Swiss pianist Beatrice Berrut returns to Israel for a chamber concert as a member of Trio Saint Exupéry. The ensemble, which includes violinist Francesco de Angelis and cellist Camille Thomas, will perform trios by Haydn, Brahms and Schubert at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art on April 14.
“Our trio was formed in 2012. We are all close friends, and we chose the name Saint-Exupéry because of the French author’s warm humanism and his taste for adventure. It describes our life values pretty well,” says Berrut from her home in the small ancient Swiss town of Sion.
Described by the international press as “a revelation, an exceptional pianist” whose “transcendent playing revels in multiple layers of genius and beauty,” Berrut is considered one of the most talented artists of her generation. In 2005, at the age of 20, she was invited by Gidon Kremer to play several concerts at his festival in Basel, and now she regularly performs with first-class partners such as Shlomo Mintz and Itzhak Perlman. She has performed numerous concerts at prestigious venues throughout Europe and North America.
In her childhood, she used to listen to recordings from her parents’ huge CD library.
“My mother played piano and sang, but not professionally – she is a writer – and my father is a doctor. I was about 11 years old when I heard Brahms and Schumann and was so deeply thrilled that I decided that I wanted to be a musician and nothing else,” she recounts.
To be thrilled by Brahms, one must be a romantic – and indeed she is.
“An incurable one,” she laughs.
Berrut started playing piano at the age of eight.
“Not too early,” she explains.
“Look, I come from the mountains, and although people in Switzerland like music, they never consider making a profession out of it. To the best of my knowledge, in my village I was the first to become a pianist.”
After studying at the Conservatoire de Lausanne and the Heinrich Neuhaus Foundation in Zurich, she graduated from the Hochschule für Musik “Hanns Eisler” in Berlin, where she studied with Galina Iwanzowa.
“Those five years in Berlin were the most important in my life,” she recalls. “That was when I learned everything I needed to know about piano playing. Granted, I learned a lot later as a performing artist, but the basis comes from there.”
She elaborates: “Iwanzowa herself was a pupil of [the great Russian pianist and pedagogue] Heinrich Neuhaus. So this was about singing on the piano, which is, after all, a percussive instrument. So now for me as a performer, music making is about an endless search for more colors.”
Nowadays, Berrut performs piano concertos and solo recitals in prestigious halls, as well appearing on radio and television.
“Solo recitals give me the ultimate freedom to do whatever I want without disturbing other performers; but here you have to hold the entire concept on your shoulders, which is not easy – nobody will come to support you. I love performing concerti, especially those of the German repertoire – Brahms, Schubert, Schumann, Bach, but not only. Two days ago, I played Rachmaninov’s Second in Brussels.
The soloist is the boss, and if you are lucky with the conductor, he or she is your only bond to the orchestra.”
Chamber music is another thing.
“You learn to listen and to react, to sing like a string player and even to breathe. And you are not lonely.
You not only get fresh ideas from your partners, but playing together is sheer fun. I am very happy with my two guys!” she says.
Berrut, for whom this will be her third performance in Tel Aviv, has nothing but praise for Israelis.
“The people are warm, and this is not a formality; they share with you a part of themselves, and you can feel it on stage,” she says.
The concert program will feature Haydn’s Trio No. 44 in E Major; Brahms’s Trio in C minor, Op. 103; and Schubert’s Trio No. 2, Op. 100, D. 929. The concert will be preceded by a 30-minute lecture by Anat Sharon at 7:55 p.m. (at no extra charge).