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Italian piano maker in town

They call him Mr. Fazioli. Not Paolo. Mister. Or Signore. He has earned the title. After all, his exclusive grand pianos aren't cheap: The most expensive are about the price of a one-bedroom condo in Coquitlam, in case you're wondering. Mr.

They call him Mr. Fazioli. Not Paolo. Mister. Or Signore.

He has earned the title.

After all, his exclusive grand pianos aren't cheap: The most expensive are about the price of a one-bedroom condo in Coquitlam, in case you're wondering.

Mr. Fazioli's pianos are among the most sought-after in the world, and he oversees the production of each one.

So intent is he on his product that he sometimes visits the home or business of the buyer - just to make sure they got there safely and the purchaser is satisfied.

Take last week, for example. After a visit to the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) convention in Anaheim, Cal., with his 22-year-old son, Luca, the pair flew to Vancouver to dedicate a $225,000 white Fazioli F212 piano at the new Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel, where a Fazioli suite has also been created in his honour.

Later that day, Vancouver Fazioli dealer Manuel Bernaschek, a former Coquitlam resident and member of the Place des Arts society board, accompanied them to the home of a Langley woman, who bought the latest instrument off his line.

The price tag? $167,000.

During his time there, the piano maker gave it a test run, performing his favourite, Chopin, whose music, he said, speaks to the heart of the Fazioli.

"Chopin cantabiles are really perfect" for its nuances, he told The Tri-City News on his visit last Tuesday to Coquitlam's Place des Arts. "I am a classical pianist: I love Schumann, Chopin, Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky."

And Beethoven? he's asked.

"Ah, well," he said, with hesitation. "With Beethoven, the structure is strong. It's like a good building. But to hear the quality of the soundboard, you need Chopin."

Piano construction and its acoustics have long been his fascination.

At 10, he dismantled his family's instrument because "I wanted to make a better piano," he said.

His parents saw their boy - one of six - was musically gifted and encouraged him as he became a mechanical engineer and, later, as he earned his master's degree in music composition.

After graduating, he joined his family's furniture-making factories in Rome and Turin, where he studied wood processing with his brother, Virgilio, as his teacher.

And the rest, as they say, is history, with this year marking the 30th anniversary of Fazioli Pianoforti, a Sacile-based company that makes 110 pianos a year and generates 6 million Euros annually (about $8 million in Canadian dollars).

The business has six models, with theF308 being the longest piano in the world, measuring 10 feet and two inches in length, and is noted for its fourth pedal.

Still, he yearns to build better.

"I research all the time: The measurement of the sound to go deeper, the kind of wood and its thickness. There are so many things. It's very complex.

"There are a thousand ways to change it so it's never perfect... I wish I had the secret," he said with a laugh.

The father of two is not eager to pass on his manufacturing skills to his son - not just yet anyway (he also has a two-and-a-half-year-old daughter).

Luca Fazioli, a well-dressed young man who was visiting Vancouver for the first time, will graduate in July from the University of Trieste.

"He can concentrate on that. For now, he just looks and learns," Fazioli said.

jwarren@tricitynews.com