Daniel Barenboim launches new piano
By Katy Wright.
Daniel Barenboim has unveiled a new piano at Royal Festival Hall, London, in advance of his Schubert cycle at the venue. The Barenboim-Maene concert grand piano was conceived and commissioned by Barenboim, and built by the Belgian instrument maker Chris Maene (with support from Steinway & Sons).
At a press launch earlier today, Barenboim explained that the model reconciles the quality of a Steinway instrument with the varied colour registers of nineteenth-century instruments. The distinguishing features of the instrument are its straight strings, double bridge and horizontal soundboard veins.
The project began after Barenboim played Franz Liszt’s restored grand piano in Siena, and was struck by its transparency and clarity. Barenboim collaborated with Maene, using parts from Steinway, to realise his vision. Only two of the instruments currently exist, with the creation process taking 18 months and approximately 4,000 hours of labour.
Barenboim has already performed publicly on the instrument, having played complete Schubert cycles in Paris and Vienna. He performs the Schubert cycles in London between 27 May and 2 June 2015.Barenboim took pains to emphasise that the new model is not in any way better than any other, but merely an alternative. Barenboim said: ’It’s like falling in love – you want to go everywhere with that person!’
Barenboim will perform a complete cycle of Schubert’s piano sonatas over four concerts at the Southbank centre between 27 May and 2 June. He will perform both Brahms concertos on the instrument at Royal Festival Hall in January 2016.