A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting Steinway Recording in Lincolnshire, to record some new music. I found the studio on a deep dive looking for a studio with a proper piano— most studios I’ve been in focus on instruments that the musicians bring in themselves, with possibly a sad/tired piano in a corner. As a pianist and composer of piano-driven music, I wanted to find a place where I could capture the full power and complexity of a really beautiful instrument.

The first few moments I spend with a piano are when it feels the most alive— it’s like meeting a new person, or perhaps since the piano can’t exactly speak back, like meeting a new dog. Is it friendly? Does it want to play with you? The piano’s individual character comes through and there’s a brief friends-making process when everything the piano does is new and full of little surprises.

Spencer’s piano did not disappoint here— those who don’t play piano might be surprised at how rare it is to play a truly great instrument, but the combination of their nonportability and expensiveness means that we, in general, have to play what we can get. It’s a really emotional experience playing a great piano for the first time; kind of like being on a first date that’s going really well.

Anyway I recorded four new pieces over two days, and they sounded so good I decided I need to go back and re-record a couple of pieces which were recorded at a not-to-be-named Other Studio.

Larkhall at the piano