Note By Note The Making Of Steinway L1037: Deluxe
Edition (2007/Docurama DVD)
C+ Sound: C+ Extras: B Film: B
straight and unusually clean, large piece of high quality, flat wood is carried
by a group of men into a room. Very
slowly, they gently bend it into a metal shaper and have to secure it with many
clamps and other items, including a metal frame. The shape is the traditional shape of a large
piano and so begins Ben Niles excellent documentary Note By Note The Making Of Steinway L1037 (2007) about the very
long road to building one big piano by hand from start to finish.
most pianos made today, Steinway & Sons has been making some of the best
pianos ever built for over 150 years by hand.
Every step is meticulously handled and without any digital meters or
technology whatsoever. The result is the
most desired and collectible piano made today in a world where electronic
keyboards are numerous (most of which are poorly made) and include endless toy
models for children. It takes a year to
make one Steinway, but they are making many at once and they all go through an
assembly line of very talented, caring people (450 of them!) who love the art
and craft of making the instrument, as well as music itself.
It is fascinating
throughout and incredible the hard work to make something that no other company
in the world seems to be able to duplicate.
This also results in each piano being totally unique, yet meant to give
the same range of great musical sound and options to those who try to play it,
from novices to geniuses. When all is
said and done, you see why people will still pay top dollar for just one and
why the greatest musicians in the world will not settle for anything less.
only see the work on model L1037 throughout with all the construction and hard
work it takes to shape and build one, but everyone involved in its building is
interviewed in what amounts to a lesson in the history of the company, the
instrument and music itself. Among the
musicians who show up, are involved and even play on camera include Harry
Connick Jr., Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Hank Jones, Helene Grimaud, Marcus Roberts
and Lang Lang. If you love music, this
is a must-have, must see affair and was previously only available exclusively
through Steinway. However, Docurama is
giving it its wide release and that makes it one of the best Documentary on DVD
releases of the year.
anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image is shot on High Definition video (maybe
1080i) and it can look good, but also has its share of softness and motion
blur. There is hardly any stock footage
to speak of, though we see stills of the past at times. I liked the editing and the many rare new
shots. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is barely
better than the Dolby Digital 2.0 mix and both have a few moments of sound
limits, but I wondered if a DTS track would have helped. Extras include 80 minutes of deleted scenes
that should have stayed in the film, more performances by the pianists and
extended interviews, some segments of which could have also been in the film.
- Nicholas Sheffo