In Search of the Ideal Piano Sound

by Charlotte Brouard-Tartarin
Andras Schiff playing the piano

Artist in residence
Sir András Schiff


In his hands, every note sounds like a piece of evidence – Sir András Schiff is an undisputed master of his instrument whom the newspaper Le Temps once described as a «wise man of the piano». Schiff is an eminent expert on the music of Ludwig van Beethoven and Johann Sebastian Bach, but as a matter of principle he always seeks to serve the work he plays, no matter whether he is performing as a soloist or leading others. At the Philharmonie, he is now the featured Artist in residence for four concerts reflecting the many facets of his work.

First of all, Schiff appears with «his» ensemble, the Cappella Andrea Barca, leading Bach’s concerti for keyboard and orchestra from the piano. Not only do musicologists consider Bach the precursor of the piano concerto genre; to Sir András Schiff, Bach is also the most important composer in music history. The brilliant, polyphonic structure of these works forms an ideal point of departure for his profound musical reflection on the relationship between the members of the ensemble and its leader. In the second concert, Schiff picks up the baton, leading the Orchestre Philharmonique du ­Luxembourg for the first time. From the podium, he conducts the Dance Suite by his compatriot Béla Bartók; he also takes on the piano part in Robert Schumann’s Piano Concerto.

The residency ends with a solo recital in which Schiff will announce the individual pieces from the piano. Before that, he will introduce three of his most talented students in a gesture of appreciation for the younger ­generation; a testament to Schiff’s ardent humanism, combined with great modesty. With such encouragement, the young musicians will find the energy to continue the history of pianistic interpretation, moving forwards on the path which Sir András Schiff walked before them with such integrity and scholarship.

We’ve got something similar coming up soon at the Philharmonie: