Dennis Saphir

Kurt Saphir Pianos

Wilmette, Illinois

Kurt Saphir Pianos in Wilmette, Illinois, is a virtual paradise of high-end pianos. The company's clients, from beginners to professionals, have the unique opportunity to compare new pianos manufactured by Bechstein, Blüthner, Bösendorfer, Mason & Hamlin, Schimmel, and Charles Walter--all in a single showroom.

To evaluate each of these pianos is a task as formidable--and as enjoyable--as comparing some of the finest chocolates. Is it possible to find one better than another? Is it not just a matter of personal taste? Sitting before any of these instruments, knowing in advance that its quality is beyond question, and that one can give complete attention to one's personal preference without fear of inferior construction, offers artist and beginner alike the ability to evaluate and purchase with complete confidence.

When we at Kurt Saphir Pianos first played these instruments, we noticed considerable variation among us in opinions and preferences. While some felt that a Bösendorfer may be the perfect instrument for Debussy, others argued that the tone of a Bechstein enhances the melody of that composer's works. We then decided it would be interesting to ask our "professional critics"--including customers, piano instructors, and piano technicians--to fill out a completely subjective evaluation card while auditioning these instruments. We reminded them that this was strictly a personal opinion poll--there were no "right" or "wrong" answers.

Bechstein            Bluthner            Boesendorfer

We divided the brands into two groups by price. Group 1, which we present here, consisted of C. Bechstein, Blüthner, and Bösendorfer. Pianos of comparable size, all grands, were compared on the basis of a variety of qualities and characteristics. The pianos were given normal dealer prep, except that the factory voicing was retained. Where one brand strongly predominated for a given quality or characteristic, that brand is listed. Where more than one brand tended to be named, those brands are listed in decreasing order of preference. While this evaluation should definitely not be considered scientific, it does show that people perceive pianos differently; it also assists us in evaluating product lines.

Should one piano be considered better than another? We leave the final opinion to our "critics," whose comments were as varied as the personalities of the pianos.

  • Which piano exhibits the most "power"?   C. Bechstein
  • Which piano exhibits the most "clarity"?   C. Bechstein
  • Which piano can best be described as having a "mellow tone"?   Bösendorfer, Blüthner
  • Which piano is the most "resonant"?   Bösendorfer
  • Which piano has the "lightest touch"?   Bösendorfer, C. Bechstein
  • Which piano has a "moderate touch"?   Bösendorfer, C. Bechstein
  • Which piano has a "heavy touch"?   None
  • For classical performance, list in order of preference:   Bösendorfer, Blüthner, C. Bechstein
  • For jazz performance, list in order of preference:   C. Bechstein, Bösendorfer, Blüthner
  • List in order of name recognition (most to least):   Bösendorfer, Bechstein, Blüthner  ¤


FALL 2009 -- page 76

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