European piano manufacturer C. Bechstein and its subsidiary W.Hoffmann introduce two interesting small upright pianos this summer.
Before examining these new instruments it is worth taking a quick look at the product structure of C. Bechstein Pianoforte AG (to give it its formal title).
The company offers five main ranges/brand of piano (excluding specials):
- C. Bechstein Concert (premium, made in Germany)
- C. Bechstein Residence (top quality uprights, made in Germany)
- C. Bechstein Academy (cost-effective premium, made in Germany)
- W.Hoffmann (mid-price, made in the Czech Republic)
- Zimmermann (budget, made in China).
All models are designed by C. Bechstein, and production at all facilities is closely controlled by the parent company.
C. Bechstein Academy A 4 upright piano
The first thing you notice about the new Academy A 4 is its sleek simple design lines. The casework is beautifully understated, and the instrument, with its angularities, looks very modern.
C. Bechstein designed the Academy A 4 as a multi-role piano, i.e. one that can accommodate a variety of musical genres… “a versatile talent for every repertoire”. So perhaps this piano is particularly suited to the studio environment. C. Bechstein pianos tend to have a distinct rich “orchestral” voicing. With the Academy A 4, the designers have come up with a somewhat fresher palette.
The A 4 sits between the A 124 (Style, and Imposant), and the A 114 (Compact, Modern Chrome Art, and Modern) in the Academy range of uprights. It is available in both high-gloss lacquered black and white finishes.
Dimensions: 120cm / 47.5in (H) × 151cm / 59in (W) × 61cm / 24in (D)
Weight: 243kg / 536lb
W.Hoffmann Vision V 2 upright piano
W.Hoffmann pianos are available in three ranges… Professional, Tradition, and Vision. All are developed in Germany by the C. Bechstein R&D department. They are made in the company’s Hradec Králové (formerly Königgrätz) facility.
This Czech town is a long-established centre for the manufacture of musical instruments. And many great musicians (Dvořák, Janáček, Smetana) come from this area. It is also the home of Petrof pianos. Bechstein actually collaborated with Petrof on the Euterpe brand of uprights and grand in the late 1990s.
W.Hoffmann pianos were established in 1893 and made in Berlin. C. Bechstein acquired the name in 1986.
And it was in 2007 that the company took over the Bohemia Piano production facility in Hradec Králové, and used this plant to manufacture the W.Hoffmann range.
The new Vision V 2 is the entry-point piano for the W.Hoffmann brand. C. Bechstein promotes the model as “the small piano for big ideas”. And at just 114 cm tall, it is one of the smallest upright in the W.Hoffmann catalogue – fractionally smaller than the W.Hoffmann P 114 (Professional series), and just a tiny bit bigger than the W.Hoffmann V 112.
The Vision V 2 also has clean modern lines. It has been designed with the Euro-piano sound in mind, distinguishing it from the numerous Asian alternatives. And it is extremely compact.
Dimensions: 114cm / 45in (H) × 150cm / 59in (W) × 59cm / 23in (D)
Weight: 220kg / 485lb
Both the Academy A 4 and the Vision V 2 can be ordered with C. Bechstein’s Vario system (it can also be retro-fitted by an authorised dealer). The Vario system mutes the strings such that the keys drive a digital sound module. The “silenced” piano can then be monitored using headphones. The Vario app, available for most mobile devices, brings a whole host of further options to the system.
More information about both these new pianos and the Vario system can be found on the C. Bechstein website.
Some other C. Bechstein stories on the World Piano News website…
C. Bechstein Pianos at Music China 2019
C. Bechstein D 282 Concert Grand — Samples & Models
Resonances — a New Film about Piano Makers C. Bechstein
The Walter Cave Bechstein
The Best Ever TV Ad to Feature a Piano?