Flexibility - Artur Pizarro's Key to Success

One of the SCO's favourite guests, the amazing pianist Artur Pizarro, joins us this week for Beethoven's Piano Concerto No 2.  He'll be performing with another good friend of ours, John Storgårds, who will also conduct the UK debut of Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara’s Into the Heart of the Light and Mendelssohn's fifth symphony.


Artur Pizarro recently spoke to ARTINFO UK about his upcoming performances with the SCO.


When performing with an orchestra, how do you prepare differently than if you were performing a solo?

When preparing a concerto one has to be ready to be much more flexible in interpretation due to the fact that a concerto is essentially a trio with a soloist, conductor and orchestra. Also, in a concerto situation, unlike other instrumentalists, a pianist very rarely gets to warm up or get sufficient time on stage to get used to the piano available.

What are some of the challenges, if any, when working with a larger group of performers versus a solo, duo or a trio?

Again, the issue is flexibility. On his/her own, a soloist is only answerable to his or herself. In a larger chamber group or an orchestra, one has to be a very good team player where each individual function has to be clear without ego interference and generosity makes the experience infinitely better!

You have performed solo cycles of various composers' works, such as Chopin, Ravel, and Debussy. What was the idea behind singling out certain composers over a specific time period?

The cycles I have devoted to certain composers, Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy, Ravel and next year Rachmaninoff, have been culminations of decades devoted to the study of these great composers. Once the majority of their piano repertoire is in my grasp, I reward myself with the privilege of sharing the results of all that work with audiences throughout the world.

You've re-visited Beethoven's work in both your recordings and your live performances many times, how important is his work to your repertoire?

Beethoven is just one of those central figures in music! Imagine being in the literature world and not having Shakespeare as a central figure!

Are there any musical conquests yet to conquer? If so, which ones?

Lots of music still to be learned and performed, lots of incredible musicians I would still like to collaborate with and places to visit. Not to mention continuing to improve what I've already started. So, to be completely honest, I tend not to worry about those things too much because I'm busy enough just coping with everything and I love surprises when every once in a while my wishes show up unannounced!

Do you have any pre or post-performance rituals? If so, what are they?

Apart from common sense things like being careful with what I eat on tour or how much I rest, to protect my health and avoid illness-causing cancellations, I tend to not have rituals as they take away flexibility that is necessary when on the road. Different schedules, distances, hotels, halls, all imply that things will change all the time. So, the healthier and the more flexible I am, hopefully, the better the results.

What are the top 5 songs on your iPod?

The complete recordings by Rachmaninoff as pianist and conductor; the complete piano concerti of Beethoven performed by Solomon; Brahms Piano Concerto no.2 played by Backhaus; Granados Tonadillas performed by Pilar Lorengar and Alicia de Larrocha, and Brahms symphonies conducted by Gunter Wand in live performances.


Catch Artur Pizarro, John Storgårds and the SCO performing the UK premiere of Einojuhani Rautavaara’s Into the Heart of the Light, Beethoven's Piano Concert No 2 and Mendelssohn's Symphony No 5 'Reformation' in St Andrews, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, 5 - 8 December.