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 Post subject: Re: Revision
PostPosted: Wed Apr 21, 2010 5:16 am 
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Hi Chris,

I'm curious, what is the length of the Grotrian? Hard to determine from the picture. You can give it in metric if that's more convenient, and I can convert it to English measure. It sure looks formidable!

David

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 Post subject: Re: Revision
PostPosted: Wed Apr 21, 2010 7:41 am 
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Ok, I'll try and record something today. So far I'm not convinced I like the sound better than that of the Gaveau.

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 Post subject: Re: Revision
PostPosted: Wed Apr 21, 2010 7:46 am 
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Rachfan wrote:
I'm curious, what is the length of the Grotrian? Hard to determine from the picture. You can give it in metric if that's more convenient, and I can convert it to English measure. It sure looks formidable!

It's 1.85 m long, just like the Gaveau. Somehow it looks much bigger and bulkier though. Partly because the bend on the right side is not smooth but rather sharp (could be art deco design, given the age). Also, the far end is 1.5 cm higher from the floor than the front
(keyboard) end. Looks pretty strange - 1.5 cm drop over 2m looks really skewed. Maybe it's the design, or there's something wrong with the legs.

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 Post subject: Re: Revision
PostPosted: Wed Apr 21, 2010 4:00 pm 
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OK, that would be about 6 feet 2 inches, almost the same as my Baldwin. That's considered to be a parlor grand, larger than a medium grand, and truly excellent for a home. It should have a very ample sound. Where it's so recently revised, probably it would need to be played for several months until the hammers become grooved to hear its true voice. I can't wait to hear a recording.

That elevation at the tail end is very odd indeed. Next time you're speaking with the rebuilder, you should probably ask about that where it's so curious. If it's not the leg, it would seem like a strange design as to function.

David

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Last edited by Rachfan on Wed Apr 21, 2010 7:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Revision
PostPosted: Wed Apr 21, 2010 6:26 pm 
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Ok, I recorded and videotaped some stuff this afternoon on the Grotrian. I hope that gives an idea of the instrument. It's brighter and smoother but not quite as burnished and characterful as the Gaveau. Plays very nice though. But I do miss my sostenuto pedal, just a bit. Not that I use it that often, but still. As for the Chopin, sorry I'm a E-flat man, always have been, always will be. As for the Kapustin, a couple of fluffs here, but this does not replace my current recording of it. Not very original choices here... but I had not really practised anything for recording. I did not change anything in the recording and postprocessing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enL06fBUVYE ... Chopin - Preludes Op.28 - 20: Largo (1:33)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfSezSIYSY8 ... Debussy - Preludes Book I - 8: La fille aux cheveux de lin (2:24)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kA2ba95n-3o ... Kapustin - 24 Preludes and Fugues Op.82 - 19: Prelude and Fugue in A major (5:02)

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 Post subject: Re: Revision
PostPosted: Wed Apr 21, 2010 7:15 pm 
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I went straight to the Debussy since I love that one. Except, it cut off before the end. :shock:
The piano sounds nice, though. I think the bass notes are good, but the very high treble notes don't sound enough. Could be just me, though, or else your playing :P .

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 Post subject: Re: Revision
PostPosted: Wed Apr 21, 2010 7:41 pm 
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Hi Chris,

Thanks for posting those recordings on the Grotrian! I listened to all of them and I think the piano sounds great! The tone has a bit of a "nasal" quality which is valued by many pianists. The base and tenor are rich and the treble is a little darker than some other pianos, but I think it helps it to blend better with the rest of the scale. Monica mentioned that the high treble sound is weak. I suspect that the new hammers are still fuzzy up there and just need to wear in more. The Grotrian seems richer in overtones than most of the other European pianos, some of which seem to have a thinner, simpler or more pure tone in comparison. So it's almost more like the complex American sound. (This should not be surprising as the Steinwegs became the Steinway's building the NY Steinway pianos.) It'll be interesting to compare the Gaveau once the rebuilder finishes his work on it.

David

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 Post subject: Re: Revision
PostPosted: Wed Apr 21, 2010 8:56 pm 
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Thanks both for the feedback.
I've fixed that with the Debussy track. I canceled uploading because I forgot the ID3 tags, then forgot to re-upload. It's ok now.

I too noticed that the some notes in the middle and treble are a bit weak. As David says that will probably come around, I don't think it's been played much since the revision (but I intend to change that :)
It sure will get interesting once the Gaveau is done. By then I may well be used to this one and not too keen on changing back - and the Geveau will have changed too. Hmmmm....

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 Post subject: Re: Revision
PostPosted: Wed Apr 21, 2010 9:45 pm 
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Hi Chris,
it´s really a very good sound of that old Grotrian-Steinweg. Absolutely clear and precise and your playing sounds much more differenciated than on your Gaveau (in its old state). These recordings have more dynamic and nuances. That´s a typical feature of the Grotrian-Steinwegs, I think, that they have a splendid differenciation of tone (of course, they need a player, who knows to do this). I like especially how you play the Debussy, btw. You should record more of the preludes (but may be you still have). With a length of 1, 85 m this sound is really good, of course, the discant isn´t as full as the bass region is, that´s absolutely normal for this size. If I compare your replacement instrument with my Grotrian-Steinweg-grand it´s a quite big difference still, of course. My one has a length of 2,26m, it´s the "Concert"-model, and it´s clear, that there is more brilliance in the discant and also the bass sounds fullier. (My one is built in 1980, also in Braunschweig, of course.)
I like the camera angle in your videos, it´s always nice to look people on the fingers, isn´t it?! :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Revision
PostPosted: Thu Apr 22, 2010 1:28 am 
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Congratulations Chris! You look like one happy customer in the pix! What a beautiful instrument. A good test is to compare recordings of the same piece, same mics, etc. from the Gaveau with the Grotrian.

I had a few questions:
1. How are you finding the action on the Grotrian piano?...
2. Are you planning to buy the Grotrian and sell the Gaveau or return the Grotrian and reclaim the Gaveau?...

When the dollar was strong against the Euro about 15-20 years ago, the U.S. was importing quite a few German pianos - August Forster, Grotrian, Bluthner, and Feurich. Unfortunately, I was still in school and couldn't afford it at time, However, I played a beautiful Grotrian 208 at the piano dealer - if I remember, it sounded very close to your Grotrian 192/185 in tone and timbre. It had a modern piano sound - the timbre was bright, clear. The bass had a robust with a bronze timbre (like Steinway). The midrange was slightly nasal, but clearer than Steinway. The highs were bell like, but thinner than the American Steinway, but comparable with the German Steinway. I find the Grotrian's Renner action stiffer than Steinway or August Forster. The U.S. piano dealers only import Schimmels now in any decent quantity because of the lousy exchange rate.

Quote:
Room for 2 grands, haha, if only that were true, plus the financial room. I wish I'd studied to be a dentist now. :P
If you did, the trade off would be that you'd be so busy that you wouldn't have any time to enjoy your music.

I am surprised no one has asked this question: Who is the cheerful young lady? I didn't know you had a genie piano - looks like she just popped out of the Grotrian... :D

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 Post subject: Re: Revision
PostPosted: Thu Apr 22, 2010 10:52 am 
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88man wrote:
Congratulations Chris! You look like one happy customer in the pix!

I guess that is as close to looking happy as I am ever likely to get.

88man wrote:
What a beautiful instrument. A good test is to compare recordings of the same piece, same mics, etc. from the Gaveau with the Grotrian.

Yes that is why I re-recorded that Kapustin pair I did some weeks ago. I must sit down and listen closely. Although I think the Grotrian yet needs to find its own true voice.

88man wrote:
1. How are you finding the action on the Grotrian piano?...

It's great, very light and smooth. I can suddenly differentiate between piano and pianissimo, which I never could on the Gaveau. Also the una corda sounds nice on this one, it never did on the Gaveau.

88man wrote:
2. Are you planning to buy the Grotrian and sell the Gaveau or return the Grotrian and reclaim the Gaveau?...

Not planning anything yet... but it's a possibility I need to consider. I may well get too attached to this one to let it go again. I'll make a point of playing the Gaveau when it's done, before I'll let them bring it back.

88man wrote:
I am surprised no one has asked this question: Who is the cheerful young lady? I didn't know you had a genie piano - looks like she just popped out of the Grotrian... :D

Hehe, that's my daughter, she's a bit of a poser :D She was about to leave for school but just popped in and decided we needed to take some pics. As young daughters are, she's not always that cheerful ... her nickname is 'moaning minnie' :roll:

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 Post subject: Re: Revision
PostPosted: Thu Apr 22, 2010 8:09 pm 
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musicusblau wrote:
Hi Chris,
it´s really a very good sound of that old Grotrian-Steinweg. Absolutely clear and precise and your playing sounds much more differenciated than on your Gaveau (in its old state). These recordings have more dynamic and nuances. That´s a typical feature of the Grotrian-Steinwegs, I think, that they have a splendid differenciation of tone (of course, they need a player, who knows to do this). I like especially how you play the Debussy, btw. You should record more of the preludes (but may be you still have). With a length of 1, 85 m this sound is really good, of course, the discant isn´t as full as the bass region is, that´s absolutely normal for this size. If I compare your replacement instrument with my Grotrian-Steinweg-grand it´s a quite big difference still, of course. My one has a length of 2,26m, it´s the "Concert"-model, and it´s clear, that there is more brilliance in the discant and also the bass sounds fullier. (My one is built in 1980, also in Braunschweig, of course.)
I like the camera angle in your videos, it´s always nice to look people on the fingers, isn´t it?! :wink:

Thanks ! Indeed I can do better dynamics on this one, that was clear from the start. I've always held the Gaveau (partly) responsible for my flat dynamics, and this maybe proves at last I was right. I haven't played much Debussy lately and was just looking for something I could record easily (still took a couple of takes though...) Yes I may do more Preludes, I know book I very well. But where to find the time....

I like these videos better than my previous ones, it's always nice not to have to see my ugly pointy head :lol: Though the camera should more pan to the left where most of the action is. Camera drives me crazy ... after not even an hour of recording my SD card will be full and the battery empty. And I get no indication of either, it just switches off and deletes whatever track it was recording. This makes video recording a bit precarious. Should learn to play without errors right from the start.

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 Post subject: Re: Revision
PostPosted: Fri Apr 23, 2010 3:41 am 
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As we talk about the differences between the Grotrian and Gaveau, it makes me think of the broader marked and fascinating differences among piano brands and their timbres. I'm not sure which was the chicken and which was the egg--the piano or the "school of playing", but I think the latter--that is that piano sound reflects a particular culture of pianism. In other words, pianos were probably designed and voiced to reflect the pedagogical/performance demands of the times.

In France there were Pleyel, Erade and Gaveau pianos. In the Paris Conservatoire there was the "French School" of teaching with emphasis on a hand position of curved fingers, pearly passage work in Mozart, and a tendency toward a drier almost nonlegato sound in playing that came down from Pierre Zimmerman, Antoine Marmontel, Louis Diemer, and Marguerite Long. And it seems too that the pianos of the day supported that approach in playing the music of Saint-Saens, Faure, Debussy as well as the more classical, cooler works of Ravel. As to pianos, it seemed as though the harpsichord and clavier sound had not been entirely lost in the French pianos to some extent. Thus, it was difficult to play legato on the Erade (although Paderewsky tried for years believing he could make that piano sing). Pleyel seemed somewhat bright and lacking a profound depth found in some other pianos. Gaveau was the most versatile of the three. In fact if Artur Rubinstein could not get a Steinway for an engagement, he would select Gaveau.

Now move over to Germany with its "sturm and drang" and composers like Beethoven, Brahms, and Schumann with all their heavy drama. That called for a bigger, more solid piano sound like Grotrian-Steinway, Hamburg Steinway, Bechstein, etc. used to good advantage by Hans von Bulow, Carl Reineke, Emil von Sauer, etc. Here again, I don't surmise that artists simply adapted to pianos such as they were, but rather that the pianos were designed to best produce the music of that culture.

I guess if I had a big house and plenty of money, I'd want a Baldwin SF10 (7') and a NY Steinway B (6'11") in my music room. Any Germanic music would be played on the Steinway. All impressionistic music would be reserved to the realm of the Baldwin. The pianos could then fight over Mendelssohn, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, and Scriabin. :lol:

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Last edited by Rachfan on Sat Apr 24, 2010 4:05 am, edited 4 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Revision
PostPosted: Fri Apr 23, 2010 12:22 pm 
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Interesting stuff you wrote there, David. If only one could choose the best piano for each piece.... But I guess few pianists can afford that luxury.

Indeed the German instruments are more advanced and sophisticated mechanically than the French ones, in particular the action. My technician also said so. Whatever good work he does on the Geveau, it will never quite play like a Renner-powered instrument.

Going back to the tips you gave me earlier, I put these questions onto my technician. Being a splendid craftsman with high standards and a very good reputation, he seemed a bit bemused by them. He'd never consider replacing only parts of the felt and leaving other parts in. It just wouldn't look right, if nothing else. And removing pins by hand (or electric drill, if such is at all possible) is not even allowed. The pins and block can get way too hot even then, and there's a large risk of conically deforming the pin holes. He uses a specially designed hydraulic device which makes only 50 rpm and uses up so much compressed air that the whole process is very slow, giving the pinblock ample opportunity to cool off in between replenishing the air tank.

The tuning stability of the Gaveau should be pretty good, it will have been re-tensioned (?) at least 4 times, and it will be tuned at least twice, so there should not be a need for a lot of extra tunings. Although obviously there can (typically in the first year) be the odd little thing that needs to be fixed.

So, that does put my mind to rest :)

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 Post subject: Re: Revision
PostPosted: Fri Apr 23, 2010 9:37 pm 
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Hi Chris,

On Renner actions: I recall when I bought the Baldwin new, only the two large grands had Renner actions, while the three smaller models had Baldwin actions (actually Pratt-Reed which was bought by Baldwin). Now I believe they all come through with Renner actions. When I've tried pianos like Yamaha with Renner actions, I admit that I've marveled at the precise evenness, but the touch seems just a tad lighter too. Right now I'm working on a fast piece. If I had a Renner action, it might be more facile to play. But with the regular and slightly firmer action, I have better control. So that might be a pro and a con.

That's interesting about the hydraulic tool that runs on compressed air to extract the old pins. I recall that my tech contacted the Baldwin factory and spoke with one of the technical service reps. The only options mentioned were reverse drilling (not recommended) and hand cranking, which they much prefer. So I'm thinking that the tool you mention might not be in use on this side of the pond.

I'm glad he'll replace all the felts and ribbons. It's the only way to go to do it right.

Yes, I know that my fellow too retentioned the strings several times and tuned them twice before returning the piano. Even at that, the strings were still stretching for about a year until they finally stabilized (that is, as much as can be expected in this crazy climate!). Baldwin's have AcuJust hitch pins (very different from ordinary hitch pins) which might have accounted for some of that. You might want to keep a tuning lever handy nonetheless. I'm going to bet that you'll need it every now and then until the piano totally settles.

Sounds like he has everything well in hand there.

David

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