Sunday, March 30, 2008

Roger Vignoles Featured in NY Times Article

A wonderful article by Matthew Gurewitsch appeared in today's New York Times that features legendary English collaborative pianist Roger Vignoles entitled For Star Singers, A Worthy Partner. Complete with several sound clips in the online version,, this article is definitely required reading for anyone interested in the collaborative arts, and comes hot on the heels of a huge weekend for the collaborative piano field at the MTNA conference in Denver, featuring the first ever Collaborative Piano-themed Pedagogy Saturday.

In many articles about collaborative pianists, there is inevitably The Question, in which the featured pianist is asked how they stack up against soloists. Here is Gurewitsch's question and Vignoles' answer:

Then there are the “real” pianists, like Sviatoslav Richter, Alfred Brendel, Mitsuko Uchida and Leif Ove Andsnes, who occasionally collaborate with marquee singers in, say, a program of Schubert. Can any accompanist compare?

“Just because someone has spent a lot of their life playing Schubert sonatas doesn’t mean they have something to say about ‘Winterreise,’ ” Mr. Vignoles said, referring to Schubert’s 70-minute song cycle of love and loss, “or that they’re offering something on a higher plane than people who have devoted their lives to examining works like ‘Winterreise.’ The technical demands are very much less than in something like Liszt’s ‘Années de Pèlerinage’ in terms of running around the keyboard or doing two extraordinary things with two hands at once. But ‘Winterreise’ requires a finesse to create color, vary articulation, and to do all that while thinking on someone else’s feet.”

One small correction--Gurewitsch lists Vignoles' Juilliard appearance as his first New York master class. While it may be his first New York City class, it's not his first teaching appearance in New York State--he has given at least one master class at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester (1992?). I know this for a fact because I was one of the pianists who played for him, alongside soprano Katherine McKelvy.

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