I have to “plug” a DVD documentary I recently watched.
It’s entitled “Pianomania,” a 2009 film directed by Lilian Franck
and Robert Cibis, and released under the First Run Features
label. The focus of this 93-minute film is the work of
Stefan Knüpfer, a virtuoso piano tuner and chief technician
for the Vienna branch of Steinway & Sons.
The word “fastidious” doesn’t begin to describe Knüpfer’s
attention to detail, in his effort to produce the “perfect sound”
for various pianists. Chief among his client/collaborators in
this film was French pianist, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, who was
preparing to record Johann Sebastian Bach’s “The Art of
the Fugue.” Other celebrity pianists featured included
Lang Lang, Alfred Brendel and Julius Drake, among others.
While watching this fascinating and humorous film,
I developed a greater appreciation for the mechanical
precision and subtleties involved in both recorded and
live piano performances. Henceforth, I will certainly pay
greater attention to the actual sound of these instruments,
as opposed to limiting my perception to the music itself.
Even though Knüpfer acknowledges his relentless pursuit
of perfection as a form of neurosis, I am in awe of his
craftsmanship. The “Piano Whisperer” indeed!
Released in 2010, this documentary is in English and
(primarily) German with English subtitles. A printed
“Q and A” session with the directors is included as a
bonus feature. This film has inspired my highest