Piotr Anderszewski

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As he embarks on a European tour with violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann, the Polish pianist talks to us about why he doesn't often play chamber music

Why did you embark on this tour?

We did a tour two years ago together, but we didn’t come to England. We got on very well and the tour went well, so we decided to do another. It was quite simple.

You don't play much chamber music. Why not?

I find it difficult. I find it difficult to rehearse and to agree on things, and it’s already hard enough to rehearse oneself, and to adjust to pianos, different halls, your own moods and so on. Then with another person or group I find it even more exhausting. There are endless discussions and everybody has their own priorities. It’s tiresome.

When you do play with others, it's often with violinists…

I love the violin. I have done since I was a child. My sister is a violinist so I was brought up with its sound, and I love the repertoire. Somehow I find I'm very sensitive to the way Frank Peter Zimmermann plays. It’s wonderful to share ideas with him, which is what chamber music is all about. You have to more or less feel things the same way. Not everything,  but there must be some kind of communication.

How do you go about rehearsing together?

We both work a lot. Some musicians don’t want to rehearse much, but we both do. I guess we both take it very seriously and spend a lot of time on it, trying to be honest about respecting the score and each other.

You once said in an interview with Ivan Hewett in The Telegraph that you didn't like playing chamber music because you like to lie down when rehearsing. Is that still the case?

I mean also playing the piano [by yourself] is difficult lying down. You can try. I can take my music and read it while lying down. With a violinist, that’s difficult. I think being horizontal is wonderful – that contact with the floor. It’s natural to be horizontal and terrible to be vertical. Look how most animals walk on four legs. We have two legs. It’s sort of ridiculous, you know, trying to balance.

How did you come up with this programme of Beethoven's Spring Sonata, Szymanowski's Myths and Schumann's Violin Sonata No. 2?

We played Beethoven and Szymanowski together on the last tour – the Spring Sonata is such a great work. And the Schumann was my idea as I've been so involved with his music in the last couple of years. I released a CD of his music last year, and now am performing this Sonata.

Szymanowski is a composer who you've championed for many years. Can you tell us about Myths?

The Szymanowski is such a complex piece, and I think both of us feel that the more you play it, the freer you are, and the better you do it. I think this time it will be ready.

There are an awful lot of notes, and lots of information in every bar. You have to be able to read and digest this, and then filter it and forget about what is less and more important.

It takes time, and you can't make shortcuts. It’s very sophisticated and polyphonic music, you always have to think horizontally and polyphonically. It's also music of extreme sensitivity. Over-refined, in a way. 

Do you find audiences react differently around Europe?

Yes, definitely. And from hall to hall. I do love playing in London, I must say. It’s sort of my home in terms of concert giving. It’s where I started, so it’s always very special for me to play in London. 

How do you like to prepare for a concert?

To prepare I have a good lunch. And try to sleep afterwards. Then after the concert, it  depends. Sometimes I'm exhausted and very sad, bcause it’s over, or because I hadn’t given what I could. But sometimes I'm euphoric and happy, and want to have a nice time out with friends

Interview by Rebecca Franks

Piotr Anderszewski performs at the Barbican on 14 April 2011 at 7.30pm