“I chose to record my CD in this particular hall because I’ve played many piano concerts there, I’m familiar with the piano and I’m very fond of it.
It’s in a big hall with big acoustics, it makes a lovely sound in that particular hall, the sound is rich and clear. The venue is isolated, there are no disturbances around, it’s in a beautiful green setting.
I experimented on where to place the microphone, I put it chest height if you are standing, so it was level with the height of the instrument, it was just my own experimentation but it seemed to work. I recorded over a period of two years; there were four sessions to each produce fifteen minutes of recorded music, so around one day’s recording to produce fifteen minutes of music. In the end I made a one hour CD. It was slightly frustrating getting to the end of a piece sometimes and perhaps making one mistake at that point. But overall I loved spending the whole day in the hall by myself, I think pianists in particular love to be by themselves. In some ways you have to love to be alone as a pre-requisite of becoming a pianist.
Unlike other instruments that rehearse with an accompanist, concert pianists rehearse completely alone, you achieve a particular focus and state of mind from being alone and just focussing on the music; in the world it’s just you, the composer, the instrument and the music, there are no distractions. I think it’s a lovely state of mind to be I liked to see the result, to know that so much work over two years was such a good feeling. The project was to learn and record a great deal of Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words. I fell in love with him a few years ago.
I did the recording without an assistant so I had these practical considerations; I had to switch the equipment on then run to the piano, then switch it off again after playing, organise all of that, plus sorting out the pages so there wouldn’t be any page turns. I had to make notes, so I was writing a lot during the sessions to keep track of what I’d recorded, keeping a note of all the pieces as I recorded them, and then there was a lot of switching on and off of buttons, these were practical difficulties. I did the whole thing alone, I chose the final recordings myself, I made all the decisions myself and I’m very happy with how it turned out.” (Mikael Pettersson)