Unquiet Traveller
Piotr Anderszewski (piano)
rec. 2008

Directed by Bruno Monsaingeon
Sound format: LPCM stereo; PCM 5.1
Picture format: 16:9
Picture standard: 1080i Blu-Ray
Region code: 0
Subtitles: EN, FR, PO, DE IDEALE AUDIENCE 3077934 [83:00]

It begins with a train. At first, it is not clear why this documentary about pianist Piotr Anderszewski opens with shots of a train, but an explanation comes. Anderszewski, on a European tour, decided to travel in a private train carriage, rather than take airplanes or other means of locomotion, and this becomes his home for the duration of the tour. He has a piano installed there, and has a nice kitchen, a bedroom, and a small salon for his needs. He claims to enjoy the freedom of the train - the lack of needing to make decisions; just allowing the train-driver to take him where he is going.

Throughout this documentary, then, we go from different cities back to the train. We see Warsaw, London, Paris, Budapest, Lisbon and more, and we see the train. A train as a metaphor for the straight lines that Anderszewski follows, but that changes as he goes on. For this is more than a mere travelogue; Anderszewski gives a first-person voice-over, for much of the film, talking about his life and how he discovered music. He gives some interesting comments on the act of performing versus recording. Anderszewski discusses what music means to him, and what he hopes to accomplish by playing music. He notes that he plays best when he stops playing; when the music, as one might say, plays itself.

Anderszewski is an interesting pianist. He has not recorded a great deal, but his recordings are, for the most part, quite well respected. He seems somewhat detached from the whole ritual of performing, appearing to be quite a simple man, and certainly not a prima donna. There are numerous extracts of him playing recitals, rehearsals, and recording sessions. They show him as someone who is deeply passionate about music, someone who is profoundly moved by the music he plays. He discusses the composers most important to him - Chopin, Brahms, Bach, Szymanowski - and the cities he loves.

This is an enjoyable documentary, which could have benefited from more musical extracts. There is a lot of talking, and none of the pieces is performed in its entirety. But it shows that Anderszewski is an interesting musician, one aloof from the elite world of classical music, and one who seems to be well rooted in simplicity. Well filmed, and edited to be compellingly paced, this is worth watching for fans of Anderszewski or fans of piano music in general.

Kirk McElhearn

An interesting documentary about a fine pianist… see Full Review