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This brief jeu d’esprit contains musings occasioned by years spent tuning pianos in rural East Anglia. Since piano lovers mostly hear from tuners repetitive strikings of keys with great firmitude and confidence but little charm, it is pleasant to have these good-humoured thoughts delivered in a friendly style: ‘In pianos over the years, I’ve discovered pens, rulers, umbrellas, used prophylactics (don’t ask), a pet snake by the name of Gilbert, and on one occasion, £2,000-worth of sovereigns (the owner’s grandfather hadn’t had much faith in banks). Pianos nearly always tell you something about their owners – especially if the owners are slightly mad.’

Based in Drinkstone, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, Tryon offers reminiscences about a cottage where a ‘sweet-toned Blüthner upright’ was stored by its owner in a toilet, and the village hall in Icklingham where he was asked just to tune the ‘notes used in Jerusalem, because the piano was only ever used by the Women’s Institute’.

The author’s website (www.petertryon. co.uk) implies that no job is too large or too small, with current projects including a ‘Broadwood Grand – to be totally overhauled when water from the upstairs shower soaked the piano. (There are tide marks)!’ Based on such challenges, he asserts persuasively: ‘People often assume the great named pianos (think Steinway, Bechstein, Bösendorfer, Blüthner, Schimmel, Feurich and Fazioli) must be very diffi cult to tune. Actually they are much easier to deal with than a stubborn old upright where the pins slip and the beats are all muffled.’

BENJAMIN IVRY Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Piano International, 2016 - ©Rhinegold Publishing