The magic world of Andras Schiff

A memorable afternoon at the RCM in the company of Sir Andras Schiff……..music just poured out of him as he shared his secrets with the remarkable young pianists Martin James Bartlett (Schubert op 90 n.2 e 3),Alexander Ullman (Haydn Variations in F)and Hin-Yat Tsang (Schumann Humoresque op 20) Useless to try and put into words what we have all experienced this afternoon .Maybe one word ” inspiring” would suffice and all thanks to the remarkable team at the RCM headed by Vanessa Latarche. Reading Hin Yats remarks as to Andras Schiffs magic world of imaginary marches not the Red Army ,Goblins and singing part of Dichterliebe to open up a whole magical fantasy world. Reminds me of Nadia Boulanger’s famous saying from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night “Words without thought no more to heaven go”. And while these very fine musicians are perfecting their craft at the piano it is good to be reminded that it is a means to an end which must always be “music” ….to make it speak. I well remember Nadia Boulanger when I was a student at the RAM reminding us always of this via that line from Shakespeare and telling us that you could write a book about the passion and feeling in Mr Stavinskys music. As I am reminded today of a fourteen year old hungarian boy appearing in Dartington to take part in masterclasses ,as a student this time,by another remarkable musician Andre Tchaikovsky who had been asked especially to look out for this exceptionally talented young boy. Andre always had an impish sense of humour and so when Katie Kennedy presented the early Brahms E flat minor scherzo op 4 ,unknown to Andre but not to Andras who flaunted his knowledge in hearing distance. So Andre just said you teach it to her leaving this rather timid young boy to play the part of Master much to his embarrassment. But when Andras Schiff played Chopin third ballade there was no doubt that here was already a remarkable musician. Although he did not win the Leeds Competition in the year that neither did Mitsuko Uchida it says reams for turning music into an almost olympic sport – his performance, at the competition , of Papillons is history. There can be no doubt in anyones mind today that we are indeed privileged to be in the company of one of the most complete musicians on the world stage today.

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