Lifelines with Stephen Kovacevich at Burgh House

  • Classical & Jazz
Lifelines with Stephen Kovacevich at Burgh House


Thu, 10/04/2014 - 12:47


Lifelines with Stephen Kovacevich at Burgh House
Stephen Kovacevich
10 April, 2014

HE won’t be playing Burgh House’s Bluthner baby grand, but world-famous pianist and brilliant interpreter of Beethoven and Schubert, Stephen Kovacevich, will be playing back his life, his loves, his passions, and the perils of talent, when he talks to me this evening (Thursday 10th).

I’ve always admired this pianist, and have a treasured CD of his 1973 recordings of two of Mozart’s greatest piano concertos with Colin Davis and the LSO. In 1999, I sat high up in the Usher Hall, Edinburgh, and heard him give an all-Beethoven recital and sketched a kind of multi-portrait of his performance of the Opus 111: 10 Kovaceviches and 10 Steinways, in shadow and in light, in combat and in love, climbing one of the highest mountains of the piano repertoire.

More recently I’ve sat in Hampstead Parish Church and listened to him playing Schubert with fire and delicacy.

“It’s not a question of giving a good recital,” he said to me recently, “but of giving a magnificent one.”

And for magnificence you have to take risks. And risks need strong nerves, and nerves can transform or destroy.

So every recital is a dangerous expedition. I hope he’ll talk to me about all this this evening, and about the lighter sides of his life: his love of Indian food and beautiful women, for example.

All of which has been beautifully caught by his and Martha Argerich’s film-maker daughter, Stéphanie, in her documentary Bloody Daughter, which can be seen on Saturday at the Barbican. Come to the conversation and make the movie.

Stephen Kovacevich will be at Burgh House, New End Square, tonight at 7.30pm. A few tickets still available at or on 020 7431 0144 or at the door, £12 or £10 for Friends of Burgh House. Stéphanie Argerich’s film Bloody Daughter will be screened at the Barbican Cinema, Silk Street, on Saturday at 2pm.

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