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Andreï Vieru was born in Romania in 1958 but has lived in France for the past 25 years. He is one of the most profound thinkers about life and the world among today’s musicians. The son of the composer Anatol Vieru, he studied with the noted pedagogues Carlo Zecchi, himself a pupil of Busoni and Schnabel; Lev Naumov; and Dan Grigore. His recordings of Bach, Beethoven, Liszt and Scriabin have won acclaim. Here, in finely honed prose, Vieru relates exchanges with pianists he admires, including one with his compatriot Radu Lupu in which they list ‘pianists who hated their job’, including Ignaz Friedman, Clara Haskil and Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli. He also describes performers he disapproves of, such as the Russian virtuoso Andrei Gavrilov, who at one early concert ‘eyed the audience to savour its reaction [...] he paid no attention to his hands and started looking directly into the auditorium’ during a rapid-fire rendition. Vieru confesses, ‘I was stupefied by Chopin’s Etudes but also by young Gavrilov’s behaviour.’ Of his own technique, Vieru notes that he always makes mistakes in one passage of Prokofiev’s Second Concerto, to the point where in one concert, when he happened to play all the right notes, ‘I experienced a fright I shall never forget, fright with an intensity comparable to the one felt when one is about to have a memory slip.’ Eloquent, offb eat, aphoristic (‘The habitual role of piano juries is to be mistaken’), Vieru is a unique and delightful author who merits translation into English.

BENJAMIN IVRY Read the full review on Agora Classica


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