Do you not find this paradoxical, in a world which is becoming more and more standardized?
Piotr Anderszewski: It’s less standardized than you think. At the end of the day, I think I would prefer pianos to be identical everywhere (although I’m sure that would actually make me crazy!). Before, there were more piano makers on the market, and their instruments had more unique traits. Today, if Fazioli tries to gain ground, for example, it’s faced with a quasi-monopoly by Steinway on the concert circuit. But Steinway remains a house of high fashion, which makes hand-sewn products: every one of their pianos has its own personality. The tuning, maintenance, storage, the general state of the piano makes each one different – a Steinway from Hamburg is different from one from London, New York, or Tokyo. That said, I hate nothing more than talking with technicians who come to ask you if you want a piano with a ringing sound or a more muffled one, rich or brassy, heavy or light action. That doesn’t make any sense! I want it to ring and be muffled, I want brassy and rich, I want heavy and light! The worst is when a technician assures you that, if you don’t like the regulation, they can “have it all fixed in 5 minutes” – nothing is impossible, they can change everything – in 5 minutes! That makes me scratch my head. I prefer technicians who tell me outright, “You’re looking for something that this piano cannot do.”
The same thing goes for sound engineers: we don’t speak the same language. I just express my point of view (the idea being of course that I be able to recognize my playing), but this kind of conversation seems rather vain to me. I don’t understand anything, really nothing at all, regarding the changes they say they have made on the tracks. For me, in any case, it’s just as bad as it was when they started! I don’t know a thing about all this business of spacing, placing, positioning mikes. I’m not an expert in instrumental mechanics. Is that wrong? Should I be more like my compatriot Krystian Zimerman? Whatever the case, there is no such thing as a good piano in the absolute sense: you always have to account for the space around it that you have to fill with sound. That’s why I don’t think traveling with my own piano would solve anything. At times, I’ve chosen a piano to record an album in a warehouse or in a backstage room, then once the piano is in the recording studio, I think there’s been a mistake: I’ll check, realize that the serial numbers are the same, but nonetheless I don’t recognize it any more, not the touch nor the sound.