Behind the Curtain

Acclaimed Portuguese pianist Artur Pizarro makes his Music of the Baroque debut in our November concerts, Classical Vienna: Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert.

Artur Pizarro, Piano

Soloist portrait

Q: What book is on your nightstand?

A: A History of Russian Music by Francis Maes. Interesting reading, as I will be performing a complete cycle of Rachmaninoff’s solo works three times in Europe next year.

Q: What piece of music (that you haven’t performed) would you most like to play?

A: Prokofieff Piano Concerto No. 3. Believe it or not, I have never been asked to play it.

Q: What is the most challenging piece of music you’ve performed?

A: Maurice Ohana Etudes for piano and percussion. Totally out of my comfort zone in terms of writing and physical gestures…was a challenge I set myself and it turned out to be lots of fun!

“Isn’t ‘classical’ enough? Three reincarnations and I won’t make it through half the repertoire…”

Q: What other types of music do you like to play?

A: Isn’t “classical” enough? Three reincarnations and I won’t make it through half the repertoire.

Q: Do you ever get nervous performing in front of an audience?

A: Every time, but they are nerves due to the sense of responsibility, not stage-fright. Can you imagine being scared of your workplace every day?

Q: What is something about you that might surprise others?

A: That I am a happy member of and love playing Real Racing 3 on my iPad.

Q: You will perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17 in G Major in your upcoming concerts with Music of the Baroque in November. Any thoughts?

A: What I can tell you that will be most personal ist the fact that it will be my concerto debut in Chicago. It will also be an incredible pleasure to work with one of my very favorite musicians/conductors, the incredible Jane Glover. Some of my very first Mozart concerto performances were with Jane and the London Mozart Players back in the 90s and she really spoiled me! What Jane provides as a musician is the logic and care and intelligence in the preparation which then gives you the liberty to soar and be free in the performance. I can sit at the piano in the knowledge that my parameters are clearly defined in our joint interpretation and that I can have complete trust in the conductor and orchestra. This allows us to pursue the message of Mozart which is all about generosity, freedom, exploration of the senses and, above all, joy. Coming to Chicago to work with Music of the Baroque will surely be a beautiful experience to which I am very much looking forward.

Q: Which do you prefer, recording your music in the studio, or performing it before an audience?

A: Love both. I get to repeat things in a recording, but otherwise the commitment is the same. In the concert hall the audience is physically there, in the recording studio it is in my mind, sitting at home listening to the finished recording.

Q: What piece of music would be the soundtrack to your life?

A: Schnittke Concerto for piano and strings…feels like my life.

Q: What goes with you on every trip?

A: My iPad full of music scores. Saves my arms and hands from carrying heavy bags all the time. And the iPad charger!

Q: What is your favorite sound?

A: Laughter.

Q: What do you consider comfort food?

A: Macaroni and cheese, American style…glow in the dark orange cheese…totally artificial…I have a strange idea that all those chemicals will preserve my body after I die.

Q: What is your favorite word?

A: Yes.

Q: What is your favorite deadly sin?

A: I guess it has to be gluttony…serious foodie here…and do NOT let me loose in a pastry shop.

Q: What have you been listening to lately on your ipod?

A: Rachmaninoff’s complete recordings. Trying to get into his mind as much as possible lately.

Q: What three recordings would you take with you on a desert island?

A: Rachmaninoff’s third symphony conducted by the composer, Sibelius violin concerto performed by Christian Ferras, and the Bach Goldberg variations performed by Maria Tipo.

Q: What is your favorite fairy tale?

A: The Emperor’s New Clothes…keep coming across it!