by Ben Hogwood
Yesterday we learned of the incredibly sad news that the pianist Lars Vogt had died, at the age of 51.
The warmth and appreciation of tributes paid to him from fellow artists yesterday evening testify to his warm personality, strength of character and great musicianship. Lars was diagnosed with cancer early in 2021, but even in his chemotherapy found that playing the piano channelled the most positive energy and feeling. Here, for instance, is a wonderful performance of Mozart’s Piano Concerto no.24 given as part of the Parnu Festival with the Estonian Festival Orchestra and Paavo Järvi.
Lars was an extremely versatile artist, either as a soloist, chamber musician or conductor. Regular partners included violinist Christian Tetzlaff and cellist Truls Mørk, while he took part in a formidable piano trio with Christian and cellist Tanja Tetzlaff. He also proved himself a conductor of some note from the keyboard, directing the Royal Northern Sinfonia from the piano in recordings of the concertos of Beethoven and Brahms, and the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris in the concertos of Mendelssohn.
His orchestral partners spoke of him with great warmth, and certainly his time in Newcastle with the Royal Northern Sinfonia was characterised by energetic, creative music making and seasonal planning. My own memories of solo performance run back to a spellbinding account of the Goldberg Variations at Wigmore Hall:
As a concerto soloist I also recall a memorable account of Brahms’ Piano Concerto no.2 with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Jiří Bělohlávek at the Proms:
At the same festival, I also recall a full-blooded account of the Bartók Violin Sonata no.1 with Christian Tetzlaff:
As a recording artist, Vogt enjoyed many peaks, mostly in the company of the Ondine label. The playlist below brings together just a section of these recordings, in the knowledge that a couple more are yet to be released.
He will be greatly missed, and we send condolences to all his family and friends. His lasting gift to us is in the form of recordings we will treasure greatly: