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CAMA to Open Season with a Solo Recital at Lobero

Young Polish virtuoso Piotr Anderszewski holds himself to the highest of standards.

The Community Arts Music Association opens its 2008-09 season with a “Masterseries at the Lobero” concert, rather than an orchestral concert in a larger venue (formerly, the Arlington Theatre; starting this year, The Granada Theatre).

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Piotr Anderszewski (Robert Workman photo)
The first CAMA event will thus be a solo piano recital by the dazzling young Polish virtuoso Piotr Anderszewski. At 8 p.m. Thursday, Anderszewski will play a program consisting of Johann Sebastian Bach‘s Keyboard Partitas Nos. 1 and 2, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart‘s Piano Sonata No. 14 in C Minor, K. 457, and Ludwig Beethoven‘s Piano Sonata No. 31 in A-flat Major, Opus 110.

Anderszewski was born in Warsaw in 1969. His mother was Hungarian; his father was a Pole. His first language was Polish, but from his frequent visits to Hungary to see his mother’s parents, he soon picked up Hungarian. Then his family moved to Paris and he became trilingual. After his studies took him to UC Berkeley, he added a fourth modern language, English. It is a pity our young musicians aren’t required to relocate regularly into a different language world; it might take some of the provincialism off them.

Be that as it may, Anderszewski first came to the music world’s attention simultaneously as both a brilliant interpreter of Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations and a ruthless critic of his own playing. It was at Leeds International Piano Competition in 1990. Anderszewski signed up to play two works: the Diabelli Variations — a formidable, not to say daunting, choice for your first competition — and Webern’s Variations Opus 27. After a breathtaking performance of the Beethoven (more than an hour), he was halfway through the Webern (less than six minutes) when he suddenly got up and walked off the stage.

“It felt wrong,” the pianist said earlier this year. “The goal of every person I met at that competition was to win it. Mine was absolutely not. I just wanted to play as well as possible, and I felt guilty towards all those others who so desperately wanted to win and hadn’t got through.” He walked out because he didn’t feel he was playing up to his own standards, and he left the competition victory to someone who really wanted it.

Less than a year after Leeds, he got to meet his most admired master, Russian pianist Sviatoslav Richter.

“Richter was like a god to me,” he said. “Because I wanted to watch him rehearsing, I literally lay on the floor behind the stage. When he arrived, he didn’t even try the piano. The next day I got a phone call. They needed someone to turn pages for him. … Later I discovered he never tried the piano before a concert. He used to say that a concert was a matter of fate. That made a big impression on me, and I tend to take a similar approach.”

Tickets to hear Anderszewski are $35 and $45. They can be purchased at the Lobero box office at 805.963.0761, ext. 615, or from CAMA at 805.966.4324.

Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor.

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