Pianist Mitsuko Uchida Reflects on Year 2 of Her 3-Year Carnegie Hall Residency | Playbill

Classic Arts Features Pianist Mitsuko Uchida Reflects on Year 2 of Her 3-Year Carnegie Hall Residency

Why she has a lifelong love for Schubert.

Mitsuko Uchida Justin Pumfrey / Decca

Pianist Mitsuko Uchida is beloved not only as a peerless performer, but also as a musical guide and mentor to audiences and other artists alike. At the midway point of her three-year Perspectives series at Carnegie Hall that concludes in the 2024–2025 season, Uchida reflects on her career thus far and the remaining musical insights she hopes to share in the second half of her residency.

What would you say is the unifying element of your multi-year Perspectives series?
Mitsuko Uchida: 
It would definitely have to be the composers. With my collaborators, we are featuring so many of the great composers of my life: Schubert, Mozart, and Beethoven. Somehow after all these years, their works remain my key repertoire. But as a kid, I was honestly more taken by Schubert than any other composer.

Would you say his music provides a bit of a theme for the second year of your series?
Year two has two very special events, both featuring all-Schubert programs. I’m having concerts with my favorite “boys.” One is pianist Jonathan Biss. We have a four-hand recital in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage this April, and that is actually a rather daring thing to do because four-hand music was written for playing with people sitting nearby. But the great thing about Carnegie Hall is that you can whisper and others can still hear you—I can’t wait to be musically whispering with Jonathan. 

The other event will be in Zankel Hall with tenor Mark Padmore: Schubert’s Winterreise. We have performed this together over the years, and each time our understanding of it grows and deepens, yet we are always able to discover something new.

Beyond Schubert, there is also a bit of a French focus throughout the season for you.
The music of French composers has been part of my life for a very long time. Yannick Nézet-Séguin asked me to join him and The Philadelphia Orchestra in May for Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major. I have such a love for this concerto—especially the slow movement and how it evolves.

Mozart, however, remains a constant in your repertoire. 
Some of the most poignant music ever written is by Mozart. Nobody else could write like him—it’s as if the notes just fell out of the sky into his lap. Mozart takes one note, then spins it into another, and then changes his mind—every note is like a child that you have to try and catch, which makes it so exciting as a performer.

One difference between the last year of your series versus the previous two is that you will be performing with musicians from the Marlboro Music Festival, where you serve as a co-artistic director.
I normally don’t take Marlboro music making out into the “real world.” The beauty of Vermont is too much a part of that experience—it’s not that the teacher teaches the student, but we instead share the music and explore it together in this idyllic space. For me, that environment is one of the greatest attractions. But this felt like the right time—especially with this group in a performance of music by Schumann, Beethoven, and Kurtág.

That has been one of the hallmarks of your career—pairing classical repertoire with works by contemporary composers like György Kurtág and Jörg Widmann.
It has been one of my greatest privileges. Life is about discovery, curiosity. Every piece of music to which you’re introduced or thought you knew can always be a new discovery. And if you discover something different from what you’ve heard before, that is one of the gifts of live performance. 

Looking back on your series so far and anticipating the events yet to come, how would you summarize your Perspectives?
Playing concerts is something so extraordinary. On the concert stage, something happens because of the concentration of people around you. And you are sharing this music—not only with the other players, but with everyone in the entire hall. All we can do is be honest enough to share this extraordinary thing and for the music to continue to thrive.

Learn more at CarnegieHall.org.

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