8 years ago

Volume 10 Issue 5 - February 2005

  • Text
  • Toronto
  • February
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  • Baroque

Tafelmusik's Alison

Tafelmusik's Alison Mackay: Making Dreams . by David Perlman Grabby opener: our cover photo is a fake. Well a composite actually, of two different photographs taken during a recent shoot for Tafelmusik by ubiquitous photographer

FEATURE THE DAY THREE F AZIOLIS CAME TO TOWN Piano man at the symphony hy Jim Tennyson HA VE YOU READ Thad Carhart' s book The Piano Shop 011 tile Left Bank? He is an expatriate "American in Paris", a devoted amateur pianist whose passion is playing, and worshipping pianos and their makers. His book is adoring to all things pianistic, but his chapter on the Fazioli Piano verges on the erotic. As a piano technician I had heard of the work of Paolo Fazioli: an Italian with a degree from the Conservatory Rossini and an engineering degree from the University of Rome, but it was Carharc's book that made me yearn to play one. The Fazioli was that rarity of rarities: a new instrument introduced to challenge the best of the best. Now let me say, new pianos come on the market all the time. and the publicity material accompanying each one presents every new clunker as the instrument for which Beethoven would have yearned. But the Fazioli is different. For one thing, there have been only 600 instruments produced in the 16 years of the company· s operation. I mean, Yamaha has that many instruments prodµced before lunch on Monday. I'm exaggerating of course, but you catch my drift. The star in Fazioli's crown, as they term it, their largest concert grand, the model F308, is a whopping 308 ems - that is to say 10 feet I V.. inches. They are "hand made" meaning there are no mass production techniques used in the factory in Sacile situated 35 km north of Venice. The soundboard is made from Red Spruce harvested in the Italian Alps. Fazioli points out that the rare wood from the Val di Fiemme was used by Antonio Stradivari in certain musical products of his own. And like Stradivari, Fazioli's goal was sublime sound: " ... to develop a piano with an alternative sound profile from existing instruments." Speaking as a piano technician, I will admit that I was very curious indeed. Until recently there were none in Toronto. Reports of Fazioli were given to me by artists who had played them and each told me a different tale. Some thought the action (from the German Renner Company, though made to Fazioli's specifications) credibly impressed by the sheer beauty of the sound. Consequently, I was anxious to hear the debui of the Fazioli at the TSO's recent Mozart Festival. (Also, to be wicked for a moment, to see the artists who would risk the wrath of Steinway to perform in public on a " piano-shaped object" as Steinway likes to term the products of its competitors.) You see, the piano business is in so many ways a hearty survivor from another era. It's one of the reasona I adore it, in my role as a tuner, since I am rather an anachronism myself. In my piano world it might as well still be 1906 where the virtuoso Ignace Paderewski caused a furore by defecting from Steinway to the Weber Piano, or 1919 where Rachmaninoff was treated as a god from the musical heavens. Or even 1809 where Muzio Clementi (coincidentally from Rome, like Paolo Fazioli) combined artistic and technical matters by performing, composing music for pianoforte and manufacturing them as well. Steinway is still just as fussy about its artists and providing perks, but they will whisk them away if ones fraternizes with the enemy. A well known concert artist who will remain nameless for obvious reasons, told me recently that they had recently played a Fazioli and adored it, but when I teased about leaving the Steinway fold the artist in question turned TICKETS: 416-598-0422 SUBSCRIPTIONS AVAILABLE! Flex-packs start at only $ 80 ' was heavy, another felt the tone wide eyes upon me and said " I colour wasn't quite uniform across just couldn't!" But the temptation was there, all right. \lo;•ftit Id, " " " ' ' h, , ,,, the keyboard .... but all were in- C L_.S. '---£1.fii, IL FORNELLO < e S I

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