When Crystal Cruises invited me to join their flagship as the guest classical pianist for a springtime voyage around the Aegean, I had my doubts. Inspecting their website, I anticipated jazz-age glamour, Art Deco-inflected design and gourmet cuisine. But playing Beethoven on a boat? What about the noise, and the movement — not to mention the psychological effect of the environment on my interpretation? How, for instance, would my inner Richter fare in a face-off with my inner Liberace in a venue called the Galaxy Lounge?
I have a genetic piano-seeking compulsion, however. I play them wherever I can find them. Could a luxury passenger vessel, I asked myself, really be much worse than a rowdy London pub? A Brazilian jungle lodge? Besides, perhaps great music strikes one more powerfully when heard in unusual circumstances.