Cancer kills German pianist Lars Vogt


German pianist Lars Vogt died on Monday, three days shy of his 52e birthday, the consequences of cancer. Soloist and pedagogue, he was also, as a conductor, the musical director of the Orchester de chambre de Paris.

“Lars Vogt was a German pianist…” The Wikipedia notice, promptly updated on Monday, sends shivers down the spine as Lars Vogt had insisted on remaining omnipresent; as he never gave up even attacking, in May this year, for the first time at the Hammerklavier Sonata by Beethoven; so bravely he spoke of his fight against cancer; as the musical world maintained the hope of his remission from esophageal cancer diagnosed in February 2021.

His latest album, Concertos by Mendelssohn, released by Ondine in March 2022, was recorded in November 2021 at the Philharmonie de Paris. He delivered to Zsolt Bognár, in July 2022, a filmed interview today testamentary in a series entitled Living the Classical Life. To hear her joy at being able to press the word living from the outset takes on a very special significance today, as does one of his shocking phrases: « I’d rather be alive than play the piano. »

A calm and solid career

Born in 1970 in Düren, Germany, Vogt was educated in Hannover, a highly recognized educational center. Sound 2e prize at the Leeds Piano Competition in 1990 launched his career, especially since EMI published the Concertos of Grieg and Schumann then the Concertos nbone 1 and 2 of Beethoven under the direction of its star conductor, Simon Rattle. Vogt is not cataloged among the demiurges of the keyboard, but from the outset among the « intellectuals » who will measure themselves against Beethoven, Brahms, Bach, Mozart and Schubert.

But Vogt was one of those artists who exude a discreet mineral force more than an exhilarating aura, a bit like his fellow violinist Frank-Peter Zimmermann. He was therefore more respected by his peers than he spontaneously drove crowds or sold records. This is how after EMI, he went to dig his furrow on the Finnish label Ondine, of the artistic director Reijo Kiilunen. This tandem was able to build the legacy that today ensures the legend of this underestimated artist turned meteorite. Ondine documented in Brahms and Dvorak the trio he formed with his friends Christian and Anja Tetzlaff. With Christian Tetzlaff alone, Vogt has produced major discs of sonatas: Mozart, Brahms, Beethoven and the reference version of the Sonatas for violin and piano of Schuman. Ondine gave him a complete set of Concertos of Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Brahms conducted from the piano. “It requires a lot of autonomy and confidence on the part of the orchestra. Who dictates the accelerations and the rubato? It’s not always the piano”, he told us then.

Alone, the Goldberg Variations by Bach, sonatas by Mozart, sonatas by Schubert give way once again to the most lapidary, minerality: a Leoš Janáček disc to listen to in the dark while thinking of his departure.

He who, in illness, found refuge in Brahms and his « looks at childhood » declared in May 2021 to the magazine Van « By thinking concretely about death and how I would feel if I really had to say goodbye, I acquired a naive, almost childlike faith: I hope that, on the other side, the people I loved ones and who are no longer there will welcome me. »

In Quebec, the man who was the father of three children was a guest of honor at the Festival de Lanaudière 2014, soloist of Piano concertos from the Brahms series by Paavo Järvi and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie. He was accompanied by his wife, Anna Reszniak, former concertmaster of the Nuremberg Orchestra then under the direction of Alexander Shelley.

To see in video


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