Idil Biret
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Major Projects

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897), The Complete Works for Piano Solo and both Piano Concertos

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897), The Complete Works for Piano Solo and both Piano Concertos

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Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943), Complete Works for Piano Solo, the four Piano Concertos, Paganini-Rhapsody

Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943), Complete Works for Piano Solo, the four Piano Concertos, Paganini-Rhapsody

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The Making of Complete Beethoven Symphonies Introduction

haftayabakis_k.jpgEurope applauds the Turkish pianist Idil Biret
(Cover Story in MILLIYET Arts Magazine on February 7th, 1987)
[Translated from Turkish into English language by Sefik Yüksel]

19 march 1986.
Midnight.

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The Background of the Making of the Complete Beethoven Symphonies

idilbiret_piyano1k.jpgAbout the background of the recordings
Written by Sefik Yüksel
(Photos on top and below: Biret at St. Bavon Church, where the symphonies were recorded)

Following a suggestion by Mr. Michel Devos, a Belgian independent recording engineer, Idil Biret recorded Liszt’s piano transcriptions of  three Beethoven Symphonies in July and September 1985 for  local release by EMI in Belgium.

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Reviews for the Complete Beethoven Symphonies

beethoven_symphonies_k.jpgIDIL BIRET performed the Liszt transcriptions of all the nine Beethoven Symphonies at the 1986 Montpellier Festival in four recitals which were also broadcast ‘live’ by Radio France. This was the first know public performance of the series in this entirety.

The same year she made the world premier recording of the complete set of the nine symphonies for EMI / His Master’s Voice (EX 270479-3, six records, digital).

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The Making of The Complete Works of Chopin by Idil Biret

In June 1989 Idil Biret received an offer from the then newly established Naxos label to record Chopin’s complete works for piano solo and for piano and orchestra. Without hesitation she accepted to undertake this monumental task. This was a project that would be the dream and dread of many a pianist and the past decades were full of projects to record Chopin’s complete works which remained unfinished for various reasons.

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Birets Recordings of 20th Century Composers

20th_century_composers_k.jpgOver the years Idil Biret has made more than seventy records, also placing greater emphasis on contemporary compositions in her concerts as well as in the studio.

Among others she has made her American recording debut with Pierre Boulez Second Piano Sonata which also presented the first U.S. recording of this important contemporary work – it was previously recorded in Europe by Yvonne Loriod for Vega and Claude Helffer for Deutsche Grammophon.

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Pierre Boulez 1

pierreboulez1_k.jpgThe three piano sonatas of Pierre Boulez occupy an important position in piano literature of the twentieth Century. The Instrument, in fact, has not been central to the work of the majority of composers of the Century as it was to those of the nineteenth. The thirty-two sonatas of Beethoven were for long a constraining factor. Composers of the first half of the twentieth Century tried to escape from this. Generally speaking, major composers of the second half of the Century have not composed any more for the piano, but some of them have more easily opted for the instrumental genre of the sonata. Since 1945 the model of Beethoven has been a solid point of reference for composers who have turned to the form in the perspective of a reconstruction of musical language.

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Pierre Boulez 2

pierreboulez2.jpg“There ought to be a law” people used to say – those who heard Idil Biret play at a time when she was not even three years of age. It did not take long for the Turkish Grand National Assembly to pass a bill, bearing her name, which allowed her to study in Paris. She was only eleven when, at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees, she played Mozart’s Concerto for Two Pianos with Wilhelm Kempff. At fifteen, she graduated from the Paris Conservatory with three “premiers prix”: accompaniment, piano and chamber music, having studied each with Nadia Boulanger, Jean Doyen and Jacques Fevrier respectively. She completed her pianistic formation under Alfred Cortot and Wilhelm Kempff. The child-prodigy had developed into a mature artist, one of the greatest pianists of all time, as this recording would corroborate.

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Direct-to disc

direct-todisc.jpgIn the 1970s there was a brief period when a very limited number of Direct to Disc LP recordings were issued. The main reason was the claim that better sound quality could be obtained with the direct to disc process which was the same as that used for recording 78 rpms.

The difficulty was that unlike the 78 rpms with 6-8 minutes per side with LPs each side was about 20-25 minutes and there was no editing possibility. So, you heard exactly what the pianist played (and not the now possible way of even of recording individual measures of a piece and the engineer creating a performance).

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György Ligeti

ligeti.jpgAs György Ligeti himself describes it, the impetus for “… composing highly virtuosic piano études … was, above all, my own inadequate piano technique”. Solo piano music is prominent in his output prior to his ‘escape’ to the West in 1956, notably the Musica ricercata cycle completed in 1953, but little emerged during his involvement with the European avant-garde over the next two decades. At the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s, Ligeti rethought all aspects of his composing idiom, resulting in music which might be described as ‘post-tonal’ in its creative and unprejudiced approach to the ‘Classical’ tradition.

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New Line Piano

newlinepiyano.jpgChoice or chance. This is not the question. Not here. Some would have you believe otherwise. That whenever creative decisions are shared by the composer and the performer, chance is involved. “Aleatory” is the catchword. “Alea” meaning dice, and “aleatory” of or pertaining to games of chance. It came to signify (1) music where creative decisions are left to the performer’s discretion; and (2) music composed by chance operations and indeterminate of its performance. If we regard the former, and not only the latter, as chance music, then all traditionally composed music ought to be defined as chance music, and that by virtue of the unspecifiable elements left to the performer’s discretion. What, after all, are the specifiable quantities of a crescendo? Even timbre has to be prescribed in terms of highly generalized categories.

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The Ravel & Stravinsky Album

ravelalbum.jpgSerenade grotesque is Ravel’s first composition for the piano. Composed in or about 1893, it is a product of his student days at the Paris Conservatoire. Although a minor piece, it identifies a major talent and an astute craftsman; Its existence was known, but it was “discovered,” along with several other pieces belonging to Ravel’s formative years, by the Queens College (New York) musicologist Arbie Orenstein who first performed it on February 23rd, 1975, in Charles C. Colden Auditorium, Flushing, New York. In his preface to the first edition, Orenstein notes a parentage between Serenade grotesque and Scarbo (of Gaspard de la nuit) and relates it also to Alborada del gracioso (of Miroirs). Ravel himself, in his biographical sketch, acknowledged the influence of Chabrier, one of his heroes.

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