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Discussion in 'The Piano' started by techneut, Apr 15, 2010.

  1. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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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 .
     
  2. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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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
     
  3. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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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....
     
  4. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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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:
     
  5. 88man

    88man Member Piano Society Artist

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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.

    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
     
  6. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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:
     
  7. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    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.
     
  8. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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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:
     
  9. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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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 :)
     
  10. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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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
     
  11. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    techneut wrote:
    Yes, that´s indeed a certain proof! If I would be you and would have the 7500 Euro or whatever you mentioned to need for to get this Grotrian, I would buy it. (But, of course, I´m not you and you are not me. :wink: ) I don´t know the mechanique, but from the sound it´s clearly the better instrument (and it´s a wonderful instrument at all, I personally am really a fan of Grotrian-Steinwegs, and this old restored one has truely something like personality!). On the other hand we don´t know, how your Gaveau sounds after the revision, may be it´s better than the Grotrian then.
    I had a Kawai GS 60 before I bought my Grotrian. I became more and more unsatisfied with it, because the strings became so unpure (they could not be tuned properly anymore). So, I also would have had to recruit the strings. But just in that time my piano technician told me of that offer of the old lady, who wanted to sell her Grotrian-Steinweg-grand, which I have now. So, I could sell my old Kawai and had to pay 3000 Euro in addition to what I got for my Kawai for to buy my Grotrian-Steinweg from that old lady. And I´m totally happy with it. (With my Grotrian, not with the old lady. :lol: ) It´s a marvellous instrument, very similar to a Steinway. The difference between a modern Steinway and a Grotrian-Steinweg is, that the tone of the Grotrian doesn´t sound as noble, but for this the Grotrian has a more sensitive and natural touch and sound. It´s nearer to the sound of the grand-pianos of 19th century, but the possibilities of differenciation of tone are the best of the world IMO (better than on some Steinways, which I have played).

    Yes, that´s a mistake I often make still, too, but on the other hand it´s also nice to have the whole keyboard in the picture (I´m always afraid to cut something off, because the perspective could become to narrow when paning more to the left).

    Don´t you have an electricity cable for your camera? I never do record at home with the battery, though I have one, which is for 2 1/2 hours. But it´s much more comfortable to use directly the electrity cable, so you don´t have to care about changing the batteries. I have the impression, that your camera makes sharper pictures than my one somehow. I wonder what could be the reason.
     
  12. 88man

    88man Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Chris, for me, the action is paramount in a fine sounding instrument, almost equal to the sound. I am glad that you like the action on the Grotrian. At the end, I won't be surprised if that might be the deciding factor in your decision. You should be able to get at least 5-10 more dynamic shadings from ppp to fff over your other instrument. It will allow you to have complete dynamic control of a piece, and you'll notice that the piano will not be the limiting factor in a performance. You'll feel like you're playing better. However, Not all Renner actions are created equal, it really depends on the manufacturers specifications to Renner. Steinway, Grotrian, August Forster, etc. all vary in their touch.

    The balance of tone/timbre will be a matter of your taste once the Gaveau is restored and then you can compare with certainty. It will not be an easy decision to make. This is certainly an anxious time wondering what the outcome might be.

    In general, good test tracks are pieces with wide dynamic and frequency ranges. This is what I use to judge.
    -Chopin Etude Op. 10, No. 1 in C: for timbre
    -Chopin Nocturne Op. 9a in B-flat minor (first page): for tone, action
    -also check for repeated fast notes.

    For your favorite, Bach, you might want to zoom in on the quality of the middle register in the 2 pianos at the end. Don't make a hasty decision. Listen on several occasions under different weather conditions too. To really be objective, record individual forte notes in the bass, middle, and upper registers on both pianos and compare the overtones on a FFT (fast fourier transform) analysis in your editing software. This will also quantify the tone/timbre balance. At the end, it will be a matter of taste.

    God Bless! I hope she takes after her father in music. Perhaps she might like to pursue dentistry some day...

    Chris, David, and Andreas: you all present great information here.
     
  13. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Yes, I have 100% confidence in that.

    I'm puzzled you say that a somewhat heavier action would give you more control than a very light action. I marvel at the control I suddenly seem to have now. I was warned that this one plays extremely light, but I have no problem with that, I love it. But yes it's all to easy to hit a note too hard and make it sound harsh.
     
  14. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    88man wrote:
    I would like to give back the compliment. Also your information concerning recording technique is always great.
     
  15. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thanks all for your interest !
    Indeed, I am afraid it may well have to come to that.

    Stupidly, there's no input jack for an external adapter. The batery doesn't even give me an hour of recording time. I'm severely disappointed in that crap battery, it's empty when you blink and then take hours to get recharged.

    I would have thought such an inexpensive camera could never compete with a real camcorder of maybe 5 times the price. I have of course chosen high definition recording, as opposed to VGA, which could explain both the higher quality and the short battery life.

    Quite probably. The new possibilities more than compensate for the change in tone (which I suppose will get better after a month of playing, and maybe another tuning).

    I'm more of a gut man, and won't approach it so scientifically. That will make it even harder to decide (even though I got an A level for Fourier and Laplace transformations in a previous life :lol: )

    Hehe no, she doesn't give a toss for classical music, except the odd bit that has featured in some movie, ad, or clip. A typical MTV kid, though her taste is not half as bad as that of some that age. No dentistry, she studies food sciences. Our son is studying to be a pathologist :roll:
     
  16. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    I second Andreas' return compliment to George above.

    David
     
  17. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    I second David's endorsement of Andreas' compliment to George :D
     
  18. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    well, I've got you all beat by about a thousand times. George knows what I'm talking about. :wink: :)
     
  19. musicusblau

    musicusblau Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Techneut wrote:
    What about buying a second battery, which you could charge while you record with the other? So you could replace always directly the battery, if it´s empty.

    Could also be the quite bad insolation (illumination) in the corner of the living room, where my grand-piano stands. Mostly I record in the evening and I only have a stand lamp besides my piano. The lamp on the ceiling is broken, but it´s directly over the grand-piano. So, I haven´t repaired it until now, because I´m afraid to fall on my Grotrian or to let drop the lamp, which could cause a very expensive damage. (And I have to admit, I was too lazy until now to move the grand to the side, because it doesn´t stand on its rolls, but the rolls are on small coasters and it´s not possible to put it on its rolls, because there is a floor of tilings under it, which could break by the rolls. So, it´s a bit complicated to move the grand to the side. I think, I would need three or four men to lift it up and to carry it on the side. An additional man would have to replace the coasters, before the grand could be put on the floor again. :roll:

    A good way to say it directly! :lol:
     
  20. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    I thought of that. But they're ridiculously expensive. Sony accessory shop sells them at $49.99 !!! :evil: Can probably do better elsewhere.

    Bit of a problem there ! I'd just climb on top of it and get going :D
     

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