Biographies

Pianist Profiles

Cristina ORTIZ

Cristina ORTIZ’ natural musicality, masterful craftsmanship and commitment to refined playing have ensured her a place among the most respected pianists in the world. Throughout her extensive and varied career Cristina has performed with the Berliner Philharmoniker, Wiener Philharmoniker, the Chicago Symphony, Philharmonia and Royal Concertgebouw orchestras amongst many others. She has collaborated with the pianist Radu Lupu, as well as conductors Neeme JärviMariss Jansons, Kurt Masur, André Previn & David Zinman. Recent collaboration has been much acclaimed recordings and a European tour - including the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam – with the Fine Arts Quartet.

Cristina ORTIZ remarkable technique and highly developed sense of musical adventure is most evident in her wide ranging repertoire. A very popular artist with audiences worldwide – recently Cristina performed with the Simón Bolivar Orchestra, Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de SâoPaulo, Hong Kong Philharmonia Orchestra, QuatarPhilharmonic Orchestra, Haydn Orchestra Bolzano and Trento as well as a debut apprearance with the Orquestra Filarmônicade Minas Gerais. Highlights in the coming season include a concert at the Salle Gaveau in Paris and the South Bank in London.

During her career and to great critical acclaim, Cristina ORTIZ has recorded some thirty albums for EMI Classics, Decca & Collins Classics. Most recently she has recorded for Intrada, Naxos –  the solo piano works of York Bowen -  & BIS.

Between recitals and concerto performances Cristina ORTIZ is a passionate and committed teacher regularly giving Masterclasses worldwide. ‘ I would really like that everyone plays as well as they can. No question of not revealing any secrets that I might know (!) - for example in pedalling – an especial passion of mine’.

Recently she has held workshops at Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Australian National Academy of Music, National Centre for the Arts in Mexico, Tokyo College of Music and at the  Per Piano Solo Festival in Amandola in Italy.

Cristina ORTIZ began studies in her native Brazil, before moving to France at the age of fifteen on a full French scholarship to study in Paris with the renowned pianist Magda Tagliaferro* - an authentic and direct student/pupil of the legendary Alfred Cortot: ‘ I had taken part in Masterclasses that Magda Tagliaferro had given in Rio de Janeiro , it was with her that I wanted to study’.

Two years later years later Cristina ORTIZ was laureate of the prestigious Georges Enescu International Piano Competition in Bucharest, and won the Concours Magda Tagliaferro in Paris the following year.

In 1969,  as the first woman, and the youngest ever artist, Cristina ORTIZ won the Gold Medal at the Van Cliburn Competition in Texas.

Cristina ORTIZ then continued her studies with Rudolf Serkin at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Lili Kraus at Fort Worth and Ilona Krabosin, making her New York début in 1971  before then basing herself in London.

 

CRITICS:

“She plays with sympathy, clarity and technical expertise” (International Record Review, September 2014)

“A Lioness of the Piano” (Wprost)

“The Hugo Lambrechts Auditorium was packed to the brim, yet Ortiz, with her charismatic and grandiose personality, made it feel like the most intimate of concerts. She managed to connect with the audience on a personal level... I can honestly say that she gave the most honest performance that I have ever had the pleasure to attend.” (Artslink, February 2012)

“Ortiz in particular is memorably sensitive to Fauré’ssubtle and intricate piano writing.” (Gramophone, February 2009)

“Ortiz is a spontaneous improviser, an unpredictable lioness of the piano; powerful player but one who hugs or caresses her instrument at will.” (Wprost, February 2010)


 

*Magda TAGLIAFERRO (1893 -1986)

Born in Brazil to french parents (her father had studied piano with Raoul Pugno),  Magda Tagliaferro had moved to Paris at the age of thirteen to study initially with Antoine-François Marmontel – her first important teacher - at the Paris Conservatoire. The following year in 1907, having obtained a ‘premier prix’, she entered the ‘classe féminine de piano supérieur 1 of the young Alfred Cortot – by far her most influential teacher and to become a lifelong friend. Firmly committed throughout her long artistic career to the pianistic ideas and ideals of Cortot, she said of him: ‘Cortot was the ideal pianist and artist’.

https://www.naxos.com/person/Magda_Tagliaferro/43839.htm

 

ERIC HEIDSIECK

Born into a musical family, Eric Heidsieck played his first piano concerto (Mozart K488 in A major) with orchestra at the age of ten, having given his first solo recital one year before. From 1944 to 1952 he was taught by Blanche Bascourret de Guéraldi at the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris.

In 1952 Eric won a place at the Conservatoire de Paris to study with Marcel Ciampi and winning a ‘Premier Prix’ two years later. He then took individual lessons directly with Alfred Cortot and took part in the legendary ‘Beethoven Masterclasses’ given by Wilhelm Kempff which were inaugurated in 1957 together with Alfred Cortot.

As well as composing, gifted with an exceptional memory Eric has a vast repertory enabling him to play complete cycles of works across the world. In 1969 he was the first French trained pianist of the last century to perform from memory the complete cycle of 32 Beethoven Sonatas for piano recorded in 1970 -1974 by EMI. Ten years earlier in 1959 to huge acclaim, he recorded two Mozart Piano Concertos (no’s 21 & 24) also for EMI and which were awarded the Grand Prix du Disque. More recently he recorded the Suites of Handel a further Grand Prix du Disque was awarded for Eric Heidsieck recording of the Barcarolles of Gabriel Fauré – a composer whose works he had studied directly with Alfred Cortot. In total, he has made over one hundred recordings and since the beginning of his career played more than 2000 concerts over the world including performances with the cellist Paul Tortelier. Amongst his compositions are cycles of melodies and many cadenzas for piano concertos by Mozart and Beethoven (no’s: 2,3 &4).

Pedagogy has also been an important part of his career – for over eighteen years Eric Heidsieck was professor of piano at the prestigious Conservatoire National Supérieur de Lyon and from 2004 has taught at the Schola Cantorum. He has also specialised in giving Masterclasses devoted to the piano works of Beethoven and is also a highly sought after jury-member for the most important international piano competitions.

REVIEWS:
  • ‘Great art, great pianism. Heidsieck belongs to the line of truly important keyboard artists’ PARIS
  • ‘Heidsieck, one of those rare giants of the keyboard’ BOSTON
  • ‘Heidsieck takes us straight to the heart of Beethoven’ GENEVA
  • ‘His interpretation is always stunning, linking a flawless technique and an unfailing musical sense’ TOKYO
  • Arthur Rubinstein: ‘You are a unique pianist… I have the greatest admiration for you‘
  • The famous music critic Pierre Petit, who also directed ‘L’Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris’: ‘Beethoven scores are too often the sketch of an idealised form of music which require an inspired interpreter. For this task, Eric Heidsieck seems to me to be the ideal interpreter’.
  • The famous conductor Jascha Horenstein, after a performance of the piano concerto by Schumann: ‘I have conducted for three generations of pianists: the ‘grands interprètes’ like Cortot, Fischer and Schnabel, the technically proficient like Robert Casadesus… It pleases me enormously that with what you have learnt from your elders, you have returned to the pianistic aesthetics and ideals of an earlier age’.

FREDERIC AGUESSY

Frédéric Aguessy, born in Paris in 1956, studied piano with, amongst others, Yvonne Lefébure, Pierre Barbizet, and Dominique Merlet at the Conservatoire National de Musique de Paris. A prizewinner of the international piano competitions of Naples, Geneva, Santander and Budapest, he won First Prize in the Marguerite Long – Jacques Thibaud Competition in 1979, which launched his international career resulting in performances from London to New York, Japan to South America, and across most of the mainland European countries – Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Poland and Hungary.

Frédéric Aguessy performs with the major French orchestras and numerous foreign ones in Germany, Eastern Europe, Portugal and participates in many international festivals such as the International Festival of Yokohama (Japan), Festival de la Roque d’Antheron, International Festival of Montpellier, Festival Estival de Paris, Festival of Young Soloists of Antibes, and Radio France. Recently Frédéric has toured Japan and South America.

As well teaching for the American Conservatory at Fontainebleau, he has taught at the Conservatoire National de Musique de Paris – where one of his students was Cedric Tiberghien - and is currently Professor of Piano at the Conservatoire de Rouen in Normandy. 

REVIEWS:

 

"Frederic Aguessy has a rare quality: he incites you to listen, no doubt because he listens constantly to what the music is saying. He enters in communion with himself for just an instant, penetrates slowly into the works, and little by little their richness swells from the depths." Jacques Lonchampt, Le Monde, Paris

 

"A virtuoso's disposition" Clarendon, Le Figaro, Paris

 

"The final impression left by the young French pianist Frédéric Aguessy was one of an executant of enormous potential." D.A.W.M., The Daily Telegraph, London

 

"It would be difficult to demand from the precise and expressive touch of Frédéric Aguessy greater technical perfection or feeling in his interpretation, he richly deserved his win at his first appearance at Lisbon."  Jose Blanc, Diario de Nosticias, Lisbon

 

"His execution gave an exalted, grand, majestic and very imposing tone." Tadao Aosawa, The ongakugendai, Tokyo


ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

MICHAEL STEMBRIDGE-MONTAVONT

ARTICLES

  • Variations On A Theme Of Chopin (Piano Magazine) : Article
  • The ideal teacher (Pianist Magazine #23) : Page one, Page two, Page three
  • Classical pianist passes on his talents in Hampstead (Hampstead & Highgate Express) : Article

 

Following earlier studies at the Royal College of Music in London, Michael Stembridge-Montavont studied with, and later was associated with, Jean Micault – a pianist firmly in the ‘Cortot’ tradition - for over nine years in Paris. Jean Micault was nominated directly by Alfred Cortot himself as professor of piano at the Ecole Normale de Musique, the world-renowned private conservatoire founded by Alfred Cortot in 1919.

As well having performed extensively as solo pianist and accompanist (primarily of singers) in France, Italy and the UK, Michael Stembridge-Montavont has also carried out much research into the playing of Alfred Cortot and his conception of piano technique.

Widely read articles have been published in the specialist musical press: Piano, Pianist Magazine, International Piano Magazine. Many of these ideas have been refined over the fourteen years spent teaching a large variety of students for ‘Normandy Piano Week’ and in giving dedicated workshops on Alfred Cortot’s conception of piano technique.

A further article on Alfred Cortot by Michael Stembridge-Montavont was recently published in the November 2012 issue of International Piano Magazine.

Michael Stembridge-Montavont was also involved in the setting up and development of CEPOR (Concours Europeen de Piano) held in Normandy, France – particularly the artistic vision in association with the founder Yves Robert.

He is encouraged in his career by François René Duchâble.

'Un virtuose incontesté' (OUEST FRANCE)
‘Cortot aurait aimé’ (JEAN MICAULT)
‘The insight into Cortot was fascinating’
‘I found your session extremely interesting and congratulate you on your wide-ranging knowledge of piano technique, in particular in relation to Cortot and Chopin.’