L'oiseau de feu
Professor Jean-François Heisser and student Rodolphe Menguy work on l’Oiseau de feu by Igor Stravinsky, transcribed by Italian pianist and professor Guido Agostinho, thus requiring a vision that must be interpreted accordingly by the performer.
Furthermore, Professor Heisser tells his student that he must pay attention to his transitions and nuances in order to avoid his propensity to rush into a forte or fortissimo without a proper flow. He adds that the musician should be inspired by the orchestra, as the composer intended.
Other topics discussed in this session include paying attention to delays, paying special attention to the original punctuation of the piece, as well as wrist posture.
Balance of sound is imperative.
Playing with a flexible wrist and light arms.
Paying attention to phrasing and punctuation.
Applying one’s own interpretation to the music.
Being mindful about transitions.
L'Oiseau de feu is a ballet and orchestral concert written in Paris in 1910 by Russian composer Igor Stravinsky and based on Russian fairy tales. Stravinsky was young and anonymous when he was recruited in the French capital to work on the Ballets Russes by Serge Diaghilev. L'Oiseau de feu was his first major work, and the collaboration between Diaghilev and Stravinsky continued until 1923.
The piece is structured in tableaux and is meant to be played with a large orchestra. Extracts of l’Oiseau de feu can be heard in Walt Disney's Fantasia. Even though it was meant to be music to support and accompany characters, it is no less a great concert oeuvre.
Aim for excellence! You can improve your skills with expert advice. Download the annotated sheet music of this piano masterclass. Please note that this piece has been annotated in accordance to Jean-Francois Heisser’s feedback and comments.
1973: 1st Prize in piano, counterpoint, harmony, fugue, accompaniment and chamber music.
Jean-François Heisser is a well-rounded artist, leading a versatile career as a pianist, conductor and teacher. Born in Saint-Étienne, France, he is the disciple and heir of Vlado Perlemuter, Henriette Puig-Roget and Maria Curcio.
From 1991 to 2016, he was a professor at the Paris Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique. Among his talented students are Bertrand Chamayou and Jean-Frédéric Neuburger, with whom he has developed a relationship of close musical complicity. Presently, he balances his career between being a Musical Director for the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Chamber Orchestra (since 2001), a guest conductor, as a solo artist, and as an Artistic Director of various institutions and major musical productions.
As a soloist, he has played under the baton of renowned conductors such as Janowski, Tilson Thomas, Segerstam, Krivine, Mehta, Plasson, Roth etc., with the London Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestre de Paris, the Bayerischer Rundfunk, the Orchestre National de France or Les Siècles, and more. He frequently performs in recitals, with a preference for Beethoven (Sonatas, Diabelli Variations etc.), Brahms, Chopin, the Spanish repertoire (Albéniz, de Falla, Granados, Mompou), as well as the works of great French composers of the past and present.
As a chamber musician, Jean-François Heisser has covered the entire repertoire with musical partners such as the Ysaye, Lindsay, and Pražák Quartets, and his recording of the Bartok sonatas with Peter Csaba (on Praga) is now regarded as an essential work. As a Musical Director, Heisser has been in charge of developing the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Chamber Orchestra project since 2001, firmly establishing the orchestra as one of the finest French chamber ensembles, as reflected in its recordings on the Mirare label.
Moreover, his extensive discography boasts over 40 recordings: after his highly acclaimed recording of the piano works of Paul Dukas (awarded the Diapason d’or de l’année prize), he embarked on a collaboration with Erato Records (a 6-CD boxed set dedicated to the Spanish repertoire of Schumann, Brahms, Saint-Saëns, Debussy, etc.), then with Naïve Records (Beethoven, Brahms) and Praga Records (Weber, Berg, Manoury, Bartok…). More recently, recordings of Marie-Josèphe Jude with Heisser’s transcription for 2 pianos of the Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique (Harmonia Mundi) have been released.
Russian composer and musician Igor Stravinsky was born in 1882 to a musical family. His musical education began at the age of 9 and wanted to become a professional musician like his father. His parents disagreed and he had to study law for a few years, which he did half-heartedly until he abandoned it altogether to devote himself to the study of music. It is believed his love for operas and ballets came from witnessing a performance of Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty when he was a young boy. Following his father’s death and the aftermath of the 1905 Bloody Sunday events, he decided to pursue his career in music and started composing. In 1905, he married his first cousin against his church’s council, and together they had four children. He would later marry after the passing of his first wife.
Stravinsky composed several operas of various success, including The Firebird and Petrushka and Apollo. Before the Second World War, the composer moved to New York and then to California to advance his career. The move was proved to be fruitful, as he was met with remarkable success in North America, earning more than he had in Europe.
He died of pulmonary edema at home in New York in 1971 at age 86, leaving a remarkable musical legacy. He presented new musical concepts, including ever-changing rhythms and metric imbalances, new original orchestration, and dramatic dissonant harmonies that continued to resonate throughout the 20th century.