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The Orpheus & Bacchus Pleyel Duo-Clave

The double piano was an innovative creation of the Parisian firm Pleyel, whose instruments were the favourites of composer and pianists such as Chopin, Grieg, Debussy, Saint-Saƫns and Stravinsky. The first one was completed in 1890 and production continued until 1939. They patented the piano as the DuoClave. In the 1920s they produced a larger model, and the Orpheus & Bacchus Duo-Clave is one of these. It is believed there are only seven surviving instruments of this size.

The instrument can be best described as two overstrung pianos in one rectangular case (measuring 1.53m/5 feet - the normal keyboard width - by 2.90m/9 feet 7 inches), with a keyboard at each end, a combined soundboard and one large lid to reflect the sound of both pianos to the audience.

There is a formidable logic behind the design, as two piano frames create a simple rectangle, and therefore take up much less space than two pianos. On the other hand there is less flexibility.

However there is an interesting side benefit in that the strings of one part create resonances in the strings of the other part, and the famous pianist Louis Lortie prefers playing on this Duo-Clave to a Steinway D for the quality of the sound.

This Duo-Clave was possibly the last made and was not completed at the factory but the frame and the carcase were stored. They were rescued by Maison Erard in the early 2000s and this Pleyel Duo-Clave emerged as a superb restored example.

After a brief career as a rare piano available for rent it was purchased by Ian Christians, Director of the Orpheus & Bacchus Music Festival, and then underwent a further restoration undertaken by Steinway technician, Luc Guiot, based in Perigueux, to bring it to full concert standards. It sits in the music salon at Le Faure, Gensac, in the Gironde.

It has been played on by many famous pianists apart from Louis Lortie, including Boris Giltberg, Benjamin Frith, Pascal Rogé and Christopher Hinterhuber.

The website shows photographs of the piano and videos of it in full concert mode.

Offers are invited for this exceptional and rare instrument.