Master pianist Lev Vinocour visits Monte Bre in Lugano. His credo: no music without spirit. A film from the series "Mountains and Spirits" by 3sat.

watch at the 3sat Mediathek

On Air:
23. Oktober 2011, 9.30 CET at orf
24. Oktober 2011, 21.50 CET at ARTE

A coup from the perspective of music history and interpretation.

This is the how RONDO critic, Tom Persich, ecstatically described Lev Vinocour’s recording of Schumann’s complete etudes some time ago. Despite an early debut in St Petersburg (his home city) under Mravinsky at the age of 13, his career developed unhurriedly and without too much hype. This appears to have paid dividends both in terms of depth and virtuosity, as everything in Vinocour’s playing appears to be meticulously thought through.

Honestly, Mr. Vinocour,

What do you like most about your profession?

The capacity to have a POSITIVE impact on the mental and physical state of listeners through my playing. I received a letter after a concert at the Passau Festival “Europaische Musikwochen” from a terminally ill woman with not long to live, who told me that I had managed to alleviate her unbearable pain for an hour. These are the moments that are worth living for!

What do you dislike most about your profession?

The constant inner demand for perfection as well as the continual dissatisfaction with what I have already achieved.

Who was the biggest musical influence on you?

Primarily, of course, my parents, in particular my mother, herself a well known pianist and pedagogue of the renowned Russian musical tradition. Later on, I had several outstanding teachers, one of whom, however, I would particularly like to mention: Karl Ulrich Schnabel. He was a genius, and it is such a tragedy that I only had the opportunity to work with him in the last six years of his life!

Which composers do you think are overvalued and which undervalued?

I don’t want to talk about the composers whom I consider overvalued on this occasion, as people have different ideas, which change from time to time, according to country and era, but I have always thought that Haydn is too rarely played and undervalued. (The Jubilee this year will probably not change things very much in this respect.)

Which music do you not like at all?

The bombastic music of the Pan-German era. Neither can I bear some of the works of the preceding period.

Who is your favourite composer of the 20th/21st century?

Definitely Sergei Prokofiev.

Which recording have you bought recently?

A collection of old recordings of Wilhelm Furtwaengler, just to check how deep my dislike of the music mentioned in the question before last is.

Which book are you reading at the moment?

Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’, which I am enjoying tremendously.

Who is your favourite author?

Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy are my timeless favourites. But when I feel unwell, all I want to read is Agatha Christie. To sum up, I read an alarming amount in German, English, Russian and Italian.

Which profession would you have chosen had you not become a musician?

I enjoy writing very much and love history and cultural history in particular. So I would feel at home somewhere in the Humanities.

What do you think classical music of our time is most lacking?

Courage! The courage to have one’s own opinion and to express and defend it. The approach to music lacks audacity and has become too ‘politically correct’. Sameness has replaced novelty.