R KassmanRussell Kassman

R. Kassman Pianos

Berkeley, California

At R. Kassman, our philosophy is to stock instruments of impeccable quality and craftsmanship but with different approaches to sound. Most European manufacturers have similar construction specifications, such as beech rims, Renner action parts, and Bavarian spruce soundboards, much as artists may use the same brand of paint or canvas. But, as with artists, the resulting instruments are often very different from each other in their sound and performance.

Our primary European lines are Blüthner, Steingraeber, and Sauter. Each of these companies meticulously handcrafts a limited number of instruments. Each has exacting standards for the quality of materials they use, and each has world-renowned craftsmen. Yet each also has a very different approach to sound and performance.

SteingraeberSteingraeber, perhaps the smallest of the companies we represent, has the most aggressive sound. By aggressive, I mean that its attack is powerful and explosive, from the impact of the hammer on the string to the long sustain time. Complementing that approach is the Steingraeber-designed Renner action, which is lightning-fast and easily regulated within a hair's breadth from the string, making it a precise interpreter of the artist's intentions. Powerful is one adjective our customers often use to describe these instruments. Pianists who have a heavy touch are often thrilled with the response of Steingraeber pianos.

BluthnerBlüthner, on the other hand, while having impeccable pedigree in craftsmanship and construction materials, has a more pristine approach to sound. With a clear and concise voice, these instruments can whisper and shout with equal clarity. The Blüthner-designed Renner action is sensitive and immediately responsive to any pianistic demands, yet with a lighter touch than its comrades in this field. The aliquot (fourth string) in the treble adds a luster to the sound that is unequaled by any other piano in the world. Pianists with incredible technique often comment that this is the only piano they have played that truly and accurately responds to their demands.

SauterSauter is the favorite of many of our employees, and is often the piano that customers choose who have more than one pianist in the house. While its quality of craftsmanship is unquestioned, its ability to please almost any pianist is a valued hallmark. Its sound is clear without being austere, bell-like without being metallic, and powerful without being domineering. The Sauter-designed Renner action is ultra-responsive without being anticipatory, and forgiving while demanding prowess. The piano has a warm, friendly sound that is as at home with Bach as with Bacharach, Mozart as with Madonna, and Schubert as with Sondheim. Perhaps no other piano embodies the ability to please a pianist of any ilk or ability to the degree that Sauter has in every one of its line of instruments. Additionally, its line of pianos with cabinetry designed by Peter Maly has brought to our door a whole new breed of customer, who considers the piano as much a design piece as a superb musical instrument.


FALL 2009 -- page 72

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