Bechstein Back at Wigmore Hall
John Gilhooly and Michel Dalberto Talk About Bechstein
This video was produced during the Fauré Project, two concerts held at Wigmore Hall with some of France’s best living musicians. It features John Gilhooly, Artistic and Executive Director of Wigmore Hall, who salutes the return of a Bechstein grand to the stage of London’s former Bechstein Hall, and the pianist Michel Dalberto, who explains how perfectly the venue’s outstanding acoustics complement the wonderful voice of the Bechstein D 282 concert grand.
London’s Wigmore Hall ranks among the world’s most famous chamber music venues. This is due not only to the hall’s excellent acoustics, but also to its century-old history. Built between 1899 and 1901 for Carl Bechstein, the venue was originally named Bechstein Hall. During the First World War, however, the German firm forfeited its famous concert hall and busy sales showroom in London, and the venue was renamed Wigmore Hall.
Yet the Bechstein name lives on at 36 Wigmore Street. In the Bechstein Bar for example, where you can have a drink in the interval, or on the numerous historic programmes and posters on display, announcing the concerts once given there by such outstanding pianists and composers as Godowsky, Fauré and Scriabine.
On 18 March 1908, Gabriel Fauré premiered some of his works at the Bechstein Hall together with the singer Jeanne Raunay. And more than a century later, the Fauré Project gathered the crème de la crème of French chamber musicians on the same stage: Renaud Capuçon (violin), Gautier Capuçon (cello) and Michel Dalberto (C. Bechstein D 282 concert grand piano). The Bechstein grand was superbly tuned by the concert technician Denijs de Winter. The two concerts at Wigmore Hall crowned a tour during which the musicians also performed in Bensheim, Essen and Bonn, as well as at Birmingham’s Town Hall. Nicholas Angelich (piano) and Gérard Caussé (viola) also participated in the London concerts, the first of which was broadcast lived on BBC3. All the musicians — and the C. Bechstein D 282 concert grand — had been involved in the recording of Fauré’s complete chamber music, a set of CDs on the Virgin label that has won several prizes.
Michel Dalberto, who insisted for playing the C. Bechstein D 282 concert grand during the tour and the recording sessions, explains in the video that he likes “the clarity and the finishing of the Bechstein sound”, and appreciates not only “the perfect homogeneity between the bass, the treble and the upper register”, but also the “natural projection” of the Bechstein piano: “On stage, the Bechstein sound is a little bit less powerful, but when you’re in the audience, it’s just the opposite: you know that there is this unlimited power of sound. Even though you don’t need it at the moment, it’s there.”