The New Daniel Barenboim Piano
The piano is that instrument that is subject to change over time. He suffers transformations, he finds himself in a perpetual metamorphosis. Conjured up by musicians so brave and brilliant that they have dared to modify his nature. One of these great musicians is Daniel Barenboim. Who on May 26th of this year presented a new piano model named after him. As a result of this alchemy, an instrument has been born. With a clearer sound quality that proposes to mark a before and after in the history of the piano. With its professed “radical difference” that ranges from the design to the sound emitted.
Daniel Barenboim’s proposal has caused a stir in the world of music. He is undoubtedly a great musician and he has known how to make a place for himself. Hand in hand with his varied and rich repertoire and also by his presence in public activity. But who imagined or thought that he would get to the point of creating his own version of the piano? Something sudden and unexpected, but no doubt very pleasant to know.
The Royal Festival Hall in London was the setting for the presentation of this new piano model. Daniel Barenboim created and devised it . He presented the instrument at a laconic press conference. The words speak for the piano, but the piano to be played speaks for itself. And it is under this concept that Barenboim briefly played 30 seconds of Beethoven’s Appassionata sonata. Played on an ordinary instrument, and then on its brand new creation. He did this in order to appreciate the superior difference and clarity of sound that your piano is able to emit.
Piano by Barenboim
Barenboim’s performance created a very interesting contrast in the audience. Praising the innovation and quality of the piano’s tuned sound. While others remained immutable, basing their state on the fact that. Between a conventional piano and this new model the differences are minuscule and little perceptible.
Every idea has an origin, and to locate the one that gave life to this piano forces us to travel a few years to the past. Exactly to 2011. It is in that year that Barenboim has the opportunity to play the piano in Siena, a restored long grand piano previously owned by Franz Liszt.
Perhaps it was a game of destiny, a coincidence or simply to find something that had been sought for a long time. Whatever it was, the sound of this piano awakened something very special in Daniel.
True to his style, the pianist did not let this inspiration fade away. And rather used it to create according to him an instrument capable of having within it the strength, power and precision of the modern. In complete harmony with the softness and clarity of timbre that Liszt’s piano possesses. According to Barenboim, this alchemy would give rise to an instrument never seen before. With the promise of giving a new touch to the history of the piano.
For this singular adventure he needed help, and that’s how Chris Maene. Who would be in charge of designing the piano, appears on stage. The design was supervised from start to finish by Barenboim himself. And Steinway also supported this project.
According to Daniel
This piano is an alternative for every pianist who is looking for a new sound, a new experience. As has already been said, Barenboim’s piano provides a sound quality that is transparent and clear as a diamond. Having this nature allows the pianist to experiment and mix. And is in itself a new and exotic experience for both the pianist and the listener.
Barenboim tells us that he is a person who is made easy to adapt to any instrument. But this time things were different. And this happens because the sound is so clear and transparent. On a traditional piano the use of the pedal is different.
One is forced to rethink it, in addition to adapting to a new modification of the hammers, harmonic board and bridges. Adapting to an instrument like this represents a great challenge, and this comes from the words of the inventor himself.
In short, we can say that this piano is the product of inspiration and the desire to innovate and present something different. Later in this article we will go into detail about the operation and other important aspects of this piano.
The Man And His Piano
In this section we will talk more about the relationship between Daniel and his brand-new invention. He declares that he has fallen deeply in love with him. And product of this new love and passion, he wants to spend as much time with his piano as possible.
He is proud to have been able to produce what he planned from the beginning. And you can see this when you see the piano from the front. It looks out like any traditional piano but when you open it the difference is more than notorious. And there’s no need to repeat what happens regarding sound.
The creator has not yet detailed the price for the market of this piano. But to give us a concrete idea of the price that this can reach. Let’s take as an example the price of a Steinway D, which is around 150 thousand euros. Barenboim’s piano can cost three times that, i.e. 450 thousand euros. Without a doubt a very expensive piano too.
To this day there are only two such pianos, one in the hands of the creator. And the other belonging to the designer Chris Maene. According to Maene. There is a market for this piano and it’s only a matter of time before the demand comes and goes.
Therefore, together with Barenboim, he shares the idea that this piano will be requested by artists. Who are looking for something new, who pursue the dream of giving their compositions and presentations a new nuance, that something different and exotic. And this is precisely what this piano promises to give, to be that tool that helps the artist to portray his repertoire with new colours.
Barenboim, Maene and Steinway
It has already been said in the article that the union between Barenboim, Maene and Steinway. They made possible the realization of this instrument. But it was Maene who insisted on demonstrating to Barenboim the importance of putting Steinway into the project. They were the only ones capable of supplying them with all the necessary implements and tools. This is how the three of them ended up working together towards the same goal.
Every project requires time and dedication to bear fruit. And one as big as this required an investment of 18 months. In which are contained hours of hard work and dedication. Maene dreams produceing this piano on a larger scale. Once the potential and quality of this unique instrument can be better appreciated.
For Barenboim, to say that his piano is better than a traditional Steinway is a big mistake. It’s not better or worse, it’s just different. And like everything in life and this world, it has its advantages and disadvantages. It is only an alternative for those adventurers who are always looking for something different to try.
Daniel has fallen at the feet of the love he feels for this piano. And apparently we will have news of performances by the hand of the pianist and his new instrument. Since he has become so involved, to the point of wanting to play with him as long as possible.
How Is This Piano Made?
Now it’s time to talk more about Barenboim’s structure and design. This piano is based on a Steinway piano, but with specific differences in sound and structure. Inside the piano, the strings are arranged in parallel. Replacing the classic position that puts the strings crossed. Another aspect that breaks with the common is its double bridge and horizontal veins in the top harmonic.
Daniel has broken with the standards that have been brought by pianos for the last hundred years. They usually have the strings arranged in “X” or crosses, making the sound concentrate mostly in the center of the top.
It is not only Barenboim who affirms the superiority in clarity of the sound that this instrument possesses. Pianist Gwendolyn Mok comments that instruments with this type of internal structure far surpass conventional pianos in sound clarity.
Barenboim has “unraveled” the strings and arranged them in a different way, and with this he has achieved his main objective which was to fuse the stability and power of a modern piano with the transparent sound quality and the typical and distinguishable colour registers of historical instruments.
Another aspect that makes Barenboim different is that having the strings arranged in parallel. It reaches different register differences. Which produces something similar to listening to a choir where you have the voices of bass, alto, tenor and soprano. This is useful, as has already been said, for the experimentation of new musical directions. For those pianists anxious to give a new face to their presentations or compositions.
Music Performed At Barenboim
In its first big presentation a short passage of no more than 30 seconds of Beethoven’s Appassionata was interpreted on its keys. But it’s not the only thing Barenboim has played on his piano. He has also ventured to play the complete sonatas of Franz Schubert from May 27th to June 2nd, as part of his presentation in London.
The curious and interesting thing here is that not long ago Barenboim recorded these same sonatas on a normal piano. So then it will be very easy for anyone to compare the sound between the two pianos.
Let’s hope later on Barenboim’s new concerts with his piano, and that he surprises us with new melodies that are capable of enhancing the size and scope of his instrument.
Complications With Barenboim?
It is easy to get carried away by the novelty and not see important aspects. Such as the complications and challenges that this instrument can bring. The main problem a pianist can face is with the pedal. By having the strings in a straight position, the pedal can become your worst enemy. It is enough a minimum error in the placement of the same one and the dissonances threaten to completely opaque the main work that is being played.
It is because of this great challenge that the pianist must be well trained in the correct use of the pedal. Which will force him to develop better skills. This is one of the main complications presented by Barenboim. Another aspect to take into account is that the relationship between fingers and keys is also different, something that the inventor himself has declared and admitted.
It is not enough to know how to play a conventional piano, one has to get used to it and develop key skills in order to be able to take full advantage of this instrument.
And if we talk about complications for Barenboim if it decides to go out to the market, its main obstacle would be the price, which is a Dantesque figure of money. No doubt there will be artists wishing to have it, but the market will be much smaller and few will be fortunate enough to have this piano in their homes.
Are There Other Barenboims?
This is where you can discuss and discern the degree of innovation offered by this piano. He is not alone and has not been the only one to apply the parallel arrangement of the strings. For example, a piano called Paulello has already used the straight string pattern in its internal structure.
Unfortunately it has not been possible to make a comparison between Paulello and Barenboim so far, largely because Barenboim is very new and the occasion has not been presented. The reasons why Paulello is not as well known as Barenboim are because the inventor is someone very important to the world of contemporary music, and also has the support of Steinway, who have at their disposal a strong arsenal of advertising.
It would be interesting in the future to see a comparison between these two specimens, in order to be able to compare both sound and more technical aspects of structure. We hope the occasion will come one of these days. But this does not stop here, there are also other pianists who have been experimenting with this sound, one of them is Frits Janmaat, who has previously put the opportunities and qualities that has the horizontal arrangement of the strings.
Other pianos, which have as main characteristic the strings in parallel position, are for example:
- Bechstein Model 10
- Schimmel Model Capriccio
With this we realize that Barenboim is not so alone after all. He’s had ancestors dating back to the 1850s. Therefore Barenboim was not the first to have the idea of arranging the strings in parallel, but one of the first to want to unite the art and finesse of these older instruments with the power of modern pianos.
Parallel-stringed Bechstein pianos were produced until almost the beginning of the First World War. The pianos that date back to 1850 as recently said are the Broadwoods.
Most of these pianos have more than 100 years on their backs, so it is impossible to ask that they sound the same at the time they were created, but for example the C.Bechstein Model 10, which if in good condition and well cared for can produce a sweet and soft tone, which goes hand in hand with a very warm high-pitched sound.
This news of Barenboim has served to explain almost everything concerning this piano. Going from its first appearance, history, structure and the relationship that exists between it and the inventor. We have also played and talked about the complications that Barenboim presents for pianists, especially in the use of the pedal.
But it has also served us as the perfect opportunity to investigate a little in the history of straight stringed pianos, and we have discovered that although Barenboim has caused a stir and novelty with his piano, he has not been the first to implement the straight arrangement of the strings. But this does not diminish his merit, since he has embarked on a different course, which is precisely to co-operate the power of the modern piano and the characteristics of straight-stringed pianos.
Let’s hope from now on more news from the Barenboim, and hopefully at some point there will be an opportunity to see a comparison of this with the Paulello.