As all good things must my tour of my favourite 10 Steinways came to and end in October. This was my first solo recital tour of South Africa and proved to be so insightful in many ways. Naturally my musical experience was a crescendo in enjoyment and confidence touring with more or less the same programme 10 months. This might seem strange but by musical diet is quite varied with many single performances of works, so the opportunity for repeated execution was a welcome one.
I was amazed at the enthusiasm for piano music, for classical music and above all for the instruments that came such a long way and have made each town and city proud Steinway owners.
The unwavering support from Ian Burgess-Simpson Pianos and more specifically technicians Ian Burgess-Simpson and Garth Hammer made my dream for this tour come true. For years I have dreamt of arriving at a venue and instead of being at the mercy of whatever piano you find and dealing with sticking keys, worn hammers and no sense of response from the action or tonal colours which aid artistic endeavour. I deliberately chose my 10 favourite pianos situated in venues and concert halls with good acoustics and some in dire need of a service.
There were lots of days where the pressure on the piano technicians were so brutal that serious decisions had to be taken about what to do and more importantly what to leave as time did not permit a overhauling the piano. I have to congratulate both technicians on a splendid job dealing with missing strings, sunken pin blocks, pedal squeaks fit to make Sherlock Holmes give up the search and countless requests from me demanding more clarity, control, dynamic range and finesse in each instrument. The end result was 10 Steinways taken care of like no other technician in South Africa is capable of doing and leaving all these fine pianos in a better condition than when we found them.
During the course of the year I was fortunate to visit some of these instruments again for other concert obligations and was pleasantly surprized at how well they still sounded and felt months after the service. Next year will not see another mission to find that elusive love letter but who knows, maybe in 2016 I will conjure up some courage to hunt for it again on 10 new pianos.