Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Piano Colours in Salzburg

Piano Colours in Salzburg.

                 “I saw whole worlds being created and destroyed”

Gentle snowflakes were falling onto the groups of Russian tourists, as they weaved their way past the kitschy Salzburg Christmas cribs, chocolate “Mozart-kugel”, and stalls with gluhwein and hot-dogs. But pushing through the crowds, I had other things on my mind last Friday - under pressure to get the show (Piano Colours) on the road. It was an unreal feeling to suddenly see my name in lights (finally, ha, ha!), projected onto the Mozarteum wall for the Dialoge festival. 
Set-up the gear, one rehearsal with Pierre-Laurent Aimard, then another surprise. The amazing piano technician Stefan Knüpfer, now famous from the film Pianomania, bounded on to the stage to uncrate a brand-new complete inner mechanism for the Steinway that Pierre-Laurent was going to play in our recital. Stefan slid one set out and the new one in with the skill of a heart transplant surgeon. A casual request to Pierre-Laurent to please be gentle with it. But P-L immediately launched into the loudest fortissimo and the gentlest pianissimo he can create, smiling like a schoolboy with a new toy. These guys are like brothers, planning their choice of the right Steinway and exactly the appropriate sound for each programme. Stefan will make it available. Just back from his Asian tour, P-L later joked over a fabulous dinner at Hotel Sacher that at one location he was billed, not so much as a pianist, but as “starring in the film” Pianomania!

Our duo recital went better than ever and a warmly appreciative Salzburg audience brought us back for four curtain calls. Following our practice, we then had a 30 min. “dialogue” with the audience. I had just discovered that the composer Tristan Murail was in the audience and yes (phew!) he “adored” what I had done with his work “Cloches d’adieu…. in memoriam Olivier Messiaen”. One visitor said that the purple globe, floating alone in black to the final chord, gave him an intense nostalgia and awareness of our fragile planet.

During the weekend, it was lovely to be stopped in the corridors by smiling people telling me: “I was there…. thank you!”.

One fan travelled six hours by train through Germany to attend this concert. Here are some of her comments. "The collaboration of these great musical and visual artists is mind-expanding in all directions. It's impossible to find the right words for this, as the mind played only one part in the perceptive process. I saw whole worlds being created and destroyed. Microcosms, planetary systems and a whole range of emotions passed through me in a visceral way. I was sitting close enough to the piano to feel the vibration of the sound. Then finally, the projectors were switched to black and I was falling into the dark, shrunk to atomic size, falling into a big black nothing. I definitely have to see/hear/feel Piano Colours again."  Even though it sounds traumatic, I know she found it therapeutic!


  1. I appreciated your vivid recounting of this latest adventurous collaboration between the aural and visual arts. Also loved your fan's astute observations that in turn inspired powerful imagery on my own internal Cinemascope screen!

  2. thanks for sharing.