Lars Vogt obituary | Classical music

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The German pianist and conductor Lars Vogt, who has died aged 51 of most cancers, got here to prominence after taking second prize on the 1990 Leeds Worldwide Piano Competitors. To a repertory together with Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, however centred predominantly on Romantic composers corresponding to Brahms, Schumann, Grieg, Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky, he introduced distinctive sensitivity and lyricism, the wistful, restrained emotional register of Brahms’s late items suiting him notably nicely.

Although ceding first prize to Artur Pizarro in Leeds, Vogt impressed together with his mercurial, witty Haydn and an account of Mussorgsky’s Photos at an Exhibition that mixed subtlety and grandeur. Within the concerto finale, his mature efficiency of the Schumann heralded a participant of outstanding eloquence and unaffected charisma.

He went on to play with many main conductors and orchestras all around the world. An particularly prestigious appointment was that of the primary ever pianist in residence to the Berlin Philharmonic for the 2003–04 season.

He was additionally a eager chamber music companion, teaming up ceaselessly with gamers corresponding to Christian and Tanja Tetzlaff, Truls Mørk, Sabine Meyer and Sarah Chang, and with singers together with Thomas Quasthoff, Ian Bostridge and Julian Pregardien.

In 1998 he co-founded together with his first spouse, the Russian composer Tatiana Komarova, his personal chamber music competition, Spannungen (“Excitements”), situated in a transformed artwork nouveau hydroelectric energy station within the village of Heimbach close to Cologne. Many excellent recordings emanated from performances there and he remained inventive director till his loss of life.

Simon Rattle, who performed the Schumann concerto in Leeds and his first two recordings (Schumann/Grieg and Beethoven’s first concerto), remained his mentor, prophesying on the time: “In 10 years you’ll be a conductor. You have got a conductor’s mind.” And certainly sooner or later Vogt took his place repeatedly on the rostrum, with out relinquishing that on the keyboard.

He was appointed music director of the Royal Northern Sinfonia from 2015 for a five-year tenure, changing into principal inventive companion from 2020. Starting within the 2020–21 season he additionally served as music director for the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris – the primary French orchestra to boast full gender equality. That contract, initially for 3 years, was not too long ago prolonged to June 2025.

Within the earlier phases of his profession, he was an EMI recording artist, making discs with the Berlin Philharmonic beneath Claudio Abbado and the Metropolis of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra beneath Rattle. Latterly he recorded for the Finnish label Ondine: the whole Beethoven and Brahms concertos directed from the keyboard, Bach’s Goldberg Variations, performed with verve and neat articulation however that includes refined and surprising touches, and a disc of Janáček works that received him the Opus Klassik award for greatest solo piano disc of the yr in 2021.

Modern composers whose works he premiered embrace Thomas Larcher, Erkki-Sven Tüür, Kryštof Mařatka and Volker David Kirchner.

Born in Düren, in North Rhine-Westphalia, he was the youngest of three kids of an engineer (who as a younger man had funded his research by taking part in skilled soccer for his native group) and his spouse. Lars discovered the piano from the age of six and studied at what’s now the Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Medien Hannover. His instructor was the distinguished pedagogue Karl-Heinz Kämmerling, whose college students additionally numbered Igor Levit and Alice Sara Ott. After Kämmerling’s loss of life in 2012, Vogt succeeded him as professor of piano on the Hochschule.

He made the primary of 14 appearances on the BBC Proms in 1992, taking part in the Grieg concerto with the BBC Symphony Orchestra beneath Mark Elder. He went on to play with all the main British orchestras, the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Royal Concertgebouw, Vienna Philharmonic and lots of extra. Involved concerning the state of music training, he established a programme in Germany known as Rhapsody in College, through which he and different skilled musicians visited faculties to work together with kids, the purpose being to encourage and to forge connections.

After his marriage to Komarova ended, he married the Polish violinist Anna Reszniak. Recognized with most cancers of the throat and liver final yr, he continued to play all through his therapy (he was lucky to have an upright piano within the most cancers ward and a grand within the palliative ward). He talked movingly in an interview about his household and the composers who gave him the best solace in his situation: Brahms, Mozart and Bach – “the three composers who really feel most vital to me now”.

Of Brahms he stated that what spoke to him most profoundly at this juncture was that the composer, who had no kids of his personal, was however in a position to enter the world of childhood with the “sweetly fragile main” chords that may observe a passage of darker colors.

“The narrator says”, he continued, “‘You have got a lot of struggling and disappointment forward of you – however for now, simply fall asleep,’ and it returns to a lullaby. It’s an adjustment of perspective – not a whole identification with childhood, however from an grownup perspective – from an individual who’s seen quite a bit.”

Vogt his survived by Anna and by three kids.

Lars Vogt, pianist and conductor, born 8 September 1970; died 5 September 2022

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