IN ORDER TO GIVE prospective buyers of high-end pianos a better sense of the individual personalities of these brands, we will occasionally provide selected dealers, technicians, and pianists the opportunity to describe the musical and other qualities of the high-end brands they represent, service, or play. The brands presented will vary from issue to issue. As you'll see over time, although different writers often describe the same brands in very different ways, certain common themes are evident.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Robert Lowrey's Piano Experts is proud to represent three of the world's top piano brands: Estonia, Schimmel, and Bösendorfer.
Each prospective buyer is different, and we strive to meet the individual needs of each. By asking a series of questions, we get a better idea of what those needs are and can point the buyer in an appropriate direction. Although the purchase of a fine instrument is obviously subjective, each of the above brands has certain characteristics that stand out and that therefore may make it more suitable for a particular client. At the end of the day, our greatest reward is to know that we have satisfied our client's needs, and even their dreams, with the best piano for that client.
We broadly divide the characteristics of pianos into five categories: tone, touch, price, prestige, and style.
Estonia is one of the best piano values today. As a dealer we find a surprising "underground" brand loyalty.
Tone: Strong and full, yet relatively warm.
Touch: Responsive but firm; works well for the strong player.
Price: A great advantage is allowing the purchaser to own a premium European grand for the price of a good, Asian-built, mass-produced grand.
Prestige: Estonia has rapidly earned the reputation of being one of the best instruments available. [Company owner] Dr. Indrek Laul has done a wonderful job of elevating the quality of these fine pianos.
Style: A number of select-grade cabinet woods are available, which adds to Estonia's appeal. Great attention to cabinet detail is evidenced by the finished underside and the felted music shelf.
Schimmel pianos are the favorite of most of our staff for both musical
and technical reasons. Schimmel combines extremely high-quality craftsmanship with reasonably affordable price. It has become our best-selling brand, and is very well respected throughout Toronto's music community.
Tone: Schimmel has the rich, warm sound associated with a fine European piano. This is further enhanced by a unique "sparkle" that is not metallic in texture. We find Schimmel's tone to range from acceptable to preferred by almost all of our discriminating clients.
Touch: These instruments are perceived as fast, responsive, and perhaps slightly lighter in touch than some other brands.
Price: A great value for the demanding buyer.
Prestige: We often speak of Schimmel as "the rising star" in the piano business. Schimmel is unique in the industry for its innovative and technologically advanced engineering, which constantly moves Schimmel higher in the public's perception.
Style: Schimmel offers elegant, unique, and dynamic designs, including a number of art-case models--Pegasus, Otmar Alt, Plexiglas, and Nikolaus W. Schimmel Limited Edition, to name a few.
Bösendorfer, built in limited quantities, has for years been considered the premium piano, bar none! Many musicians who may play a more commercially available piano on stage personally own a Bösendorfer piano.
Tone: Bösendorfer's construction produces a delicate yet warm tone with surprisingly broad dynamic range. This is achieved in part by the piano's unique design, which integrates the soundboard with the body of the piano, much as in a fine cello or violin. We often refer to our Bösendorfers as being more akin to the string family of instruments than the percussion family.
Touch: Many of our clients who purchase Bösendorfers refer to their action as being very accurate, responsive, and "pleasing." We often hear the comment that "it plays itself."
Price: As expected with any product considered the very best, Bösendorfer is perhaps the most costly of today's pianos.
Prestige: Bösendorfer is chosen by two types of client: the very discriminating pianist who sometimes must sacrifice economically to own the ultimate piano, and the wealthy customer who wants the best of the best. Bösendorfer is one of the longest continuously made piano brands, and stands alone in reputation.
Style: Bösendorfer not only has many incredible designs and finishes, but will custom-make an instrument if desired. Some creative examples of their custom-designed work include the Swarovski Edition, the F.A. Porsche design, and the Emperor.
FALL 2009 -- page 71
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Hybrid & Player Pianos