March 02, 2017

Fantaisies: a note from Piotr Anderszewski about his new album

The Polish pianist explains the links between Mozart and Schumann on his long-awaited new album.

"There are some formal reasons for coupling these works by Mozart and Schumann on one album. Doing so encompasses Fantaisies by both composers, large three-movement forms, the Mozart Sonata and the Schumann Fantaisie (which could be perceived as a grand Romantic sonata), and there is also the tonality connection, in oscillation between C minor, E flat major and C major. But behind these more salient links there is, for me, a deeper connection between the music of the two composers.

"It has always fascinated me how a composer’s inspiration materialises as a musical score. By what process can a musical thought be written down without losing the spirit of its initial impulse? We know how fast and flawlessly Mozart wrote. He seemed to have the entire piece, with its every detail, in his head — whether a small minuet or a whole symphony — and would then write it down, seemingly without hesitation. Schumann’s process was possibly slightly different, more methodical. But when one reads how fast Schumann actually wrote, how unbelievably quickly some of his large-scale, complicated piano pieces were composed, one can’t help but draw a similarity here with Mozart: music that was in his head flowed unimpeded onto the paper, seemingly without his holding back.

"In the case of Mozart his inspiration, his knowledge of the instrument, his compositional technique, all seem to coexist in some perfect balance, and the achievement of that balance feels miraculously effortless. In the case of Schumann things are less even, less consistent; one feels a much more troubled soul behind his creations. But even in his more awkward pieces the sincerity of intention, the initial impulse, is never compromised. He does not try to correct that impulse — even if imperfect — and that awkwardness, if approached with care and love by the interpreter, can become extremely touching, vulnerable, human.

"I can hear in the music of both composers a similarity in their processes of giving physical form to their musical ideas. The cruel resistance of the blank page feels, in both cases, inexistent, disregarded. And therein lies for me an important, precious connection between Mozart and Schumann: an unobstructed directness to their music, in which the purity of intention remains intact." -Piotr Anderszewski. The new album, Fantaisies, is out now.