June 16, 2014

Erato celebrates Maria João Pires’ 70th birthday with 17-CD boxed set

The Portuguese pianist’s complete recordings from 1972—1987 are gathered together alongside previously unreleased material.

No one does the classics like Maria. She is one of these rare pianists who quietly gets out of the way in order to let the soul of the music shine through, presenting the composers’ intentions in their purest form, always poised without losing her joyous spontaneity.

Renowned precisely for not having a diva temperament, Pires told Gramophone: “It’s the music itself [not the performer] that people should go to listen to — a concert should allow one to experience some kind of emotion… to dream… Life is so short — we should try to live things more intensely.”

By remaining staunchly devoted to the Austro-German repertoire from Bach to Schumann — with a lyrical dose of Chopin for good measure — Pires has stayed true to her eloquent classical and Romantic sensibility. No surprise, given that she was the young protégée of Wilhelm Kempff in Germany.

This 17-CD collection of Pires’ complete Erato Recordings begins with the Bach Keyboard Concertos conducted by Michel Corboz, moving on to Mozart sonatas and concertos and Schubert piano duets (with Hüseyin Sermet). Previously unreleased recordings to discover within the set: Beethoven’s Sonatas Op 109 and 110; Mozart Concertos Nos 8 & 27 conducted by Claudio Scimone.

Maria João Pires celebrates her 70th birthday in a recital at London’s Wigmore Hall later this year.