Modartt, the French-based software developer, has just released PETROF 284 Mistral. This is a physically modelled virtual instrument capturing the rich tonal characteristics of PETROF’s P 284 Mistral, the company’s flagship grand piano.
It would seem therefore an appropriate time to take a closer look at this much loved and respected instrument.
The P 284 Mistral, introduced in 1998, is the largest of PETROF’s grands. Its length is 284cm (naturally), which is just under 9ft 4in. It is (mostly) hand-built at the company’s Hradec Králové facility in the Czech Republic. Each piano takes 9-12 months to build.
PETROF is the largest acoustic piano manufacturer in Europe, and to date has produced over 630,000 instruments.
Antonín Petrof founded the company in 1864, producing his first grand piano that same year. He learnt his skills working in Vienna for other piano houses. These include Heitzman (not to be confused with Heintzman), Ehrbar, and the prestigious makers Schweighofer.
The PETROF company flourished for many years, but in 1948, following World War II, was nationalised. However, it was re-privatised in 1991 with control returning to the Petrof family in 1998. Fifth-generation family member Zuzana Ceralová Petrofová now heads the company.
The P 284 belongs to PETROF’s Master Series. This range is primarily for larger stages and professional pianists. The P 284 is known for its powerful bass and resonant treble. And its somewhat soft tone is frequently described as “European romantic”.
In 2009 PETROF revised its various grand piano product lines. The Master Series, comprises the P 237 Monsoon, the P 210 Pasat, and the aforementioned P 284. Whilst the Standard Series features the P 194 Storm, P 173 Breeze and P 159 Bora. Style Collection and Special Collection product lines incorporate art-case and classical designs, one-offs and limited edition instruments. The company also produces five series of uprights.
The Mistral replaced the PETROF Mondial and PETROF Orchestra grand pianos which were developed in the 1950s. Improvements include a duplex bar system, and Renner hammers and action (made to PETROF’s spec.).
Pianoteq 7 and the PETROF Instrument Pack
Modartt’s physically modelled version is fully endorsed by PETROF. A team of musicians and two of PETROF’s most experienced voicers and tuners helped in the product’s development.
PETROF’s own anechoic chamber was utilised to help analyse the Mistral’s sound before physical modelling could start. Having previously modelled the ANT. PETROF 275, the sampling technology was already in place.
The virtual instrument runs on Modartt’s Pianoteq platform as either a standalone instrument or as a workstation plug-in. It now accompanies the aforementioned ANT. PETROF 275 in the PETROF Instrument Pack.
The Pianoteq software provides incredibly powerful editing facilities. Almost every nuance of the piano’s sound and response is editable. From temperament and octave stretching to scaling, hammer hardness, strike point, pedalling effects, velocity mapping, mechanical noise, microphone positioning, acoustic effects… you name it!
The new Pianoteq 7 update also offers morphing and layering of two or more different instruments. Another new feature is double polarization which models string vibration in both x- and y-planes. This can generate a yet more complex tone.
More information on physical modelling can be found here.
The PETROF instrument pack (PETROF 284 Mistral and ANT. PETROF 275) sells for €49/$59. The Modartt website offers a free trial version of the pack and the latest update (7.3) of the Pianoteq platform.