This week I want to focus on what we now call the “collaborative” pianist. I believe this is what student pianists now get degrees in from music conservatories if they have interests beyond the Beethoven and Rachmaninoff Concertos. I think all pianists used to play with other musicians all the time, but in the age of Yo-Yo and Lang Lang, everyone these days seems to want to be a soloist. But for those of us who get to play lots of chamber music, and especially get to play with singers, we take pride in helping our singers sound and perform their best. That assumes we’ve agreed on an interpretation of the text and the music, and that we love the music deeply. Lots of pianists play with singers only very occaisionally. I remember Vladimir Horowitz playing the Schumann Dichterliebe with Fischer-Dieskau (from memory) at Carnegie Hall. It was pretty wonderful, if unusual. Here is the same inimitable Fischer-Dieskau with another famous pianist, the great Sviatislav Richter. Who know Richter could play Schubert so sensitively? Pretty wonderful playing, and he’s glued to Fishie’s phrasing and breath, just like he’s been doing it his whole life. My favorite is “Im Fruhling” at 26:00.
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