We recently caught up with our resident Piano guru, Timothy Young, for a breakdown of our new Mason & Hamlin CC Concert Grand…piece by piece!
Why all the excitement about this particular piano?! What are its unique or outstanding features?
Mason & Hamlin is a piano that many people will not have heard of. Had you have been living about 100 years ago this would have been quite a different story!
Indeed it was the instrument of choice of many great pianist/composers and among those early last century were Rachmaninov and Ravel etc. so it is very exciting that there has been a revival of this make.
For me personally, I have always enjoyed playing on a variety of instruments and this includes not only the different makes of the modern piano but also extends to the harpsichord, organ and even clavichord (if I can get my hands on one!).
I have an interest in how they are built and work, and find it endlessly fascinating when it comes to how designers, pianists and listeners alike decide what their ideal piano or piano sound is.
I particularly appreciate the craftsmanship of the Mason & Hamlin. Being a small company, much of the instrument is handmade, as opposed to other piano manufacturers where greater turnover necessitates more automation in the building process.
Visiting the Mason & Hamlin piano factory late last year I was impressed by their uncompromising use of the finest quality materials and their world-leading innovations in the WNG (Wessel Nickel and Gross) carbon fibre action.
Without going into great details about the design, it is also built so solidly that it weighs considerably more than most concert grand pianos and in my experience has an extraordinary capacity for holding its tuning.
The materials used in the action mean that traditional wear and tear is reduced considerably and thus longevity will be a feature. All excellent qualities where the instrument will be used regularly for rehearsal and concert performance.
Can you tell us a brief history of how the piano came to ANAM?
After having confirmed that we would be acquiring a Mason & Hamlin CC Concert Grand I was able to fly to the factory in Haverhill, Massachusetts, to choose the instrument for ANAM. With 5 instruments to choose from the decision was a really enjoyable experience, each of them unique and offering different possibilities.
I was able to discuss the choice with their head designer and in view of the acoustical context in which the piano would reside make a decision. A rather big responsibility!
The instrument was then prepared for the flight to Australia and arrived late last year. Now that is has acclimatised to Melbourne weather, (Melbourne weather being a consistent variable!) we will do some further preparation before the year gets underway and I look forward to hearing it perform throughout the year.
How will ANAM students benefit from having this particular piano in the building?
Having the Mason & Hamlin in the building means that the piano students will be able to experience performing on a variety of world class instruments.
Adaptability and the capacity to be flexible to whatever situation they find themselves is a practical and inevitable aspect of being a professional musician.
A technical facility and open minded approach adaptable to these circumstances will only help them grow and become stronger in their own capacity to express themselves.
What will audiences get from hearing works performed on this particular piano?
Like all instruments of this high quality they are unique. Unique in there design, philosophy and therefore sound. This means that there a points of difference and particular qualities that an audience will perceive.
It is also true that the musicians performing on the instrument will also perceive these differences, in the way that the instrument responds to them. This can inspire a different approach and even get them thinking how they could explore a work in a different way.
This is also something that an audience member can perceive as they listen to a performer and participate in the live performance!
The purchase of the Mason & Hamlin CC Concert Grand has been made possible by the generous support of Sieglind D’Arcy
You can see the Mason & Hamlin CC Concert Grand on full display at the Messiaen performance, featuring Peter Hill and our ANAM pianists.
Sat 25 Mar 2017, 7.30PM
MESSIAEN Vingt regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus
Peter Hill piano