The most popular instruments among the participants of the 18th Chopin Competition are those produced by Steinway – they were selected by as many as 64 pianists (so around 75% of participants). 9 people selected a Yamaha piano and 8 a Fazioli piano. The least frequently played will be a Kawai piano, which will be used only 6 times in the first stage.
Listening to a couple of the recordings, I thought the Chopin Competition offers as good a chance as any to compare pianos as well as pianists. Here are links to five competitors playing various pieces on the five pianos:
1. Leonora Armellini, Fazioli 308
2. Alexander Gadjiev, Shigeru Kawai
3. Georgijs Osokins, Yamaha
4. Yasuko Furumi, Steinway 611479
5. Talon Smith, Steinway 612300
My first effort was to describe them as rich, bright, sonorous, clear and colored. Instead, the idea here is to focus on specific aspects of tone and timbre such as attack, overtones. resonances, and clarity (separation between notes).
The quiz is to compare pairs of pianos on specific aspects. You can focus on as many or as few aspects as you wish, make as many or as few comparisons as you like, and feel free to choose you favourite pianist.
The possible comparisons are all interesting for various reasons:
A. Fazioli v Shigeru
B. Shigeru v Yamaha
C. Yamaha v Fazioli
D. Steinway 611479 v 612300
E. Steinway v Fazioli
F. Steinway v Shigeru
G. Steinway v Yamaha
Pianoloverus may introduce some Snakes & Ladders in his comments but I hope he will participate too.
Davdoc sort of put me up to this. His point about the piano's potential for the pianist to bring out a range of tones is certaintly one to consider. I'd say focusing on a specific aspect of the sound is one way to cut through the limitations of recordings.
I sort of look at the question at the opposite angle: that is, the pianists make the most difference in tones, especially true since I am listening through a recording and these pianists are at the highest level of competency. I do agree that this is probably as close as possible to the most optimal tonal comparison among pianos, despite the limit of listening through recordings instead of in person, since these pianists are top-notch, many repertoires are repeated, and the pianos are likely prepped to the highest level too.