A Voice from that Piano in the Background
March 1, 2012
Pianists who accompany singers prefer the term collaborative pianist to the old term accompanist. In truth, there are many cases in which the piano part is actually of more importance than that of the “soloist.” One thinks of the works that Beethoven (though not modern programs) called Sonata for Piano and Violin, or compositions like the Hindemith Sonata for Tuba and Piano, where the tuba almost plays a bit part.
But singers are in a position to overshadow their necessary collaborator, even when — as in lieder — the piano part may actually be at least an equal protagonist. There are great singers like Marilyn Horne and Frederica von Stade who never cease, however, to praise the man “in the crook of whose piano I’ve stood all these years.” The deserving artist in question, Martin Katz, gives a telling interview here.