Pianist András Schiff in major interview on France Musique

Pianist András Schiff in major interview on France Musique

Bach, Mendelssohn, Liszt, a Hungary he no longer recognizes, Jewish roots … France Musique devotes its major interviews to the captivating András Schiff, too rare in France.

His word is the image of his game: tender, balanced, relaxed, without emphasis. Invited all week at the microphone of Philippe Cassard , the Hungarian pianist András Schiff, born in 1953, gives himself with the same accuracy, the same clarity as when he delivers a fugue of the well-tempered Clavier of Johann Sebastian Bach, of which he is specialist. Without ever pressing the resonance pedal. “I do not like to start concerts fortissimo, I prefer when it’s pianissimo, to seek the touch, listen to the acoustics”, he confides during the interview. The rest is in keeping.

Do not set foot in Hungary anymore

Whether describing Hungary from his childhood, his “very gray” atmosphere , where he attended the recitals of mythical pianists (Arthur Rubinstein, Annie Fischer, Sviatoslav Richter), or that of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán , in which he now refuses to set foot. This country, marked by intolerance towards the Roma and an “unofficial anti-semitism”, is no longer its Hungary, saddens the one who today has become a British citizen.

The same tone when it comes to rehabilitate some of his fetish composers, on which he believes miscellaneous misconceptions: Chopin, more classic than romantic in his ears, “which leaves little freedom to the interpreter” ; Bartók, “a great pianist who played with a lot of rubato” ; and especially Mendelssohn, largely underestimated, especially because of the anti-Semitic attacks he suffered from Wagner. As for Liszt, the maestro deplores that his music is treated so “exhibitionist”, so “brutal”. That is why he himself plays so little the pages of this illustrious compatriot, who nevertheless founded the school where he was trained, the Franz Liszt University of Music, in Budapest.

A major interpreter of our time

From this interview punctuated by carefully selected musical extracts, we will remember the voice of a musician considered throughout the world as a major performer of our time. A voice, too, where the dramas of history resonate – his family, Jewish, survived the Holocaust. Unanimously hailed for his immense and ambitious record production (he recorded all Bach and all Mozart), András Schiff is, oddly enough, little present on the French stages. And is even less so in interview. The one Philippe Cassard has collected here is “the first big interview” ever given in France, says the animator, himself a brilliant pianist at the international career. Which makes this voice all the more precious.

Daniel Hooks

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