Robb Design Portfolio: Venetian Find

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However striking a fazioli piano (www.fazioli.com) may appear, the instrument’s truly distinguishing component is the red spruce soundboard that lies under the strings. The company—which conservatory-trained pianist and mechanical engineer Paolo Fazioli founded in 1981 in Sacile, Italy, near Venice—sources the wood from the Val di Fiemme in the Italian Alps. Antonio Stradivari once harvested the wood for his violins from the same forest. According to Fazioli, the spruce enables his pianos to produce a resonance that is “an elegant, singing sound, remembering the bel canto, with a big dynamic range.”

A Chinese entrepreneur commissioned the Marco Polo piano shown here, a custom model from Fazioli’s Art Case Collection that cost more than $200,000. (The prices of production models range from $80,000 to $160,000.) The image on the inside surface of the lid is a reproduction of Return of the Bucintoro to the Molo on Ascension Day, which Venetian artist Giovanni Antonio Canal (1697–1768) painted in 1732. The instrument’s name references the historic connection between Venice, the home of Marco Polo, who journeyed to and traded in China, and the piano owner’s homeland.

Photo by Michael Richter
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