Pieter's pairing

1. Hi Pieter, can you briefly introduce yourself?

Well, I have been a Sofican since January 2007. Most of these 14 years I spent as a documenter/trainer before making the switch to business consultancy (some 5 years ago). I have a background in languages (English/German), which somewhat explains my involvement in a German client project.

2. Everyone in the Belgian office knows you as an avid wine lover. But you've also been playing the piano for a long time. Where did this love originate?

For sure it is a family thing. My grandad was a professional musician, as were his daughter (my aunt) and my brother. To put it mildly, the option not to go to music school at 8 was not an option at all in our family. But fortunately, I was very keen to learn an instrument, so I decided in favor of the piano (the actual reason – no joke - was that I liked the looks of the piano teacher much better than those of the violin teacher). And that is how it all started.

I finished music school at 18, after some very successful and some quite less successful (puberty, you know) piano years, then didn’t play a lot for a long time, experienced a romance with the trumpet for some years… until three years ago, when I ‘rediscovered’ my passion for the instrument. Probably some kind of midlife crisis … (laughs)

I am currently working (read ‘sweating’) on Chopin’s first three nocturnes.


3. Brahms, Chopin, ... what repertoire is hidden in your fingers?

"I would say ‘the rather traditional/classical piano repertoire’, i.e. quite some pieces of ‘big piano composers’ such as Bach (compulsory at every examination), Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, Debussy, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann… and of course – unavoidable at the time – lots of etudes by Carl Czerny. More specifically, I am currently working (read ‘sweating’) on Chopin’s first three nocturnes. Although I never play jazz – it’s a completely different way of playing – I would definitively want to try it out one day."

4. Wine and music are often a good marriage. Playing and drinking at the same time though ...

"Playing and drinking indeed is tricky, if not impossible (but playing after having drunk a lot is probably worse). But even doing other stuff is hard while playing: I am ‘jealous’ of people who can sing and play at the same time (not that I would even try to), I cannot even speak while playing. So, I’ll have to skip that one and immediately go to ‘drinking while listening’."

Actually, the answer is simple: any good wine that does not require food to blossom will do, the taste depends on the moment. If you ask me right now, I would say an outstanding, balanced Barsac or Sauternes (sweet white ‘dessert wine’).

Chopin – Simply, the very essence of lyrical piano music with a very ‘recognizable’ style and utter beauty.


5. Give us your top five favorite wines and composers. Can you tell us why?

Composers: ask me ten times, and you’ll get ten totally different replies! But let’s give it a try (sincere apologies to many other composers):

  1. Ludwig van Beethoven - Let’s leave it at: there is probably not a single work of Beethoven that I don’t like a lot.
  2. Chopin – Simply, the very essence of lyrical piano music with a very ‘recognizable’ style and utter beauty.
  3. Mahler - Mainly because of his vast orchestral symphonies with often way too much going on, but I happen to like that a lot from time to time.
  4. Ravel: fantastic (but highly difficult) piano repertoire, so much more than his famous ‘Bolero’.
  5. Prokofiev: very versatile composer (piano/symphonic music/opera), I like the style, humor, and sarcasm in his music, difficult but ‘fun’ to play.

Wines: this is even more difficult!

  1. The only wine I ever rated 19 out of 20 during a wine club tasting was the Sauternes château d’Yquem 1997 (sweet white): extremely long and rich, huge flavors, but at the same time perfectly balanced by its acidity. A WOW wine!
  2. Say ‘Germany’ and I will not respond ‘Volkswagen’ but ‘Riesling’. Going over to a client in Braunschweig almost always resulted in considerable wine bills. The Wegeler Jesuitengarten GG 2015 (dry white) is a beautiful Riesling example: it was far too young when I opened the first bottle, but already a real pleasure to drink (at a reasonable price).
  3. Expensive wines are certainly not always the best ones, but… Château Lafite Rothschild 1983 has a very special place in my wine memory: I bought a single bottle from a hairdresser of all people (on E-Bay), then drank it at age 20 (the wine) with my best friend: extremely refined, a perfect sample of what a great Bordeaux should be. Unfortunately, its - already ridiculous - price has tripled over the last decade.
  4. Back in 2012, when I was in Sydney for a Miles training course, ex-colleague Adrian Hill took me to Hunter Valley, where we visited one of his favorite domains: Brokenwood. Because I was ‘a European far away from home’, the house offered us – out of the blue and to the utter astonishment of Adrian – a glass of their flagship wine: Graveyard (red). It tasted a lot better than its name, and of course, the whole experience was priceless.
  5. Let’s finish with an Italian: ‘Poema’ (red). This Montepulciano d´Abruzzo (produced by Jasci) has a stunning price quality ratio.

The only wine I ever rated 19 out of 20 during a wine club tasting was the Sauternes château d’Yquem 1997.


6. Would you like to play for your colleagues at the office, once that is allowed again?

I am definitively not the great performer waiting to climb any stage when the occasion arises, but if there was a reasonably decent acoustic piano, I would give it a try. As for ‘electrical stuff’, I would probably pass with a big smile, as I really don’t like playing on those pianos.

7. We will post one concert as a YouTube video below. Which one will it be? And by whom?​​​​​​​

I could not at all make up my mind, so finally decided to keep it ‘simple’: Chopin, a waltz, by star pianist Evgeny Kissin.


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