Pianomania! is an apt title for a documentary about Stefan Knupfer, Steinway piano technician, who gallops upstairs and downstairs in a premier “Vienna concert haus,” trying to meet the needs of performing pianists, recording artists, et al. They demand the kind of perfection in voicing, tuning, aesthetics that’s often beyond human capability. One classic example is a relationship, easily characterized as neurotic that plays out with Knupfer and Pierre-Laurent Aimard. The pianist is gearing up to record Bach’s Art of the Fugue and requires “voicing” for Clavichord, Harpsichord and Organ by individual sections. Try transforming an acoustic piano into a 17th century artifact using more imagination than hands-on intervention, though in truth, Stefan has something up his sleeve that no other tech can dream up. (He’s a problem-solving dynamo)
The assortment of pianos Knupfer deals with is mind-boggling. Steinway grands are numbered like thoroughbreds at the Kentucky Derby.
The numbering, so conspicuously referenced in James Barron’s The Making of a Steinway Concert Grand(book and documentary) also applies to my own assortment of pianos.
Picture this, before I escaped from Fresno to Berkeley, California–
A living room hodge podge of acoustics: (and one digital)
Fast forward to the latest piano shuffle in Bezerkeley, a sized-down space, that forced two acoustics out the door–one on loan to a piano teacher in Fresno.
The other, a Baldwin Grand, 1929, is housed up in the El Cerrito Hills! (my second E. Bay piano studio) Skyped piano lessons are launched at my Berkeley pad.
But Hallelujia! Yesterday, Steinway 1098, a bright-sounding studio upright made it’s maiden voyage to my apartment, displacing Yamaha Arius 141 that was shuttled off to the kitchen! The latter incensed Jakov Corsa, Facebook friend, who just purchased Arius 161, and considers it having altar status. (Kitchen?)
Well, it was better than relocating an electronic to the bathroom, if you consider the economy-sized layout of my digs. (By the way, a hamper joins the blended family, with an ironing board neatly folded into a custom-made cabinet–It’s ready for deployment) Talk about an all-purpose kitchen!
Almost center-stage, but still UP-staged by my Steinway Grand, M, 1917, NO. 185152, is 1098, delivered expertly and with panache by Greg McCrea, AA Pianos, Oakland. (Check Yelp and you’ll need no further help)
Sitting pretty, all dolled up, and ready for action!
How’s this for lighting and color framing!
A few camera pans around the room
The back story. I purchased Steinway 1098 in Fresno about 7 years ago. A friend spotted an ad for a Steinway upright in the FURNITURE section of the Fresno Bee classifieds. Naturally, I raced to see/play it, and my curiosity was rewarded by years of playing pleasure. The seller, a native Italian, planned relocation to the homeland and desperately needed to find a good home for her sweetheart. I guess it was love at first sight and sound! A match made in heaven!