The 6'3" model P-III seemed a perfect match for Chopin's music from the moment I started playing it. The bell-like treble sustained and distinguished my melodic lines, while the tenor and bass sections were full, well balanced, and supportive. The dynamic capability and substantial projection of this piano would make it a good candidate for a larger living room, classroom, or small recital hall or sanctuary. Also notable with this newer-production example was a visually striking wood veneer on the inner rim. Again, there was a slight roughness at the corners of the keys, and the action, though certainly fine, was not quite as precise as those of competing Japanese models. However, the sparkling treble tone of this instrument was unique, attractive, and left a lasting impression.

The 53" model P-135, among the largest upright pianos in production today, is a large-sounding instrument for those who don't wish to sacrifice the space required by a grand piano. Interesting features include a true sostenuto pedal (rare among uprights) and a lever-activated practice mute. This upright possessed the tonal attributes of Petrof's grands: the treble section sang beautifully with that signature bell-like sound, while the bass section was smooth and supportive—very capable without being overbearing. Although the action design of an upright piano is less desirable than that of a grand, the P-135's action had a substantial feel to it that would satisfy many advanced pianists. Transitions between registers in this large upright were handled better than in many makers' small grand models.


Charles R. Walter

Models 1520 and 175

It would be easy for a "serious" pianist to overlook the Indiana-made Charles R. Walter model 1520 upright—its furniture-style cabinet and diminutive 43" stature may evoke memories of lesser, marginal-quality American consoles of decades ago. However, playing one was an experience wholly different from what I expected! The tone was full and rich, with a singing quality through the middle range of the instrument. The action was substantial and surprisingly weighty for a small upright, with good control and responsiveness throughout. The dynamic range was very satisfying, belying this piano's small size. It sounded great with lush, Romantic repertoire. As with most smaller pianos, the transition through the tenor to the bass range wasn't seamless—I could tell when the sound moved to the wound bichord strings—but it wasn't terribly distracting, either. Overall, it would not be an overstatement to say that the Walter upright is the nicest 43" piano I've ever played. It also comes in a 45" version (model 1500) —identical to the 43" except for the cabinet. Either would be a great choice for a practice room, small classroom, or space-limited home.

The Alma-Tadema Piano

 

SPRING 2010 -- page 116

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