I find that Piotr Anderszewski’s views on chamber music have begun to prey on my mind. Yesterday I said it was no hardship that chamber music has to be performed in an upright position. Since then I have started to wonder if I was too hasty. Now I suddenly feel that if only I could have lain down to play the piano, everything would have been better. Just thinking about my years of enforced perpendicularity to the concert platform makes me feel exhausted.
But what kind of piano would I have played, had I been lying down? I did once see, in the Tate Gallery, an exhibition of work by German artist Rebecca Horn which featured a grand piano suspended upside-down just below the ceiling. Other drastic things had happened to the piano too, but its location was thought-provoking. Arguably such a piano could be manoeuvred by crane into a position where a recumbent pianist could play it. But even if the piano keyboard could be arranged to hang just above one’s chest, it would be very difficult to press the keys upwards instead of downwards, and particularly hard to play loud and fast at the same time. Gravity would say no. And what about the pedals? Would the pianist end up looking like someone at an exercise class doing imaginary cycling? That would take all the fun out of lying down. For all I know, however, it may already be possible for a pianist to lie in bed and play a virtual keyboard projected onto the counterpane, the ‘sound’ created electronically and transmitted to speakers in Wembley Stadium or the Hollywood Bowl. Maybe that’s a way forward for the vertically-challenged pianist.