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Andreas Haefliger is interviewed by Colin Clarke


CC: Andreas Haefliger, you have made your name with the masterworks of the Classical and Romantic repertoire, and you have been compared to the likes of Radu Lupu and Murray Perahia. In November you will play the Ravel with the LSO: does this indicate a shift in repertoire-focus?.

AH: The focus of my repertoire will always remain with the core Classical and Romantic works. This is the music I grew up with and to which I probably have the deepest relationship. I have however always branched out to repertoire not associated with me. I feel that all areas of expression and style need to be investigated to complete oneís pianistic vision, and that, in particular, extreme juxtaposition can illuminate much heard works for the pianist and listener alike. In last yearís recital at the Wigmore Hall Mozartís B flat Major Sonata took on a very particular hue being preceded by Adèsí Darkness Visible. This was in fact such a successful combination that I decided to record the program in concert order.

CC: In addition to the Adès, recently you gave a world premiere of a work by Michael Colgrass and I also note that your recital in March 2004 at the QEH is to include not only Bartók but also George Benjamin (Sortileges). Could you give an idea of how contemporary music features in your thinking and how you see your place in the musical world of today?. Do you feel you have a duty to contemporary composers?.

AH: Whilst in no way specializing in contemporary music it has been an interest of mine for a while and is becoming always more important to me.

I feel in no way to have a duty towards the composers. On the contrary I am deeply grateful to have these wonderful minds always adding to the wealth of repertoire. Sortileges is the first of George Benjaminís work I have played but is sure to be followed by others. His sense of harmony, rhythmic organization and colour make him one of the very special composers writing today.

CC: Tackling a Beethoven Concerto cycle is a challenge for any pianist, and in the 2002-03 season you gave your interpretations with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. Any plans for a Beethoven Sonata cycle now?. If so, how would you programme them? Chronologically, or mixed programmes?.

AH: In addition to these very special mixed recital programs I am planning several projects and most importantly a Beethoven Sonata cycle starting next season. These pieces have been such a central part of my thinking for such a long time and represent so much of what I expect from a pianist that I am grateful to feel that at this point I can start to do them justice. I will present the cycle in eight concerts over three years in several venues. In deciding the order I tried to complement or juxtapose moods and at times to make use of similar melodic cells to connect individual Sonatas and give each program an identity.

CC: Letís talk a little about your musical heritage. How do you feel your father, the famous singer Ernst Haefliger, influenced your musical development?. You must have been brought up in a very musically fertile environment Ö

AH: The influence of my fatherís musicianship and integrity to music was of course enormous. As a matter of fact as a student, imitating and producing a vocal line on the piano was a focal point of my work. Since then I have grown as a musician myself and of course try to integrate many more aspects into my playing. But many a time in a Mozart Sonata I still catch myself hearing his voice inside and going along with it.

CC: You are active as an accompanist as well as a soloist and your name has been linked with such fine musicians as Bo Skovhus and Matthias Goerne. Do you find the two disciplines of soloist and accompanist complementary?. Do you become a Ďdifferentí player on the platform when you are with a soloist?.

AH: Given my background I have always felt the need to incorporate the work with singers into my musical life. Accompanying a song recital can be one of the most satisfying experiences on the concert stage. The added dimension of text and the special care some composers took with this art-form in particular can lend wings to the musical imagination and in turn illuminate the next solo recital.

CC: Issued on the Avie label, your latest disc is a recording of Mozartís last four piano sonatas (AV0025). The playing struck me as being remarkably true to the music, yet entirely of now. How do you feel, however, about period performance of Mozart on original instruments (or copies thereof)?.

AH: I am happy with your impression that the playing is true to the music. To investigate the character of a piece, discover it, infuse it with your own and come out sounding honest is our great challenge. In a way playing Mozart on a modern piano is a transcription. While I try to preserve the clarity and lightness of Mozartís instruments I have come away from trying to make the Steinway sound like a fortepiano but rather use its (almost) full resources.

Andreas Haefliger: perspectives I Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Piano Sonata in A minor, D537 (1817) [20í54]. Thomas ADÈS (b. 1971) Darknesse Visible (1992) [6í59]. Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Sonata No. 17 in B flat, D570 (1789) [16í26]. Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Sonata No. 32 in C minor, Op. 111 (1822) [26í03]. Andreas Haefliger (piano). Rec. Reitstadel-Neumarkt/Oberpfalz, Germany, 17-19 October 2003. DDD AVIE AV0041 [70í52] [CC]

Within the context of this disc this Op. 111 Ö works as a thought-provoking climax to a fascinating 71 minutesí worth of listening. Markus Heilanís recording is true, vivid and spacious. Recommended. ... see Full Review


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