The Pleyel sound

Pleyel: the romantic sound

The Pleyel Company manufactures high quality grand pianos which are immediately recognizable by their distinctive romantic sound, their delicate touch and sensitive playing which offer a highly nuanced repertoire. 
Pleyel pianos are synonymous with Frédéric Chopin, the romantic repertoire and, nowadays, jazz. They are characterised by deep and ample bass notes, crystalline top notes and a melodious mid-range. Chopin liked to experiment with the “colour” of sound and Pleyel
Pianos gave him the tonal range he needed for his work.
“And it is always in the secret of its aristocratic and moving sound that the soul of the most musical of pianists is most at home”. Alfred Cortot (on Pleyel and Chopin).
"When I feel in good form and strong enough to find my own sound, I need a Pleyel piano," 
Frédéric Chopin.

Pleyel: the typically French sound

In 1887, Gustave Lyon, an accomplished musician and alumni of l’Ecole Polytechnique with an engineering degree from les Mines, took over as head of the Pleyel Company. He used his scientific knowledge to improve the quality of the pianos and to explore the secrets of acoustics.
Indeed, it was under the leadership of Lyon that pianists adopted the famous Pleyel sound, which embodied the “typically French sound” thanks to its distinctive romantic tones.
Pleyel pianos had, and still have today, a number of distinctive characteristics including lightness, fullness, powerful low notes and surprisingly crystalline top notes which give them real harmony.
The distinctive sound of Pleyel pianos won over all the young generation of the day, which consisted mainly of Russian composers.
In 1907, Gustave Lyon organized a concert in their honour at the Salle Pleyel in Rue de Rochechouart. Camille Saint-Saëns, whose career was launched by the Pleyel Company when he was eleven, organized the event which brought together a number of prestigious pianists: Rimsky-Korsakov, Wanda Landowska and even Rachmaninov.
On October 18th 1927, at the inauguration of the Salle Pleyel, it was Ravel and Stravinsky who each directed their own works before a host of personalities including the President of the Republic, Mr Gaston Doumergue.
“The only difficulty I ever experienced with the superb Pleyel piano that I used for my concerts was dragging myself away from it” Edward Grieg.
Since Chopin, many artists have been Pleyel artists: Debussy, Grieg, Ofenbach, Rossini, Rubinstein, Strauss, Stravinsky, Ravel, De Falla, Honneger, Cortot, Saint-Saëns, and many more. Today, artists like Berezovsky and Craig Armstrong are devoted fans of the brand.

An uncompromising production process

Back in the late 19th century, Pleyel was responsible for a plethora of inventions which, after a lengthy process, resulted in the modern piano.
From improving the strings to inventing the tonal pedal, from the transposing keyboard to the pedal-keyboard, Pleyel made a name for itself for the originality of its creations for the music world. Often ahead of their time, its innovations became classics with regard to instrument making.
Pleyel, two syllables which sum up two centuries of French know-how in instrument making, carries out a careful selection of the best components and materials to ensure the optimal playing experience for the pianist day after day.

A French label of quality

Remaining true to its tradition of excellence, Pleyel demonstrates the utmost rigour in choosing components and selecting materials to produce its instruments:
For its soundboards, which give the piano its soul, Pleyel uses finest quality spruce from Val de Fiemme renowned for its outstanding vibration capacity (the same wood was used to manufacture Stradivarius), which serves to amplify the musical emotion and endow the instrument with more power. The same diligence that is used to select the wood from which it is made is also applied to the manufacturing of the soundboard.
Pleyel also uses a Renner mechanism, widely considered to be the best in the world, made according to Pleyel’s design and specifications and thus guaranteeing the highest level of performance and reliability. 
For a greater resistance, the braces are made at Pleyel from laminated wood panels glued together in one piece. They are varnished and receive very special attention in terms of the finish, even though they are not a visible part of the piano.
Pleyel uses Kluge keyboards, considered to be the best in the world, made of spruce wood which is extremely resistant to variations in humidity. These keyboards are particularly appreciated for their comfort and precision in performance.
The cast iron frame, the very backbone of the instrument, which must withstand a tension of up to 20 tonnes from the strings, is made with painstaking precision: from the perfection of the mould to the meticulous execution of its surface, the maturation cycle and stringent verification of the dimensions. Nothing is left to chance.
Using only the very best materials, Pleyel selects and fashions the different species and qualities of wood with particular care.
From storage to cutting, from hygrometry to assembly, each stage of the wood work is subject to exacting quality controls.

Following tradition: a forward-looking manufacturing process

Since a Pleyel piano owes as much to traditional manufacturing techniques as to the most modern techniques, Pleyel combines today’s cutting-edge technology with the traditional know-how of highly skilled craftsmen. Engineers and piano makers work in close collaboration in a design office to find the perfect harmony between design, quality of materials and development of the instruments.

Typically French savoir-faire and craftsmanship

While technology enables us to achieve remarkable innovations and ensures consistency of quality, it can never replace the subtleties of the human ear and the precise, deft gestures of our piano makers.  Only the absolute meticulousness of a Pleyel technician can achieve the sound quality and accuracy of touch which have earned it a reputation for excellence throughout the world.
Pleyel cultivates an authentic experience with highly skilled staff who hold the secret to the company’s unique manufacturing techniques. Only these tiny gestures performed with great attention to detail make it possible to assemble the 20,000 parts which make up a Pleyel piano.
To do this, the production site uses today’s technology to serve the needs of the craftsmen and their traditional savoir-faire. The latter have been trained by their elders in line with the exacting standards of the factory’s founder.
The daily quality control procedures guarantee the impeccable workmanship of the pianos.
The pleasure of a Pleyel begins the moment your fingers touch the keyboard: “When the languid bass notes stretch out indefinitely, when the top notes sparkle like piccolos, when the middle register quivers Cantabile, when the keyboard faithfully produces sustained notes or staccato, you can be sure it’s a Pleyel”. Arthur Rubinstein.

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