The distinguished pianist (and conductor) András Schiff was in concert at the Paris Philharmonie with the excellent Chamber Orchestra of Europe.
1st composer in the programme was his beloved Bach, with the 2 Ricercars of the Musical Offering, a masterpiece which is scandalously absent of French concert halls. He chose to play the Ricercar a 3 on the piano (solo), and the Ricercar a 6 was performed by 6 string players (one for each voice): 2 violins, 2 violas, 2 cellos. What a great introduction!
2nd composer, his beloved Bartók, with one of his most astounding works, the Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta. I had the chance to listen to this piece under the baton of Sir Georg Solti and Pierre Boulez ; Schiff’s rendition showed some differences (less notable crescendo in the 1st movement), but offered highly emotional and enjoyable moments (the Adagio for instance). It was nice to see/hear Dénes Várjon – another great Hungarian born pianist! – playing the piano part.
Last work, Brahms 2nd Piano Concerto. A splendid performance, with Schiff conducting from the keyboard, with almost no moves at all except at the very end. He had chosen a Bösendorfer piano, which gave some different colours from the usual Steinway.
Sir Schiff and the CEO gave 2 encores: first, the Menuets & Gigue of Bach Partita No. 1, then Brahms’ Liebeslieder Waltz #9 “Am Donaustrande“, with Schiff conducting, Várjon and the Celesta player at the piano and the members of the orchestra singing!!!
A very unique ending to a concert, with another surprise as I recognized Pascal Moraguès – the Orchestre de Paris 1st Clarinet – filling in for the clarinet soloist in the orchestra…