World-renowned Argentinian pianist, conductor and director of La Scala in Milan, Daniel Barenboim, has unveiled his radical new piano design.

Describing it as a ‘sound alternative’, Barenboim played part of Beethoven’s Appassionata on his Steinway, then the same piece on his new piano to a selected group of journalists at the unveiling.

Barenboim conceived the new piano in 2011 and had it designed and built by Belgian Chris Maene, with the support of Steinway and Sons.

During a trip ot Siena, Italy, Barenboim played Fran Liszt’s 200-year old restored grand piano, where he concieved the idea for his new piano which was to merge modern technologies with the transparent sound quality and distinguishable colour registers of Liszt’s piano.

Of his new piano’s sound, Barenboim said, “There is a difference in the quality of the sound. It has more transparency, more clarity and by itself less blend but it gives you the opportunity to create a blend yourself as a player – and I like that.”

The design of pianos hasn’t changed largely in the last 100 years. Although Barenboim’s piano has a similar casing to modern concert grand pianos, it has a number of major differences including straight parallel strings, horizontal soundboard veins, a double bridge and newly-designed ribs and bracings.

These dramatic differences mean Barenboim’s piano has an alternative sound must be played differently. “It is a different relationship between the tip of the fingers and the key. And the pedalling … the transparency of the sound makes you rethink the use of the pedals.”

Daniel Barenboim will be performing Schubert’s piano sonata on his new piano at London’s Southbank Centre from 27 May – 2 June.

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