Vogt studied first with Ruth Weiss in Aachen before enrolling at the Hochschule in Hanover where he studied with Karl-Heinz Kämmerling. He came to prominence when he won second prize at the Leeds International Piano Competition in the year in which the first prize was won by Artur Pizarro. Since his win at Leeds Vogt has sustained his career and now plays throughout Europe with the best of the world’s orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra (with whom Vogt was pianist in residence in the 2003–2004 season), the Concertgebouw Orchestra and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. In Britain he has performed with the London Symphony Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the Hallé Orchestra and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. The late 1990s saw Vogt making his debut in many European musical centres including Paris and Florence whilst in 1997 he played a cycle of the complete Beethoven piano concertos in Cologne and Rome.
In North America Vogt had success in performing with the St Luke’s Chamber Orchestra in New York, and in February 2004 made his debut with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and Lorin Maazel playing Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor Op. 15. On the west coast of America Vogt is a popular soloist, having already played on eight occasions with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and in 2002 he opened the Hollywood Bowl season.
In addition to performing in Europe and America, Vogt has toured Australia, North Africa, the Baltic countries and South East Asia, and in 2002 gave his recital debut in Tokyo.
Vogt has participated in many festivals including those in Venice, Berlin, Bad Kissingen, Ludwigsburg, Dresden and Schleswig-Holstein. In June 1998 he founded a chamber music festival at Heimbach in Germany known as the Spannungen Festival. Regular participants at the festival are violinist Christian Tetzlaff and cellists Boris Pergamenschikov, Heinrich Schiff and Truls Mørk. Vogt also works with violinist Sarah Chang.
After his success at the Leeds International Piano Competition, at the age of twenty-one Vogt was signed by EMI. His first disc was a recital programme consisting of Haydn’s Sonata in C major Hob. XVI:50, Brahms’s Klavierstücke Op. 119, Schubert’s Piano Sonata in G major D. 894 and contemporary composer Helmut Lachenmann’s Five Variations on a theme by Schubert, written in 1958. Lachenmann lectured at Hanover, so this may be the link between the composer and pianist. The Haydn is delivered in a crisp style and fashion which Vogt applies to music of this period including early Beethoven. A critic wrote in The Gramophone, ‘I have rarely been so impressed by a debut recital disc.’ Further discs, one of Russian works (including one by Vogt’s wife Tatyana Komarova) and one of Schumann were less impressive, but a disc of Haydn sonatas from 1994 and particularly a disc of Beethoven from 1998 are very fine. The Beethoven disc incorporates three works in C minor: the Thirty-two Variations WoO 80, and the Piano Sonatas Op. 10 No. 1 and Op. 111.
Vogt’s finest recording to date is of the first two piano concertos by Beethoven. The Concerto No. 1 is extremely good, with clarity, humour, finesse, poise and excellent dialogue between orchestra and soloist. His extreme ebullience, however, can sometimes sound almost aggressive. EMI include a second compact disc of this recording where cadenzas written by Glenn Gould in 1954 are incorporated. In concluding his review for Stereo Review Richard Freed wrote, ‘What this all adds up to is out-and-out enchantment, and it is not likely to wear thin with repeated exposures. Since the recorded sound is beautifully tailored to the musical content, this disc must supersede most earlier recommendations for either or both concertos.’
Richard Osborne in The Gramophone wrote, ‘Alongside these performances, most rivals sound unduly one-dimensional’, and it is true that Vogt manages to inject something wholly new into his interpretations. His excellent co-musicians of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Simon Rattle also assisted Vogt in a familiar coupling of the Piano Concertos by Grieg and Schumann in 1992. Still contracted to EMI, Vogt has appeared in the series of Hindemith’s Kammermusik recordings by Claudio Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. He gives a brilliant account of the solo part in Kammermusik No. 2 Op. 36 No. 1 for piano and twelve solo instruments.
On an interesting compact disc from Virgin, Vogt appears with cellist Truls Mørk in works by Shostakovich, Prokofiev and Stravinsky; and live performances from Vogt’s Spannungen Festival have been issued by German EMI on four compact discs. Vogt’s most recent disc is a collaboration with violinist Sarah Chang on the EMI label where they play sonatas by César Franck, Camille Saint-Saëns and Maurice Ravel.
© Naxos Rights International Ltd. — Jonathan Summers (A–Z of Pianists, Naxos 8.558107–10).