INTERVIEW: John Turville (visit to Budapest to play the new Boganyi piano)

The Boganyi piano. Photo credit: Tamas Bujnovszky
John Turville has been in Budapest, to see and play the revolutionary new Boganyi piano, and has already talked to BBC Radio 3 Music Matters about his trip. Sebastian interviewed him, and also caught up with his other current projects:

LondonJazz News: You've just been in Budapest, and you've seen the new Boganyi piano?

John Turville: Yes. The first thing that strikes you is how it looks. It's a completely redesigned piano with two legs and lots of curves on the body - the philosophy is that the sound isn't lost through the floor but resonates out. The soundboard is made of a composite material which includes carbon-fibre - one of the results is a much longer sustain which is great for romantic music (you really noticed it on Debussy's Clair De Lune, which the inventor/ designer Gergely Boganyi played, after a Bach transcription)

LJN: And you also heard Gerald Clayton play it?

JT: He played Alone Together and Round Midnight for the journalists. You notice the clarity and immediacy of sound. Since so much mechanical noise is removed, you could say the instrument doesn’t stop connection to the music

John Turville playing the Boganyi
Photo Credit: Amanda Holloway

LJN: But you also you also played it yourself how was that?

JT: The effect when you're playing is almost being enclosed by the sound, but this isn't so apparent from the perspective of the audience.

LJN: And how was the action, the feel of the keys?

JT: You really notice the difference in the action. It was made by the German firm Rener - it's hard to describe but it has a watery feel - less hammer action and more tone and much easier to play. It feels great for jazz as it still has the precision and a great staccato but a lot less noise.

There's a great consistency in the sound, over the whole range - there's no distortion or harshness when you're playing loud. I guess sometimes you might be going for that effect but it feels much more immediate somehow. And there's a beautiful singing quality in the tone. (The idea was to go back to some of the qualities of the early Steinways - around 1910/20 which projected less but produced a more round tone).

LJN: And what other impressions did you get of Budapest?

JT: It's a beautiful city of course - I went there eight years ago and it's just as I remember - beautiful views of the old city from the castle and a great buzz for classical music with practice wafting out of every other window. I didn't experience the Turkish baths this time though, but they're kind of fun if you don't mind a bit of mild hypothermia.

LJN: And what's coming up in your schedule?

JT: I had a bit of a busy December recording three new albums, with Matt Ridley, Alan Barnes/Tony Kofi and a co-run sextet called Solstice (a lovely band featuring Brigitte Beraha, Tori Freestone and Jez Franks). So will be touring those later in the year. In the meantime I'm touring with Tommasso Starace in the Southwest.

LJN: And there's also something called Transtango coming up? 

JT: That's right, we're restarting it. The project (WEBSITE- with sound) originally involved Tim Garland, but this time features two cellos, bandoneon and double bass. I'll be a bit more involved with the writing this time - it's a very creative and multi-disciplinary project with projections and dancers, and the producer wants to try to take it to some unconventional spaces like art galleries. I'm also recording a couple of Tim's notated pieces for classical saxophone and piano in a couple of weeks, which are fiendishly difficult as you might expect!

John Turville  also recorded an interview about the Boganyi piano for BBC Radio 3 Music Matters. The item runs from [21:15] to [27:43] with John Turville talking from [25:45]

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