peter waters: stanwood’s innovation; the hammers made love to the strings

peter waters

From: Peter Waters – Concert Pianist and Composer

Switzerland, March 1999

The meeting with David Stanwood and the subsequent demonstration at Schaffhausen Conservatorium constituted undoubtedly the most inspiring an enriching stimuli in the field of piano mechanism that I have ever experienced.

The meticulous and precise measurement of touch weight counterbalanced with back weight, the ingenious development of devices to implement a variation in hammer weight so as to ensure a steady gradation of touch throughout the entire piano, added to a love of materials ( which other piano technician anywhere in the world has also become a sheep farmer in order to influence the perfection of his work? ) — all of this adds up in David’s lifework to the ultimate realization of his aims.

With his endearing ability to explain all details so clearly, the background of his reasoning became illuminated, and the clear proof which his graphs and practical demonstrations conveyed made me more and more curious to try out his findings in sound.

I mean, could it be possible?

Here were all the conditions for the unfolding touch of sensitivity in a finely and impeccably measured are like a rainbow across the whole piano. This sounded too good to be true.

How did a grand piano which had undergone the Stanwood touch treatment actually feel?

And it was at this point that my admiration for his work became complete.

I chose my own “Litmus test”, the 2nd movement of the Maurice Ravel Piano Concert in G major that I had performed so many times on different pianos, and which includes gradations of each finger which, to put in my own terminology, demand an adjustment of 7 pianos from p ( piano ) to pp (Pianissimo ) through pppppppp ( pianissisis…. ), with, of course, added to this, all the shades in between, and all the over tones which also other notes are producing. Here my attitude changed from admiration to rapture.

There was not one note, not one sound, that I couldn’t control. I was able to influence every fine nuance through the subtlest shift in finger weight or poise in timing. The hammers made love to the strings.

There was no thought of piano technique: When you don’t have to think about it! here is the combination of all analysis: analyzed to the tiniest detail, the analysis disproves and gives way to musical magic.

Of course in writing this I assume that the reader already realizes that in order for 7 p’s to be possible, an articulation is demanded for which the 5 fortes are then no problem at all.

It’s not necessary in your case, learned readers, to confirm the ease of the fffff because you know already that the control that is necessary for 7 pianos demands more discipline and strength than the release which engenders a full fortissimo; this doesn’t even have to be said.

Of course I also applied the fortes but this was mere enjoyment; the test had already been passed with an overwhelming distinction!

So let us return to the delight and the sense of wonder that the 7 pianos instilled in me.

I do not hesitate to recommend David Stanwood for the adjustment of any grand piano in the world because the care and competence which he dedicates to his work cannot be matched by any other piano technician in the world.

I hope I have made myself quite clear.

Thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Waters