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#100335 - 02/25/09 09:37 PM Hamburg Steinway tone
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
In this thread just yesterday, I stated that I didn't care for the tone of Hamburg Steinways I have heard on recordings. And certainly recordings are no substitute for playing the instrument. But due to distance and other personal reasons I likely won't be around any Hamburgs any time soon. \:\(

To be perfectly clear (and I direct this primarily at whippen boy ;\) ), that neither means I dislike the Hamburg Steinway tone nor do I think it inferior to NY Steinway. What it really meant (and should have said) is that it's just a bit different and my tastes in a piano I would choose for myself gravitate towards the NY instrument; one of those instances of personal taste that you can't account for. \:D

However, that discussion piqued my curiosity, so I dug around in my record collection a bit. I remembered a recording of Rachmaninoff's Second Concerto I very much love. The soloist is George Vachnadze (sometimes spelled Vatchnadze) with Jansung Kakhidze and the Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra. The piano is definitely a Hamburg Steinway D, and I must say it is an exception to my admittedly sweeping statement. Oh, and I recommend the recording as well. One of the better Rach 2's out there, IMHO. \:\)

So anyhow, I apologize for being too sweeping in my declaration. There was a contradiction right in my record library! \:o
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#100336 - 02/25/09 11:53 PM Re: Hamburg Steinway tone
Diaphragmatic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/09/09
Posts: 422
This past Sunday I had the priviledge to briefly speak with Markus Groh after he performed at the Ruth Eckerd Hall .

We chatted about different pianos he has performed on, some horror stories (that I wont get into) and what pianos he prefers.

He was born in Germany so he told me that he has played on mainly European piano's through his life and owns a Hamburg D (in Germany) and a Hamburg A (in NYC).

He said he is starting to like the NY D's more and wants to purchase one for his NYC home. It seems as though he was accustomed to playing European pianos while growing up but has developed a taste for NY Steinways now that he is performing on them more regularly in the States.

Anyway, it was great to speak so candidly with one of the worlds great piano performers. This is certainly one of the best perks of my job!
_________________________
Musically Yours,
Jonathan Hunt

Sales Professional:
Steinway, Boston, Essex, Kohler & Campbell

The Music Gallery
Clearwater, Fl.

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#100337 - 02/26/09 12:21 AM Re: Hamburg Steinway tone
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
That's a nice story! Very interesting.

And what an enviable perk. :p Interesting that he has a Hamburg A in his NYC home. If money and space were no object, I'd love to have a top drawer D from each factory. It would make for an interesting contrast.
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#100338 - 02/26/09 12:28 AM Re: Hamburg Steinway tone
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
Also, here's an interesting comparison. I know it's YT, and I know it's different pianists, but have a listen to two different versions of Beethoven's "Tempest" sonata.

András Schiff on a Bösendorfer (I think it's a 290, but might be a 280):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlDKM6DYkBE

Wilhelm Kempff on a Hamburg D:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTzA6Mg_i7A

I think this one's truncated somewhat, but you get the idea. \:\)
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Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

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#100339 - 02/26/09 12:29 AM Re: Hamburg Steinway tone
Diaphragmatic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/09/09
Posts: 422
He told me that he was able to purchase a used Hamburg A for a very cheap price + something about the Euro was much stronger than the dollar.. He must have purchased the Hamburg A in the States.
_________________________
Musically Yours,
Jonathan Hunt

Sales Professional:
Steinway, Boston, Essex, Kohler & Campbell

The Music Gallery
Clearwater, Fl.

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#100340 - 02/26/09 12:30 AM Re: Hamburg Steinway tone
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
Yeah, that must be true. ;\)
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Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

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#100341 - 02/26/09 03:09 AM Re: Hamburg Steinway tone
whippen boy Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 3886
Loc: San Francisco
 Quote:
Originally posted by Horowitzian:
To be perfectly clear (and I direct this primarily at whippen boy ;\) ), that neither means I dislike the Hamburg Steinway tone nor do I think it inferior to NY Steinway. What it really meant (and should have said) is that it's just a bit different and my tastes in a piano I would choose for myself gravitate towards the NY instrument; one of those instances of personal taste that you can't account for. \:D
Thanks for posting this. I'm still perplexed though at how you would know with such absolute certainty that you would prefer a NY Steinway over a Hamburg, if you have never played a Hamburg or (perhaps never) heard one in person. The proof is in the playing. \:\)

In these threads I've seen comments about Hamburgs being 'bright'. But that too is a generalization; the one I play has a dark round tone. If anything, I think it could be just a bit brighter for the room.

I noted with interest your YouTube posts, but wondered why you chose to compare a Böesendorfer (!) with a Hamburg D (and that video is really ancient)! \:D

If we really want some comparisons we should find some modern audio clips of a NY and a Hamburg. But... that's been done here before.
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Grotrian 225
S&S Hamburg-C
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#100342 - 02/26/09 08:24 AM Re: Hamburg Steinway tone
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
YouTube is unfortunately a very bad medium for comparing pianos. The compression is considerable.
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S&S Hamburg D, Yamaha CLP 280


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#1154106 - 02/27/09 05:39 PM Re: Hamburg Steinway tone [Re: AJB]
Claudia - Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/24/09
Posts: 51
Loc: Pennsylvania, USA
There is a VERY INTERESTING video, with very clear sudio, where both NY and Hamburg Steinways are compared. I can hear the differences, clearly (at least it is clear for me):
http://www.nytimes.com/packages/html/nyregion/20030823_PIANO04/


Edited by Claudia - (02/27/09 05:40 PM)
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http://www.PassionatePianist.com
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#1154112 - 02/27/09 05:52 PM Re: Hamburg Steinway tone [Re: Claudia -]
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
Thanks, Claudia! I had completely forgotten about that video! Much better than my video comparison from YT. Just ignore mine. blush
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#1154140 - 02/27/09 06:33 PM Re: Hamburg Steinway tone [Re: Horowitzian]
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
I've been listening some more to examples of each Steinway I have in my collection (NOT youtube), and I've decided that what doesn't suit me about Hamburg's tone is the slightly "metallic" (for lack of a better term) bass.
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#1154162 - 02/27/09 06:56 PM Re: Hamburg Steinway tone [Re: Horowitzian]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19225
Loc: New York City
Most of the solo recitalists at Carnegie Hall seem to choose Hamburg Steinways from my experience with 100's of concerts there.

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#1154257 - 02/27/09 10:29 PM Re: Hamburg Steinway tone [Re: Horowitzian]
Diaphragmatic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/09/09
Posts: 422
Very insightful! for whatever its worth, I preferred the NY piano. In this recording the Hamburg had a edgier tone, not as round. It was great to hear Mr. Axe's assessment of the two pianos.
_________________________
Musically Yours,
Jonathan Hunt

Sales Professional:
Steinway, Boston, Essex, Kohler & Campbell

The Music Gallery
Clearwater, Fl.

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#1154269 - 02/27/09 10:53 PM Re: Hamburg Steinway tone [Re: Diaphragmatic]
jazzyprof Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/30/04
Posts: 2621
Loc: Ann Arbor, MI
I too preferred the NY Steinway. It sounded like smooth, rich, dark chocolate. Yummy!
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"Playing the piano is my greatest joy...period."......JP

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#1154365 - 02/28/09 02:40 AM Re: Hamburg Steinway tone [Re: jazzyprof]
whippen boy Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 3886
Loc: San Francisco
That was the clip I was hoping someone would post!

Funny how preferences differ. I thought the NY piano was rather fuzzy and indistinct; I immediately gravitated to the purer sound of the Hamburg instrument. The melody sang beautifully, and I could hear it distinctly above the accompaniment. The overall tone was bell-like and transparent.

The only drawback to the Hamburg is that it was easier for me to notice some unevenness in the sextuplets; for this reason I think NY Steinways can be more 'forgiving'. On a Hamburg (or other European instruments) sometimes I have the feeling that my technique is much more exposed. blush

Of course, these are generalities and there are always exceptions.
_________________________
Grotrian 225
S&S Hamburg-C
M&H "A" at home

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#1154706 - 02/28/09 02:51 PM Re: Hamburg Steinway tone [Re: whippen boy]
ffevhbtwh Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/28/08
Posts: 61
Loc: U.S.A.
Like Horowitzian I had preferred NY over Hamburg but that was before I had heard or played a Hamburg. This is not to say Horowitzian would immediately be drawn to a Hamburg when he hears it live or plays it, but that was what happened to me.

I used to own a rebuilt NY Steinway grand piano and now own a relatively new Hamburg. I like both NY and Hamburg, but each type definitely have their strengths and weaknesses.

NY to me sounds more soulful and would have an edge in pieces requiring extremely sad emotions. On the other hand, Hamburg is more neutral and while giving up a little on the extreme sad emotions, it gains a bit on versatility over NY.

Hamburg treble is stronger and the sustain is audibly better than NY's.

Midrange slight advantage to NY. NY's cello-like timbre is wonderful vs. Hamburg's more neutral midrange that is a bit less colorful but still musical.

I had liked NY's bass more and needed a little time to get used to Hamburg's bass. NY's bass seems to ring more and that was what I missed when I first got the Hamburg. The Hamburg's bass is both stronger and deeper than NY's and so I had to adjust my touch a little to get better sound. I now prefer Hamburg's bass.

As you can see I like both NY and Hamburg, but if I had to choose one I would choose Hamburg.

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#1154749 - 02/28/09 03:53 PM Re: Hamburg Steinway tone [Re: ffevhbtwh]
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
Originally Posted By: ffevhbtwh
[...]
Hamburg treble is stronger and the sustain is audibly better than NY's.


[...]



Have you played any of the newest NY B's (B5 rather than B3) like mine? They have great treble, with a pleasantly warm, yet powerful, timbre with excellent sustaining power (decay time) overall; assuming of course, proper voicing. In fact, on most "B5" examples I've played the decay time in the killer octave is long enough to warrant the need for more dampers, IMHO.

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#1154783 - 02/28/09 04:52 PM Re: Hamburg Steinway tone [Re: Horowitzian]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19225
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Horowitzian
Originally Posted By: ffevhbtwh
[...]
Hamburg treble is stronger and the sustain is audibly better than NY's.


[...]



Have you played any of the newest NY B's (B5 rather than B3) like mine? They have great treble, with a pleasantly warm, yet powerful, timbre with excellent sustaining power (decay time) overall; assuming of course, proper voicing. In fact, on most "B5" examples I've played the decay time in the killer octave is long enough to warrant the need for more dampers, IMHO.




That would quite difficult to achieve since there are already dampers in the killer octave which begins around the C above middle C. (I assume you can't be worrying about the vibration of the undamped strings causing "too much sustain".)

Your seemingly endless need to rave about your piano and get defensive should someone not like Steinway or NY Steinway is getting more than boring.

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#1154796 - 02/28/09 05:25 PM Re: Hamburg Steinway tone [Re: pianoloverus]
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
Hey! It was an FYI post! I understand that he likes what he likes. If you don't like it, don't read.

And yes, what I'm saying is that these new B's sustain quite well above where the dampers end.
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Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

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#1155073 - 03/01/09 07:27 AM Re: Hamburg Steinway tone [Re: Horowitzian]
CD131 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/05/09
Posts: 103
Loc: Canada
Horowitzian, if you've never even played a Hamburg, why are you even commenting about their tone quality? Think about it!
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Steinway D, Pramberger 185, pianist-teacher

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