Recipient of the Kossuth Prize, his country's highest honour, the Hungarian pianist and chamber musician Andras Schiff was born on 21 December 1953. He studied at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest and with George Malcolm in London. An artist of motivated personality and unfussed pianism not afraid to voice his opinion, Schiff lends weight to the theory that, given musicality, opportunity, a supportive recording contract and discerning management, one doesn't have to win a major international competition to get noticed or draw the quality festivals - at the 1974 Tchaikovsky he was joint fourth, at Leeds the following year joint third. Concerned more with refined intellect than bravura display, elegantly dressed expression than raw passion, calculated action than heroics, his discography focusses primarily on Bach, the Viennese and German classico-romantics (Mozart, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms), Smetana, Janacek and Bartok. Beethoven, too - though his recent Dresden concerto cycle with Haitink had the critical fraternity divided, some wondering about a possible emotional/spiritual block. Between now and 2005 he will be playing all Mozart's concertos, directing his own hand-picked ensemble. AO
CD Spotlight. Deeply Satisfying - Elena Kuschnerova plays J S Bach, selected by Howard Smith. '... decisive and fresh as a dewfall.'
CD Spotlight. Thoughtfully Appealing - Judith Lambden plays J S Bach, heard by Howard Smith. '... a great deal to admire ...'
Ensemble. A Potent Alchemy - The launch of a new series of Bach Cantatas at London's Royal Academy of Music, heard by Malcolm Miller