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#33475 - 11/07/06 02:36 PM Fazioli live
hv Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/18/04
Posts: 1226
Loc: Cape Cod
This past Sunday afternoon I had the rare opportunity to record a rather wonderful 9 foot 2 inch Fazioli F278. My wife used it for a concert she gave at the First Baptist Church of Kalamazoo, Michigan. I'm told they were the first church in the US to acquire a Fazioli piano which they bought used in Holland at the conclusion of its 5-year concert tour of Europe in 2002. Here's a shot of the piano set up for Sunday's concert against a backdrop of a rather interesting looking Le┬┤tourneau Opus 55 Organ:


Unfortunately, I did not have a chance to record the organ... no one in attendance even knew how to turn it on. Maybe another day. Here's a tighter shot of the piano itself:



In case you're wondering, that black pole-like thing to the left is the Bose PAS sound system I use for vocals; needless to say on this occasion it was used only for vocals. The piano needed no amplification itself. Here's a view of the piano frame:



Notice the brass latch on the curved part of the case. There's a big fat wooden knob on the outside of the case which operates the latch which holds down the lid.

One unusual feature of this particular Fazioli (#2780551) is that the key tops are made of Ox-bone. Here's a photo of the keyboard where you can see light-brown speckles on some of the keys:



And here's a close-up photo of those keys where its most visible:



Note that these speckles are visual-only. They are not actual pits or irregularities you can feel on the keys, which are perfectly smooth.

According to Thomas at PianoForte in Chicago, the ox-bone keys of this piano were an experiment which Paulo Fazioli tried for a very short period of time after which he decided he didn't like them. Thomas said the manufacturer told him that he was somewhat dismayed to learn that a Fazioli with those keytops had found its way to America.

My wife Sue feels otherwise. She characterized these keys as the most wonderful feeling keys she's ever played. Nicer even than ivory. She also mentioned that the piano shop where she teaches in Crete has an old box piano from the 1700's on display with its original beef-bone keys. Which are a little gray-looking from age but not yellowed in the slightest.

According to my wife, this instrument is one of the finest concert pianos she's ever performed on. Fast, loose, and responsive were words she used. She also mentioned that the range and control this piano gives over dynamics made her vocals so easy... something she doesn't often experience.

Sue also mentioned that this piano was unlike any of the newer Faziolis she tried in Chicago. Not quite as bright as the new F228 and F212. She can't be sure about the Chicago F278... she wasn't able to properly evaluate that one as it was being worked on and was still acclimating from its sojourn to Ravenia. I noted that this instrument was Damp-Chaser equipped, complete with undercover. And venue personnel told me that unlike most churches, they keep this place at a constant 68 degrees for the benefit of the pipe organ.

I'll see about getting a few recordings up.

Howard

[ keywords: audio_FazioliF278 ]

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#33476 - 11/07/06 03:32 PM Re: Fazioli live
Steve Chandler Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/05
Posts: 2739
Loc: Urbandale, Iowa
Yeah the piano's nice, but the organ really impresses me. Obviously this church has high standards for their arts programs. I found the web site Le Tourneau Organs, http://www.letourneauorgans.com/. I wasn't able to pull up information on Op. 55 nor any of the recordings, perhaps they're having web site issues. Well leaving the page open for a while helped as the recording just started (sounds nice).

Thanks for posting these pictures. The lighting isn't the best, but it looks like you did the best you could with what was available. It takes a lot of light to make a black piano look like much. Also, I can see why Paulo Fazioli would be dismayed about these keys, they look dirty, but if they play and feel good that's what really matters to the artist.

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#33477 - 11/07/06 03:44 PM Re: Fazioli live
Van Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 1215
Loc: S. California
Magnificient picture, you're one lucky dude.

On the one hand, those bone keys look and probably feel very nice...on the other hand the idea of fondling dead animal parts is rather macabre (guess leather seats are out as well if I start thinking this way...sorry I think I may be turning into a vegetarian in my middle age \:D
_________________________

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#33478 - 11/07/06 03:49 PM Re: Fazioli live
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
Having had one of these pianos this post was a heart wrenching reminder!

I have never seen the ox bone keys. Uugh!

Lovely piano. Lucky wife. Buy her one!

Kind regards

Adrian
_________________________
S&S Hamburg D, Yamaha CLP 280


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#33479 - 11/07/06 03:51 PM Re: Fazioli live
whippen boy Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 3886
Loc: San Francisco
 Quote:
Originally posted by Steve Chandler:
Yeah the piano's nice, but the organ really impresses me. Obviously this church has high standards for their arts programs. I found the web site Le Tourneau Organs, http://www.letourneauorgans.com/. I wasn't able to pull up information on Op. 55 nor any of the recordings, perhaps they're having web site issues. Well leaving the page open for a while helped as the recording just started (sounds nice).
Opus 55 is a III/54 tracker instrument. The recording that automatically plays is of the immense organ at the Winspear Centre, not the Kalamazoo Baptist Church.

Letourneau organs and Fazioli pianos are OK, but neither are quite 'my cup of tea'... ;\)
_________________________
Grotrian 225
S&S Hamburg-C
M&H "A" at home

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#33480 - 11/07/06 05:28 PM Re: Fazioli live
hv Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/18/04
Posts: 1226
Loc: Cape Cod
I think I have 2 of the 3 recordings I wanted to post up. Anyway, here goes.

It should go without saying that these recordings are only the barest shadow of what I remember hearing when this magnificent instrument was actually being played.

First up is a piece I just hope that Riccardo Scivales gets to hear. He's the person in Italy who did the James P. Johnson transcription in the Harlem Stride Piano folio that Sue learned the piece from:

Snowy Morning Blues

In typical stride fashion, it starts out showcasing right hand diversions while the left hand creeps in with such stealth you hardly see it coming before it takes over.

The next piece is one that is tough for a piano that lacks a clear and well defined low end. I heard Sue play it once on a big Steinway out at Jordon Kits in Northern Virginia and the left hand seemed to degrade into a rolling thunder-like rumble. Which was a cool effect but it totally blurred what she was doing. And didn't sound at all like this:

Kitten on the Keys

That's the Zez Confrey novelty piece as arranged by Freddie Slack. If you ever come across a piano player named Tony Caramia who teaches at Eastman, you should hear his version which employs even more complex left-hand variations.

I have another slower piece but its a bit larger and I'm still working on finding a place to park it.

Howard

EDIT: Solace by Scott Joplin

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#33481 - 11/07/06 06:04 PM Re: Fazioli live
Matthew Collett Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/15/04
Posts: 536
Loc: Auckland, New Zealand
 Quote:
Originally posted by hv:
One unusual feature of this particular Fazioli (#2780551) is that the key tops are made of Ox-bone. Here's a photo of the keyboard where you can see light-brown speckles on some of the keys:[/b]
Those really do not go with a plain black piano. Perhaps they might fit better with a similarly 'speckled' veneer finish.

Best wishes,
Matthew
_________________________
"Passions, violent or not, may never be expressed to the point of revulsion; even in the most frightening situation music must never offend the ear but must even then offer enjoyment, i.e. must always remain music." -- W.A.Mozart

212cm Fazioli: some photos and recordings .
Auckland Catholic Music Schola .

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#33482 - 11/07/06 06:39 PM Re: Fazioli live
hv Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/18/04
Posts: 1226
Loc: Cape Cod
Here's the promised 3rd recording of a piece with a slower pace that lets more of the character of each note shine through:

Solace by Scott Joplin

I noticed that as Sue played this, she worked in a few low notes in places I've never heard them before... I asked her about that later and she said she was exploring. Those familiar with this piece may find what she does with it a little bit of a shock.

Howard

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#33483 - 11/07/06 10:45 PM Re: Fazioli live
Emanuel Ravelli Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 687
Loc: Virginia
Thanks for posting these, hv -- your wife plays them beautifully. That languid Joplin piece was especially fine.

I was even more impressed with the clarity and quality of your recordings. What equipment did you use for them, and where did you position the mike(s)?
_________________________
Phil Bjorlo

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#33484 - 11/08/06 07:08 AM Re: Fazioli live
lilylady Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 4977
Loc: boston north
THank you Howard and Sue for sharing with us. Beautiful piano and great performances. I remember as well when Sue shared during Ax's Name the Piano thread.

I also noted the clean sound of the one and only Fazioli that I played last year (maybe 7 ft). Recently I noted the clean pure bass sound of a Bluthner that, as well, played bass chords 'cleaner' than other pianos that can sometimes sound rather muddy.

How lucky those in attendance were! Great job Sue. ;-)

LL
_________________________
"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."

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#33485 - 11/08/06 12:09 PM Re: Fazioli live
hv Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/18/04
Posts: 1226
Loc: Cape Cod
Emanuel and LL, Sue says thanks for the kind comments. Solace always reminds me of that death of Luther scene in the Sting.

Steve & Whippen Boy, I found the organ quite fascinating to just look at. Didn't know what to make of all those pipes sticking straight out over the players head. Is that common? In a way I was a little relieved not recording it... I tried recording a theater organ once and wasn't very satisfied with my results.

Sid and Matthew, Sue can't stop going on about how wonderful those keys were to play. It would be a shame if it was no longer possible to even special order the ox bone. The speckling really wasn't all that apparent until I looked closely. I might not have even noticed had Thomas at PianoForte not told me about it in advance. I had to fiddle with the contrast and camera angles a bit to even get a clear picture of it. Kind of, I would imagine, like trying to photograph the hamon line on a katana. Certainly not as prominent as a Damascus pattern in a fuller.

Adrian, I bought a Fazioli just last night. And the night before. But I always awake in a cold sweat when my dream girl pouts and says (with a tear in her eye), "But I wanted that one."

Emanuel, if you look closely, that's the recording mic stand in the 1st two pictures. With the silver AT825 stereo mic up near the lid. Here's a different angle that I took the night before when we were checking the place out for the 1st time and did a little test recording:



I try to position over middle C about 10 inches below the dampers. I go as high as possible till running into the lid, which puts the capsule about 14 inches above the strings. What's not readily apparent in the pictures is that there's another stereo mic positioned on the other side of the AT825... its a DPA 3521 compact array. The stereo piano tracks here were those from the DPA. Only reason I put the AT825 up at all was because this was my 1st time recording with the DPA and I wasn't sure what I'd get. I just thought this special piano deserved a special mic. (I'm definitely buying the DPA now.) Here's a better angle:



Here's a pic from the DPA site depicting the 3521 in X-Y configuration the way I used it:

http://www.dpamicrophones.com/Images/DM00432.JPG

I recorded to an old Tascam DA78 8-track but only used 3 tracks for the Solace mix; 2 DPA piano tracks plus one for the vocal.

Howard

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#33486 - 11/08/06 07:15 PM Re: Fazioli live
KATHRYN88 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/15/06
Posts: 18
Loc: new york city
Hi HV
I just love love love really love the Fazioli. What a superior piano of all time. I just never heard of or have seen the ox-bone keys until your posting. My dear friend sells Fazioli's in NYC and is constanly traveling to Italy to meet with Paulo. I will ask him tomorrow about the ox-bone keys. Your wife must be in heaven you actually own a Fazioli (did I read that correctly?) Lucky you
enjoy it It's my favorite piano. Kathryn
_________________________
KATHRYN

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#33487 - 11/08/06 07:33 PM Re: Fazioli live
hv Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/18/04
Posts: 1226
Loc: Cape Cod
Only in my dreams. But I'd be curious to know if he'd ever do them again as a special order. Not that my checkbook would ever likely permit me to act on that information during waking hours.

Howard

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#33488 - 11/09/06 03:01 AM Re: Fazioli live
whippen boy Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 3886
Loc: San Francisco
 Quote:
Originally posted by hv:
Didn't know what to make of all those pipes sticking straight out over the players head. Is that common?
Those are called Trompettes-en-chamade. The Chamade (rhymes with 'fa├žade') is one of the organist's favorite stops on any organ, simply because it makes so much noise. \:\)

Those trumpets shoot their sound directly to the ear of the listener - the best examples are quite brilliant and percussive. The worst examples sound like quacking ducks. :rolleyes:

The idea originated in Spain in the (pre-) baroque era, migrated to France in the 19th century, and finally ended up on many, many organs in the U.S.

I have one in the organ I play, but it is hidden from view.
_________________________
Grotrian 225
S&S Hamburg-C
M&H "A" at home

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#33489 - 11/09/06 05:22 AM Re: Fazioli live
ChickGrand Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/02/03
Posts: 3231
Loc: Midwest U.S.
The only "pipes" that impress me in this thread are those of Ms. Keller in "Solace". The playing is very lovely, but the introduction of the vocal is a real treat. Wonderful timbre and phrasing. Thanks for sharing that. \:\)

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#33490 - 11/09/06 11:19 AM Re: Fazioli live
hv Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/18/04
Posts: 1226
Loc: Cape Cod
Funny. I sliced the vocal section off in Ax's "Name that Piano" thread a while back when presenting the same piece. But I kept it in here mainly because I thought it made a statement about the piano. It relates to how important the ability to precisely control a piano's dynamics are to a singing piano player's vocal performance. Which impressed me during the mixdown. Because I had basically nothing to do. No compression, no ducking, no automation, no nothing. Don't see that very often.

Howard

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