20 (PLUS) QUESTIONS WITH: Pianist David Fray

Classic Arts Features   20 (PLUS) QUESTIONS WITH: Pianist David Fray
We spend a few minutes with pianist David Fray, whose new Schubert recording was released last month.


Though born in France, David Fray doesn't think of himself as a French pianist. His repertoire includes little French music. "I am a living melting pot," he told BBC Music Magazine, referring to his Czech, Polish, Spanish, French, Jewish, and Finnish roots. Moreover, his parents' love for Germanic culture inculcated the German repertoire in him from a young age. As he has summed up succinctly, "If, over my life, I can play all the works of Bach, Mozart, Schubert, Haydn, Brahms, and Schumann, then I shall be very happy." The legendary Wilhelm Kempff has been an especially important influence: "What I love about his playing is that he makes the piano sing and speak. That is my ultimate goal."

Voted "Newcomer of the Year 2008" by BBC Music Magazine, and the Echo Klassik Instrumentalist of the Year 2009, the charismatic pianist records exclusively for Virgin Classics. His debut album for the label, thought-provokingly pairing works by J.S. Bach and Pierre Bouez, was praised by the New York Times for its "lucid, sensitive and imaginative performances." His new recording of Schubert's Impromptus Op.90 and Moments Musicaux was issued in November shortly before his debut with the New York Philharmonic.

Fray discusses the music and performs selections from his Schubert album at this link: www.frayschubert.com


1. A few works of classical music that you adore:

Bach passions and cantatas.

2. Classical music recordings that you treasure:

Recordings by Wilhelm Kempff, Wilhelm Furtw‹ngler, and Carlos Kleiber

3. Favorite non-classical musicians and/or recordings:

The French singer Barbara; Frank Sinatra

4. Music that makes you cry _ any genre:

Good music badly played

5. Definitely underrated work(s) or composer (s):

Ernst Krenek

6. Possibly overrated work(s) or composer (s):

Russian music

7. Live music performance (s) you attended _ any genre _ that you'll never forget:

Concerts by Radu Lupu, Maurizio Pollini, Riccardo Muti

8. A few relatively recent films you love:

The White Ribbon by Michael Haneke (Palme d'or 2009); Up by Pixar studios

9. A few films you consider classics:

Barry Lyndon and 2001 by Kubrick; Amarcord of Fellini

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10. A book (or two) that is important to you (and why):

Pensees by Pascal

11. Thing(s) about yourself that you're most proud of:


12. Thing(s) about yourself that you're embarrassed by:

Too many things

13. Three things you can't live without:

Music, art, love

14. "When I want to get away from it all I..."

I stay at home with my wife and two dogs

15. "People are surprised to find out that I..."

I am not such a Glenn Gould fan!

16. "My favorite cities are..."

Paris, France; Cortona, Italy; Venice Italy

17. "I have a secret crush on..."


18. "My most obvious guilty pleasure is..."

Spend my money to make gifts

19. "I'd really love to meet..."

Woody Allen; Meryl Streep; painter Lucian Freud

20. "I never understood why..."

People are so mean


21. Question you wish someone would ask you (and the answer to that question):

Q: ????

A: Something clever and surprising


Past installments of 20 (PLUS) QUESTIONS:

Violinist Sarah Chang

Pianist Ingrid Fliter

Mezzo-Soprano Joyce DiDonato

Pianist Yefim "Fima" Bronfman

Soprano Sandrine Piau

Soprano Natalie Dessay

Harpsichordist and Conductor Christophe Rousset

Guitarist Xuefei Yang

Tenor Giuseppe Filianoti

Soprano Nicole Cabell

Pianist Jonathan Biss

Tenor Ian Bostridge

Soprano Danielle de Niese

New-Music Sextet eighth blackbird

Composer and Violinist Mark O'Connor

Composer Jake Heggie

Composer Ricky Ian Gordon

Pianist David Greilsammer


Albert Imperato, a music promoter who co-founded 21C Media Group in January 2000, writes frequently about the arts for various publications and blogs.

His new series, 20 (PLUS) QUESTIONS, is his take on (and nod to) Vanity Fair's "Proust Questionnaire."

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