Intermezzo: Bechstein being worked on.

Published by Paul on

An unusual blog this time, an intermezzo.
As my Bechstein needs to be worked at, I cannot practice and record as usual for my blogs. In this intermezzo blog I will tell you about the quest for the “perfectly playing instrument”. A rather technical story but after all, this blog-site is about my Bechstein 😉 .

In 2018, after hearing Arcadi Volodos play in the Concertgebouw Amsterdam I knew one thing for sure: I wanted to be able to play as soft ánd clarid as Volodos did. Quite impressive how he caught and held one’s attention not by mere powerplay but by playing soft and at the same time very detailed.

Of course much practice was needed on my part, but my old Bechstein was not in a condition to meet that kind of play. Irregularity in touch response being the main problem. It also played rather heavily and had some limitations for changing or adapting the touch response. Eventually my piano technician, Frans Sikkema, and I agreed to try a new way of adjusting the key weight and feel: little magnets were put into the action mechanism. The repelling force of the magnets helps the hammer to rise and strike the strings. By adjusting the position of the magnets the impact on the playing can be regulated.

Frans Sikkema at work

It took some time to get used to playing with the magnets installed. I even adjusted my typically low seat to a higher one as it seemed more “finger play” was needed instead of my usual “weight-play”.

After I was sure I’d done my job of trying to adjust to the new system I had to be honest to my piano technician and tell him it did not play conveniently. The most disturbing thing being that the same key reacted differently on repeated play. Sometimes even seemed to get stuck halfway. A strange, unexpected and inexplainable result.
All in all, it made carefully planned playing very difficult, if not impossible.

So now we are probably going to try another novity: small lever adjusters around the pin where the key falls into. Thus adjusting the pivot point so each key will react the same way. At least, that’s the plan. I’ll keep you posted 🙂 .

This unusual blog comes with an unusual, non-classical recording.
Listen to Between Us, theme only. Composed by Ivan Paduart, a Belgian jazz pianist. Paduart recorded it with Philip Catherine, renowned jazz gitarist. Dutch jazz pianist Bert van den Brink also made a beautiful recording of it.

The next blog will be a “normal” one, about playing classical music. In the meantime, let me wish you all the best for the coming year. A year in which we hopefully overcome the covid crisis and theaters and concert halls can be reopened, or maybe I should say: society can be reopened.

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