If 'ecstasy' means to stand outside ourselves, then what better ambition can there be as we wait in the wings of the Royal Albert Hall: to leave self-obsession behind and take the audience on a journey across the high wire of Beethoven or the flying trapeze of Liszt.
The piano is an instrument that can easily sound overly thick, and I love to think that I can work with textures - particularly the inner textures inside the melody or the bass line. There is an analogy there with painting; I love paintings where you see colour underneath the colour and, underneath that, more texture and shape.
I was very quick; I did nothing but play the piano apart from being at school. I was at home with my mother, saying, 'Go out and get some fresh air.' No, I wanted to play the piano all the time I could. I was completely obsessed.
Many people who don't like Rachmaninov's style consider the 'Rhapsody' his masterpiece. It's written fantastically well for orchestra and piano. He combines a lot of effervescence with a deep, Romantic spirit.
Before Liszt, a conductor was someone who just facilitated the performance, who would keep people together or beat the time, indicate the entries. After Liszt, that was no longer the case; a conductor was someone who shaped the music in an intense musical way, who played the orchestra as an instrument.