|Brand (in order of increasing size)||Model||Size||MSRP*||SMP*|
|Charles R. Walter||1520||43"||$15,241||$11,610|
|Charles R. Walter||175||5'9"||$57,893||$41,100|
|*See "Model & Pricing Guide" for more detailed explanation of pricing.|
Talking about pianos from a performer's perspective is bound to be problematic. The best one can do is offer a set of subjective impressions in which one has tried to articulate the almost indescribable experience a pianist has when he or she sits down and connects with an instrument. I had a lot of fun playing these instruments and trying to get a feel for what makes each unique. As with all pianos, whether the characteristics of these brands will be perceived as merits or weaknesses will greatly depend on the individual player's tastes and needs. That said, all three brands of piano I sampled were very good performance-grade instruments, and had been well prepared by their respective dealerships. I would have no reservations about recommending any of them to anyone—whether the beginner pianist who wants a great instrument to grow into, or the seasoned professional who needs a piano that can handle any music thrown at it.
Models 126/P6 and 197/G5
My first trip was to Merriam Music in Oakville, Ontario, where I played two pianos by the Italian maker Schulze Pollmann: a 50" model 126/P6 upright and a 6'7" model 197/G5 grand, both finished in polished ebony. The upright had a big sound, with a light and responsive action that permitted easy execution of fast passages and good dynamic control. The tone is best described as bright with somewhat mellow undertones, and very transparent. This quality of tone was very consistent, not only throughout the instrument's keyboard range, but across a wide dynamic range as well. While many pianos sound quite different when played pianissimo than they do fortissimo, these pianos seemed to maintain their basic tonal character across the board.
The grand model, not unlike its smaller upright brother, had a very clean, transparent, and consistent sound across both the tonal and dynamic ranges of the instrument. The bass had a lot of depth for a 6'7" piano, and the treble range was bright and crystalline, with good sustain. The action was wonderfully light and responsive, which made playing fast legato passages very easy. The sound opened up very quickly, requiring a bit of skill to get the instrument to sing softly. Schulze Pollmann pianos are very versatile instruments that lend themselves well to a wide range of styles, from classical to jazz to popular music. They may appeal to a player who favors a more "pure," "clean" tone over one enveloped by a wider range of harmonic overtones.
My next stop, Cosmo Music in Richmond Hill, Ontario, is the official Bechstein selection center for Canada. It was there that I played a W. Hoffmann 48" model T122 upright in polished ebony, part of the W. Hoffmann "Tradition" series, made at a Bechstein factory in the Czech Republic. Not unlike its far more expensive C. Bechstein and Bechstein Academy cousins, this W. Hoffmann had a very rich but clean sound, with pearl-like trebles and a singing tonal quality. The tone was even and consistent across the range of the keyboard, with an almost unnoticeable break between the bass and tenor regions. When I played loud, sustained chords, the sound bloomed colorfully, first emphasizing the fundamental tones and then evolving into a warm, complex set of harmonic overtones. The action was very responsive and tactile, giving me a high level of control in the execution of a wide range of dynamics and clean, fast legato passages.
One reservation many pianists have about buying an upright instead of a grand is the sacrifice that must be made in the speed of single-note repetition. On this particular model, however, the ease at which I could quickly repeat a single note was quite impressive. The W. Hoffmann T122 upright would be a good choice for those who want a piano with very good action and a rich, "Bechstein-like" European sound, but at a price that doesn't break the bank. This model should provide great value for the money.
SPRING 2010 -- page 119
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Hybrid & Player Pianos
New-Piano Buyers’ Reference