BALDWIN MODELS REVIEWED
Prices for models in ebony finish
ModelSizeMSRPSMP*
BP1906' 3"$ 38,385.00$ 24,990.00
BP1785' 10"$ 30,385.00$ 20,990.00
B25252"$ 11,495.00$ 8,190.00
B24347"$ 9,265.00$ 6,790.00
*Suggested Maximum Price. Most sales take place at a modest discount to this price. See page 205 for more information.


For those shopping for a superior vertical piano, Baldwin has done some very creative things to make the vertical not seem like one. When I sampled the 52" B252 upright, I was surprised how much it had in common with the grands. Easy to play, it also had excellent dynamic range, color, and sensitivity — due, I suspect, to the longer strings that its greater height makes possible. I was especially excited about its lyricism as I played a Chopin nocturne, and its tonal colors in Debussy's Clair de Lune. Given the inherent limitations of a vertical piano action, the rapidly repeated notes in Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue were admittedly tricky, but certainly possible when the tempo was kept under control. I loved its sound in Beethoven's "Moonlight" Sonata, finding it equally favorable in both loud and soft dynamic ranges. The bass notes tended to ring a bit after being forcefully played staccato; however, with additional regulation, I predict that this issue could be easily solved. As one who frequently rehearses on upright pianos in schools, I would gladly take the B252 in trade for the pianos of other makes I often have to play. This sample, in satin black, looked very classy; the B252 should be ideal for home use, individual practice, or ensemble rehearsal in the studio.

Baldwin also offers the B243, a 47" institutional studio upright that, at less than $7,000, is very affordable, and that handled sophisticated repertoire much better than one would expect from an upright. I felt I could "dig in" with the keys more on this piano than on the other models I played; however, it didn't produce as wide a dynamic range of sound. The walnut-finished sample I tried handled technical pieces better than lyrical ones, as its action would not allow for as nuanced a touch as the other models. For example, I found the B243 very satisfying for works such as Liszt's Piano Concerto No.1, with its third movement's light yet difficult-to-control fingertip-intensive passages in fast 16th notes; while less successful in a coloristic piece such as Ravel's Jeux d'eau. It also tended to ring a bit after the pedal was released, but I was assured that this could be improved with additional regulation. The B243's action, though not at the level of a top-tier grand, had impressive repetition for an upright, and I was surprised, given the piano's deeper key dip, how easily I could play both the repeating and glissando passages in Ravel's extremely demanding Alborada del Gracioso, something I normally would be afraid to attempt on an upright. This would be an ideal practice piano for the home or studio, and an excellent buy for schools.

All in all, my trip to Hollywood Piano Company encouraged me as to the evolution of the Baldwin brand. My experiences with Baldwin two decades ago were that the company produced pianos musically inferior to those from Boston, Kawai, and Yamaha; this latest experience demonstrated that Baldwin instruments currently compare very favorably to those brands. The Baldwins also tend to be well priced; these pianos are excellent buys. I can hardly wait to play Baldwin's larger grands as they become available — I'm fascinated to see how the company's changes have influenced their highest-end pianos. If they're anything like the BP190 and BP178, I'm sure to be most satisfied.


Dr. James Lent is Lecturer in Collaborative Piano at UCLA's Herb Alpert School of Music. He can be reached at drjameslent@yahoo.com.

The Definitive Piano Buying Guide for

Buying New, Used, and Restored Acoustic Pianos and Digital Pianos

Spring 2014    Page 51

Spring 2014    Page 51

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