"There are hundreds of pianists with incredible technique, who can play millions of notes as fast as you want. But when it comes to playing music, you don't see many," says Mr. Frühbeck de Burgos, who has conducted nearly every symphony in the US. "[That] distinguishes [Andsnes] from other people who put emphasis on playing notes."
Under his hands, the piano purrs – captivating audiences not so much with his fingers as with the fervent interpretations they evoke. By turns, he pounces on the keys playfully, dribbles them like an NBA star, and tucks them into bed with a lingering good night.
Andsnes will be more available than ever to US listeners this year. On Jan. 15, EMI Classics released the Grieg documentary he made last year on the centenary of the composer's death. In February, two new CDs will follow – Mozart concertos and Schubert sonatas, which will be highlighted in his spring tour of seven cities including Atlanta, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle.
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With 115 concerts this season, Andsnes is living a life he hardly imagined when he came to Norway's Bergen Music Conservatory as a 16-year-old in 1986. Having skipped high school, he was three years younger than most students. "I was like the little mascot of the school," he grins. "Many of the girls developed motherly feelings for me – I think I often misunderstood that."