Leif Ove Andsnes introduces his LSO Artist Portrait Series

Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes returns this summer for his LSO Artist Portrait. Here he tells us more about the works he'll be performing....

Being invited back by the London Symphony Orchestra to appear in their Artist Profile series is a huge honour and I really look forward to playing with them again under both Daniel Harding and Michael Tilson Thomas.

After a long period of focusing solely on Beethoven, it is wonderful to come back to concertos that I have not played for a long time. Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 20 in D minor, K466 (8 May), was the first concerto I ever performed with a professional orchestra, aged 14 in Stavanger. It is a piece which has become an old friend over the years and performing it always reminds me of that first overwhelming and unforgettable experience as a teenager.

Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor (12 May) is a work which I am performing this season for the first time after a thirteen year break. I have not played it since 2003 when I was lucky enough to record both the Grieg and Schumann Concertos with Mariss Jansons and the Berlin Philharmonic – another important milestone in my life. It is wonderful to return to this concerto after so long and experience all the different layers that make the work so unique.

For the chamber music concert I have chosen to team up with Christian Tetzlaff, Tabea Zimmermann and Clemens Hagen to perform all three of Brahms’ Piano Quartets in one concert (28 May). The idea for this has been brewing for several years already as the four of us first performed the First Piano Quartet at the Salzburg Festival in 2010. It was one of the most rewarding chamber music experiences I have ever had and so immediately we started to plot a reunion in order to explore all the quartets together. This concert – which forms part of a tour together across the USA and Europe – is something I am hugely looking forward to. The quartets are so varied and form the best chamber music that that there is.

Sibelius at the pianoComposer Jean Sibelius at the piano

My final concert in the series is a new recital programme (10 Jun). I am on a mission right now to focus attention on the piano music of Sibelius – his best pieces are really haunting. They have a deep feeling for nature and, even if most pieces are intimate, they give the feeling of vast landscapes. So I will open the programme with his subtly coloured Kylikki followed by a series of miniatures with alluring and typically Finnish titles such as The Birch, The Spruce and The Forest Lake.

After the Sibelius, the programme turns very classical with one of the middle period sonatas of Beethoven whilst the second half is decidedly more pianistic in nature. The Debussy set reveals two very different sides of this composer. The first work shows his ability to evoke nature and places, in this case an evening in Granada. Then I will play three of his Études, which were his last works for piano solo. It’s incredible how taking one technical aspect of piano playing as a limitation, and seeing what he could do about that, made him so creative.

And then finally, we turn to Chopin. When I was twelve I had a cassette tape of the four Chopin ballades and became totally obsessed. They rank amongst the greatest piano music there is, and the Fourth Ballade has a particular place in my heart. Just unbelievable what he says in twelve minutes. I always wanted to do this piece as an ending to a programme!


Leif Ove Andsnes performs Mozart's Piano Concerto No 20 with Daniel Harding on 8 May, the Schumann Piano Concerto with Michael Tilson Thomas on 12 May, the Brahms Piano Quartets at Milton Court on 28 May, and performs a solo recital of works by Sibelius, Debussy, Beethoven and Chopin on 10 June.