It's a climb but that's the key to hitting the high note

Piano builder David Klavins standing tall next to the 470i Vertical Concert Grand piano in the new concert hall in Ventspils, Latvia. The steel-framed piano hangs as if in mid-air, some three storeys above the audience. To play it, pianists must clim
Piano builder David Klavins standing tall next to the 470i Vertical Concert Grand piano in the new concert hall in Ventspils, Latvia. The steel-framed piano hangs as if in mid-air, some three storeys above the audience. To play it, pianists must climb a steep flight of steel stairs to a balcony.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

VENTSPILS (Latvia) • Soaring to new musical heights, a German-born innovator has crafted what is believed to be the world's largest grand piano.

It is without question one of a kind: Attached high on the wall of a concert hall in Latvia, the steel-framed vertical grand piano hangs as if in mid-air, some three storeys above the audience.

To play it, pianists must climb a steep flight of steel stairs to a balcony.

Although the Guinness Book of World Records has not yet measured the new instrument, it was made by Mr David Klavins, whose Model 370 piano unveiled in 1987 is currently regarded as being among the world's largest.

Mr Klavins' standard new model, the 470i Vertical Concert Grand piano, has strings that are 4.7m long.

The custom-built 470i piano installed at a new concert hall in the Baltic seaside port and resort town of Ventspils is even larger; its imposing navy blue-painted steel frame is 6m high. With some strings almost 5m long, it emits bold, sonorous music. "The most suitable music for this instrument would be all the very expressive works. For example, Rachmaninoff, Scriabin and also Beethoven's sonatas would sound totally different on this instrument," Mr Klavins said.

The 65-year-old innovator, who has Latvian roots, has worked on pianos nearly all his life, driven by a desire to push the boundaries of the instrument first created by Italian Bartolomeo Cristofori around 1700.

On display to the public for the first time on Friday, the instrument has already created a buzz among piano enthusiasts.

Ventspils Mayor Aivars Lembergs has his fingers crossed that the record-breaking piano will help the industrial port city of 40,000 rebrand itself into a family-friendly tourist destination. "We're hoping to attract foreign music lovers as well," he said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2019, with the headline 'It's a climb but that's the key to hitting the high note'. Print Edition | Subscribe