One of the world's foremost Beethoven interpreters will perform in Singapore for the first time.
Hungarian-born British pianist Andras Schiff will stage a solo recital next Monday at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music Concert Hall.
The 60-year-old will perform three pieces: Piano Sonata No. 32 In C Minor, Op. 111, Diabelli Variations, Op. 120, and Bagatelles, Op. 126.
Schiff, who is based in London and Italy, says: "These are three of the greatest compositions by Beethoven, who is, and I don't have to prove it, one of the greatest composers and creators of all time.
"These works all come from his so-called late period and at this time he was virtually deaf. For a musician, the loss of hearing is like the loss of eyesight for a painter. Yet Beethoven triumphed over his fate thanks to his genius, inner hearing and belief."
Schiff, who is married to Japanese violinist Yuko Shiokawa, 67, says the sonata, the last of Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas, is "very dramatic and turbulent in the first movement, while the second movement is transcendental, philosophical and metaphysical".
He adds that the second piece in his repertoire, the variations, is "probably Beethoven's greatest work for the piano, and it shows all the qualities of his creative spirit, at times lyrical, other times dramatic and often very funny".
Finally, he says the Bagatelles, Beethoven's last work written for the piano, comprises "wonderful short character pieces of the utmost poetry".
While Schiff was awarded honorary membership in the Beethoven House in Bonn in 2006 for his interpretation of the composer's works, he is also known for his approach to other composers such as Bach, Mozart, Schubert and Schumann.
He says: "Interpreters need to find the character and personality of each composer, of each work. The differences are more important than the similarities."
Aside from being a highly decorated performer, having won a Grammy award in 1990 for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (Without Orchestra) and a medal from the Royal Philharmonic Society in London last year, Schiff is also a conductor. A regular with the Philharmonia Orchestra in London and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, he says: "I am a musician and my duty is to serve the composers. There is no difference here between the approach of a pianist or that of a conductor.
"However, the pianist produces the notes on his own instrument while the conductor doesn't produce anything. He has to motivate and inspire the players of the orchestra to do that. It is a very interesting and mysterious occupation."
Schiff is looking forward to visiting Singapore, as he has been here only once, while transiting between flights. He says: "This will be my first concert here and I am looking forward to it enormously. I also want to get to know some of the interesting places."
Visiting Artist Series: Andras Schiff plays Beethoven
Where: Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music Concert Hall, 3 Conservatory Drive
When: Monday, 7.30pm
Admission: $120 from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to www.sistic.com.sg)
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