The Incomparable Maria Joao Pires
Above: Pianist Maria João Pires performs the finale of Chopin’s Second Piano Concerto with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Emmanuel Krivine conducting.
You’ve likely heard any number of recordings by pianist Maria João Pires on Classical 101. Far from contributing to the noise and bombast of other recordings, Pires’ recordings draw you in and make you want to listen, giving you a glimpse into the soul of an artist who knows she is not the art, only a vehicle for it.
It sounds a bit high flown to say that Pires’ playing reaches spiritual depths, but it’s true. Pires doesn’t so much perform as invite us to listen in on her inward and intimate journeys at the keyboard. There’s a dimension of her recordings of Schubert’s music, in particular, that resides in the transcendent. And while many pianists take Chopin as an excuse to show off flawless technique, Pires goes beyond the pianistic filigree and dives into the life force that propelled Chopin to his phenomenal accomplishments and probably also to his tragically early death.
Music critic and blogger David Patrick Stearns spoke with Pires recently, shortly before her first U.S. performance in more than a decade, with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Read that interview for insight into the mind of one of the greatest classical artists of our times.
Read more: Maria João Pires: The Buddhist Warrior Who Won (Condemned to Music)