Andrew Clements picks today's unmissable pianists after Alfred Brendel

Is there life after Brendel? Andrew Clements picks today's other unmissable pianists

Piotr Anderszewski, 39

The Polish-born Anderszewski first attracted attention by not winning the Leeds piano competition in 1990, after he had abandoned his semi-final recital because he felt he wasn't playing well enough. That fierce self-criticism persists - he recently repeated a Bach partita in a recital because he felt he'd delivered it so badly the first time. Yet there's a buoyancy and rhythmic clarity that give his performances a special charge. His repertoire includes Bartók and Szymanowski, but Bach has become a speciality recently, alongside his limpid accounts of Mozart piano concertos.

• At Perth Concert Hall, March 18; Queen's Hall, Edinburgh, March 19; City Halls, Glasgow, March 20.

Stephen Hough, 47

There must be something in the psychology of British audiences that requires their musical icons to be acquired from abroad. Otherwise Hough would already be acclaimed as a national treasure, for over the past decade or so he has consistently produced performances that place him in the top flight of international pianists. Perhaps the variety of his programming tells against him, too - as well as Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert, he also revels in the flashy late-Romantic repertoire, and includes salon pieces in his recitals, all of it delivered with immaculate polish and unerring style.

• At Wesley Chapel, Harrogate, January 3; Royal Festival Hall, London, January 18.

Mitsuko Uchida, 59

For London audiences, the Japanese-born Uchida is a firm favourite. She took second prize in the 1995 Leeds piano competition, and quickly established her reputation as an interpreter of the Viennese classics and of Mozart in particular, going on to demonstrate a huge range of musical sympathies in a repertoire that ranges from Bach to Birtwistle, and seems to expand every season. Her insatiable curiosity and enthusiasm make her a wonderful chamber musician, too, but it's the intensity and honesty of her solo performances that make her such a compelling favourite.

• At the Hexagon, Reading, January 15; the Sage, Gateshead, January 19.

Andras Schiff, 54

In some quarters the Brendel-style canonisation of Schiff has already begun, with his performances of Beethoven, in particular, greeted with a similar hushed reverence. Schiff can be a remarkable interpreter, especially in the Viennese classics, where his pure tone and phrasing produce performances of emotional directness, and his recitals are put together with great imagination and attention to detail. At other times, though, his point-making and expressive moulding can seem so mannered and arch that the flow of the music is all but destroyed, and one longs for him just to play with his natural, instinctive intelligence.

• At the Steven Isserlis birthday concert, Wigmore Hall, London, tomorrow.

Murray Perahia, 61

Already awarded an honorary KBE, the New York-born pianist, who won the Leeds piano competition in 1973, has a devoted following. Because of a recurring hand problem, Perahia's concert appearances and recordings have been sporadic over the past decade. His repertoire ranges up to Bartók, but it's in the Viennese classical repertoire especially that Perahia remains such a rewarding interpreter. In recent years, too, Bach has become a regular feature of his programmes, played, like everything else, with an immaculate sense of style, honeyed tone and punctilious attention to detail.

• At Symphony Hall, Birmingham, January 31; Barbican, London, February 5

Radu Lupu, 63

Another Leeds winner, in 1969, Lupu is an enigma, a reclusive artist who for 30 years has refused to play the publicity game, and, in Britain at least, has preferred to appear in smaller concert halls around the country rather than high-profile London venues. His repertoire has remained confined within Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Schumann, with occasional forays into the later 19th century. Yet in the right mood and on the right occasion, he is a priceless, unique artist, whose ability to illuminate music from within places him apart from his contemporaries as one of the greatest musicians of our time.

• At the Steven Isserlis birthday concert, Wigmore Hall, London, tomorrow.

Contributor

Andrew Clements

The GuardianTramp

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