Yesterday afternoon we visted the Yamaha Peninsula Music Center on S. Winchester to help Shirley’s mom pick out a new digital Yamaha. While the paperwork was being completed, Shirley and I took a walk through the showroom to check out their grand pianos. Now I couldn’t be happier with my Yamaha C3 grand, but I also couldn’t resist trying out a couple of pianos that are way out of my price range. One of the nicest was a used Steinway with a list price of $80,000, which had the most beautiful, warm tones. Sitting at the end of the room on a raised stage (behind velvet ropes and posts) was the showroom’s crown jewel: the Bosendorfer 290 Imperial. I’m a little shy, so it wouldn’t have even occured to me to play this behemoth, but Shirley said she had to hear it, so that settled it! After seeking permission, I played the first Prelude from Bach’s WTC. It was a profound experience. Each of the Imperials is built completely by hand and the process takes 7 years (!!). The piano is 9’6″ in length and 5’9″ in width, with nine additional keys in the low register for increased tonal resonance. While playing the instrument I heard complexities of tone that I’ve never experienced from a piano before, especially during the measures that contain the semitone dissonances. My ‘encore’ was the B section of Joplin’s The Entertainer. I feel safe saying the two (piano and piece) had probably never met. Of course we had to ask how much the Bosendorfer cost. There’s wasn’t a price tag (“If you have to ask…”) Well, the list price was $215,000. If you ever get a chance to play one you’ll know why I didn’t put any exclamation points after that number. I can’t recommend this store enough. If you’re in the market for a new or used piano, make this your first stop. The staff is very friendly and knowledgable. Dave, the salesman who helped us, has been with Yamaha since 1986, which was the same year that my mom bought me a brand new Yamaha Clavinova CLP-300 which I still play. Here’s a link to the store’s Bosendorfer page.