Although pianist Elena Fischer-Dieskau needs the isolation and silence of practicing for hours on end, in reality she often didn’t have that luxury until lockdown last year. "As pianists, we can never have enough time alone with our instrument,” she says, “so I tried to focus on the positive aspects of this unusual situation to use the time in the most productive way possible. That mindset definitely helped a lot and that’s how I made my first CD. During lockdown was the perfect moment to completely commit and dive into the repertoire that I have always wanted to record.”
And while quarantine rules led to the cancellation of some of Fischer-Dieskau’s European performances, they did work in her favour when she stepped in at short notice to replace Ronald Brautigam to give a solo recital at the Edinburgh International Festival earlier this month.
That said, like many musicians Fischer-Dieskau did find herself feeling discouraged during lockdown because she was not able to perform live. But during those times, she found strength in Rachmaninov’s Moment Musicaux Op.16 No.4. “I played this piece a lot as it immediately made me feel empowered and stronger,” she says. “It’s a very comforting feeling.”
The short musical moment is typical Rachmaninov; passionate, dramatic and dark, and it has become Fischer-Dieskau’s party piece. “You need something you always have in your fingers and I often play it for encores to finish with a firework. It’s quite challenging technically and very physical, you literally have to develop muscles to play it. But once you have it under your fingers, it becomes part of you. I feel I can speak with it and tell a story, not just make beautiful sounds, and it has the same fiery character from beginning to end. You have to build up stamina to hold the energy, you can never let go, you have to give everything.”
A message from the Editor:
Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.
If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription at https://www.scotsman.com/subscriptions