For the English pianist soon to tour Australia, Schubert is like wine – he gets better and better with age.

Schubert is a composer you’ve returned to throughout your career. How have the challenges and pleasures of this composer changed and evolved for you over time?

I think that the challenges and pleasures do not change, they just get more intense! I am for ever trying to simplify what I do, which is often a question of noticing a tiny detail or adjusting some timing. But basically Schubert is like wine (to which he was not impartial), he gets better and better with age. He is my dearest and closest musical friend…

Imogen Cooper Pianist Imogen Cooper. Photo © Sussie Ahlburg

You have also performed many of Schubert’s song cycles. How has accompanying singers in these pieces shaped your approach to his piano music?

I would prefer the word partnering! Not for reasons of ego, just to describe more correctly the role of a good pianist playing with a singer. We are a motor without which he/she would be less then complete in this huge and wonderful world of lieder.

It is vital...