New Pianofforte Magazine & the Jaques Samuel Junior Piano Festival

Pianofforte Magazine 2015-16 Cover

Faber Music’s annual magazine Pianofforte, is now available. It’s a superb periodical (as might be expected from one of the UK’s foremost publishing houses) which is essentially for piano teachers, featuring many interesting piano related articles.

This edition comprises information on all recent Faber Music publications, including new Messiaen works, Piano By Ear (by Lucinda Mackworth-Young), Dame Fanny Waterman’s new autobiography, and the Tido app which complements Lang Lang’s mastering the piano series.

I’m delighted to be featured too; my article offering a few teaching ideas, can be read here: A Helping Hand.


Jaques Samuels

Last Sunday I had the pleasure of adjudicating at the Jaques Samuel Pianos Junior Festival. Situated in Edgware Road (central London), Jaques Samuel Pianos is one of the UK’s premier piano houses, and as well as selling and supplying pianos, and offering extensive practising facilities, they are also involved with many piano related events. The Jaques Samuel Piano Festival, The Junior Department Piano Festival and The Jaques Samuel Pianos Intercollegiate Piano Competition are just three of the events held every year.

The Festival is open to students from the junior departments of the Royal Academy of Music, the Royal College of Music, the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. It provides an opportunity to perform before a supportive audience.

Twenty-six soloists and two groups of pianists performed throughout the day, and were arranged in three categories according to age groups. This festival is not competitive as such, it focuses instead on encouraging young pianists, proffering the opportunity to perform to an audience (each class enjoyed a full house consisting of mostly teachers and parents), and they could also savour the opportunity to play a splendid Fazioli instrument at the Jaques Samuel Pianos’ showroom (see photo above).

My task was to select a group of pianists to play just one piece (most played two works on Sunday) at the Wigmore Hall on November 1st 2015. Not an easy undertaking! There were many impressive and thoughtful performances and a wonderful selection of repertoire, which ranged from J.S Bach’s preludes and fugues, Scarlatti sonatas, and Haydn, Schubert and Beethoven sonata movements, to Chopin (many of the etudes, nocturnes and preludes), Liszt (etudes and transcriptions), Debussy (preludes) and Ravel (movements from the Sonatine), Brahms (Rhapsodies), Grieg (Sonata Op.7), Scriabin (preludes), Rachmaninov (preludes), Gershwin (songs from the Songbook), Prokofiev (Scherzo Op. 12), as well as works by Albeniz, Bartók, Schoenberg, Copland, Peter Sculthorpe, Oscar Peterson, and a quartet by British composer Mark Tanner, for four pianists (at one piano). Two pianists also performed their own compositions which I really appreciated.

At the conclusion of every session, I provided feedback via an adjudication and written notes, which was hopefully helpful, and at the end of the afternoon, the final programme selection was announced.


My publications:

For much more information about how to practice piano repertoire, take a look at my piano course, Play it again: PIANO (published by Schott Music). Covering a huge array of styles and genres, the course features a large collection of progressive, graded piano repertoire from approximately Grade 1 to advanced diploma level, with copious 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.


 

80th Anniversary Party at Jaques Samuel Pianos

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Jaques Samuel Pianos is one of the UK’s most prominent piano houses. Situated in Edgware Road, in central London, it opened its doors in 1935, and has now become known for excellent service and attention to detail.

A laureate of the Music Industry Association’s “Retailer of the Year” award, Jaques Samuel are  the largest piano hire company in the UK and sell more Kawai pianos than any other dealer in the European Union and just to keep busy they also  tune over 6000 pianos a year!

They have London’s largest selection of practice rooms with 14 air-conditioned studios for teaching, auditions, practice, and they are also used for music board examinations including ABRSM.

To celebrate eighty years in the business, Jaques Samuel Pianos threw a wonderful party on January 19th, for all their associates and friends. The film below offers a few highlights from the occasion and an interview with Managing Director, Terry Lewis.

www.jspianos.com


My publications:

For much more information about how to practice piano repertoire, take a look at my piano course, Play it again: PIANO (published by Schott Music). Covering a huge array of styles and genres, the course features a large collection of progressive, graded piano repertoire from approximately Grade 1 to advanced diploma level, with copious 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.


Paolo Fazioli in conversation with Melanie Spanswick

Last week I had the pleasure of attending a tour of the Fazioli piano factory in Sacile, Italy. The headquarters of this illustrious firm of piano makers is based a short drive from Venice. Fazioli was established in 1981 and is swiftly becoming an increasingly popular choice of instrument amongst pianists and institutions; from celebrated artists (Angela Hewitt, Louis Lortie, Daniil Trifonov, Boris Giltburg, to name a few) to international competitions (many finalists are now requesting to perform on a Fazioli), music schools and conservatoires, who all realise the vast array of tonal possibilities available from this hand-built, high quality piano.

The trip was arranged beautifully by Jaques Samuel Pianos (of Edgware Road, London) and a whole day was spent looking around the factory. We observed how the instruments are constructed (every stage was fully explained and demonstrated), enjoyed a lecture by owner and founder Paolo Fazioli, and finally, were able to thoroughly appreciate the Fazioli sonority in a recital given by young Australian pianist John Granger Fisher (winner of the Chappell Gold Medal at the Royal College of Music, amongst many other accolades).

After the tour, I had the opportunity to chat to Paolo Fazioli in the elegant concert hall and here’s what he said:

www.jspianos.com


My publications:

For much more information about how to practice piano repertoire, take a look at my piano course, Play it again: PIANO (published by Schott Music). Covering a huge array of styles and genres, the course features a large collection of progressive, graded piano repertoire from approximately Grade 1 to advanced diploma level, with copious 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.


Fazioli Factory and Venice Visit

Here’s a wonderful trip for all those who love the piano and particularly Fazioli; Jaques Samuel Pianos of Edgware Road in London are organizing a special visit to Fazioli’s Factory in Sacile, Italy. The trip, which has been held several times since 2007, will be of interest to pianists, piano teachers, and piano tuners, as well as piano lovers everywhere. It takes place from 21st – 23rd May 2014 and offers an interesting and comprehensive itinerary.

Designed to give an insight into the magic of Fazioli pianos, the experience proffers a chance to meet all those who make the piano and see the detail to which they craft these remarkable instruments. The Fazioli Company have produced grand and concert grand pianos since 1981, when the company was founded by pianist and engineer Paolo Fazioli with the aim of starting the construction of a new professional line of grand pianos in Italy. Each instrument is individually hand crafted combining high quality materials with the finest workmanship and technology.

There will be time to enjoy both the beautiful town of Sacile (35 miles North-East of Venice) and the magnificent city of Venice during the visit, and an opportunity to hear a piano recital at the factory too. This trip is limited to 30 places only, so if interested, book quickly! There is also an option to extend this visit in order to stay longer in Venice.

Here is the Programme:

Wednesday 21st May

08.45 Easy Jet flight departs Gatwick airport

11.50 Arrive at Venice (Marco Polo)

12.30 Transfer by bus to Sacile

13.30 Arrival at Hotel Due Leoni in Sacile

14.30 Lunch at Cavour Restaurant

15.30 Guided tour of Sacile

16.30 Free time

19.30 Dinner at Cellini Pizzaria

Thursday 22nd May

09.00 Breakfast in hotel

10.00 Walk to the Fazioli factory (25 minutes flat leisurely walk. 1 Mile/1.5 km; Ladies think shoes!)

11.00 Tour of Fazioli factory

12.30 Light lunch at factory

13.30 Presentation on Fazioli history

14.00 Short piano recital in the Fazioli Concert Hall

15.00 Coffee / walk back to hotel / free time

19.30 Meet in hotel foyer

Gala dinner hosted by Mr Terence Lewis (MD of Jaques Samuel Pianos) at Cavour Restaurant

Friday 23rd May

08.00 Breakfast in hotel

09.00 Short walk (15 minutes) with luggage to the train station to catch a train to Venice (baggage can be stored near the station in Venice circa £10)

11.30 Guided tour through Venice with lunch

13.30 Free time

16.30 Collect

The cost of this trip is £390 (excluding drinks and flight). Flights can be booked separately by booking online at Easy Jet (contact Jaques Samuel Pianos for the flight information).

For more details  and to register your  interest please e-mail james@jspianos.com

www.jspianos.com


My publications:For much more information about how to practice piano repertoire, take a look at my piano course, Play it again: PIANO (published by Schott Music). Covering a huge array of styles and genres, the course features a large collection of progressive, graded piano repertoire from approximately Grade 1 to advanced diploma level, with copious 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.


 

‘There are no Fazioli artists, only ARTISTS who PLAY FAZIOLI’

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.

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Angela Hewitt plays a Fazioli and below Daniil Trifonov plays Chopin Etudes at the Wigmore Hall on his chosen Fazioli piano.

fAZIOLI lOGOG


My publications:

For much more information about how to practice piano repertoire, take a look at my piano course, Play it again: PIANO (published by Schott Music). Covering a huge array of styles and genres, the course features a large collection of progressive, graded piano repertoire from approximately Grade 1 to advanced diploma level, with copious 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.