French virtuoso pianist Brigitte Engerer dies at 59

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French virtuoso pianist Brigitte Engerer, known for her brilliant interpretations of French and Russian repertoire, died in Paris on Saturday at the age of 59, her agent said in a statement.

Engerer "played with some of the very best", said Concerts de Valmalete, and "brought all of her talent to what was a continual quest for musical truth".

Born on October 27, 1952 in Tunis, Engerer started playing the piano at age four and went to study at the Paris Conservatory at the age of 11.

In 1969 she left Paris for the Moscow Conservatory, which gave her a deep affiliation with the works of Russian composers, including Tchaikovsky's The Seasons and Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, both of which she would later release recordings of.

"A part of her became Russian," her agent said.

Stanislas Neuhaus, her teacher at the Moscow Conservatory, once described her as "one of the most brilliant pianists of her generation".

"Her playing is characterised by its artistry and romantic spirit, its depth, the perfection of her technique and her innate ability to reach the listener," he said.

Invitations to perform as a soloist with some of the world's top orchestras took Engerer from Vienna to Japan to New York's Carnegie Hall, playing under conductors including Daniel Barenboim and Gary Bertini.

A fan of chamber music, Engerer also regularly performed with other instrumentalists such as the violinist Olivier Charlier and the cellist Henri Demarquette.

She was well-known for her high-profile four-hand piano performances with Russian pianist Boris Berezovsky.

Engerer gave her last concert on June 12 at the Champs-Elysees Theatre in Paris, 50 years after first playing in the prestigious venue.

She received a number of honours, including the French Legion of Honour, and in 2011 was given a lifetime achievement award by the French music industry.


© 2012 AFP

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