Should Steinway be worried?

Should Steinway be worried?


norman lebrecht

May 06, 2016

The Economist publishes a fine article today (by Elisabeth Braw), extolling the virtues of Fazioli pianos. Many concert artists, the paper maintains, are switchig over from Steinway.

One is Daniil Trifonov, whose Fazioli preference is an open secret backstage even though he remains officially a Steinway Artist.

Elisabeth Braw adds: ‘Angela Hewitt, a renowned interpreter of Bach, performs on Fazioli instruments whenever possible. “The action is incredibly responsive to every variation in touch, and everything I imagine in my head I can produce with my fingers,’ she explains. ‘Other pianos can be very beautiful but are less interesting, because the sound cannot be varied to such an extent as on a Fazioli.’

So should Steinway be worried? Read here.

trifonov wrist2



  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    Having played many of all the makers, and each is like a person with a different personality, I maintain my allegiance to Steinway. Because of the intense, and ear-opening training I received from Adele Marcus (many have varying feelings, I know), my own personal sense of sound permits me to use the Steinway for every conceivable style, from Bach, Vivaldi, through the ages to jazz of Keith Emerson and the depth of Rachmaninov. As with any instrument, working with the piano technician on each occasion makes all the difference in the world. The singing sound and dynamic range of a Steinway when properly attended to (as with any instrument of any maker, due to weather shifts and changes in environment) I, imho still incomparable.

  • Robert Holmén says:

    Fazioli sounds like an Elon Musk type, but without the gigafactory.

    It’s unlikely, but if Fazioli did become a serious competitor, what would Steinway answer with?

    They can’t say they’ve improved the quality of their pianos, they’re already claiming they are the best.

    • Franek says:

      I never heard “they” are claiming to be the best, but some artists say that. Others say the opposite.
      But Mr. Fazioli never said he is “the” best, at least in videos/interviews i read/saw.

  • Paddy Revsky says:

    Played one recently at a German piano dealer (Faz. model 228), delicately nuanced but couldn’t get any volume out of it.

  • Pierre Tran says:

    The rising star is in fact the newly concert piano designed by Yamaha, the CFX. It may surpass Steinway in terms of popularity in the near future.

  • Theodore McGuiver says:

    Having played and enjoyed many Steinways, I must say I was bowled over by my first Fazioli, a ‘modest’ boudoir grand. If tyhis instrument was anything to go by, the high end models must be unbelievable. If I had the wherewithal I’d certainly buy one.

  • Sue says:

    What has ‘The Triff’ done to his hand???!!!!

  • john humphreys says:

    To my mind Fazioli pianos are not in the same league as Steinway (nor hand built Yamaha). We have several new ones at the music college where I teach and they are not standing the test of time. Good pianos for sure but inordinately expensive when compared with Yamaha I also played on a Fazioli concert grand in a London recital. Perfectly adequate…that’s all. A question I’m bound to ask is whether those pianists who regularly (or exclusively) play on Fazioli are offered financial inducements so to do and/or the provision gratis of a piano for their home

  • Alec Weil says:

    Daniil Trifonov is not a Steinway artist.

    On the other hand, there is no such thing as a “Fazioli artist”. Fazioli maintains that it is the responsibility of the artist to pick the best piano for his or her performance and it is the responsibility of Fazioli and its dealers to supply the best possible piano, full stop.

    Also, the final paragraph in the article describing Paolo Fazioli’s development of reproduction software is simply not true. Steinway, on the other hand, has recently introduced a player piano line.

  • john humphreys says:

    An elaboration of my previous comment – I have no idea as to whether Fazioli encourages pianists to use their instruments but the piano industry has a long history of offering inducements – or even threats if they don’t! Schnabel’s career in the USA almost never took off when he expressed a strong preference for Bechstein (the piano from the city he lived in – Berlin) and Steinway (who essentially controlled what was put before the public) made it clear that there might be problems….

  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    I have tried out Fazioli pianos at Juilliard and in Italy. They are, actually, lovely sounding instruments for specific repertoire, from Baroque and Classical and early Romantic works. But it remains to be seen how they fare in large concert halls with large orchestras in works like Prokofiev 2 and 3, Rachmaninov 3, Samuel Barber’s concerto and Lowell Liebermann’s 3rd Concerto. I surmise that pianist not bound by contract to a particular manufacturer, could have their choice of makers based on what they are performing or recording.

    • Milana Strezeva says:

      I hope Juilliard is getting F308 – 10’2″ Fazioli. I’m pretty sure it’ll do just fine in large scale piano concertos. 🙂

      If you ever play in Hotchkiss school (Lakeville, CT), make sure to program Rachmaninoff and Prokofiev. They have F308 and it’s a power house!

  • john humphreys says:

    Absolutely Jeffrey – and I certainly wouldn’t argue with you! I heard a performance on a Fazioli of the Schumann Concerto from the BBC Proms a few years ago – dismayed by its lack of projection….

  • Peter Donohoe says:

    There have been for several years several excellent pianists who have extolled the virtues of Fazioli; I was one of them until the company let me down so badly for a 1989 recital at the QEH – and never officially apologised – that I will never again do so. Until that evening, I was very impressed with the instrument.

    However, those who opt for it in favour of other pianos are absolutely to our respect for having done so. Except that the way this has suddenly become more wide-spread might be described as ‘weathercockadoodlery’ to steal a phrase from Stravinsky, and by me as band-waggoning – at least as a possibility.

    The Fazioli that was present at both the 11th and 15th Tchaikovsky Competitions certainly sounded very different to its main rivals.

    The Steinway – and in particular the servicing and general care and attention paid to its hire-department pianos – is second to none worldwide, and has improved beyond measure in recent years.

    So – errr no – unless, of course, the wider piano-playing community becomes victim to fashion – God forbid.