Piano Sonata BB 88 (Sz. 80), 3rd movement

Gstaad Piano Academy 2019 with Sir András Schiff

Recorded live on July 22, 2019


Shir Semmel plays the Piano Sonata BB 88 (Sz. 80), 3rd movement by Béla Bartók


Praised for her “absolute devotion to the music” (Globes) and her “unstoppable energy and personality” (timesunionPLUS), pianist Shir Semmel has performed in Europe, the United States, and her native Israel to critical acclaim. Shir Semmel has been invited by Sir András Schiff to play recitals throughout Europe as part of his “Building Bridges” series. She has participated in festivals such as the Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute, Music@Menlo and IMS Prussia Cove. She has appeared in such venues as Carnegie Hall (Weill and Zankel), Merkin Hall, Steinway Hall, Shriver Hall, the Jerusalem Theater and more. An avid chamber musician, Semmel cofounded the Jerusalem Piano Duo together with her brother, pianist Dror Semmel, and is on the roster of the Manhattan Chamber players. As a former member of Carnegie Hall’s Ensemble ACJW, she performed on a regular basis at Carnegie Hall among other venues, and worked to enhance music education. A recipient of the American-Israel Cultural Foundation excellence scholarships, Shir Semmel has worked with renowned pianists such as Sir András Schiff, Murray Perahia, Richard Goode and others. Her teachers include Emanuel Krasovsky, Leon Fleisher and Gilbert Kalish.

Learn more about Shir Semmel and her future projects here!


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.

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