Performance Saturday, February 25, 2012 | 7:30 PM

András Schiff
Dénes Várjon

Zankel Hall
András Schiff’s Carnegie Hall Perspectives residency focuses on Bartók, and on this concert he teams up with Dénes Várjon to perform the Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion—one of the composer’s most popular works. In addition, Schiff and Várjon perform Debussy’s En blanc et noir, which alternates between passionate extroversion and somber reflection.


  • András Schiff, Piano
  • Dénes Várjon, Piano
  • David Skidmore, Percussion
  • James Michael Deitz, Percussion


  • SCHUMANN (ARR. DEBUSSY) Six Etudes in Canonic Form
  • GYÖRGY KURTÁG GYÖRGY KURTÁG Selections from Játékok
    ·· Fog Canon
    ·· Furious Chorale
    ·· Bells (Homage to Stravinsky)
    ·· Homage to Halmágyi Mihály
  • DEBUSSY En blanc et noir
  • BARTÓK Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion


  • András Schiff

    András Schiff was born in Budapest and started taking piano lessons at the age of five with Elisabeth Vadász. He continued musical studies at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music with professors Pál Kadosa, György Kurtág, and Ferenc Rados, and in London with George Malcolm. Recitals and special cycles (including the major keyboard works of Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Schumann, and Bartók) form an important part of his activities. Between 2004 and 2009, he performed complete cycles of the Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas in 20 cities throughout the United States and Europe, a project recorded live in the Tonhalle Zurich and released in eight volumes for ECM New Series.

    This season, Mr. Schiff was named a Perspectives artist by Carnegie Hall, where he performs in a series of concerts that focus on Bartók and the legacy the composer left on their native Hungary. Unique to this series are the many colleagues who join Mr. Schiff during the 12 concerts included in his Perspectives-most of whom he has known since childhood. Additional North American performances take place in Philadelphia, Princeton, Vancouver, Toronto, Berkeley, Boulder, Napa, and Washington, DC.

    In 1999, Mr. Schiff created his own chamber orchestra, Cappella Andrea Barca, which consists of international soloists, chamber musicians, and close friends. He also works every year with the Philharmonia Orchestra in London and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. From 1989 until 1998, he was artistic director of Musiktage Mondsee, a chamber music festival near Salzburg, and in 1995, he founded the Ittinger Pfingstkonzerte with Heinz Holliger in Kartause Ittingen, Switzerland. In 1998, Mr. Schiff started a similar series, entitled Homage to Palladio at the Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza. From 2004 to 2007, he was artist-in-residence of the Kunstfest Weimar, and in 2007-2008 was pianist-in-residence of the Berliner Philharmoniker.

    Mr. Schiff has established a prolific discography, including recordings for London/Decca (1981-1994), Teldec (1994-1997), and since 1997, ECM New Series. He has received several international recording awards, including two Grammys.

    Mr. Schiff has been awarded numerous prizes, including Zwickau's Robert Schumann Prize, Italy's Premio della critica musicale Franco Abbiati, the Klavier-Festival Ruhr Prize, the Wigmore Medal, and the Royal Academy of Music Bach Prize; in 2006, he was named an Honorary Member of the Beethoven House in Bonn. Also in 2006, Mr. Schiff and the music publisher G. Henle Verlag began collaborating on Mozart and Bach editions. To date, both volumes of Bach's Well-Tempered Klavier were edited in the Henle original text with fingerings by Mr. Schiff.

    Mr. Schiff has been made an honorary professor by the conservatories in Budapest, Detmold, and Munich, and a special supernumerary fellow of Balliol College in Oxford. He is married to violinist Yuuko Shiokawa.

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  • Dénes Várjon

    Dénes Várjon started studying at the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music in 1984. He received piano training from Sándor Falvai, and chamber music instruction from György Kurtág and Ferenc Rados. Parallel to his studies, he regularly participated in international master classes with András Schiff. Mr. Várjon is the first-prize winner of the Hungarian Radio Piano Competition, Leo Weiner Chamber Music Competition in Budapest, and Concours Géza Anda in Zurich.

    Mr. Várjon is a regular guest at prestigious international festivals, including the Salzburger Festspiele, Lucerne Festival, Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, Biennale di Venezia, Marlboro Music Festival, Klavier-Festival Ruhr, Kunstfest Weimar, and Edinburgh Festival. He has performed with major orchestras such as Camerata Salzburg, Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Vienna KammerOrchester, Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra, Tonhalle-Orchestra Zurich, Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Bremen Philharmonic, American Symphony Orchestra, and Budapest Festival Orchestra.

    Mr. Várjon is deeply committed to chamber music and collaborates with Lukas Hagen, Clemens Hagen, and Veronika Hagen; Steven Isserlis; Leonidas Kavakos; Miklós Perényi; Carolin Widmann; Christoph Richter; Joshua Bell; Radovan Vlatković; Tabea Zimmermann; and the Carmina, Takács, Keller, and Endellion quartets. He also appears regularly with his wife Izabella Simon in duo piano recitals together. Mr. Várjon regularly collaborates with German composer Jörg Widmann, and with oboist and composer Heinz Holliger.

    He has recorded for the Naxos, Capriccio, and Hungaroton Classics record labels to critical acclaim. Teldec released his CD with Sándor Veress's Hommage à Paul Klee, a production with András Schiff, Heinz Holliger, and the Budapest Festival Orchestra. His recording Hommage à Geza Anda on Pan Classics International has received important international critical acclaim. In 2008, he released a CD of Schumann violin and piano sonatas that he recorded with Carolin Widmann; in the same year, he recorded Holliger's Romancendres with Christoph Richter for ECM. His latest recording with cellist Steven Isserlis of Schumann pieces was issued in 2009 on the Hyperion label. His first solo CD, featuring pieces by Berg, Janáček, and Liszt, was recently by ECM.

    Mr. Várjon is currently a professor at the Liszt Ferenc University of Music in Budapest. During the 2010-2011 season, he served as a guest professor at Bard College. Mr. Várjon was awarded the Ferenc Liszt and Sándor Veress prizes by the Hungarian government.

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  • David Skidmore

    David Skidmore is active as both a performer and composer of percussion music. He is a member of Third Coast Percussion, Signal, and the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble. He maintains a busy schedule both at home and abroad, with performances at Carnegie Hall, June in Buffalo, Klangspuren Schwaz, Ojai Music Festival, and Bang On a Can Marathon. Mr. Skidmore has performed and collaborated with many of the world's finest musicians, including conductors Pierre Boulez and David Robertson, composers Steve Reich and Steve Mackey, and chamber ensembles So Percussion and eighth blackbird. Mr. Skidmore has also performed as a member of the Lucerne Festival Academy, Pacific Music Festival, and National Repertory Orchestra. His compositions are performed regularly in concert halls and universities across the country. He has received commissions from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, the Rush Hour Concerts series in Chicago, and from many leading percussion soloists and pedagogues. Mr. Skidmore is currently on the percussion faculty at the Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University. He is an alumnus of The Academy-a program of Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School, and the Weill Music Institute in partnership with the New York City Department of Education.

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  • James Michael Deitz

    James Michael Deitz made his concerto debut with The Philadelphia Orchestra in 2003 and his Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage debut at Carnegie Hall in 2008 with the New York Youth Symphony. He also made concerto appearances with the Bulgarian National Radio Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Peter by the Sea, and Yale Philharmonia. Mr. Deitz's festival credits include Bowdoin, Bridgehampton, Centre Acanthes, Delaware Chamber Music Festival, June in Buffalo, Klangspuren Schwaz, Norfolk, and Yellow Barn, among others. He has performed with such ensembles as Ensemble ACJW, Ikarus Chamber Players, NOMAD, Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra, Signal Ensemble, So Percussion, and Yale Camerata. Mr. Deitz received degrees from the Curtis Institute of Music and the Yale School of Music. He is a recipient of the Yale School of Music's Dean's Prize and the Theodore Presser Award, and is an artist of Vic Firth Incorporated. His primary teachers have included Michael Bookspan, David Fein, Don Liuzzi, Rolando Morales-Matos, Joan Panetti, and Robert Van Sice. Mr. Deitz is an alumnus of The Academy-a program of Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School, and the Weill Music Institute in partnership with the New York City Department of Education.

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At a Glance

ROBERT SCHUMANN  Six Etudes in Canonic Form, Op. 56 (arr. Claude Debussy)

These seldom-heard etudes were composed for the pedal piano—a cross between a piano and an organ—but they can also be played on a conventional keyboard, as in Debussy’s version for two pianos. The music reflects both Schumann’s rhapsodic lyricism and his lifelong study of Bach’s contrapuntal technique.

GYÖRGY KURTÁG  Selections from Játékok, Vol. 4       

Kurtág’s Játékok—the name means “games” in Hungarian—are playfully imaginative creations with a serious pedagogical purpose. As explorations of piano sound and technique, they belong to a long tradition of such pieces in the keyboard literature, from Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier to Bartók’s Mikrokosmos.

CLAUDE DEBUSSY  En blanc et noir

Composed during World War I, this set of three caprices (as Debussy originally called them) is astonishingly adventurous in its approach to both structure and sonority. Debussy was a master colorist, and the range of shades he captured in the music goes far beyond the black and white suggested by the title.

BÉLA BARTÓK  Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion

The unusual scoring of this exhilarating work reflects Bartók’s fondness for lean textures, propulsive rhythms, and sharply etched melodies. Yet much of the music has an orchestral power and opulence, a quality accentuated in the composer’s arrangement of the sonata as a two-piano concerto.

Program Notes


András Schiff Introduces Muzsikás and Dénes Várjon

Perspectives: András Schiff

Part of