«Music comes from silence,” claims Sir András Schiff in the title of a collection of interviews. In the eyes of this quiet but extremely respected pianist, music is almost magical. Is this awareness what makes his art so fascinating? His musical intelligence could have been simply overwhelming. But when it serves such a wonderful touch and such grace, it sublimates.»
Is it his taste for literature, painting and architecture that gives Sir András Schiff his gentlemanly air? Is it his familiarity with the work of Johann Sebastian Bach that has developed his sense of balance between structure and detail, between the spirituality of music and its dancing sensuality, or between the performer's freedom and respect for the score?
Sir András Schiff was born in Budapest in 1953 and trained at the Franz Liszt Academy – though he does not have a very favourable memory of his studies there. An ardent European, he settled first in Austria then in London, pursuing a dual career as soloist and conductor. He has a quick, incisive mind and strong opinions, harshly criticising both political authoritarianism and rampant capitalism. At the keyboard, though, Sir András Schiff is an ambassador of good taste and respect for the score.
His eclectic repertoire retraces the history of music, from Bach to Janáček and Bartók, not forgetting Mozart, Beethoven1, Schubert and Brahms. His unstoppable technique underscores the harmonic pillars and scrolls of counterpoint, sustains the most enticing legato then suddenly brings out the percussive nature of the piano. His exploration of the instrument also leads him to perform works on period instruments: a fascinating Schubert recording released in 2019 was recorded on a Viennese pianoforte from the 1820s.
Sir András Schiff regularly shares his experience and his high culture with his young colleagues during masterclasses, where he coats his precise, demanding instructions with a totally irresistible veil of humour.
1 The ECM label has re-released the complete sonatas as a boxed set of 11 CDs.
CHAMBER ORCHESTRA OF EUROPE
Sir András Schiff
BRAHMS 1 / SCHUMANN 4
Sir András Schiff
SIR ANDRÁS SCHIFF
Bach / Beethoven