In Latvia strikes chord con­cert pi­ano World’s largest SIZE MAT­TERS

Global Times US Edition - - LIFE -

Soar­ing to new mu­si­cal heights, a Ger­man-born in­no­va­tor has crafted what is be­lieved to be the world’s largest grand pi­ano.

It is without ques­tion one of a kind: At­tached high on the wall of a con­cert hall in Latvia, the steel­framed ver­ti­cal grand pi­ano hangs as if in mid-air some three sto­ries above the au­di­ence.

To play it, pi­anists must climb a steep flight of steel stairs to a bal­cony.

Although the Guin­ness Book of World Records has not yet mea­sured the new in­stru­ment, it was made by David Klavins whose Model 370 pi­ano un­veiled in 1987 is cur­rently re­garded as be­ing among the world’s largest.

Klavins’ stan­dard new model, the 470i Ver­ti­cal Con­cert Grand pi­ano, has strings that are 4.7 me­ters long.

The cus­tom-built 470i pi­ano in­stalled at a new con­cert hall in the Baltic sea­side port and re­sort town of Ventspils is even larger; its im­pos­ing

navy blue-painted steel frame is six me­ters high.

With some strings mea­sur­ing al­most five me­ters, the in­stru­ment emits bold, sonorous mu­sic.

“The most suitable mu­sic for this in­stru­ment would be all the very ex­pres­sive works, for ex­am­ple Rach­mani­noff, Scri­abin but also Beethoven’s sonatas would sound to­tally dif­fer­ent on this in­stru­ment,” Klavins told AFP.

The in­no­va­tor, who has Lat­vian roots, has worked on pi­anos nearly all his life, driven by a de­sire to push the bound­aries of the in­stru­ment first cre­ated by Ital­ian Bar­tolomeo Cristo­fori around the year 1700.

“Since I was 16 years old and dropped out of school to be­come a pi­ano restora­tion ap­pren­tice, I have been try­ing to ex­plore new de­signs and prin­ci­ples, which de­vi­ate from the 140-year-old con­struc­tion of the tra­di­tional grand pi­ano,” Klavins, now 65, told AFP while sit­ting at the 450i.

He crafted his first ver­ti­cal pi­ano in 1985. Now at his work­shop, the Klavins Pi­ano Man­u­fak­tura based in the town of Vac just north of the Hun­gar­ian cap­i­tal Bu­dapest, he dreams up his sig­na­ture ver­ti­cal de­signs.

It is not just his new in­stru­ment’s mam­moth size that makes it stand out; hav­ing no wooden cas­ing means that au­di­ences seated in the con­cert hall can see its long, steely strings.

Lay­ing them bare in this way lets mu­sic lovers “hear ev­ery sound nu­ance un­muted,” Klavins said.

Open­ing this Fri­day in Ventspils, the Latvija venue where the pi­ano is in­stalled, boasts two con­cert halls with a com­bined seat­ing ca­pac­ity of 1,000. It is also home to a mu­sic academy for emerg­ing young talent.

“Tra­di­tional pi­anos are meant to be trans­ported in and out of the con­cert venues, but my ver­ti­cal design has to be mounted on the build­ing’s struc­ture,” Klavins said.

“The size of the pi­ano and length of strings do not set records for a record’s sake: The idea is to cre­ate the best imag­in­able sound for all the per­form­ers and lis­ten­ers who come to this par­tic­u­lar hall,” he added.

On display to the public for the first time on Fri­day, the in­stru­ment has al­ready cre­ated a buzz among pi­ano en­thu­si­asts.

“Com­posers and per­form­ers from all around are in­ter­ested in play­ing the new Klavins pi­ano, which will open new av­enues of artis­tic ex­pres­sion for them,” said Miks Magone, the creative head of the new con­cert venue.

Pi­anist Lubomyr Mel­nyk from Canada, known for a tech­nique us­ing an ex­tremely rapid suc­ces­sion of notes, will be among the first to play the 450i next week, Magone said.

One of six Ger­man pi­anists will also use it in a per­for­mance of Six Pi­anos by Steve Re­ich, he added.

Ventspils Mayor Ai­vars Lem­bergs has his fin­gers crossed that the record-break­ing pi­ano will help the in­dus­trial port city of 40,000 re­brand it­self into a fam­ily-friendly tourist des­ti­na­tion.

“We’re hop­ing to at­tract for­eign mu­sic lovers as well,” he said.

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