GRAND OBSESSION was launched on January 11, 2008 at a Barnes & Noble Lincoln Center "Meet the Author" event. It was a memorable evening filled with music and friends, old and new.
The day before, Perri stopped by the store to advise the crew on where to place the Bösendorfer grand piano provided by Beethoven Pianos and prepared by voicer Marc Wienert. Here's Perri about to enter the Barnes & Noble store:
Perri and Marc Wienert, checking out the piano:
Thirteen year old Lex Korten, the son of GRAND OBSESSION characters Jerry and Carol Korten, wowed arriving listeners with his phenomenal jazz interpretations:
Perri reads before a packed house:
After the reading, Gabor Fuchs, a Moscow Conservatory trained pianist, entertained the crowd with romantic favorites, including "Widmung" by Schumann. Here is Gabor taking a bow:
Then Perri signed books and greeted scores of well-wishers, including professor emeritus Richard Blood:
Many PianoWorld Forumites traveled long distances to come to the New York GRAND OBSESSION events and meet Perri for the first time. Here are Susan and Cathy from Virginia, in the company of David, another forum member from New York:
Meanwhile, Carl Demler, the owner of Beethoven Pianos, invited listeners to become performers, and try out the Bosie. Here is long-time Forums member Jon:
As the crowd slowly dwindled, about twenty hangers-on repaired to neighborhood bistro O'Neill's for a late supper. Here is Perri with her husband, Oliver, and friends Kim (L) and Eve:
The next day, revelers came out in force to mob Piano Row for the inaugural "Pianothon," a celebration of the piano that Perri organized with the help of the block's four piano showrooms, on West 58th Street between Seventh Avenue and Broadway.
The festivities began at Beethoven Pianos, where a standing-room-only crowd heard Perri read from the chapter called "The Voicer", in which a high-strung piano technician, Marc Wienert, flies to Montana and mysteriously restores her piano's voice--but for only twelve hours.
Here's Perri reading at Beethoven Pianos:
Perri introduced the crowd to Marc Wienert, chief of piano technology at the Manhattan School of Music, who demonstrated his “Schubert concert tuning” on a Grotrian Cabinet grand, side by side with a second Grotrian he'd prepared with an ordinary tuning, and talked about "stretch characteristic." Lots of technicians were in the audience and were captivated by this presentation:
Then the audience was invited to play a single work, repeated on each piano, and a lively discussion ensued. Could they hear which piano was prepared to sound like Perri's? Could they tell what Marc had done with the tuning? This is the sound that ignited Perri’s quest and inspired GRAND OBSESSION. It was a very interesting conversation!
The next stop of this roaming piano block party was at Klavierhaus, across the street. There the brothers Gabor and Sujatri Reisinger put out a beautiful spread of fresh berries and coffee for the piano revelers to enjoy. It was a little cramped with even more pianophiles joining the crowd, but it was very festive!
Perri read aloud from the chapter "The Piano Crawl", and then Mike "Phlebas" Olsen and Joseph Kubera reprised their performances in GRAND OBSESSION by demonstrating the personality differences between an art-case, vintage Pleyel, made in France, and the new, Italian-made Fazioli.
Here is Joe Kubera playing the third movement of the Charles Ives First Sonata on the Fazioli:
Here's Mike Olsen playing a Chopin Etude (Op.25, No.1) on the Fazioli:
These two very different instruments demonstrate the broad range of distinctive voices possible in pianos, and their suitability for different types of music. A lively audience discussion followed.
After Perri signed books and the crowd ate more delicious berries, they moved on to the Bechstein Piano Centre, next door. Here pianist Temuri Akhobadze, a concert pianist and émigré from the former Soviet republic of Georgia, played Scriabin and Schumann on a Bechstein model C grand. After the performance, the crowd tried out the showroom's pianos for themselves.
For the Pianothon's grand finale, at Faust Harrison Pianos, the audience filled two large rooms, standing room only yet again. Perri read from the chapter "Revelation", all the while demonstrating the experiences she described in the chapter on a Blüthner concert grand tuned in pure intonation. It was especially fun to hear what the Chopin B-minor Valse sounds like in pure intonation!
Then store co-owner and composer Michael Harrison reprised his performance in GRAND OBSESSION of his abridged version of Revelation: Music in Pure Intonation on the Blüthner. Michael and Stuart Isacoff, an author and the editor of Piano Today, took questions about the art and science of this extraordinary listening experience, and Perri moderated the ensuing discussion.
After the festivities, about twenty pianophiles repaired to dinner at Bricco, a nearby Italian restaurant. Here are Piano World friends Joe and Bernard: