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Date: 11/02/2010
The pianist discusses tackling Franck`s Piano Quintet

Gramophone talk to...Cristina ORTIZ


The Franck Quintet, which you've just recorded for Naxos, is a highly unusual work - but one close to your heart.
It's so innovative. The piano has such a major role, it's almost like a concerto except that you're with a quartet rather than an orchestra. This was a very early piece for me personally. When I came to England EMI asked me to record it with the Medici Quartet. I was very green then and didn't know much about it. So the chance to do it again with Naxos was a real challenge - the first time l've had the chance of repeating something that major on disc, and I could bring a far more mature approach. Franck was such a crazy old man, so passionate and turbulent. You can hear all that here, yet the slow movement is so creative and poetic.
You say it's like a concerto, only with a quartet. Is it easier not to have to battle the thickness of an orchestra?
When I play with orchestras it should still sound like chamber music. I get into trouble with some orchestras when I say this, but it should be chamber music on a grand scale. That's the way I make music. When you hear Rachmaninov's own recordings you hear every note. Textures must dissolve.
Franck was an organist. Does that come through in his composing here?
l've never had the luck to immerse myself in discovering the organ. l've a1ways wanted to though, because I play a piano with the conviction of organ sound. I use the sostenuto pedal increasingly in all my music, because I think of making music with a chord that stays, or a bass sound. That concept springs from the organ. It's very much there in Franck's writing, so you have all the instruments almost horizontally arrayed, but then also the almost vertical dimensions - rather like different floors - of the piano. It's about all the different levels of amplitude.
Gramophone, February 2010



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