“There are two aspects of preparation,” explains concert pianist, master class clinician, and writer Paul Roberts about learning to play a classical composition. “One is simply practicing at the keyboard. The second really interesting aspect is reading around your piece. For example, you find out who Liszt was, then you discover that he drew inspiration from Petrarch; you therefore become very interested in Petrarch and discover how Liszt identifies with Petrarch. You then in some way bring that to bear on your interpretation, and that is when things get a bit difficult.
“In the final stage, which is most mysterious of all, you figure out what you’re actually thinking about when performing these pieces. For me, when I am playing I don’t think of the poetry at all. I’ve sublimated all the preparation into the music, but I’m profoundly aware that somewhere along the line that preparation has gone into my interpretation of the music.”
Roberts will demonstrate his penchant for preparation February 22-24 during his mini-festival called Performance and Communication, which includes a lecture-recital and two free master classes. Roberts first came to Portland through Portland Piano International in 1991 and has since given more than 50 master classes to Portland’s piano students. At his lecture-recital “Liszt, Love and Petrarch: The Pianist as Narrator,” Roberts will elucidate the connection between composer and his inspiration. Franz Liszt composed three sonatas each inspired by a Petrarch sonnet for voice and piano in the 1840s, and then made his more popular version for solo piano that Roberts will perform in Portland.