May 28, 2015

Daniel Barenboim to unveil self-designed piano at his Schubert recitals

The conductor-pianist will play the groundbreaking new instrument he commissioned in a series of concerts.

Legendary conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim has worked closely with Belgian instrument-maker Chris Maene on a new piano to his own sound and design specifications. He revealed the instrument this week at London’s Festival Hall ahead of his Schubert recital series; the piano took 18 months and 4,000 man-hours to build.

The 'Barenboim' looks like a traditional, elegant instrument from the outside, but the interior features straight strings instead of the usual diagonal-crossed design. The wooden soundboard veins also run in different directions. Hammers and strings have been repositioned. All in the pursuit of a more transparent sound.

The Argentinian-born musician will perform the complete Schubert piano sonatas on his new piano at London's Southbank Centre, concluding the cylce on 2nd June. Erato captured him on disc performing the Schubert Sonata D960 in B-Flat Major, as well as that composer's Impromptus Op 142, for the classic 1993 album Live in Vienna, restored to the catalogue last year as part of The Erato Story series.

On that occasion, Barenboim was playing a Steinway. But Barenboim insists that the new instrument is now superior to what he has played on in concerts throughout his 65-year career; it is rather a 'sound alternative,' he told The Guardian. 'There is a difference in the quality of the sound... it has more transparency, more clarity and by itself less blend but it gives you the opportunity to create a blend yourself as a player."