Not to start anything, but...

Posted by: Mat D.

Not to start anything, but... - 07/15/04 10:09 PM

..I went to see Andre Watts last week while I was on vacation in Vail, CO; He played the Macdowell (sp, sorry)
Concerto #2in Dm w/ the Dallas Symphony Orchestra-The piano was a S&S Hamburg D.

Also on the program was a Concerto for 2 pianos by Poulenc (2nd pianist was the DSO conductor--wish I could remember his name now..) OK, to the point, the other piano wa a S&S NY D...This time around, Mr. Watts played the NY D, while the conductor played the Hamburg D. It's rare that you would hear both on the same stage, on the same night, at the same time.

Obviously, being a "piano-nut" I paid very close attention to the tonal quality and overall effect of each instrument and immediately following the performance asked my wife her preference...without hesitation she liked the NY D better than the Hamburg...I agreed entirely. The 2 pianos each had their charateristic tone (IMO), the Hamburg being brighter and more powerful, but the NY D was more musical and "sweeter" sounding overall.

I know this is not scientific, but it was interesting because I would have bet on the Hamburg if I had been asked.

Anyone else with a similar oppportunity to hear 2 different pianos on the same stage???

Mat D.
Posted by: tl91pink

Re: Not to start anything, but... - 07/15/04 10:46 PM

Sorry to sound ignorant, but so that I understand, what type of piano is NY D?
Posted by: curry

Re: Not to start anything, but... - 07/15/04 10:48 PM

A model D is Steinway's 8'11 1/2" concert grand.
Posted by: Axtremus

Re: Not to start anything, but... - 07/15/04 11:20 PM

Very recently, I played a NY D and a Hamburg D virtually side by side -- in the same hall, the Mechanics Hall in Worcester, MA. I was there with two piano pals, and we took turns listening and playing both pianos.

The NY D sounded mellower and darker, while the Hamburg D appeared brighter and more powerful. While the NY D was rather similar to other new NY D's I played elsewhere, the Hamburg D was quite a bit brighter and had a more penetrating, more unyielding, and more opaque sound compared to a rebuilt Hamburg D I played at Klavierhaus in NYC last fall (the latter had a clearer, rounder tone, with more finesse and more warmth, even with a bit of mustique -- very memorable).

How much of that was voicing and how much was inherent in the pianos, I do not know. The facility's coordinator told us that the Hamburg D was voiced for concert of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana the night before our visit, so they could have voiced it brighter and more penetrating than usual just so the piano could cut through the thick chorus and orchestration. (Of the two in Mechanics Hall, one of my piano pal and I liked the Hamburg D better while the other piano pal liked the NY D better -- but we weren't really all that wild with either piano.)
Posted by: BDB

Re: Not to start anything, but... - 07/15/04 11:50 PM

There's a venue I work that has a Steinway D and Bechstein E, both probably about 75 years old, which are occasionally used together, although they are not in the same room. Some comparison is possible on them. I prefer the Steinway.

We will sometimes have the Yamaha CFIIIS at the same time a Hamburg D is there for another show, along with a Baldwin D which is the house piano. I prefer the Yamaha, although I think it is mostly because it is a bit better maintained. Otherwise, I think it would be a wash. Whichever you chose would be fine.

A couple I knew maybe 20 years ago had an old NY B, a new NY B, and a new Hamburg B in their living room. I preferred the new NY B.
Posted by: Mat D.

Re: Not to start anything, but... - 07/16/04 06:51 AM

My guess is the 2 Steinway D's (Andre Watts/Vail,CO) were voiced by the same tech, but I suspect the Hamburg D was newer and still "raw". The NY D was obviously older, in which case it most likely had found it's "voice" and thus was the more musical of the 2.

Certainly, either piano can be great, there are just so many variables, not the least of all is personal taste.

I'd like to hear a Shugiru Kawai next to a S&S Hamburg D....might be interesting.

BTW, I'm also interested in Irving's M&H/S&S shoot-out.

Mat D.
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: Not to start anything, but... - 07/16/04 07:10 AM

Very Interesting!!! As I though Andre was a Yamaha artist.
Posted by: KlavierBauer

Re: Not to start anything, but... - 07/16/04 09:34 AM

Matt:
You mean to tell me you were THAT close to us, and didn't come in to play some pianos?!?!

... how insulting


I know I know... quick trip, no time, etc. etc.


\:\) \:\)

I have no doubt that a NY Steinway *can* sound better than a Hamburg. Anytime I'm arguing about Hamburg vs. NY, I'm arguing build quality. As you experienced though, it is totally possible for one to sound better than the other. I would guess that each of these was *not* prepped to the same level though.

The NY was most likely provided by the local Steinway dealer, while the Hamburg was not. And typically in that situation (at least in my experience), the tech brought along to work on the NY Steinway, won't work on the other one. Of course this situation might have been different, but it might explain one being brighter than the other.
Posted by: curry

Re: Not to start anything, but... - 07/16/04 09:48 AM

What KB says, was very likely what took place. I will also add from my personal experience of two piano concerts. Many artists that perform two piano works will select one piano that is bright,and one that is a little more on the mellow side. The reason being, the brighter instrument will be used as the melody (primo) instrument,and the mellow as the accompaniment or (secondo)instrument. The brighter piano being better able to project or reinforce the melody lines.
Just my 2 pesos.
Posted by: jeffylube

Re: Not to start anything, but... - 07/16/04 10:12 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Mat D.:
Also on the program was a Concerto for 2 pianos by Poulenc (2nd pianist was the DSO conductor--wish I could remember his name now..)[/b]
Andrew Litton...

Sorry, that's all I have to add to this topic.
Posted by: jdsher

Re: Not to start anything, but... - 07/16/04 10:16 AM

"2nd pianist was the DSO conductor--wish I could remember his name"
Dallas Symphony Orchestra
Andrew Litton, Conductor/Piano
André Watts, Piano
Posted by: Mikester

Re: Not to start anything, but... - 07/16/04 10:47 AM

My experience with Hamburg Steinways (I own a Hamburg M), they have a lot of guts. When you play a note, boom the note shoots out of the piano, it's almost like tolling a bell. The bass on Hamburgs are amazing ... it's so so deep (not to be confused with loud), like it bellows. Even on my M, the low A makes me shiver sometimes. There's also a pretty evident divide between treble and bass, the treble is bell-like, a few notes lower, the tone completely shifts to a different nature. Schizophrenic, almost!

I've also tried some NY Steinways at the music school where I used to go to college. They were quite beautiful as well, it seemed to me that the notes were clearer than the Hamburg. The bass not as distinct, the divide wasn't as obvious between treble and bass, though it all blended in really smoothly. If the Hamburg Steinway is the Big Ben, then the NY Steinway is a carillon. If the Hamburg Steinway is licorice, then the NY Steinway is vanilla. :-)
Posted by: Blute

Re: Not to start anything, but... - 07/16/04 11:24 AM

I'm pretty sure I played that Hamburg D in March when I was on my piano hunt. KB, haven't you played it, too? If it's the one I'm thinking of, when it's not dazzling Vail audiences it's stored in Brighton, CO. Chopsticks never sounded better! Knocked my socks off, and about knocked my eardrums off as well. Wow.
Posted by: KlavierBauer

Re: Not to start anything, but... - 07/16/04 11:35 AM

Well if it's the D from Brighton, yes I have played it.

Needs some expert voicing, but had wonderful potential from what I remember.
Makes sense that it was a bit bright, and knowing now that both pianos came from different places, it makes sense that they were quite different.
Posted by: RealPlayer

Re: Not to start anything, but... - 07/16/04 12:54 PM

The one hall I'm most familiar with her in NYC, Merkin Hall, has one NY and one Hamburg D. For a long time most pianists favored the Hamburg, but I think that was because it was newer and the NY D had not been kept up. I stil preferred the sound of the NY D when I was asked to make a choice, though.

I think the NY piano has had some work done to it by this time.
Posted by: Mat D.

Re: Not to start anything, but... - 07/16/04 10:17 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by KlavierBauer:
Matt:
You mean to tell me you were THAT close to us, and didn't come in to play some pianos?!?!

. [/b]
KB, I wanted so much to come by your store, but we were on our 30th anniversary vacation & it wasn't till the 2nd last day when I was thumbing through the yellow pages that I realized you were in the area...it looked like it was still quite a drive from Vail, is that correct...how far are you from Vail Village?

I will say we absolutely loved Vail and will return for sure; I'm looking forward to meeting you and seeing your store.

BTW, you are probably right about the pianos in question. Like I said, it was just an observation about these 2 particular pianos.

I forgot to mention (about the concert that night) AFter the 2 piano Concerto, Andrew Litton & Andre Watts played an encore of another Poulenc 2 piano piece (without orchestra) the tonal quality (difference) of the 2 pianos was even more pronounced on this piece without orchestra...personally, the most beautiful piano I've ever played was a Hamburg C..

Mat D.
Posted by: David Burton

Re: Not to start anything, but... - 07/16/04 10:36 PM

For me, the most memorable side by side comparison between NY and Hamburg Steinways happened one day when I went to Klavierhaus on W 58th in NYC. There were two B’s, side by side. Both were voiced to perfection, prepped to perfection, qualities I have come to expect from the stores on piano row in New York. Each displayed its unique qualities and though I loved both, the NY B took the edge, it had more “character” or something, more levels of color change with each dynamic level. I was frankly surprised. I shouldn’t have been. I have found this comparison before and usually the NY piano just seems to have more personality or something.

However Hamburg still has something that NY doesn’t have besides the build quality Jonathan and others like to remind us we are paying for in a fine European instrument; scale designs that are no longer produced in NY. And if this is your experience;

 Quote:
Originally posted by Mat D.:
the most beautiful piano I've ever played was a Hamburg C.
[/b]
….. and I’d add the Hamburg A’s and O’s in there too, then Hamburg is the only place they make them new these days.
Posted by: Keith D Kerman

Re: Not to start anything, but... - 07/16/04 10:51 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by David Burton:


However Hamburg still has something that NY doesn’t have besides the build quality Jonathan and others like to remind us we are paying for in a fine European instrument; scale designs that are no longer produced in NY. And if this is your experience;

 Quote:
Originally posted by Mat D.:
the most beautiful piano I've ever played was a Hamburg C.
[/b]
….. and I’d add the Hamburg A’s and O’s in there too, then Hamburg is the only place they make them new these days. [/b]
Very good point David. The Steinway folk had a Steinway A art case piano displayed at the national PTG convention. It was a joint venture between Hamburg and NY, with the belly work, scale, finish, and design coming from Hamburg, and the action coming from NY. It was a really nice piano, and it would have taken a really unusual B from NY to beat it. It was very enjoyable to go back and forth between the Hamburg/NY A and the new Mason & Hamlin AA.
Posted by: KlavierBauer

Re: Not to start anything, but... - 07/17/04 09:31 AM

Keith and I spent some time doing this, and it was very interesting to hear the differences between these two instruments.

Keith's also quite the performer, and don't let him tell you otherwise!
Posted by: Keith D Kerman

Re: Not to start anything, but... - 07/17/04 10:37 AM

Thanks Jonathan,

I thought I heard some really nice Waldstein last movement coming out of your fingers as well!
Posted by: Charles Carlstrom

Re: Not to start anything, but... - 07/17/04 01:08 PM

It amazes me that Steinway (NY) and Steinway (Hamburg) seem to be in competition with each other. Same company operating as two separate firms.

Regarding Andre Watts as a Steinway artist - I read that he was frustrated with the NY headquarters of Steinway & Sons when twice during two performances the pianos had mechanical problems (I suppose the current word is piano malfunctions). He did "switch" to Yamaha, but was back on the Steinway roster within 5 years. During his first year playing a Yamaha concert grand I had the priviledge of attending his concert (Breakers) during the Newport RI Music Festival.
Posted by: Rich Galassini

Re: Not to start anything, but... - 07/17/04 02:23 PM

Re: Andre Watts

A few years ago, Cunningham did an unusual promotion for a school - "Academy of Community Music". They offer free music for inner city kids and Andre is on their board. After the concert we sponsored a ritzy meet the artist reception (actually 4 hours of wine, cheese, and Andre at hundreds per couple).

We brought in a rebuilt S&S M that he played at the reception, signed, and we auctioned off for the charity. He had just played a concert on a new NY D and HIS WORDS, "If I had played onstage on THIS piano (our rebuild) I would have sounded better."

In a conversation with him, he mentioned that he is not affiliated with any manufacturer (this was 1999, I believe). At this point in his career he did not need to be. Has that changed since then, I wonder??
Posted by: byebye

Re: Not to start anything, but... - 07/17/04 05:50 PM

Rich,

Andre Watts is not listed as a Steinway artist on the Steinway website.

I don't think he's pictured on those two pages of artists in Yamaha's magazine, either.

You must be right.

BTW, he is leaving the Univ. of Maryland to teach at Indiana, according to their alumni magazine.
Posted by: byebye

Re: Not to start anything, but... - 07/17/04 05:58 PM

Keith Kerman,

The Steinway A is probably like the "Dakota Jackson" one they have been selling. It is terribly expensive, being an art case.

It didn't do much for me at all, but it has been so long since I played it that I can no longer remember why I was unimpressed.

What do you think of the old Steinway "long scale" A's? Those always seemed quite close to the B in tone.
Posted by: Keith D Kerman

Re: Not to start anything, but... - 07/17/04 06:49 PM

Mark,

I am sure it was the "Dakota Jackson". The voicing was a bit dull, but it was otherwise prepped quite well, considering it was being shown off at the PTG national convention. The art case bench must have weighed 100lbs!

The long A, or A3, is the best of the As, and I have always wondered why the Hamburg A is based
on the shorter A2, which is still a nice piano.
A good long A will hold its own against a B.
Posted by: Penny

Re: Not to start anything, but... - 07/18/04 03:24 PM

My teacher has an A3. Its bass kicks bootie. I could see it giving a B a run for its money.

penny
Posted by: Chris W1

Re: Not to start anything, but... - 07/19/04 08:22 AM

 Quote:
.....Steinway A art case piano displayed at the national PTG convention....[/b]
I thought S&S was generally absent from the PTG conventions. Might the A have been the Tricentenial version, or would that make it too old for display? Steinert's Boston had a joint venture A in their window, like the one described. Its stick was uniquely curved. The sound had great bass and great treble sustain. The hammers were brighter, like I think one would expect of a Hamburg piano, but they were NY.

It still sits unsold in their upstairs inventory. The prep has fallen away and its starting to sound shrill.

 Quote:

MarkS wrote:
What do you think of the old Steinway "long scale" A's? Those always seemed quite close to the B in tone.[/b]
I don't know if you were making a general question about the long A's to someone specific, but I've tried about a half a dozen of them and think it is difficult to assert that an A3 can outperform a B, not because it isn't possible, but because finding one that has had a top flight rebuild is pretty difficult. FWIW, the ones I've tried have been plenty powerful, but didn't capture the S&S sound quite as well. I suspect it was the rebuilding/parts/techniques and not the scale. I wish I knew better.

RE: Irvings M&H Vs S&S test.[/b]

I thought this was over, or on hold. The thing I remember about those two, especially the Mason BB, was the level of prep. Its hammers were the most pear shapped I had ever seen and the tone blosoomed like no other BB I've tried before, or since.

Chris
Posted by: byebye

Re: Not to start anything, but... - 07/19/04 11:36 AM

Chris,

Twenty-five+ years ago the university I was attending discovered two long scale A's and an old Everett 6' abandoned in the basement of an unheated former church used for opera workshop. The A's had been played little and were very well-preserved. It was a rare opportunity to play an old piano in good, original condition. I thought they came very close to a B. Despite their condition, the technician insisted on rebuilding them anyway.

The Dakota Jackson A had a curved prop stick.
Posted by: richard_dup1

Re: Not to start anything, but... - 07/19/04 03:06 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by MarkS:


The Steinway A is probably like the "Dakota Jackson" one they have been selling. It is terribly expensive, being an art case.

It didn't do much for me at all.
My reaction also. I almost bought one of these beauties a couple of years ago. I played it side-by-side with several new Steinway B's at Jacob's Music in Philadelphia. The DJ was bright & lively, but lacked oomph in the lower register. The B's just sounded muddy, as if no one had bothered to prep them. I ended up buying a Boesendorfer 225 from Rich Galassini, because it had all the brightness and most of the depth I've ever heard in a piano. As a huge fringe benefit - it was much cheaper than the DJ.
Posted by: LJC

Re: Not to start anything, but... - 02/07/05 01:21 PM

Great Topic especially for me. I had the pleasure of comparing a Hamburg D to several NY D's at Steinway Hall, all in the same room. The Hamburg is late 60's vintage. Some of the NY D's were new and others from the concerts and artists department. Overall I liked the Hamburg better than all the NY D's except for one, but not better, that was not a c&a but was a few years old. That was a great NY D but quite different in sound and feel from the Hamburg. I liked the action on that one a little bit better but I was told the Hamburg's previous owner had weighted the action a little heavier. Well the NY D was about 40K more in price and had already been "selected". Well w/ a great price (due to its age)on the Hamburg and a favorable comparison what was a guy to do? The Hamburg, after some reconditioning work was completed was delivered to my house on Saturday. It does not disappoint.
Posted by: Keith D Kerman

Re: Not to start anything, but... - 02/07/05 01:56 PM

Congrats, LJC

I am a big fan of the Hamburg D. FWIW, we recently rebuilt a Hamburg D from the 60's for one of the top recording studios in the country, and it turned out beautifully.

I am sure you will have many happy years with this great instrument.
Posted by: Friend of Pianos

Re: Not to start anything, but... - 02/12/05 05:39 PM

To Fully Answer your question, here's the deal:

1. Watts tours with a Hamburg D that is maintained by Mary Schwinderman. She is a former Steinway Concert & Artist technician. This piano is owned & maintained by Mary Shwinderman and is rented to Watts.

2. The NY model D on the stage that you heard is owned by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.

3. My father in law has been a member of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra for 40 years.

I heard Watts perform on this Hamburg Steinway at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center a few months ago. I would agree that it sounded a bit bright and brassy.

I wouldn't group all Hamburg Steinways with the piano you heard Watts play. That piano's tone is not typical of Hamburg Steinways.
Posted by: Keith D Kerman

Re: Not to start anything, but... - 02/12/05 08:31 PM

FOP,

I know Mary's piano quite well. It actually has 2 actions with very differently voiced hammer sets. IMO, the sound on this piano with the brighter set of hammers is very typical of a Hamburg Steinway D.
Posted by: irving

Re: Not to start anything, but... - 02/12/05 10:50 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Chris W1:

RE: Irvings M&H Vs S&S test.[/b]

I thought this was over, or on hold. The thing I remember about those two, especially the Mason BB, was the level of prep. Its hammers were the most pear shapped I had ever seen and the tone blosoomed like no other BB I've tried before, or since.

Chris [/b]
Chris,

You must have missed these threads about the contest that ran a few months ago:

"Scientific study finds that pianists prefer Mason & Hamlin over Steinway"

"Mason & Hamlin vs. Steinway: the final word"[/b]

The ratings and impressions of the 280 pianists who participated in the contest are posted on our web site.

We don't plan to do a study like this again any time soon, but there will be an unusual opportunity to compare some very interesting pianos in our store next month. Stay tuned. I'm planning to make an announcement early in the week - as soon as all of the elements are in place.
Posted by: Larry Buck

Re: Not to start anything, but... - 02/13/05 11:41 AM

The Steinway A3 would be too much competition for the B

Steinway sales of "B's" would go down.