In memoriam: Angela Hewitt mourns the passing of her beloved piano

Angela Hewitt. Photo: Keith Saunders

On Sunday Angela Hewitt revealed on her facebook page the unfortunate demise of her beloved $250,000 Fazioli piano, dropped and destroyed by movers. The piano is the one used on many of her recordings and it was a close friend, really an extension of her persona as an artist. She had just finished recording a CD of Beethoven variations when the accident happened. The movers are mortified according to reports and so is Hewitt. Hewitt has experienced lots of bumps and bruises in her career, including a fall that broke her ankle two years ago, but this one might just take the cake.

In her own words:

“I feel ready now to share a very sad piece of news. It happened 10 days ago, and has been such a shock to me that I didn’t immediately want to share it with the world. For the moment I will just write this, and not comment further.

At the end of my most recent CD recording sessions (Beethoven Variations in Berlin), when I was so happy with the results and feeling elated, the piano movers came into the control room (where I was finishing up with my producer) to say they had dropped my precious Fazioli concert grand piano. My very own that I have used for all of my CD recordings done in Europe since 2003 (and of course for many concerts). I couldn’t believe it.

Well yes, it happened, and unfortunately the piano, now that it has been inspected by Fazioli and his staff, is not salvageable. The iron frame is broken, as well as much else in the structure and action (not to mention the lid and other parts of the case). It makes no sense, financially or artistically, to rebuild this piano from scratch. It’s kaput. The movers of course were mortified. In 35 years of doing their job, this had never happened before. At least nobody was hurt.

I adored this piano. It was my best friend, best companion. I loved how it felt when I was recording — giving me the possibility to do anything I wanted. It was also the only F278 Fazioli in the world to have the four-pedal mechanism (normally reserved for the F308 model). And it only recently had new hammers and strings put on it. You will hear on the Beethoven Variations CD (when it comes out in November, I hope) that it was in top form. Now it is no longer.

For my festival this summer in Umbria, of course we will still have Faziolis — that goes without saying. And at least I have no recording scheduled in the next few months. But now there is all the insurance saga (hopefully this won’t take long), and then I can choose a new one in Sacile when Mr. Fazioli has three of them ready for me. But what with his production schedule, and my touring around the world, this will take some months, I imagine.

You can hear this piano on my most recent recording — the Six Partitas of Bach (BBC Music Magazine’s Record of the Month, by the way), but also on so many others. One of my favourites for the sheer quality of sound and colour from my Fazioli is the Debussy CD, of which you can hear extracts here. I hope my piano will be happy in piano heaven.”

Hewitt will be in Ottawa, where she has another Fazioli stashed, in March 11 to perform the 11th concert in her Bach Odyssey in a Chamberfest concert. Then she will close the Odyssey with a concert at the National Arts Centre on May 5 for the finale (in Ottawa) of the journey she started some four years ago.
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Peter Robb began his connection with the arts community in Ottawa in the mid-1980s when he was the administrator and public relations director of the Great Canadian Theatre Company. After a long career in journalism with the Ottawa Citizen where he served in a number of different posts he returned to the arts when he became the Citizen's arts editor.