Premium Brand ANT.PETROF
For its 150th birthday Petrof has created a new premium range. Needless to say, this was not an off-the-cuff decision, but a long process of development. While continually striving to carry out improvements on the existing instruments, PETROF has envisaged three models for the premium brand, to be named after the company founder Antonín Petrof. The first newly-developed instrument is a handmade 275cm long concert grand. PETROF was able to present the first model of this new grand piano at last year’s International Music Fair in Frankfurt. This piano, which is completely different from other models of the PETROF series, displays a completely new design. Particularly noticeable - apart from the different shape of the iron frame and the modified ribbing - are certain design features that distinguish this piano from the others. For instance, the star-frame assembly has been reinforced with two transverse beams, to give the instrument greater stability. Furthermore, the sounding board has been made extremely wide to reinforce the sound. Then yet another innovation has been introduced, which has already been patented. On the inner rim an aperture has been cut through which it is possible, by means of an adjusting screw, to slightly alter the pressure of the sounding board in the treble range. This enables the sounding board to be adjusted to suit the tuning and voicing of each instrument and thereby obtain the best possible sound.
The man responsible for the new designs of the ANT.PETROF range is the engineer Ivan Vaculík, who has worked for the company for over 20 years, and has personally designed several instruments, as well as contributing his construction methods to several grand pianos. These instruments are handmade in his Research & Development Department. When we were there, work had already started on the next piano in the range, a grand piano 225 cm in length, which shows the same design features as its big brother. Another ANT.PETROF upright piano is also planned, measuring 137cm in height.
All details of the design are drawn on half transparent sheets of paper in several layers; these layers are then placed on top of each other, allowing modifications to be carried out before the protoype is built. Even then, the completed instrument is subjected to a number of tests. This Department uses an “acoustic chamber” in a building set away from the other factory buildings for this purpose. This building has for many years been equipped with a chamber isolated from the exterior walls and completely anechoic. In the middle of this chamber is a platform where the instrument undergoes various tests. The instruments are struck by a frontally-positioned device. A number of microphones, which may be placed in any position, measure the sound and transfer the data to a computer in an adjoining room. The data are then evaluated, making it possible to ascertain precisely in which areas the instrument can be improved even more. However, these measurements are only a part of the evaluation process for playing style and sound. Petrof worked, specifically for the new ANT.PETROF range, with a number of pianists, presenting them with the prototype for the 275cm concert grand.They worked together on achieving a particular sound and touch, gradually producing an absolutely individual PETROF sound. It is precisely this warm, soft sound that distinguishes the ANT.PETROF concert grand. The bass notes are extremely powerful and the control is superb. Above all, however, PETROF have successfully created a balanced sound across the whole tonal range. Compared with the other top model of the PETROF range, the 284cm long “Mistral” grand, the sound of the ANT.PETROF is significantly warmer. Admittedly this piano is not exactly cheap: PETROF’s price for this concert grand is 160,000 euros, placing it in the price range of the other premium pianomakers, if not slightly higher. Nevertheless, they have already managed to sell three instruments.
At the moment the R & D Department is also working on a new model for the PETROF range, a piano with an overall height of 122cm. An instrument of similar height has featured before in the PETROF range, but only its case measured 122cm, housing in fact the 118cm instrument. In order to fill the gap in height between 118cm and125cm, a completely new 122cm instrument is being developed.