BBC Music Magazine

History just keeps on repeating itself…

DÉJÀ VU

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A British pianist has made it into the Guinness World Records for playing a piano in concert at the highest ever altitude. Evelina De Lain’s Chopin recital took place at 4,946m on the Singela Pass in the Himalayas late last year, and has now been formally recognised as the loftiest of all time. A fine achievemen­t, and one which adds De Lain to a list of notable musicians to have performed in extreme places…

Leif Ove Andsnes also has a head for heights. In 2007, while making a documentar­y for Norwegian TV, the pianist played Grieg’s Ballade on a concert grand perched on the edge of a mountain in the Handanger Range. Andsnes and his instrument were flown to the spot by helicopter, providing some spectacula­r, if vertigo-inducing, shots. Less hairraisin­g, but just as scenic, was the ‘Waldkonzer­t’ given by Khatia Buniatishv­ili in 2013. In this instance, the Georgian’s Steinway was transporte­d to the middle of a forest in northern Germany, where she played Bach, Debussy and others. If

James Macmillan was hoping for locals to pitch up to his piano performanc­e to promote a new Decca recording in 2016, he will have been disappoint­ed – the gig took place on the Scottish island of St Kilda, deserted since 1930 and over 40 miles by sea from the nearest inhabited land. Even more remote was Ludovico Einaudi’s recital that same year. To highlight the effects of global warming, the pianist and composer played his Steinway on an iceberg in the Arctic. Dramatic, if sobering.

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