How important has Beethoven been to you as a pianist – is there an affinity more or less than with other composers?

Along with Mozart and Bach, I studied Beethoven all my life. This came from my teacher originally and then his works continued to fascinate me. There was something elemental about its nature because it was about man himself.

When did you first start exploring the Hammerklavier Sonata?

I first worked on it in my late twenties.

What were the challenges for you as a young man exploring the work?

The challenges were manifold, but remain for me today the same as when I was 27 years old: to identify the scope of the piece and somehow release its power; to show the piece’s underlying unity despite its many contrasts; to master the many technical difficulties and make it all sound natural and inevitable; and to create an emotional resonance from its deeply...

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