a stride/ragtime piece that was a collaboration of three composers - I wish he would let us know again what it was. It was an delight to listen to. I think he said it wasn't polished, but he could have fooled me.
Finally, I heard Calin play a little bit of the Mozart D minor Fantasy, and he gave it a mysterious quality that suited the piece.

If I forgot anyone's playing, let me know. There was a lot going on.

I agree with Pique about the Playel. It is a really special instrument, and I hope it ends up in a place where it actually gets played.
My favorite instrument of the day was the Black M&H in the front room of Faust Harrison. I was drawn to the Estonia in the back of the store as well. The Bosendorfer at Beethoven's was nice. I had trouble keeping the bass softer, and not too muddy though.
It's hard not to like the 10' Fazioli, but I agree with Pique, and a couple others, that it's perfection gives it kind of a stark quality. I much preferred the 7' Fazioli in the other room of KH.

Anyway, I'm sorry I could not stay for dinner, but I hardly see my family during the week, and wanted to get home. It was great meeting all of you, and I wished I could have talked to each of you a bit more.
Thank you all for a very enjoyable and educational time.

Posted By: Axtremus

Re: NYC in October -- the reports - 10/20/03 06:00 PM

Hmmm... may be I have mistaken Klavierhaus' big Fazioli's model. I thought I saw the big Fazioli's serial number to begin with 278****, which would indicate to me that it's a 278 cm or 9 ft piano (F-278). But everyone else pretty much referred to it as a 10 ft. Was it really an F-308 (10 ft) ? (Edit: private e-mail exchange with Klavierhaus confirmed that the big Fazioli was an F-278, 9 ft 1.5 in long.)

For Faziolis, I've played a couple of F-228 (7 ft 6 in) else where and I prefer those to the big Fazioli in Klavierhaus' backroom. I didn't play the F-212 in Klavierhaus because I've played other F-212's else where comparing them side-by-side with F-228 and came out favoring the F-228 by a substantial margin. But if it's between the F-212 and the big Fazioli in Klavierhaus, I agree with other posts above that the F-212 came out more "humanessque." wink

As for other pianos, I also liked the antique Pleyel in Klavierhaus mentioned in other posts above -- Pique played a Chopin waltz on it, and I'd bet the the way that waltz rendered/sounded on the old Pleyel would have earned Chopin's approving nods. (Edit: It turns out there is a picture of the Pleyel on Klavierhaus' web site at http://www.klavierhaus.com/item.tmpl?SKU=305949221268824 .)

David Burton also played Debussy's "Das" (sp) on the F-212 after every one else left for dinner -- David's performance was GREAT!!! (See what you all missed? wink laugh laugh )

Personally, I think the I appreciate the piano crawl most for (1) being able to meet all you nice folks, mingle with you and learn from you as well as hearing you play, (2) getting the opportunity to play old, out-of-production pianos that I can't find elsewhere -- I especially like Beethoven Piano's collection, (3) participating in A&C Pianocraft's very informative and educational tour of their piano restoration facility.

Also appreciate meeting Frank B. in person -- got to admit, PianoWorld is one of the best-run forum site I've seen. Kudos to Frank B. for enabling all these fun activities and good stuff through PianoWorld!
Posted By: Phlebas

Re: NYC in October -- the reports - 10/20/03 06:37 PM


I may certainly be wrong, and that was a 9' Fazioli instead of the 10'.
It looked a bit longer than the S&S D, though.

I forgot to mention thanks to Frank. It is a really great Forum, and keeps getting better.
Posted By: Ockie

Re: NYC in October -- the reports - 10/21/03 01:31 AM

I was sorry to have only made it to Klavierhaus and dinner, but delighted to meet such a wonderful group of people! Both new-to-me neighbors and piano pilgrims.

Thanks much to Frank, Pique, everyone who coordinated the event, and of course to the gracious piano showroom hosts. Klavierhaus was very generous in both time and pianos, and the Crawlers with their talents.

A really magic event.

Posted By: Bernard

Re: NYC in October -- the reports - 10/21/03 01:56 AM


Thanks for the correction, I've fixed the caption. For some reason that piano looked llloooonnnngggg, like a stretch limo!
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