The verticality of chamber music

23rd May 2009 | Musings | 1 comment

I’m still mulling over a remark made by the marvellous pianist Piotr Anderszewski in a Telegraph interview I read on the plane to Berlin. Asked why he doesn’t play much chamber music, Anderszewski replied, ‘Well…I’m a solitary person. But also I like to lie down, and you can’t do that if you’re rehearsing with another person. I really love to lie down, it’s the natural position. Standing up is horrible – look! It’s so insecure, and so high!.. I wish someone would invent a piano I could play lying down, I would be so happy!”

This is the most ingenious defence I’ve heard so far for not playing chamber music. But I don’t see why chamber music should be uniquely singled out for its verticality. He might as well say that he doesn’t accept concerto engagements because they require him to be in an upright position. It’s true that most piano concertos require no more than half an hour of public verticality, whereas performances of chamber music generally demand two hours of it. But then so do solo piano recitals. It is very puzzling. Of all the difficulties involved in chamber music, I’d say that the impossibility of lying down is one of the less maddening.

I’m baffled too by his reference to the ‘high, insecure’ pursuit of standing up. Surely he doesn’t stand up to play chamber piano parts? Perhaps, when he thinks of chamber music rehearsals, he imagines himself seated at the piano beside a tall violinist who might at any moment sway, totter and fall on top of him – crying ‘Timbre!’

1 Comment

  1. Maya

    I think his main point is that he likes to lie down regularly during rehearsals, and that he’s not at liberty to do that as and when he wants if he is rehearsing with other people in a chamber group-style scenario? I think he then accidentally conflated the rest of what he says (about uprightness in general) with that point, although actually I think his main point is the ‘lone wolf’ one.


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