Angela Hewitt had just wrapped up a successful recording session of Beethoven variations in a Berlin studio when her piano movers unexpectedly entered the control room. They brought bad news. Her piano had been dropped.
"I couldn't believe it," Hewitt announced in a Facebook post. "I adored this piano. It was my best friend, best companion. I loved how it felt when I was recording--giving me the possibility to do anything I wanted."
Yes, it's true. At least nobody was hurt. A very unfortunate accident. I did so love my @Fazioli_Pianos that was resident in my home in Italy, and on which I made almost all my CD recordings for the past 17 years. Pianos are friends. https://t.co/yMvVgfgDc1— Angela Hewitt (@HewittJSB) February 10, 2020
The instrument — a custom-made F278 Fazioli — is reported to have been the only one in the world with a 4-pedal mechanism. Its value has been estimated at $200,000.
Paolo Fazioli, the Italian engineer and owner of Fazioli pianos, inspected Hewitt's broken instrument. He declared it unsalvageable.
"The iron frame is broken, as well as much else in the structure and action (not to mention the lid and other parts of the case)," Hewitt wrote on Facebook. "It makes no sense, financially or artistically, to rebuild this piano from scratch. It's kaputt."
Hewitt, a world-renown interpreter of Bach, performed on the F278 on all of her European recordings and many of her concerts since 2003. She kept it at her home in Italy.
The sound of her F278 "was heaven," Hewitt wrote in a recent email to the Washington Post. "It had an infinite variety of colors, vibrations, sounds — ranging from the most delicate to the extremely powerful — which made it suitable for all repertoire."
In her Facebook post, Hewitt said she plans to choose a new Fazioli in the coming months. For now, she is still in mourning: "I hope my piano will be happy in piano heaven."
Listen to Angela Hewitt perform Ravel's Le tombeau de Couperin on the F278 in a performance at Toronto's Royal Conservatory of Music.