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The role of an interpreter

The interpreter is really an executant, carrying out the composer’s intentions to the letter. He doesn’t add anything that isn’t already in the work. If he is talented, he allows us to glimpse the truth of the work that is in itself a thing of genius and that is reflected in him. He shouldn’t dominate […]

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Performers

Start from scratch every time

Benjamin Appl on working with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau: When people ask me about what I learned from Fischer-Dieskau, that’s what I always come back to: of course I could say a hundred things about technique and his reputation, but what I found most inspiring was how he created everything afresh. Whenever he was teaching he’d prepare […]

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Pieces to belong to performers

“That’s what I find wonderful about music: there is always a secret left, pieces don’t belong to performers, you rent them!” – Joseph Moog, Pianist W. Boon, “Joseph Moog”, Pianistique, 5 November 2016, https://www.pianistique.com/home/english-interviews/15-interviews/75-joseph-moog, accessed 17 January 2022.

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Music better than it can be performed

Now I am attracted only to music which I consider to be better than it can be performed. Therefore I feel (rightly or wrongly) that unless a piece of music presents a problem to me, a neverending problem, it doesn’t interest me too much. For instance, Chopin’s studies are lovely pieces, perfect pieces, but I […]

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Performers

Never use a score

I never use a score when conducting my orchestra. Does a lion tamer enter a cage with a book on how to tame a lion? — Dimitri Mitropoulos, conductor Zographos, Achilleas (2017) Music and Chess. Milford: Russell Enterprises Inc.

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Performers

Practice slowly

“One must practice slowly, then more slowly and finally slowly.” – Camille Saint-Saëns Cited in: The Piano Quarterly, 1974, p. 24.

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Performers

Jan Lisiecki on interpretation

My approach is to sit with the score and make my decisions about what Andante means or what piano means in a certain context; often you go back to recordings and find that nobody’s ever really played it that way. You ask yourself ‘Why is that? Did I misread or misinterpret something? Or is this […]

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Performers

A performance can be greater than them

I remember a few years ago being at a summer academy in the south of France, with Dominique Merlet. The whole atmosphere was great there, as we were a group of like-minded people, keen to learn, work and share ideas in the gorgeous setting of a little medieval French village. The concert at the end, […]

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Performers

A good performance

A good performance is one that moves me. But it is not only the passion and emotion expressed in a performance that move me, it is also allowing the clarity of the structure, as well as the different characters, to shine through, a well-judged balance, a sense of architecture of the whole piece and, at […]

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Performers

Schnabel on recording

Having spent five days recording five Beethoven sonatas and two concertos, Schnabel wrote to his wife: This week was an ordeal, a torture chamber. “What does not kill me makes me stronger,” says Nietzsche. Hopefully (probably) this is true. I had no idea of how outrageous a process the recording on discs could be. Like […]