Buchbinder raves about Brahms, Mozart, Schubert and Gershwin, but Beethoven still rules 30 years later. Bounding from his half-finished strudel to the shiny black grand, he spreads his broad, powerful right hand to strike seven octaves in rapid succession in a phrase from Beethoven's 1st Piano Concerto.
"If I ever have to start playing this part with two hands like all my colleagues, that's time to stop playing this concerto," he explains. As a matter of fact, he says, he is prepared to stop playing altogether once he feels his skills waning, a point he hopes will come "only shortly before my death."
All of his performances in recent years have been live, and Buchbinder says he happily takes the risk of a live recording that may be less than 100-percent perfect over putting together something in a studio that lacks "spontaneity, emotion and nervousness."
"You can always repeat a phrase 10 times in a studio," he says. "That's not me."
It's that drive for freshness, says Buchbinder, that prevents him from ever listening to himself.
"Look," he says, pointing to a shelf lined with dozens of his CDs and still encased in cellophane. "They're all in their original packing.
"A painter paints a picture and he hangs it on the wall and it's for eternity," he explains. "But I've played what I've recorded there so many times since and it sounds different from one day to the next — so I get nervous if I listen to myself or if someone shows me a DVD of me playing.
"I have to leave the room."
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