Pavel Kolesnikov, the pianist making ‘a palace of sound built by your own imagination’

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Erica Jeal

Guest
The Russian star brings his take on Bach’s Goldberg Variations to the Proms, having recently torn the piece apart with choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. He explains his new, ‘tree-like’ twist

“Like climbing an infinite stairway, one step at a time.” That is how Pavel Kolesnikov describes working on JS Bach’s Goldberg Variations, one of the outstanding releases of last year. On Friday 10 September, he will perform them at the penultimate night of the Proms.

“I’ve never had the chance to dedicate so much quality time to a piece before,” he says when we meet in a tiny cafe in central London. The city has been home since the Siberia-born Kolesnikov, now in his early 30s, came to study at the Royal College of Music. He had grown up listening to recordings of the Goldbergs by Glenn Gould and Rosalyn Tureck, but had never considered performing them himself – “I did not feel I had anything to add”.

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