Daniel Barenboim launches new piano at London’s Royal Festival Hall

Gramophone Tue 26th May 2015

The Barenboim-Maene Concert Grand was developed and built by Chris Maene, with support from Steinway & Sons

Barenboim-Maene Concert Grand (photo Chris Maene)

Barenboim-Maene Concert Grand (photo Chris Maene)

A new piano was unveiled today at London’s Royal Festival Hall, the Barenboim-Maene Concert Grand, conceived and created thanks to a collaboration between Daniel Barenboim and Belgian piano-maker Chris Maene. Inspired by playing Liszt’s piano in Siena four years ago, Barenboim wanted to create an instrument that got closer to the sound world of that historic instrument. 

‘The transparency and tonal characteristics of the traditional straight-strung instruments is so different from the homogenous tone produced by the modern piano across its entire range. The clearly distinguishable voices and colour across its registers of Liszt’s piano inspired me to explore the possibility of combining these qualities with the power, looks, evenness of touch, stability of tuning and other technical advantages of the modern Steinway,’ he said.

He contacted Steinway & Sons who put him in touch with Chris Maene and together they set about creating an instrument that matched Barenboim’s ideal. ‘It has been a true honour to be able to work with Maestro Daniel Barenboim,' Maene commented, ‘I hold the Maestro in very high regard and was delighted to discover our mutual interest in straight strung pianos. His input, confidence and order made it possible to build this new instrument: a concert grand for the 21st century. For me it is truly a dream come true.'

The Barenboim-Maene Concert Grand, developed with support from Steinway & Sons, stands apart from most modern instruments in that the strings are stretched lengthways along the body of the piano, rather than diagonally crossed as on a modern piano. Though the Barenboim-Maene Concert Grand doesn’t look radically different from a modern instrument, most of its components have been specially designed and created from scratch, and the positioning of many others, such as hammers and strings, is radically different.

Daniel Barenboim is in London to give the Edward W Said Lecture this evening (May 26) and perform a complete cycle of the Schubert piano sonatas at London’s Southbank Centre (May 27-June 2). 

 

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