On May 21st, 2024, Bechstein Music World hosted an enlightening C. Bechstein Lecture-Recital featuring the talented Hong Xiang, and special guest C.Bechstein Director Mr. Ralf Dewor. 

Hong Xiang, a 30-year-old emerging pianist from Singapore shared personal insights about his identity as a pianist and his profound thoughts on the pieces he included in his repertoire. Hong Xiang’s recital programme featured works by Bach, Schubert, Debussy, Fauré and the contemporary composer Joe Hisaishi. A special highlight was Hong Xiang’s own arrangement of a theme from “Spirited Away,” showcasing his creativity and deep connection to the pieces he performs. The recital culminated in a performance Fauré’s “Sicillienne, for Cello & Piano, Op.78, where Hong Xiang was joined by his brother, Hong Qing, on the cello, adding a rich, collaborative dimension to the programme.

The day’s program was further enriched by the presence of Mr. Ralf Dewor, Director of C. Bechstein Pianofortefabrik (AG). Mr. Dewor remarked that Hong Xiang’s performance, both his solo playing and his duo program with his brother on cello, were particularly inspiring for him, and he reflected that it was witnessing performers like them play that made him feel so proud to be in this industry upholding the tradition for future generations. He then provided invaluable insights and shared his knowledge into the intricate characteristics that define the sound and identity of all pianos, including the C. Bechstein. He explained how these qualities—clarity, color, power, rhythm, dynamics, melody, and harmony—are meticulously balanced to create the distinctive sound of each one. It is then up to the  player, or the listener to choose the best piano for them, or for the music being played.

Hong Xiang and Mr. Dewor demonstrated these principles through the live performances, allowing the audience to experience firsthand the rich, complex sounds that different pianos can produce. During Hong Xiang’s performance, he specifically chose the C. Bechstein D282 Concert Grand for majority of his pieces, accentuating such passages as the delicate lines of Debussy’s “Claire de Lune”, and the powerful dynamic shifts of the selected movements from Schubert’s “Wanderer Fantasy”, and a Seiler 278 Konzert series Concert Grand for the Hisaishi piece “Inochi no Namae”, which he may have felt suited the feeling of a warm embrace the piece exudes. Both pianos from companies founded in the same era, as Mr Ralf emphasized, were both excellent instruments in their own ways, with different characters and identities. 

Every piano should evoke and answer the following questions for each individual: Does this piano do what I want? (Expressive power), Does it provoke new ideas in me? (Inspirational power), Does this instrument respond to me and do what I want it to? (Capacity and reserve), and What does this piano create for me, for my students, or for the music?


These in mind, the lecture-recital highlighted the nuanced craftsmanship involved in piano making. Carl Bechstein’s vision was to merge the robust, dynamic elements of sound with delicate, expressive qualities.  This balance is challenging to achieve, as it requires both high tension for clarity and power, and elasticity for color and expressiveness. Bechstein’s connection to Franz Liszt was also highlighted, with Liszt being notorious for destroying pianos(!) Bechstein needed to create an instrument that was sturdy enough to withstand the abuse, but was also responsive enough to bring out the virtuosity of Liszt’s playing. It is thanks to working with Liszt that he was able to achieve this harmonious blend of strength and delicacy that gives Bechstein pianos, and all the pianos in the C. Bechstein family, their unique voice.

The legacy of Carl Bechstein lives on today. His innovative approach to piano construction earned him the Winner’s Medal at the London World’s Fair in 1862, a testament to the exceptional quality and playability of his pianos. This historical context underscored the enduring excellence of Bechstein pianos, which continue to inspire musicians around the world.

This C. Bechstein Lecture-Recital  was more than just a performance; it served as a deep dive into the intrinsic connection between music, the piano, and the unique interaction each pianist has with this remarkable instrument. Through this event, Mr Ralf Dewor, with the help of Hong Xiang, hoped to impart to attendees a greater appreciation for the intricate relationship between the music, a pianist and the piano itself, and the timeless beauty of the music they create together.

This Lecture-Recital was organised and presented by Bechstein Music World Singapore. Be sure to follow them on their Facebook and Instagram Pages for the latest updates on more concerts and other events for 2024!