a schiff experience

strange but amazing thing happened today at a concert in the Lofoten international chamber music festival. Andras Schiff is one of the invited pianists, and today he was performing the Waldstein sonata. I was there, turning pages for some other pianists. Schiff agreed beforehand that some camera crew may film his performance.

So he starts playing, about 4-5 minutes in he gets to the repetition of the exposition and suddenly stops. He stands up, turns towards the audience and starts talking. “You are a wonderful audience, but it is not possible to play under such circumstances. please dont make any such noises and NO WALKING. What a pity.”, he says, while shaking his head.

It appears one of the camera crew members had turned slightly the camera, and made some strange noise with it. The whole crowd was stunned. He started again, played the whole sonata from the start. This performance was absolutely amazing. It was if the whole audience was so afraid of making any sound that everybody held their breath. It was completely electric, and the incident seemed to have inspired Schiff as well, because he played bloody fantastic. It turned out one of the best concerts ive ever heard, he went in and out the stage 8 (!) times, before giving in to an encore.

And the cameraman? Pozz fired 8)

Interesting story.

A friend of mine went to a concert of his in Birmingham which I couldnt make. Apparently before the concert started, he had somebody walk on the stage for him and announce that mobile phones should be switched off, coughing and other such noise was prohibited and there must be no clapping or throat clearing between movements or pieces.

Im undecided what to make of this, but then again I didnt attend so its besides the point. On the one hand, its his recital, his concentration etc. On the other hand, who the hell is he to tell people they cant cough. Should a cough ruin a concert? I wish I could have gone, Id like to see Schiff live.

What a prick. Richter turns in the best performance of his career during what must have been a flu epidemic, yet Schiff complains about people walking? What an arrogant asshole. I don’t enjoy his playing one bit, and this further convinces me that I have no need to listen to any of his recs.


It’s a bit much asking them not to cough or anything in between movements, you can only suppress a cough for so long.
that said I do like his playing.

hahaha zumtymz peopl ovah do tha coughin in between mvtz
i zaw tha BRONTO playin rach 3 yrz ago n aftah tha firzt mvt tha audience azzaultd tha orch with coughin n zhufflin very loudly for lyk 30-40 zecondz; oundjian turnd around lyk ‘wtf’ n even bronfmann wuz lookin quizzically @ tha audience :gav:

That would have been amazing! I know it’s anal and you can’t really prevent coughing but it can be soooo distracting! And why does it always happen in soft parts or silence!
Just before coda of 4th ballade - cough! Start of Tristan - cough!

At Festival Hall, there’s an announcement recorded by Ian Mckellen before every performance about mobiles etc. and it used to end with please try and keep coughing to a minimum. So of course people would cough to be funny, but after the 10th time, I wanted to shoot those people!
That said, there can be no excuse for mobiles going off.

I saw Schiff play and conduct Beethoven 4 - there was something unexplainable about how awesome the interaction was, especially in the slow movt.

Classic moments in composure

Gilels - telephone during (amazing) Medtner Reminiscenza
Richter - church bells in Spoleto during Debussy preludes
Gieseking - German AA guns during Emperor Concerto?!
Trifonov - iPhone Xylophone during final page of Liszt Son. (Less epic but still)

I’ve got one - flock of squawking turkeys during my Bagatelles perf.

I had a really bad coughing fit one time during a Rach cello sonata perf by my friend, I tried to suppress it for 2 movements, and I just couldn’t hold it in the 3rd and I couched down and coughed into my jacket to minimize the sound.

And afterwards a bunch of people started coughing because I took the lead. Shit.

That’s the only time I disrupted a performance, usually I wouldn’t make a peep, also because I am usually bootlegging.

Wtf, were you playing on a farm or something?

A friend of mine had a coughing fit during my uni recital last year (it got so bad she ended up leaving the hall), but I didn’t even notice it as I was too busy going to pieces on stage lol.

If your concentration is good enough you should be able to filter out extraneous noises, but I can understand how it could be distracting.
Things like not putting your phone on silent or talking during a performance are just plain rude.
Then there’s clapping during fermatas which must be so disconcerting for the performer.

I had a coughing fit once when I was turning pages on a competition in which I had also played. Apparently some people in the audience thought I tried to sabotage the performance with my coughing :confused:

tbh I don’t care that much about noises, after a couple of minutes into a concert I’m concentrating so much I don’t even notice moving around me.

Are you referring to da Sofia recital? :rectum:

True. But didn’t Richter towards the end of his concert career prefer to play concerts in complete darkness and silence, with only a small lamp to light up the piano keys?

The kind of extreme conservatism from Schiff, with utter and complete silence and concentration from listeners, is something ive been thinking about a lot these last few days. On the one hand it felt like being in a museum, with no choice but to sit completely still and not disturb the “masterpiece” about to unfold. Restricted and unaccessible. On the other hand the atmosphere was so extremely tense that it created some other kind of listening experience. I also noticed the next few days after this incident, people listening to the other concerts here seem to be much more aware of noise during concerts.

It was also quite amusing to sit behind Schiff in another concert today. While the pianists were playing he reacted to every sound in the room, turning his head whenever someone turned, made a noise with their chair, or, god forbid, someone came in during the performance. Which I did (I was late, but didnt make any sound). He looked at me with a kind of “I-want-to-kill-you” look.

The atmosphere here certainly changed after his arrival.

It does come off as a bit arrogant, but I think performers have a right to expect more from their listeners. It’s really not hard to silence your coughs; most people just don’t bother to do it. That being said, I would love to see Schiff try performing in China. The audiences here are so terrible that he would probably have a heart attack 8)

I dont think you need to have all these conditions in order to enjoy a masterpiece. These pieces are what they are in their own right. When I put on a CD at home, I dont close all the windows and doors, take the phone off the hook, put a sign on the front door saying ‘Do Not Disturb’.

Granted if a phone goes off due to carelessness, fair enough, but a mistake is a mistake, move on. There will always be a bit of noise in the concert hall. Cages 4’33" deals with that. Personally I dont need anybody telling me that I can listen to them perform, but only if Im quiet as a mouse, and only if I agree not to clap until permitted. As soon as your told to be quiet, what happens? You become aware of trying not to make a sound… somebody tells you not to cough, what happens? You need to cough… Then your attention goes onto the task of trying not to cough. Id feel uncomfortable. Perhaps Schiff is just too easily distracted.

Perhaps we should get artists to sign an agreement, well be quiet, if they dont make a single mistake :slight_smile: Or every mistake they make, we get 5% of our ticket price back :stuck_out_tongue: This works both ways now maestro!

^agreed; those expectations on the part of the performer are dictatorial.

agreed with simon, although perfect silence would be wonderful, there’s also something terribly “unnatural” about it, which is part of why we all admit studio recordings never have the “life” of a great live performance

So we blame Wagner?
side question - he obviously introduced focus and silence to opera performance, but what about recitals? Was it Liszt? Or did the gals swoon and faint during applause only?

Well there’s that story of him stopping when the Tsar started talking during a recital.

Hhahaha tru we should juz applauze between mvmz da cough concertoz iz 10x mo ridiculouz :whale: