Models 185 and 132
My third and last stop was at Remenyi House of Music, on Bloor Street in downtown Toronto. They have a wide selection of pianos ranging from Steinway & Sons and Boston to Sauter, Seiler, and Bohemia. The two models I played were a Bohemia 6'1" model 185 grand and a 52" model 132 Concerto upright, both in polished ebony.
Both models had dark, brooding voices, lyrical in nature and rich in harmonic overtones. When played loudly, the sound opened up into a powerful roar, but never became strident and distorted. Soft passages, particularly on the grand model, rang with a sweet, almost reed-like quality.
Also standing out was these pianos' very impressive sustain. With both instruments, I found it very satisfying to play a mezzo forte six- or eight-note chord spanning the lower-middle to high registers, then listen to the sound slowly bloom and fade. When playing a single-note passage ascending from the bass register into the tenor, I could hear the tonal character change at the break a bit more noticeably than with some other instruments at this price point. However, this was hardly noticeable when I played two-handed or chordal passages.
The upright's action felt very solid without being stiff, and with an almost springy character that easily permitted fast repetition of a single note. The grand's lighter action was very responsive, and consequently somewhat unforgiving. This action was designed to do precisely what the player asks of it. However, as with a high-performance sports car, there can be a bit of a learning curve to obtaining a sense of full control over this instrument.
These pianos should provide solid, viable alternatives for those looking for an instrument with a sound that differs from that of the more typical American or Japanese instruments. Bohemia pianos easily handle any style of music, but do so with a characteristic sound that is unique and refreshing.
With such a wide array of distinctly different pianos on the world market today, there are many possibilities for every type of taste and budget. As a pianist, I'm always excited to play an instrument I've never tried before. Each piano, with its own unique personality, beckons the player to look for that place within that resonates with that particular instrument. When all is said and done, it just might be that the piano also "plays" its player. That's what makes the connection between pianist and piano such a wondrous thing.
Pianist and composer Adrean Farrugia has been a vital member of the North American jazz scene for almost 15 years. He has performed and recorded with such luminaries as Curtis Fuller, Randy Brecker, Bob Brookmeyer, and Matt Dusk, in New York, Chicago, Paris, Tokyo, and Toronto. He serves on the music faculties of York University, in Toronto, and Mohawk College of Applied Arts and Technology, in Hamilton, Ontario. Visit his website at www.myspace.com/adreanfarrugia.
Thanks to the following dealers for their participation in this review:
SPRING 2010 -- page 120
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Hybrid & Player Pianos