Improvisations on Hungarian Peasant Songs, Op. 20
Gstaad Piano Academy 2017 with Sir András Schiff
Recorded live on July 18, 2017
Itai Navon performs Improvisations on Hungarian Peasant Songs, Op. 20 by Béla Bartók:
A Masterclass Like No Other
There are as many different types of masterclasses as there are musicians: The masterclasses taught at the Gstaad Piano Academy by Sir András Schiff are particularly revealing and informative. They are a special treat for both the young pianists as well as the ever-growing audience visiting the town hall in Saanen. (Sir András Schiff’s masterclasses are open to the public.
The Hungarian pianist puts emphasis on studying what he feels are the essential composers: Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert. With short, yet precise and always generous comments Schiff instructs his students to be true to the great composer’s score whilst sharing their own originality and personality with the audience. «If a pianist only hears two colours, whatever his fingers «produce» can’t be of much value. However, the highly subjective performances of Alfred Cortot created millions of colours and shades, not unlike the masterpieces of great painters.»
How to get to the bottom of a masterpiece
Sir András Schiff’s masterclasses are outstanding. In contrast to the many teachers who like to interrupt their students regularly to correct their playing, Schiff allows their music to evolve. Sometimes he takes his time and listens to an entire phrase. And we, the audience consider ourselves lucky, because we get to enjoy an whole concert, analysed by the master himself. Sir András Schiff believes that only in this manner one can strive to be true to the score – and express the composer’s truth, not the interpreter’s vision. He also shared with us the fact that whilst studying in Budapest he learned more from composers, notably György Kurtág and Pál Kadosa, than he ever learned from other pianists.