Artur Pizarro: “I Really Wanted to Go Bechstein Rather Than Steinway Because of the Characteristics of the Sound of the Piano. I Wanted Something a Little Bit More Refined and With More Ties to a European Piano Sound, an Old German Piano Tradition Rather Than a More Modern, Homogenized Standard Sound”
Historical piano recording expert.
Artur Pizarro embarked on the recording of Beethoven’s complete piano concertos amid the complexities of the Covid-19 pandemic. The project took shape in 2019 when conductor Julia Jones invited Pizarro, impressed by their collaboration in Lisbon, to perform Beethoven’s Fourth Concerto with the Wuppertal Symphony Orchestra. Struck by the orchestra’s chemistry, Pizarro proposed recording all of Beethoven’s concertos, an idea met with enthusiasm despite Wuppertal’s recognition not being on par with renowned ensembles.
The initial plan involved recording in Lisbon and Germany, but the onset of Covid-19 disrupted schedules, canceling the Lisbon concerts and delaying the recording to 2021. The pandemic added layers of complexity, requiring meticulous planning, daily tests, masks, and social distancing during rehearsals and recordings. Pizarro expressed gratitude for the orchestra’s dedication and the collaborative efforts that turned the recording into a “miracle” against all odds.
The actual recordings took place in Wuppertal’s Immanuelskirche, a converted church, using a Bechstein concert grand. Pizarro opted for a Bechstein piano over a Steinway, seeking a refined, European sound reminiscent of the Golden Age of Piano. The pianist recounted the challenges of coordinating trips, dealing with fluctuating border restrictions, and recording over three visits within three months.
While addressing the financial complexities of classical recordings, Pizarro highlighted the significance of CDs as permanent documents. However, he acknowledged the challenges posed by the declining popularity of CDs and the growing trend toward digital platforms. He expressed concerns about the impact of streaming on classical music’s economic model, noting the disproportionate application of financial strategies developed for pop and rock genres.
Pizarro underscored the enduring importance of live concerts, dismissing notions of classical music’s demise. He encouraged audiences to embrace classical music without preconceived notions, emphasizing the role of music education in fostering appreciation. The pianist remained optimistic about the future of classical music, emphasizing its resilience and continued global growth.
In conclusion, Artur Pizarro’s recording journey reflects not only the artistic challenges of capturing Beethoven’s masterpieces but also the resilience and adaptability required in navigating the evolving landscape of classical music in the digital age.