Andras Schiff is following the footsteps of Perahia, Ashkenazy, etc. to be a pianist/conductor.


From the New York Times:

April 18, 2004
From Communing to Conducting

There is no shortage of star-pianists-turned-conductors. Some have made it big on the podium: Vladimir Ashkenazy, Daniel Barenboim and Christoph Eschenbach, to name a few. (Others seem to have had second thoughts; piano buffs can only rejoice that the electrifying Mikhail Pletnev has gone back to concentrating on the keyboard.)

Yet the notion of Andras Schiff as conductor comes as a bit of a surprise. For one thing, Mr. Schiff is not an imposing physical presence onstage. Much of the time, in fact, he looks downright phlegmatic, lost in communion with the composer.

For another thing, most listeners probably think of him first as a specialist in music of Bach, where there is limited need of a conductor. And yes, Bach is some of what Mr. Schiff is about to perform in New York, in two programs with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. He plays and conducts two keyboard concertos (BWV 1052 and 1054) and the "Brandenburg" Concerto No. 5 and simply conducts the Orchestral Suite No. 1.

But Mr. Schiff's repertory has broadened over the years — slowly, to be sure, because he tends to immerse himself in a composer's music rather than strike a glancing blow. He has embraced the standard Germanic repertory — Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann — and branched out to Janacek and areas more remote. Still, there will probably be no Bruckner, Mahler or Shostakovich symphonies in his immediate future. He fills out his concerts here with Mendelssohn, playing the two piano concertos and conducting the "Italian" Symphony and selections from "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

These programs are to be presented in a manner that is itself mildly newsworthy. The first, next Sunday, is at Avery Fisher Hall. The second, on April 27, is at Carnegie Hall. Great Performers at Lincoln Center, having long since annexed performing spaces around the city, has now developed a cooperative if not collaborative spirit. Last year it presented John Adams's dramatic oratorio "El Niño" at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. And this parallel venture with Carnegie may hold promise for real, productive collaborations there, too.