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Originally Posted by Roy123
Originally Posted by Petoskeyguy
Steinway with all its overtones and nuances is somewhat orchestrial unto itself. Thus, a Steinway played in a piano concerto alongside an orchestra is like wearing a polka-dotted shirt with striped pants (they don’t blend). Fazioli has a purer more fundamental tone, one that the author feels blends better and is “seamless” with an orchestra.
I think this paraphrases what the author is trying to argue in a more succinct matter, not that I agree with this viewpoint.
Many people claim that Stienways have lots of/more overtones than other pianos. I believe this statement to be false. More overtones equals a brighter sound, because overtones, as their name suggests, are on top of, frequency wise, the fundamental tone. Other people sometimes claim that Steinways have a more complex tone, which, once again, seems to be a statement of no real definition or specificity. I might note that this post is about language and implies neither praise nor denigration of Steinway pianos.
I think all pianos have the same overtones for a given note(the overtone scale i.e. octave, fifth, etc.) but the relative volume of each overtone varies by make. I think Fine discusses what about overtones causes a piano's tone to be bright somewhere in one of his publications, but I don't remember what he says.

Some people like to describe the Steinway tone as "complex" which also seems vague(at least to me), and I think they often assume complexity is something positive which I don't think is the case. Some like the Steinway growling bass while others just think it's muddy.

Hoping some real piano expert(which I'm not) will agree, disagree, or comment on the above. It would be nice if someone could clear up what I think is some confusion about this.

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My two cents, for what it's worth…

I agree with pianoloverus, that "tonal preferences are mostly subjective" and that "parts of the OPs post are so anti Steinway that I think it makes is comments less convincing"; however, I think the OP was giving his honest opinion and I did not take what he said as necessarily being a bash against Steinway nor biased, but rather an expression of his innermost feelings. I appreciated hearing his perspective on both the Fazioli and Steinway, why he thinks the Fazioli was "the right choice", and listening to the videos he posted.

The OPs description of the Fazioli as delivering "elegant, silky phrases" I found interesting and accurate.

His description of the Steinway's treble range as having "a strong presence, but essentially an unrefined character in the tone, linear and one-dimensional" I also found of interest, in spite of the fact that I disagree with that assessment. My opinion is the Steinway certainly qualifies as sounding "refined" and further, unlike the Fazio, its complexity of tone makes it more capable of creating the dreamy, atmospheric quality some composers seek to communicate through their music such as we hear in andante piano section at approximately 22:50 minutes into Kyohei Sorita's video.

We all have our own preferences and opinions.

The Fazioli has a very clean, fundamental, and powerful tonal quality. I played a few during my piano search. The one I played in New York nearly blew me off its seat - IT HAD SUCH A POWERFUL VOICE and yes, may be capable of cutting through layers of orchestral sound better than a Steinway, but S&S's can hold their own in my opinion. Faziolis are in general, too clean of a sound for my taste, are so "clean" they reach the point of sounding "clinical" - not an attraction for me.

Steinways have a warm and complex tonal quality as demonstrated in the competition videos. They can sing sweetly but also growl. I much prefer the sound of the Steinway in both of the videos posted here. But that is not to say one of these pianos is necessarily "superior" to the other.

The type of tonal quality Faziolis possess - a clean, fundamental sound - can be an advantage depending on the specific music being performed. I believe Faziolis may be better suited for certain other types of music than Chopin such as early music composed prior to the introduction of a piano that were originally performed on harpsichord, and not just that type, I'm sure it is also well suited to many other types of modern genres of music, too. I just think a very clean tonal quality is not the best choice for music of the romantic period.

Davdoc mentioned the Kawai Shigerus. I played a few during my piano search. They have a beautiful, very consistent tonal quality. The thing I found disconcerting about them is it seemed to me they are actually too consistent, that is, it seemed the tonal quality remained the same whether I was playing pianissimo or fortissimo, the piano doesn't "open up" or "bloom". It was like someone just turned the volume button up, there is no change in the sound of the piano's tone. Throatiness or growl might be a way of trying to describe what I'm talking about.

I, too, am shocked that the contestants did not all play the same piano in the Chopin Competition. Do the contestants have the opportunity to choose which piano they wish to play? Or is the choice of piano chosen by the competition principles without any input from contestants? If the latter, this seems really wrong.

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Originally Posted by Jeanne W
Davdoc mentioned the Kawai Shigerus. I played a few during my piano search. They have a beautiful, very consistent tonal quality. The thing I found disconcerting about them is it seemed to me they are actually too consistent, that is, it seemed the tonal quality remained the same whether I was playing pianissimo or fortissimo, the piano doesn't "open up" or "bloom". It was like someone just turned the volume button up, there is no change in the sound of the piano's tone. Throatiness or growl might be a way of trying to describe what I'm talking about.

This is where the Kawai MPA (Master Piano Artisan) comes into play. When you play a Shigeru in a showroom, then what you hear are factory defaults, but not a truly finished piano. Once a piano like that has found its place in a home or hall, the piano technician will do a thorough voicing session that will fundamentally bring out things a piano that you seemed to miss in a Shigeru.

Ma favorite technician for my private Steinway is an MPA, one of three Europeans with that title - and he brought a whole new quality of sound into the piano that simply wasn't there before. Well, it must have been there, because he must have heard it and brought it to life. Dark and mysterious were sound qualities I haven't heard in my Steinway before. So, when playing a Shigeru, it should be an instrument that has already been treated by an MPA; only then will you hear its full potential.

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Originally Posted by Jeanne W
I, too, am shocked that the contestants did not all play the same piano in the Chopin Competition. Do the contestants have the opportunity to choose which piano they wish to play? Or is the choice of piano chosen by the competition principles without any input from contestants? If the latter, this seems really wrong.
For a long time and maybe even from their beginning, all the major competitions have had more than one piano to choose from and each competitor makes their selection. This is no different from a major pianist often being able to select their piano for a given performance.

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Yes, but many dealers knock pianos that they see as competition anyway. I don't like it when a dealer knocks any piano, even if I think that piano is not so great.

I much prefer it if a dealer simply tells me why a particular piano is good or, perhaps much harder to do, can tell me about the differences between a piano he sells and one he doesn't sell(if I ask him) in an objective way that doesn't knock the other make. Or if he expresses what he feels are the advantages of a piano he sells as an opinion vs. a fact.

Pianoloverus, you are such a great contributor to this forum, and probably you are so involved that you can't help responding with a tone of ownership. I missed reading your policy about the proper and only way to describe pianos or how to get permission for one to have a perspective. Don't worry, nobody is selling you anything or planning to; in fact, I don't understand why you even talk about how dealers present pianos.
I rather hear what you like or don't like about the Steinway, Fazioli, or Shigeru.


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Originally Posted by Jeanne W
The OPs description of the Fazioli as delivering "elegant, silky phrases" I found interesting and accurate.
I think descriptions like this show how difficult it is to describe tone and are so vague as to be close to meaningless.

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I, too, am shocked that the contestants did not all play the same piano in the Chopin Competition. Do the contestants have the opportunity to choose which piano they wish to play? Or is the choice of piano chosen by the competition principles without any input from contestants? If the latter, this seems really wrong.

The pianists had 15 minutes to choose their weapons in Warsaw.

I think the first and second prizewinners chose well. Liu showed the Fazioli had the beating of Shigeru Kawai and Steinway. Gadjiev showed a clean pair of heels to other Fazioli players on the Shigeru Kawai, not least in the bass, while Sorita had a lot of fun on the Steinway.

Now, would Liu have won on the Yamaha?

Last edited by Withindale; 11/11/21 06:02 PM.

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Originally Posted by Kurtmen
Quote
Yes, but many dealers knock pianos that they see as competition anyway. I don't like it when a dealer knocks any piano, even if I think that piano is not so great.

I much prefer it if a dealer simply tells me why a particular piano is good or, perhaps much harder to do, can tell me about the differences between a piano he sells and one he doesn't sell(if I ask him) in an objective way that doesn't knock the other make. Or if he expresses what he feels are the advantages of a piano he sells as an opinion vs. a fact.

Pianoloverus, you are such a great contributor to this forum, and probably you are so involved that you can't help responding with a tone of ownership. I missed reading your policy about the proper and only way to describe pianos or how to get permission for one to have a perspective. Don't worry, nobody is selling you anything or planning to; in fact, I don't understand why you even talk about how dealers present pianos.
I rather hear what you like or don't like about the Steinway, Fazioli, or Shigeru.
I see nothing like "a tone of ownership" in my post you quoted, and I think most/many feel exactly the same. I was commenting on a post from Keith Kerman, not you.

Your characterization of my post as a " policy about the proper and only way to describe piano" when it was simply my opinion seems over the top and sarcastic. I even used "I much prefer" which clearly means it's a personal opinion.

I have no interest in buying another piano since I already have one I like a lot and cannot afford the two pianos under discussion. I think talking about how dealers present pianos on a piano forum makes sense.

Almost everyone on this thread agreed with my first post on this thread and several used much stronger words than I did to describe your OP.

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Originally Posted by Withindale
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I, too, am shocked that the contestants did not all play the same piano in the Chopin Competition. Do the contestants have the opportunity to choose which piano they wish to play? Or is the choice of piano chosen by the competition principles without any input from contestants? If the latter, this seems really wrong.

The pianists had 15 minutes to choose their weapons in Warsaw.

I think the first and second prizewinners chose well. Liu showed the Fazioli had the beating of Shigeru Kawai and Steinway. Gadjiev showed a clean pair of heels to other Fazioli players on the Shigeru Kawai, not least in the bass, while Sorita had a lot of fun on the Steinway.

Now, would Liu have won on the Yamaha?
He may have or he may have won playing the Shigeru? That is
what makes of freedom choice so good! Hopefully he would not have been barred from ever performing publicly on a Steinway again..However the artist won playing wonderfully on a Fazioli.

By the way I do not think a Fazioli "sounds so clean that it has to be called sterile".The Chopin sounded great in these recordings (played on both the Fazioli and the Steinway)

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Originally Posted by Withindale
Now, would Liu have won on the Yamaha?
Of course, know one can know the answer to this. And if, for example, one thinks the answer is "no", then is that because the piano sounds/ feels different or because Liu doesn't feel comfortable playing it or...?

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by Withindale
Now, would Liu have won on the Yamaha?
Of course, know one can know the answer to this. And if, for example, one thinks the answer is "no", then is that because the piano sounds/ feels different or because Liu doesn't feel comfortable playing it or...?

Don’t you already know the answer? Every day, Ex-Chopin winners play on pianos which they did not play for the competition. You never read a review that says, ‘he is not the same since is no longer playing xxx piano’. Liu will play on few Faziolis on a tour, but he will do fine.


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I think it is kind of naive to think that the artist’s choice of instrument had nothing to do with how his music was judged by the judges. Of course it can have an effect on one’s perception of music quality. I don’t think we can generalize that just because a Fazioli may have had a positive impact on the outcome of this particular competition with this set of judges that we can say Faziolis are a better choice than Steinway, or Shigerus for example in all situations that make a Steinway the wrong piano. I’ve been to to many concerts that suggest otherwise, but the Fazioli sure did sparkle in this competition. Good for Liu and good for Fazioli!


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Originally Posted by dogperson
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by Withindale
Now, would Liu have won on the Yamaha?
Of course, know one can know the answer to this. And if, for example, one thinks the answer is "no", then is that because the piano sounds/ feels different or because Liu doesn't feel comfortable playing it or...?

Don’t you already know the answer? Every day, Ex-Chopin winners play on pianos which they did not play for the competition. You never read a review that says, ‘he is not the same since is no longer playing xxx piano’. Liu will play on few Faziolis on a tour, but he will do fine.
Not at all.

Of course, Liu will sound fine on a make other than Fazioli, but he may not as as good as he did when playing the Fazioli at the Chopin Competition. And If he had played a different piano at the CC, he may not have won the competition for the reasons I mentioned in the quoted post. It's not as thought Liu was competing against pianists like you or me where he would surely sound better on any piano.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I think all pianos have the same overtones for a given note(the overtone scale i.e. octave, fifth, etc.) but the relative volume of each overtone varies by make. I think Fine discusses what about overtones causes a piano's tone to be bright somewhere in one of his publications, but I don't remember what he says.

Some people like to describe the Steinway tone as "complex" which also seems vague(at least to me), and I think they often assume complexity is something positive which I don't think is the case. Some like the Steinway growling bass while others just think it's muddy.

Hoping some real piano expert(which I'm not) will agree, disagree, or comment on the above. It would be nice if someone could clear up what I think is some confusion about this.

I agree with the gist of what you say. To clarify the confusion, I think you should focus on the resonances from the rest of the piano. These can be good (in harmony with the strings) and bad (in opposition).

Fazioli have done their best to stop such resonances affecting the vibration of the soundboard. People describe the result with words like "clarity", "sterility" and "timpani" in the bass. Pianists with supreme touch like Liu flourish on these instruments.

On the other hand the Steinway sound is full of resonances. The good ones produce the "orchestral" sounds Sorita brought forth while the bad ones muddy the bass, as you describe, and other registers too.

Kawai developed their Shigeru pianos with oscilloscopes in an anechoic chamber to achieve a clear resonant sound. Gadjiev and Pletnev must think they succeeded.

Last edited by Withindale; 11/12/21 10:51 AM.

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Originally Posted by Withindale
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I think all pianos have the same overtones for a given note(the overtone scale i.e. octave, fifth, etc.) but the relative volume of each overtone varies by make. I think Fine discusses what about overtones causes a piano's tone to be bright somewhere in one of his publications, but I don't remember what he says.

Some people like to describe the Steinway tone as "complex" which also seems vague(at least to me), and I think they often assume complexity is something positive which I don't think is the case. Some like the Steinway growling bass while others just think it's muddy.

Hoping some real piano expert(which I'm not) will agree, disagree, or comment on the above. It would be nice if someone could clear up what I think is some confusion about this.

I agree with the gist of what you say. To clarify the confusion, I think you should focus on the resonances from the rest of the piano. These can be good (in harmony with the strings) and bad (in opposition).

Fazioli have done their best to stop such resonances affecting the vibration of the soundboard. People describe this as "clarity", "sterility" and now a "timpani" kike sound in the bass. Pianists with supreme touch like Liu flourish on these instruments.

On the other hand the Steinway sound is full of resonances. The good ones produce the "orchestral" sounds Sorita brought forth while the bad ones muddy the bass, and other registers, as you describe.

Kawai developed their Shigeru pianos with oscilloscopes in an anechoic chamber to achieve a clear resonant sound. Gadjiev and Pletnev must think they succeeded.
Are the "resonances from the rest of the piano" you mention another word for overtones? Or are they sounds caused by something else and, if so, what? What are some example of these resonances?

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To be clear from my previous post, I don’t think the Fazioli was THE deciding factor on who won this competition. If the OP’s sample of random music lovers unanimously choosing Liu as the winner coinciding with the official judges is any indication I doubt they all have the same tastes for piano tone and sonority. Liu won because in the majority of people’s minds he was the best pianist in this group. I could see a scenario however where two pianists who were equally matched where the piano’s ability to take center stage could be the deciding factor. Were there other competitors at this competition playing Faziolis who were not chosen as finalists? If there were that kind of negates what the op might be implying.

Last edited by Jethro; 11/12/21 11:14 AM.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by Withindale
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I think all pianos have the same overtones for a given note(the overtone scale i.e. octave, fifth, etc.) but the relative volume of each overtone varies by make. I think Fine discusses what about overtones causes a piano's tone to be bright somewhere in one of his publications, but I don't remember what he says.

Some people like to describe the Steinway tone as "complex" which also seems vague(at least to me), and I think they often assume complexity is something positive which I don't think is the case. Some like the Steinway growling bass while others just think it's muddy.

Hoping some real piano expert(which I'm not) will agree, disagree, or comment on the above. It would be nice if someone could clear up what I think is some confusion about this.

I agree with the gist of what you say. To clarify the confusion, I think you should focus on the resonances from the rest of the piano. These can be good (in harmony with the strings) and bad (in opposition).

Fazioli have done their best to stop such resonances affecting the vibration of the soundboard. People describe this as "clarity", "sterility" and now a "timpani" kike sound in the bass. Pianists with supreme touch like Liu flourish on these instruments.

On the other hand the Steinway sound is full of resonances. The good ones produce the "orchestral" sounds Sorita brought forth while the bad ones muddy the bass, and other registers, as you describe.

Kawai developed their Shigeru pianos with oscilloscopes in an anechoic chamber to achieve a clear resonant sound. Gadjiev and Pletnev must think they succeeded.
Are the "resonances from the rest of the piano" you mention another word for overtones? Or are they sounds caused by something else and, if so, what? What are some example of these resonances?

You defined overtones for a given note as the overtone scale i.e. octave, fifth, etc. These are harmonics which piano technicals call partials. These emanate from the strings driving the soundboard and, according to their website, in an ideal word Fazioli want to restrict what you hear to that.

William Truitt has described enriching this sound by careful choice of bridge wood. In other worlds there can be subtle variations in the the overtones you have in mind.

What happens in the piano when you strike a key with some force is hardly subtle. The whole piano vibrates not just the strings and the soundboard. This does not mean the rims, frame and plate are flapping around but, all the same they contain quite some soundwave energy. Some of these waves find their way back into the soundboard and colour the sound.

When you analyse the sound of a middle register note you will see a whole range of frequencies above and below the fundamental. The fundamental and the overtones/partials are the most prominent but there are many other lesser peaks contributing to the sound. These are the "resonances from the rest of the piano".

A much discussed example of resonance is Sonepica's S7X which has developed a phenomenal bass after some playing in.


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Originally Posted by Withindale
You defined overtones for a given note as the overtone scale i.e. octave, fifth, etc. These are harmonics which piano technicals call partials. These emanate from the strings driving the soundboard and, according to their website, in an ideal word Fazioli want to restrict what you hear to that.

William Truitt has described enriching this sound by careful choice of bridge wood. In other worlds there can be subtle variations in the the overtones you have in mind.

In real life a decent concert technician can tune unisons in a way that either promotes or demotes certain partials and can therefore can completely change the character of a single note just by tuning the unison in a specific way.

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Do you really think all the piano choices were made by performers artistic opinion?

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Two-thirds of the finalists (who undoubtedly are better qualified to choose than some random people arguing over the internet who apparently did not even attend the competition), chose Steinway.

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