With Love, Enthusiasm and Humour

Piano Compact
22–25 August 2024
6 recitals in four days

In the past, Sir András Schiff has repeatedly commented on the streamlined, standardised sound of the instruments that can be found in concert halls all over the world. Certainly, he said, you could play the entire piano literature on the same Steinway. Most pianists would do this. Yet that doesn't satisfy him. Just as he always asks himself what is specific to a particular musical work, he also tries to find the right sound for each piece - and the right instrument.

At his second appearance in Ernen in 2022, Schiff played five recitals over three days - each on a different grand piano. The Musikdorf mastered the logistical challenge with flying colours and gave the audience an unforgettable experience.

Communication with esprit
Sir András Schiff returns to Ernen in 2024. He will once again perform the challenging "Piano Compact" series: This time, the pianist will perform six recitals in four days. Each concert can be enjoyed separately. But you should think about it carefully. Attending all six concerts in succession will be more than the sum of the individual concerts.

As Schiff announces his programmes only at the concert, there is no time to prepare. But that doesn't matter. Because Schiff also provides the introductions to the works he plays during his performances. His expert knowledge and witty introductions give the concerts a third dimension. Schiff masters the art of communication like no other.

His anecdotes are authentic, his facts cause astonishment, amazement and excitement. The audience is ignited by Schiff's own love of music and his enthusiasm for history and specialities of the instruments. When he speaks, he is more of a magician than a presenter. The audience relaxes, is delighted, laughs and then devotes itself to the music with even greater concentration. That is true music education.

Enriched listening experience
The idea of a concert evening being preceded with an introduction by a musicologist or presenter is not new, but it is a trend. This service is called music appreciation, which usually takes place before a concert and can be attended voluntarily. Some people like concerts, but without any educational content. They want to get straight to the music - after all, it speaks for itself!

However, countless studies on the art of music appreciation prove that those who know more also hear more. Tips and tricks for listening enrich the musical experience enormously. Learning about the context in which music was composed and why a dominant-seventh chord can be sexy, and a tritone diabolical, certainly heightens the excitement of what you will hear later. Sir András Schiff is living proof of this.

Beginning and ending with Bach
Sir András Schiff has a habit of starting his day with Bach - and this is also how he begins his concert series in the Musikdorf. So far, only this much is known about Schiff's concerts in Ernen: The first recital will take place in the smaller setting of the Tellensaal, where Schiff will interpret various pieces by Bach, on a clavichord. Due to its low volume, this is a chamber instrument in the truest sense of the word, on which the pianist creates narrative moments full of intimacy. (This concert on 22 August is sold out.)

On a historical fortepiano ("Franz Brodmann" from 1820), Schiff devotes himself to works by Mozart and Schubert in the third and fifth recitals. And on a modern Bösendorfer VC 280, he performs works by Joseph Haydn (2nd recital), Ludwig van Beethoven (4th recital) and, for the final climax, Johann Sebastian Bach's "The Art of Fugue" (6th recital).

Piano Compact | 22–25 August 2024 | 6 recitals in four days

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Not quite sure yet? Read more about Sir András Schiff's recent appearance in Ernen (in German):

«Auf fünf Flügeln... zu Sternstunden der Musik», September 2022, by Engelbert Reul

«'Les Adieux' oder 'Die Kunst der Zugabe'», September 2020, by Engelbert Reul

Written in December 2023, by Marianne Mühlemann (translated by Jonathan Inniger)