Tuesday, 10 April 2012

A Steinway-Warming at the Cheongs

There was a time when the pianoforté was a permanent fixture in every middle to upper class household. That was during the 19th and early 20th century in Europe and the New World when the pianoforté was de rigeuer, a mandatory part of the furniture in polite society. Even in the 1960s and 70s in Singapore, almost every middle class family had a piano, upon which younger members would be made to learn piano pieces to the immense joy and happiness of the adults. These days, the piano has been largely replaced by the "entertainment system" - high definition plasma television, DVD players and the high fidelity set.

It was thus a joy for me to learn that my friends from church, the Cheongs, had decided to buy a new piano for their new home. That was about two years ago. Irene wanted a piano that had nice legs and curves, and she spotted a Yamaha upright that fit that description on the Internet. Unfortunately that was on an American site and the model was not available in Singapore. A round of piano hunting in various piano galleries here came to nought, but a recent trip to New York unearthed the piano of her dreams, and it was eventually shipped over to Singapore. I had the honour of being asked to give its first household recital here last Sunday.

Make no mistake, the upright piano which looks like an organ is a genuine Steinway & Sons, thought to have been built in the 1970s, and probably modelled on an antique piano.

Young Benjamin makes an announcement, and the mini-recital is underway. The piano is wonderfully in tune, and has a nice soft touch that is suitable for young hands. The tone is mellow, never overbright and has a suitably wide dynamic range for its surroundings. Guess someone is going to have piano lessons soon...

What did I play? A Chopin Waltz (Op.34 No.2), Schumann-Liszt Widmung, Rachmaninov Vocalise, Albeniz Tango and some Gershwin and Billy Mayerl. The hosts asked for some Mozart and Liszt, but alas I didn't have the scores!

Here we all are, happy and relieved as the recital drew to a close. Till the next one...

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