New piano design promises ‘sound beyond time’.
A unique piano, created by Hungarian piano player Gergely Bogányi, is said to have ‘sound beyond time’. What does that even mean? With promises of a “revolutionary new piano” and with “Sound Beyond Time” comes the Bogányi piano, named after its creator, the Hungarian pianist Gergely Bogányi. Those incomprehensible claims might bring to mind some wild new mechanism for the production of sound through the digital activation of a piano key: so what is it, a keyboard that lets you produce light as well as sound (like Scriabin wanted) or maybe a set of ivories that turns the piano into a Marty-McFly-style musical DeLorean? Alas, it’s none of the above, in fact: in the flesh – or rather in photographs, since the piano was only unveiled today in Budapest – it looks like a swooshy reinterpretation of the piano form, a bit like a Steinway reimagined by Umberto Boccioni.
In fact, as Bogányi told me, form follows function in his piano, with even such details as the piano’s legs being sculpted better to project sound into the auditorium. Bogányi’s dream was to create an instrument that would be more “human” than the conventional Stein-endorfer-iolis that dominate the world’s concert halls (somewhat bizarrely, he also told me he wanted to make a 21st-century piano that would be more like the instruments of the early 19th century that he loves the best) but which would also carry greater clarity, and be less susceptible to the vagaries of humidity, temperature, and other minor acts of God that make the piano technician’s job a finicky pain in the proverbial. That means a lot of carbon fibre in the Bogányi’s construction; the instrument’s soundboard – the heart and soul of any piano’s sound – is made from this space-age material instead of metal or wood, and the result, he says, is a sound that’s more organic than the normal concert grands, but which is more powerful, too.
And while Bogányi is proud of his invention, he’s modest in the extreme about what it heralds, being cautious about allowing Hungary’s greatest pianists –Zoltan Kocsis, Andras Schiff, say – to play the instrument until he’s completely happy with it. The danger for the Bogányi is that it becomes another very expensive footnote in pianistic-organological history, a bit like a carbon-fibreLiberace-piano or Schimmel Pegasus. The proof will be in what it actually sounds like: and we’ll have to wait for reports from Budapest to find out what this “new revolution” in piano technology does for pianistic possibility.