Sir András Schiff, © Lukas Beck
Sir András Schiff, © Lukas Beck

“Bösendorfer is Viennese dialect”

Sir András Schiff will interpret works of the Viennese classical period at the final concert of Klosters Music. However, the exceptional pianist does not want to reveal what exactly he will play.

You won’t find his portrait on the cover of glossy magazines, his soulful piano is unpretentious. Heartfelt music-making rather than unreserved show! Sir András Schiff is one of the antistars of the international piano scene. In his piano recitals, the audience becomes a reverent congregation listening to the fine colour differentiations and nuances of touch with which he turns his interpretations of works into something very special. At Klosters Music he plays works by Joseph Haydn and, for the first time at the festival, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The Budapest-born pianist has a very broad horizon. Schiff has not only conducted several chamber music festivals and works frequently as a conductor – with the Cappella Andrea Barca he has also founded his own chamber orchestra. He is also an esteemed piano teacher. This great musical experience shapes his piano playing. 

From the very start 

He has been with Klosters Music from the very start and has gifted the audience every year with exemplary interpretations of the music of Bach, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert and Brahms. During the last two years, which were marked by the Covid pandemic, one heard from some musicians that they were also quite happy about this longer compulsory break. Sir András Schiff, on the other hand, did not enjoy the lockdown, “although it was good to be at home for once and to get some peace. Nevertheless: I had lost my rhythm of life, so to speak. The daily need to work and practise was gone. It was as if there was no more energy, no goals and therefore no motivation.” But he tried to make the best of the situation. “For example, I started cooking and worked out a small but extraordinarily tasty range of Hungarian specialities,” the pianist reveals. 

Sleep in your own bed 

Although, as far as repertoire is concerned, Sir András Schiff always draws on the familiar such as Viennese Classicism, Romantic composers like Schubert and Schumann, but also the music of his fellow countryman Béla Bartók, his musical career is also characterised by curiosity and a thirst for knowledge – especially when it comes to instruments. He recorded works by Franz Schubert on a fortepiano. He recorded Ludwig van Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations on both a Bechstein grand from 1921 and a Brodmann fortepiano from 1820. For his piano recital on 7 August 2022 at 5 p.m. in the Arena Klosters concert hall, which concludes this year’s festival, he will bring his own Bösendorfer grand to interpret works of the Viennese Classical period: “Playing on your own grand is like sleeping in your own bed in a hotel. Bösendorfer is like Viennese dialect, Steinway is High German,” says Schiff. 

Finding new ways 

The title of this piano recital is Carte Blanche. The pianist has deliberately decided that the detailed programme will not be published in advance. “We have to find new ways to communicate with the audience. I find that the usual rituals of a concert are too formal, too predictable. There are no surprises,” says Schiff. Nevertheless, one can of course be sure that the evening will be one of the highlights of the festival. Only which specific works the interpreter will highlight remains unknown. For Schiff the key point is always faithfulness to the text, “but also knowing how to read a text. There are so many subtleties that cannot be written down at all. It’s about the art of timing. And yes: the joy of music!” 

You can experience Sir András Schiff at Klosters Music on 7 August 2022. Tickets can be purchased here.