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Catty Sideswipes of the Master Pianists


From Sviatoslav Richter’s music listening notebooks, in Sviatoslav Richter: Notebooks and Conversations by Bruno Monsaingeon, translated by Stewart Spencer (2001):

Kate Klausner, Beethoven, Concerto in C major op. 15.

It was either at the opera or at a concert that we met this middle-aged and very cultured woman. She was sitting beside us in the stalls and struck up a conversation. Quite repulsive in appearance (like a witch) and eccentrically coiffed in the Spanish style. But our conversation wasn’t uninteresting and more than once she said how friendly she was with Karajan, even giving us the impression she was to appear with him on the concert platform. As a result we met her from time to time at the Salzburg Festival.

Anyway, one day she presented me with a tape of herself playing Beethoven’s 1st Concerto (accompanied by a second piano) so that I could hear her. (I’m not certain, but I think it was before a concert by Karajan.) Horror of horrors! Her playing is unspeakably awful, heavily accentuating the left hand, without the least piano nuance, but with the most incredible self-assurance and arrogance, and totally lacking in talent.

When she reaches the cadenza, the starts to reel off the notes like a woman possessed. In the second movement, a complete lack of sensitivity, but the most overbearing self-confidence. The main subject in the final movement is a total fiasco.

Moreover, the piano is recorded very close, almost directly over the strings, wheras the second is barely audible.

That’s the lady for you: a shameless strumpet.

Since then, we’ve avoided all meetings with her.

Comments on “Catty Sideswipes of the Master Pianists”

  1. semitone says:

    Bit of a snob that Richter, no? Much better to hang out with nice people, like Herr Karajan.

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