András Schiff emerged in the last decades of the twentieth century as one of the most
respected pianists of his generation. His formal training began at the Franz Liszt Academy
in Budapest, where he studied with Pál Kadosa, György Kurtag, and Ferenc Rados; later, he
studied with George Malcolm.
Schiff came to international prominence as a prizewinner in the 1974 Tchaikovsky
Competition in Moscow; over the next few years, he also took top honors at the Leeds
and Liszt Competitions, launching him on a successful concert and recording career. Schiff s
playing has been singled out for its complete technical fluency and intelligent musicality;
he is especially well known for his performances of Beethoven, Schubert, Bartók, Debussy,
His post-competition honors include a Grammy Award (1989) and Hungary s highest
artistic distinction, the Kossuth Prize (1996). In the 1990s he became a Teldec Artist; his
other recordings for the label include works by Handel, Brahms, Reger, Haydn, and
Hungarian composer Sándor Veress.
Bartók s three piano concertos make for interesting comparisons and contrasts. The first
two, which date, respectively, from 1926 and 1930 -1931, are stylistically closer to each
other in their use of dissonance and somewhat savage sonorities, while the Third stands
apart in its lyricism and gentle manner. Not that the First and Second are cut from the same
musical fabric the earlier piece, written mainly in octaves, is far more percussive and is
almost completely devoid of lyricism, while the Second, which features much chordal
writing, has an epic manner in its outer movements and a dark nocturnal middle movement.