The legendary Alfred Brendel, who turned 90 in 2021, has taken on few pupils throughout his storied career, but something about the extraordinary memory and refined approach of piano prodigy Kit Armstrong convinced Brendel to take him on as a student. In the intervening years, Armstrong has more than made good on his early promise, growing into one of the most singular and accomplished artists and composers of our day.
At the Church of Sainte-Thérèse-de-l’Enfant-Jésus in Hirson, France, which Armstrong purchased in 2012 and converted into a concert hall, he performs a remarkable program of longtime repertoire standards and lesser-heard masterworks: Bach (in Armstrong’s own arrangements), plus Mozart, Chopin, Schumann, Liszt, and more. Though Brendel has retired from performing, he returns to the stage here to read excerpts from his book A Pianist’s A-Z: A Piano Lover’s Reader as a complement to his illustrious pupil’s stunning recital.
“The piano,” writes Brendel, “is an object of transformation. It permits, if the pianist so desires, the suggestion of the singing voice, the timbres of other instruments, of the orchestra. It might even conjure up the rainbow or the spheres. This propensity for metamorphosis, this alchemy, is our supreme privilege.”
Lucerne Festival 2005