Leif Ove Andsnes: the leeway of world-class status

Among his peers in the elite division of Norwegian musicians few would argue that pianist Leif Ove Andsnes stands out and enjoys the position of “Primus inter pares”

Leif Ove Andsnes 2002

Aged 35 Andsnes has unquestionably ascended to the very pinnacle of international classical music. Enjoying the privilege of a seven-year recording contract with EMI Classics and the resources and long-term planning possibilities this entails, he is continuously touring the globe giving concerts at the world's leading venues, typically met with panegyric reception.

For a small country such as Norway the importance of an absolute world-class soloist such as Andsnes cannot be overestimated, for it heightens the status of the musical life of a small nation, rises both the attention-level and hence the expectations of the global cultural community, and thus has the effect of spearheading Norwegian musicianship and easing the paths of his national peers and those who follow in his wake.

The latter became concrete reality, and not simply an abstract truth, when Mr Andsnes was selected for the privilege of tailoring his own concert series at New York’s Carnegie Hall.
The idea of giving such leeway to one artist, who will thus fill the role of curator, musical director and performer, is to let one (select) person’s unique artistic vision be reflected in a whole program at a renowned venue.

The Carnegie event, called the “Perspective series”, is currently the most important and prestigious program of this kind in the world of classical music, and the honour of being selected befalls only those who have proven to be enduring stars on the artistic firmament.

The series are a rare opportunity for musicians to display their personal taste and subjective orientation, and offer a window like no other to showcase musical friends and collaborators, share personal discoveries and darlings, and perhaps rectify, on behalf of others, what one conceives as unjust oblivion.

This is so because the program entails that the most selective audiences and critics in the world readily come to experience both music and musicians hitherto perhaps unknown to them, solely in virtue of the interest and trust they place in the vision and insights of the series’ executioner.

At 35 Andsnes is the youngest ever to be bestowed with this honour; a telling indication of the status he enjoys.
He used the opportunity to present among others Danish composer Matthias Ronnefeld, who is virtually unknown in the US, and some of his own musical collaborators and friends such as violinist Christian Tetzlaff, conductor Christian Eggen, pianist Håvard Gimse, soprano Ann-Helen Moen and others.

Four final concerts in the beginning of May completed the series, and the Andsnes “Perspectives” resulted in praise from some of the worlds most influential critics.

By involving a number of Norwegian musicians Andsnes and his "Perspective series" makes evident how a soloist of international fame may constitute an important auxiliary for his domestic musical milieu and peers.

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