It must have been a chance in many million to discover a Pleyel grand piano in a local auction sale. Viewing on Tuesday, sale on Wednesday. There was no time to get my piano turner to cast his expert eye and hands over the instrument, and the Auctioneers knew nothing of its history or condition. However, all the notes worked, and despite it being well out of tune, it had a wonderful tone. And so it should, as the manufacturer Pleyel was France’s equivalent of Steinway and one of Europe’s grand marques, and had been Chopin’s favourite instrument.
And so on Wednesday I became the owner of a grand piano. The serial number indicated that it had been made between 1890 and 1900, a period when Pleyel produced outstanding instruments. So after five weeks of acclimatization to it’s new home, it could be tuned, but as yet, nothing else, for possible use at the Marlow Recital Society concert next day.
The pianist Christopher Sayles had a choice of the excellent Reid Sohn upright, used at all the previous recitals, or risk his reputation on the not-ready-for-a-recital Pleyel. To my delight he opted to play his entire recital on the Pleyel. Visit the website www.pianorecital.co.uk for details of his programme. Despite one high note almost giving up completely, Christopher worked wonders with the Pleyel and enthralled the audience.
Since then, a lot of work has been done on the piano’s mechanism, and it has been tuned twice more, the last time for Philippa Harrison’s recital. Again, visit www.pianorecital.co.uk for details. Philippa gave a truly inspired performance and the Pleyel responded magnificently.
The Pleyel grand is now a wonderful instrument to play. It has a very light touch and positively sings out its response. I find it difficult to keep my hands off it!