“As a pianist, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert are the three composers who speak to me the most deeply, and bring me the greatest challenges. I would have added Bach, if there was not the harpsichord issue. Chopin, Schumann and Brahms take also a prominent place in my musical life, but they do not question me in the same way. I feel as if I was naturally speaking their language.”

“My relations with the Russian composers are complicated. I felt I was very close to them, because of my roots and of my temperament, but I was convinced I had to refuse the easy success that they could bring to me, that it would divert me from my ideals. Nevertheless Rachmaninoff was for me the best pianist ever. I would like to champion still more his music, of course not his most famous concertos, but some of his most beautiful works, unjustly neglected, the Chopin Variations, the Symphonic Dances, the Fourth Concerto.”
« I have a natural affinity with French music, with Ravel, with Debussy, of course, and even with Fauré and Saint-Saëns (for a moment I thought of playing his Second Concerto). It was nurtured by my love for this country, for its painting and literature.”
« There are composers I infinitely admire but that I’ll probably never perform. Prokofiev, for example, whose orchestral works I appreciate, but I cannot help finding his use of the piano too percussive. As for Scriabine, his music seems to me too tormented, too poisonous. In the mid-1970s, Columbia proposed me to record Scriabine’s complete piano works. I could not do it. I have also a tremendous admiration for Franz Liszt, but I performed an only work of his, the 6th Hungarian Rhapsody (I needed a spectacular piece to end my Community Concerts recitals). It is very difficult for me to accept the idea that virtuosity is an end in itself, and that the musical material is subject to it. When I play his music, I feel uncomfortable. »
(Interviews with Bernard Meillat, from 1987 to 1996)
Here are all the composers who had a major importance in his life and career. There is also a summary of Istomin’s other musical interests, partly unexpected, from Rosa Ponselle to Frank Sinatra.
Jean-Sébastien Bach
Jean-Sébastien Bach
Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven
Leonard Bernstein
Leonard Bernstein
Johannes Brahms
Johannes Brahms
Frédéric Chopin
Frédéric Chopin
Claude Debussy
Claude Debussy
Henri Dutilleux
Henri Dutilleux
Anton Dvorak
Anton Dvorak
Nikolaï Medtner
Nikolaï Medtner
Felix Mendelssohn
Felix Mendelssohn
W.A. Mozart
W.A. Mozart
Serge Rachmaninov
Serge Rachmaninov
Maurice Ravel
Maurice Ravel
Ned Rorem
Ned Rorem
Franz Schubert
Franz Schubert
Igor Stravinsky
Igor Stravinsky
Karol Szymanowski
Karol Szymanowski
Robert Schumann
Robert Schumann
Piotr Tchaïkovsky
Piotr Tchaïkovsky
Curiosités Musicales
Curiosités Musicales