The city of Sacile, a place synonymous with an ancient woodworking tradition, is located around sixty kilometres north east of Venice in the North Eastern part of Italy. It is home to the headquarters of esteemed piano makers Fazioli, who build some of the most expensive instruments in the world. Fazioli is a relatively new piano maker, but the sheer quality and tonal sonority of their instruments have swiftly catapulted them into the spotlight, and their pianos are now firm favourites amongst performers and audiences alike.
Established in 1981 by engineer and pianist Paolo Fazioli, every instrument is individually handcrafted combining high quality materials with the very finest workmanship and technology. Each piano is made using red spruce wood from the Val di Fiemme forest, which is situated in the heart of the Western Italian Alps; the same wood used by Antonio Stradivari to construct his celebrated violins. Only 120 instruments are built each year and Paolo insists on playing every single one before it leaves the factory, making sure it corresponds to his consistently high specifications. The range of pianos includes the Grand and Concert Grand models, as well as the M. Liminal model which featured in the film ‘Prometheus’, the latest in the series of ‘Alien’ blockbusters. The famous ‘Silver’ model was designed by the great architect, Norman Foster.
In a relatively short time, Fazioli has attracted many world class concert pianists, who now request to perform on these illustrious instruments at their concerts and recitals. These artists include Angela Hewitt, Louis Lortie, Nikolai Demidenko and Herbie Hancock. Whilst Fazioli categorically refuse to have an artist list, there are many players emerging from the younger generation who have also stated a preference for these Italian hand built pianos; Daniil Trifonov (who won first prize in the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, Arthur Rubinstein Competition in Tel Aviv, and 3rd prize in the International Chopin Competition in Warsaw) and Boris Giltburg (winner of the International Queen Elisabeth Competition in Belgium), are both leading pianists of their generation and Fazioli lovers.
It’s interesting to note the effect this is having on music conservatoires and specialist music schools here in the UK, as well as international piano competitions too. The Rubinstein Competition, International Tchaikovsky Competition and International Chopin Competition all now offer Fazioli pianos (major competitions allow each competitor a choice of instrument on which to perform).
Faziolis have been purchased by the Royal Academy of Music, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the Royal College of Music have just ordered an additional two instruments, bringing their total to three. This may sound like small numbers, but when taken in context, the RCM have in fact ordered nearly 2% of Fazioli’s total yearly output.
Specialist music schools have also jumped on the band wagon. When asked why Fazioli was the instrument of choice for the Purcell School, Head of Keyboard, William Fong commented, ‘It’s important for our school to provide the best instruments for students and teachers as possible…Faziolis provide the possibility for great tone production with a richness of colour and the ability to finely control what you want to do in terms of clarity’. Director of the Yehudi Menuhin School, Malcolm Singer, also agrees with the necessity to provide ‘top quality instruments’ such as the Fazioli, at his world renowned school.
Fazioli pianos are available in the UK from Jaques Samuel Pianos on Edgware Road in London, where there is purpose built room housing many instruments for the prospective buyer to explore. You can find more information regarding these beautiful instruments from the following websites: www.jspianos.com and www.fazioli.com.
Angela Hewitt plays a Fazioli and below Daniil Trifonov plays Chopin Etudes at the Wigmore Hall on his chosen Fazioli piano.
For much more information about how to practice piano repertoire, take a look at my two-book piano course, Play it again: PIANO (Schott). Covering a huge array of styles and genres, 49 progressive pieces from approximately Grade 1 – 8 level are featured, with at least two pages of practice tips for every piece. A convenient and beneficial course for students of any age, with or without a teacher, and it can also be used alongside piano examination syllabuses too.
You can find out more about my other piano publications and compositions here.