A Bechstein returns to the Wigmore Hall

The hall was originally built by the piano manufacturer in 1901.

Tomorrow, on stage, Pierre-Laurent Aimard will play an 1899 Bechstein, specially restored for the occasion.

Worth hearing.

See here.

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  • A question to piano experts: I can’t forget Jorge Bolet’s rich and beautiful sound, in the fall of 1977, at Queen Elizabeth Hall, on a Bechstein. Something from his sound from the March of the Davidsbundler still rings in my ears – even though I was 13 at the time. No doubt Bolet was a master of piano technique. But to what extent could the Bechstein have made a difference?
    Side note: this clip from his Decca doesn’t do justice to the sound I remember. On youtube it sounds close miked.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhaBNXgiM28

    • I was not at that concert as I was still at school then!
      However to answer your question about the instrument, the Bechstein would have made a difference. It’s sound world and projection are different , causing the pianist to re- wire how they play phases and create effect.
      The feedback loop to artist if inspired by the instrument can allso be a open door to amazing possibilities…
      I’m sure it must have been a wonderful recital..

    • Peter Wadland DECCA producer remembers his friend Bolet. “In the USA, he played a Baldwin while in Europe he played a Bechstein, right up until 1987, when he changed to a Baldwin also. Having watched him playing for hours, I understood why he did not like playing a Steinway. In his opinion the soft pedal changed the tone of the instrument too much.

      “During his playing, he kept both feet on the pedals, using the ‘soft’ pedal as much as the sustaining pedal. This helped to produce his very individual sound for the instrument. I was always amazed at how the keyboard shifted from side to side constantly when performing. I have to say that we did tend to have problems with the Bechstein. There was only one instrument then in London, and every time it appeared for a recording, it had been reserviced in Germany and returned in a different state. It was very lucky that I had the good fortune of employing Michael Lewis (son of the late Richard) and Denijs de Winter, both of whom Jorge adored, to tune and maintain the piano during recording sessions.” Gramophone January 1991
      See: http://jorge-bolet.webs.com/last-years

      • That information about Bolet’s choice of piano was very interesting to me because in 1989 I bought a full-size Bechstein (in California), a large part of the reason being that I loved the sound of the Bechstein on Bolet’s recordings. The piano I bought had been built in 1986 and shipped to the U.S. in 1988. After I’d bought the piano, I wrote a letter to Bechstein to find out whatever they could tell me about its provenance. I received a reply later in 1989 from Karl Schulze, then manager and one of the co-owners of Bechstein, who said that the piano had been rented out for 7 recitals in 1986 and used in December 1986 in London for a recording by Jorge Bolet. He mentioned that each time after the piano was rented out, it returned to Berlin for a general check.

        I’ve never learned which recording of Bolet’s was made in December 1986, if indeed any was; it appears from the list of Bolet’s activities in his last years (as detailed in the article linked above) that there was no recording made by him in December 1986. Perhaps Schulze was mistaken about my instrument.

        I’d love to know whether there’s any record of the serial number of the “only one [Bechstein] then in London”; I wonder whether there’s anyone who would know at this late date. I’d love to compare it with the serial number of my instrument. (I don’t imagine there would be a match if indeed mine was built in 1986; several of Bolet’s recordings predate 1986.) But something is amiss, because if my instrument was indeed in London in December 1986, and not used by Bolet, then there was more than one new concert Bechstein in London at the time, contrary to what the article above stated.

        • The C Bechstein mod D-280 used for recordings with Jorge Bolet in London, was not based in London.The Instrument belongest to Pianomobil in Belgium.This concertgrand was served for all Jorge Bolet’s concerts in Europe.

          • Thank you so much for this information, Mr. De Winter. (I might try to contact you privately to ask a few more questions. Thanks!)

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