The term ‘accompanist’ automatically puts a pianist in a subservient position – which isn’t a recipe for good music making

Itzhak perlman 1

Itzhak Perlman and Rohan De Silva
Photo © Patrick Ryan

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This is an excerpt from There is no such thing as a piano ‘accompanist’

1. Treat your pianist as an equal.

The piano part is often at least as difficult as the string part, and several composers – Mozart and Beethoven in some of their violin sonatas, for example – regarded the piano voice as more important.

2. Give the music to your pianist well ahead of time

Doing this will ensure that you will both be fully prepared by the time of the first rehearsal. Schedule enough rehearsal time to integrate the two parts and build a convincing interpretation.

3. Know the score

The pianist has an advantage in being able to work from a score, so if you don’t know how the two parts fit together, you may potentially waste a lot of rehearsal time.

4. Work together to create a mutually satisfying interpretation

This is likely to require more discussion than the old-fashioned lead-and-follow approach, but the rewards in terms of developing an intuitive understanding of each other’s playing will be well worth it.

5. Acknowledge the pianist’s equal status in the performance

Ensure that the concert hall includes the pianist’s name and biography in the programme. Bow together, side by side at the front of the stage. Remember, the literature for stringed instrument and piano is chamber music, so a pianist in a partnership should receive as much respect as a pianist in a piano trio.

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