Music delights, feeds the soul and punctuates special moments in our lives, but music can be light, fluffy and superficial or a true work of enduring art and wonderment. To the latter category belong the master works of musical geniuses like Beethoven and Mozart, whose intricate dance with sound has endured the test of time and musical styles. Such genius deserves nothing less than the finest instrument, so is it not surprising that the noblest instrument of all is itself a masterful work of beauty and craftsmanship.
Handmade by an elite workforce capable of combining exquisite carpentry with the painstaking workmanship and tonal dedication required of this product, the piano has as illustrious a history as the compositions to which it gives life and spirit. For many years there was a clear division between the grand professional pianos of Steinway, Blüthner and Bosendorfer, and those manufacturers whose creations adorned a grandmother’s salon or music teacher’s studio. Today, however, new makes are entering the ‘super piano’ stakes in a sublime blend of classical craftsmanship and modern technology.
Thanks to this alchemy the likes of Schimmel, Steingraeber & Söhne, Stuart & Sons, Paulello and Petrof have joined the big guns in producing models whose angelic tones are due not just to their meticulously handcrafted perfection, but now also to state of the art technology. A new generation of super pianos for the 21st century is confounding concert pianists with a hitherto unknown variety of styles and choices. In some cases the very principles of acoustics that ruled piano design for so long have been rewritten, creating a new interpretation of classical sound.
That is all well and good for professionals, yet as far as the rest of us are concerned the choice of piano remains above all an emotive and visual one. Here too, there are some decidedly architectural new designs employing new materials for a virtually ‘liquid’ look, but the classic grand wing remains king as the epitome of workmanship, elegance and cultured refinement. To have such a piece in one’s salon infers as much about its owner.