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#3127457 06/13/21 02:56 PM
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I came across this YouTube video of Andras Schiff discussing the Brahms 1st. Fascinatingly, he illustrates it all on an 1859 Bluthner, made in Leipzig ... and it's gorgeous, both in beauty and in sound. Here is the link:


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This is very interesting. Of course we don't know what this piano sounded like when it was new, but maybe someone like Paul McNulty would consider copying it. I suspect it had a slightly more singing tone in the treble than it does now, but perhaps not. I wouldn't advocate rebuilding a piano like this, I think it's more important to use it as a historical document of information.

Anyway, the piano actually sounds really beautiful in its own right, with all that history on it, and it completely changes our perception of how these concertos sounded when they were composed. I wonder if this is a patent action piano or an erard action, because I don't know when the patent action was introduced.

As an anecdote or a factoid, I believe that Blüthner got some help from or inspiration from Ludwig Bösendorfer, and there are some similarities between the pianos from both makers of that time. For example, both instruments have a removable capo bar, and other similarities in the scale design.

Definitely an anecdote now, although there may be some truth in it: The manager of the Blüthner showroom in London in 2003, who retired in 2008, told me that Blüthner preferred the sound of the straight strung instruments to the overstrung instruments. As a kind of compromise due to the fashions at the time he started to make overstrung instruments that had a flat strung bass but had an overstrung section in the tenor range. By the time the styles (for example the famous Style VIII) were introduced in the 1890s, the pianos still had a kind of 'straight strung' aesthetic to the tone, in that the treble, tenor, and bass still all had a separate kind of voice. Much in those old 1890s designs remains in the new pianos although much has also changed, but if you get to know the instruments really well, you can still hear that terraced voicing.

In the 1880s or 1890s Broadwood was asked if he was going to introduce an over-strung piano, and he was extremely reluctant. The French and English were extremely conservative in their piano designs, and eventually that killed them. I think I've actually written something like this very recently on this forum! Bechstein on the other hand embraced the new technology and went from strength to strength until the second world war.


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Bechstein on the other hand embraced the new technology and went from strength to strength until the second world war.
Gosh, I wonder why that should be.


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I wondered the same thing about the patent action. I notice that the fallboard proudly proclaims "PATENT". Quickly googling around I find 1856 as the date for Blüthner's action patent. Maybe David-G has some information about this piano. I find the piano exquisitely beautiful and I think that Schiff has really connected with it.

Last edited by mha9; 06/13/21 05:15 PM.

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Interesting thread, and thanks for your contribution Joe. I'll write more, but for now, re the action - I see from my records that Bluthners with serial numbers 119, 391, 442 had the Patent action. These must have been pretty early. Do we know the serial number of this 1859 Bluthner? I think I would be surprised if it did not have a Patent action.

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I do love the transparency and the difference between registers. Still, I can't help thinking that there is a part of that sound that just represents old age. I wonder how a new piano with those specs would sound? The new Barenboim model is a start in that direction, perhaps.

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Originally Posted by cfhosford
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Bechstein on the other hand embraced the new technology and went from strength to strength until the second world war.
Gosh, I wonder why that should be.

And I wonder about the possible insight into something that I still haven't understood after reading the comment three times over.

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Originally Posted by cfhosford
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Bechstein on the other hand embraced the new technology and went from strength to strength until the second world war.
Gosh, I wonder why that should be.

Why shouldn’t it be? Even today Bechstein embraces the latest technology in manufacturing where it improves the instrument and the results in the latest pianos are incredible.

David thanks for your information! These early Bluthners fascinate me because their tone is nothing like the more famous late 19th century models.


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Sir Andras has been playing quite a bit recently at Wigmore Hall (concerts to limited audiences, but streamed free at the Wigmore website, with contributions gladly accepted). He seems always to be playing a Hamburg Steinway D. I am guessing it belongs to Wigmore. Interestingly Angela Hewitt's more recent Wigmore concert features her new Fazioli. She had been playing the Steinway in earlier concerts this year. However, it looks like she has her replacement Fazioli.


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The Wigmore Steinways are actually on loan from Steinway Hall which is just around the corner on Marylebone Lane. The Fazioli might be Hewitt’s own or it might be one of the renters from Jacques Samuels which is about a mile from the Wigmore. Terry I think has two concert grands he keeps there.


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Originally Posted by Joseph Fleetwood
David thanks for your information! These early Bluthners fascinate me because their tone is nothing like the more famous late 19th century models.

One of these days I hope you will be able to come and hear mine!

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Originally Posted by Joseph Fleetwood
The Wigmore Steinways are actually on loan from Steinway Hall which is just around the corner on Marylebone Lane. The Fazioli might be Hewitt’s own or it might be one of the renters from Jacques Samuels which is about a mile from the Wigmore. Terry I think has two concert grands he keeps there.

We took advantage of Jacques Samuels shop in 2019 when we brought our grandkids to London. They practiced piano every other day at Samuels practice rooms, which are about a mile from our time share in London. My wife did some practicing at Steinway Hall almost 25 years ago. I don't think they allow that anymore.


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Originally Posted by astrotoy
Originally Posted by Joseph Fleetwood
The Wigmore Steinways are actually on loan from Steinway Hall which is just around the corner on Marylebone Lane. The Fazioli might be Hewitt’s own or it might be one of the renters from Jacques Samuels which is about a mile from the Wigmore. Terry I think has two concert grands he keeps there.

We took advantage of Jacques Samuels shop in 2019 when we brought our grandkids to London. They practiced piano every other day at Samuels practice rooms, which are about a mile from our time share in London. My wife did some practicing at Steinway Hall almost 25 years ago. I don't think they allow that anymore.

Nice! Actually they have two practice rooms in the basement with Hamburg Ms in them. One day I was practicing and I heard this phenomenal sound coming from the room next door. It was Yefim Bronfman.... I kind of sheepishly left....


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Originally Posted by Joseph Fleetwood
Nice! Actually they have two practice rooms in the basement with Hamburg Ms in them. One day I was practicing and I heard this phenomenal sound coming from the room next door. It was Yefim Bronfman.... I kind of sheepishly left....

Nice story! I can appreciate it particularly because I heard him live in concert last week. My first visit to the Royal Festival Hall for over a year. He was playing the Liszt second concerto.

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Thank you Joseph. Growing up I had many amazing opportunities to hear among the best pianists. Apparently, I have been out of the loop since college. I don't know these names anymore so Yefim Bronfman was new to me. I am grateful you brought up his name. This piece Tschaikowsky Piano Concerto # 2 in G Major is beautiful. If listening to any part, skip to 21:40 for the Andante movement. Everyone knows Piano Concerto # 1. # 2 I have never heard. Wow, gorgeous and he/Yefim is overwhelming. I cannot imagine practicing near him.
I will begin listening to as many recordings as I can find. Thanks!

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N Artur, my concert from 4 June with Bronfman playing the Liszt 2nd Concerto was broadcast on BBC Radio 3, and is still available to listen to. This is the link (I am not sure if this works in the USA?):

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000wm78

This is available for the next 19 days. In addition to the Liszt, Bronfman plays Schumann's "Arabeske" as an encore. This was the most wonderful concert, it received a standing ovation at the end.

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The Bluthner in the recording does have the Bluthner Patent action. I bought this recording, and the booklet mentions it:

"As is confidently proclaimed on the fallboard, the instrument features the ‘Blüthner patent action’, this being a form of English double action without repetition lever. It permits an extremely controlled and effortless touch and thus a highly varied tone. The instrument was restored by the Christoph Kern piano workshop of Staufen im Breisgau."


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Bronfman is one pianist I'd definitely make time to go hear.

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Originally Posted by David-G
N Artur, my concert from 4 June with Bronfman playing the Liszt 2nd Concerto was broadcast on BBC Radio 3, and is still available to listen to. This is the link (I am not sure if this works in the USA?):

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000wm78

This is available for the next 19 days. In addition to the Liszt, Bronfman plays Schumann's "Arabeske" as an encore. This was the most wonderful concert, it received a standing ovation at the end.
I see the performance mentioned on that link but I don't see where it can be listened?
Ian


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Originally Posted by Beemer
Originally Posted by David-G
N Artur, my concert from 4 June with Bronfman playing the Liszt 2nd Concerto was broadcast on BBC Radio 3, and is still available to listen to. This is the link (I am not sure if this works in the USA?):

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000wm78

This is available for the next 19 days. In addition to the Liszt, Bronfman plays Schumann's "Arabeske" as an encore. This was the most wonderful concert, it received a standing ovation at the end.
I see the performance mentioned on that link but I don't see where it can be listened?
Ian

You just click where it says "Listen Now" (the button is in the picture).

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