14 April 2016
Just a day and a half at the huge Musikmesse, but a lot was seen (and played!)
Pianist editor Erica Worth spent a day and a half at the Frankfurt Musikmesse this April, but a lot was seen (and played!)
The Frankfurt Musikmesse always brings up some delights when it comes to pianos, and this year was no exception. At our first stop with renowned German maker Bechstein, we certainly came across a ‘wow’ factor piano. (Bechstein never actually takes part in the fair, so instead, we made our way to its showroom in town.) On display in the window was their gorgeous C. Bechstein salon grand in bird’s eye maple. You can see me having a try. It’s a rare item, and once this piano is sold, it will be made to order only.
Now to the huge Hall 9 at the Fair, and our first stop was Schimmel. I had a good chat with Sales and Marketing head Lothar Keische, who talked about his International Series grand models I 188 and I 168, both of which contain the Konzertgrand Concept (incorporating all the features of the concert grand pianos). One thing I couldn’t help but notice was the amount of white pianos on the stand. Lothar told me that they’re really popular in France and Scandinavia. How very interesting! They actually looked rather enticing on the elegant (and also quite white) Schimmel stand.
On to Fazioli, and a brief meeting with the man himself, Paolo Fazioli. He was proud to present his art case ‘Aria’. Just look at it here. Certainly not an everyday instrument! This one was made specifically for the Fair, and once it’s sold, it will be made to order only. Paolo was pleased to inform me that more and more concert pianists are using his instruments on the concert platform. He was also mentioned that his factory in Sacile, Italy, has expanded to double to space. That’s positive news.
We passed by the Roland stand to have a quick catch up with Sean Montgomery. He talked about all the great young talented pianists playing Rolands these days (Tom Odell, anyone? Anyway, we hear he’s huge!).
At the huge Yamaha stand (in fact, a huge three-level hall all to itself), we met with Leanne Barrell from the acoustic division and Richard Ashby from digital. There’s lots going on with Yamaha, naturally, and from the acoustic side, it was the new Disklavier ‘Enspire’ that they were shouting about. We’ll be writing a full-length article about it shortly – it’s the most advanced Disklavier yet. We heard concert pianist Marianna Moioli give a demonstration on it later on in the day. Amazing how you can layer one recorded piano track on top of another.
From pianos to publishers, we made our way to Hall 8 (music publishers) for a meeting with Jack Hasley of Faber Music. Jack was enthusing about the new Lang Lang Piano Method beginner books and how well they’re selling. That’s no surprise really, considering the popularity of the Chinese superstar. He showed us some other interesting books, including the new Graded Piano Player books.
Back to the piano hall, and this time it was Casio, for a meeting with Dan Mason. Dan is delighted how successful the recently released Celviano Grand Hybrid has become. Aside from being a great instrument, it might also be due to the fact that pianist Benjamin Grosvenor is the Celviano Grand Hybrid’s ambassador. He’s a serious pianist, so this piano, too, is a serious instrument. Dan touched on their new release for the Frankfurt, the GB-400 (see me pictured with it here).
Finally, we rested our weary legs for a drink with Christian Blüthner and Chris Chalmers of Blüthner. Christian had lots to talk about – top of the list being the E-volution acoustic piano (which can be played silently, as an acoustic, and as a digital). He was telling us that his digital pianos feature the BOSE sound system – this will surely mean first-class sound. Centre stage on the Blüthner stand was the fantastic PH Grand Piano, designed by the famous Danish designer Poul Henningsen. It’s an incredible-looking instrument. Blüthner have it on show every year – and quite rightly so.
So there you have it – I started with a ‘wow factor’ instrument, and ended with another. Enough pianos to keep me going till next year!
A feature on the Frankfurt Musikmesse will appear in the next issue of Pianist.