Chris Maene & Daniel Barenboim concert grand NEW

Conceived and commissioned by Barenboim himself and Chris Maene, the Barenboim-Maene piano was developed and built by esteemed Belgian instrument maker Chris Maene, with support from Steinway & Sons. The new Barenboim-Maene piano combines the touch, stability, and power of a modern piano with the transparent sound quality and distinguishable colour registers of more historic instruments and, while it does not differ significantly in looks from a modern concert grand, most of its components – including the braces, the soundboard, the cast-iron frame, the bass strings, the keyboard and action – have been specially-designed and tailor made and the positioning of others, such as the hammers and strings is radically different.
Barenboim was inspired to create a new piano after playing Franz Liszt’s restored grand piano during a trip to Siena in September 2011. Struck by the vital differences in sound of an instrument constructed with straight, parallel strings rather than the diagonal crossed ones of a contemporary instrument, he set out to create a brand new instrument that combines the best of the old and the new and offers a real alternative for pianists and music-lovers in the 21st century.
Barenboim discussed his idea with Steinway & Sons who introduced him to Chris Maene, who had also wanted to create a brand new instrument inspired by the past, and the two maestri were able to combine their respective musical and technical expertise to begin work on their shared vision. Just 15 months ago, Barenboim’s personal technician Michel Brandjes tested several 19th-century historic grand pianos from Chris Maene’s collection and some of the remarkable replicas made by him. His findings and reflections on the sound of technical aspects of the instruments were discussed with Barenboim who then commissioned Maene to work a detailed concept for the new instrument which was then developed, constructed, tested and revealed today.

Barenboim says: “The warmth and tonal characteristics of the traditional straight-strung instruments is so different from the homogenous tone produced by the modern piano across its entire range. The clearly distinguishable voices and colour across its registers of Liszt’s piano inspired me to explore the possibility of combining these qualities with the power, looks, evenness of touch, stability of tuning and other technical advantages of the modern piano. I am so delighted to have worked with Chris Maene, who had the same dream and I must pay tribute to his incredible technical expertise and his deep respect for both tradition and innovation. I must also thank Steinways, whose pianos I will continue to use alongside this new alternative, for bringing us together and for delivering key components for our new instrument. It may not look that different, but its construction and sound possibilities make it a brand-new piano which I hope will be embraced by pianists and music-lovers as a real alternative for the 21st century.”

Chris Maene says: “All my life I have been building replicas of legendary historic instruments. But for many years I have also been dreaming to build a new type of concert grand. It has always surprised me how the fantastic and unique sound diversity related to the grand pianos of the 19th century disappeared. By the end of the 19th century many piano builders tried to copy the success of Steinway & Sons. In this process, they all ignored the attention for the straight strung grand pianos with their unique sound characteristics. As a result, the 20th century offered us very similar instruments in regards of construction and sound. Therefore it has never been my goal to build another copy of a Steinway, but rather to make a different instrument in which I could incorporate all my expertise about building historic instruments. It has been a true honour to be able to work with Maestro Daniel Barenboim. I hold the Maestro in very high regard and was delighted to discover our mutual interest in straight strung pianos. His input, confidence and order made it possible to build this new instrument: a concert grand for the 21st century. For me it is truly a dream come true.”
Thomas Reyes (Steinway & Sons)says: “ Steinway is very proud and happy to provide essential elements of a current model D Steinway grand like the continuous bent rim and other Steinway components to make this dream of Daniel Barenboim come true. We are privileged and honoured to have such a kind and close relation to both Maestros: Daniel Barenboim as an outstanding Steinway Artist for so many decades and Chris Maene, our sole distribution partner in Belgium”.