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.


Andrew Clements

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Stephen Plaistow talks to Alfred Brendel about inspirations, aching limbs and mastering Mozart

Alfred Brendel talks to Stephen Plaistow about inspirations, aching limbs and mastering Mozart

Stephen Plaistow

15, Dec, 2008 @12:01 AM

Article image
Imogen Cooper salutes pianist Alfred Brendel

The great pianist Alfred Brendel performs his last concert this week. His former pupil Imogen Cooper salutes a musical colossus

Imogen Cooper

15, Dec, 2008 @12:01 AM

Article image
Is this the most powerful man in classical music?

Jasper Rees meets Ulrich Gerhartz, the German master who keeps the giants of piano playing in tune

Jasper Rees

23, Feb, 2009 @12:01 AM

Best of Brendel: the pianist on YouTube

Watch samples of Alfred Brendel's best work, chosen from the composers with whom he's most closely associated

Fiona Maddocks

16, Oct, 2010 @11:15 PM

Article image
The best festive shows this Christmas
Go to the north pole with Doctor Who, boo Jerry Hall as a wicked queen, watch Dustin Hoffman woo Judi Dench, and finish it all off with sprout ice-cream … we pick the best of the festive fun

Guardian critics

23, Nov, 2014 @4:00 PM

Article image
Laura Barnett on blockbuster collaborations in the art world

The barriers separating art forms are being torn down. This is the age of the blockbuster collaboration. But what's it like to make one? Is it a battle of egos? By Laura Barnett

Laura Barnett

07, Jun, 2009 @11:01 PM

Article image
The best classical concerts for Christmas 2012
Andrew Clements: The Dunedin Consort offer the premium Messiah, Bryn Terfel unleashes his Flying Dutchman, and I Fagiolini bring puppets to Hands Christian Andersen

Andrew Clements

04, Nov, 2012 @7:00 PM

Article image
The best culture gifts for Christmas
If you’re stuck for presents, the arts can help! From Beano ukuleles to Play-Doh photographs and Yeezmas cards, here’s the best of what’s out there

16, Dec, 2014 @7:30 PM

Article image
The best classical music of 2011: Tom Service's choice
A gargantuan Proms performance and a bold showing from the ENO were among Tom Service's highlights

Tom Service

04, Dec, 2011 @11:15 PM

Article image
Faust proves the devil has the best tunes
The story of the man who sells his soul for worldly gain has been a powerful influence on composers and writers for centuries. As three new Fausts open at the Royal Opera House, Philip Hensher journeys into the abyss

Philip Hensher

30, Mar, 2014 @5:00 PM