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PIANO PATRIARCHY I noticed an interesting thread running through Issue 70 – that of women’s attitudes to music, and men’s attitudes to women musicians. We know that composers like Alma Mahler and Clara Schumann had to abandon their ambitions because of patriarchal pressures, but how disappointing (to say the least) that a man of András Schiff ’s standing in the music world should express a chauvinist attitude towards women vis-à-vis Beethoven. I’m not sure his own playing can even be described as ‘masculine’ – I often find it effete.
So it was refreshing to turn to the attitudes of Hélène Grimaud and Tamara Stefanovich, and to read that the latter was encouraged to study Brahms’ Second Concerto (a quintessentially ‘male’ work) as a teenager. As for Grimaud, I remember hearing a broadcast of her playing Brahms’ First Concerto – having missed the beginning and not knowing who was playing. Her almost brutal assault on the music gave no inkling that this was a ‘feminine’ interpretation! Joseph Laredo, via email
EACH TO HIS OWN I have been reading International Piano since its inception and notice that Tamás Vásáry seems to have slipped under the radar in recent years. He is a superb pianist and great musician who would be an ideal subject for an interview or article. Similarly, Kempff and Arrau seem to be a bit out of fashion today but deserve recognition for their unique artistry and interpretations of the classics.
You have a range of superb reviewers on your staff whose articles I have found extremely informative and enjoyed enormously over the years – such as Jeremy Nicholas, Bryce Morrison and Benjamin Ivry, to mention but a few. I hope they may be willing to pursue my suggestions. There are so many wonderful pianists around today that it is an embarrassment of riches. Nevertheless, I still find myself returning to the pianists who were my initial introduction to classical music. I have come to realise that trying to identify the best interpretation of any work is largely a waste of time. All great interpreters bring something different and special to the works they play, and the greatest works are so multifaceted that no single interpretation fulfils all aspects. Ultimately it is the impact that a particular interpretation makes on each of us personally that matters most. John Louw, Albury, Australia
EQUAL TEMPERAMENT Charivari’s woke/non-woke test (Issue 70, page 14) will doubtless prowoke many comments. My preferences are split fairly evenly between the two groups of composers and pianists s/he cites. Perhaps this is just what Charivari would have predicted in my case, for I am opposed to all forms of extremism, whether liberal or conservative. Bruno Repp, via email
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Re-establishing a rich pianistic tradition
On Bach Nostalghia, pianist Francesco Piemontesi presents original works of Bach, alongside Bach transcriptions and works inspired by Bach from Ferruccio Busoni, Wilhelm Kempff and Maximilian
Schnaus. Whereas many modernday musicians aim to revive the instruments used in Bach’s own time, Piemontesi explores the tradition of Bach transcriptions for piano.
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6 March/April 2021 International Piano www.international-piano.com