JEAN LOUIS STEUERMAN
Jean Louis Steuerman’s father, who also played the piano, emigrated from Romania to Brazil. His son began his study of the piano at the age of four and made his debut with the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra at the age of fourteen. He had many piano teachers and has said, ‘I couldn’t put up with any of them for very long. Jacques Klein was the most important for me.’ Steuerman also studied composition with Claudio Dantaro and at eighteen he won a scholarship to study at the Naples Conservatory. After returning to Brazil Steuerman decided to go to London to prepare for the Bach Competition in Leipzig. He won second prize at the competition and has since had an international career. After his British debut Steuerman played with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, Bournemouth Sinfonietta, Hallé Orchestra, and Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra with conductors including Yehudi Menuhin and Claudio Abbado. Outside of the United Kingdom Steuerman has performed with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and Kurt Masur, the Basle Symphony Orchestra with Heinz Holliger, the Zürich Tonhalle and Berlin Symphony Orchestras. He made his French debut at the piano festival of La Roque d’Anthéron followed by an appearance in Paris.
It is for his playing of the music of Bach and that of the late twentieth century that Steuerman is primarily known. At the Athens Festival he performed Britten’s Piano Concerto with Vladimir Ashkenazy and has played Tippett’s Piano Concerto with the Helsinki Philharmonic. Steuerman made his Proms debut in London in 1985 playing Bach’s Keyboard Concerto in D minor BWV 1052 with the Polish Chamber Orchestra, and on a tour of Japan with the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra he played Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor Op. 54. He also toured Switzerland with the European Commission Youth Orchestra and James Judd as well as Italy and Japan with the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra. With the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra Steuerman has performed the Piano Concerto No. 1 in G minor Op. 25 by Mendelssohn. Steuerman also plays chamber music and has appeared at the Menuhin Festival in Gstaad and at the Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival.
Steuerman recorded for Philips in the mid-1980s. The majority of the music is by Bach: the complete partitas, Italian Concerto BWV 971, French Overture BWV 831, four duets, Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue BWV 903 plus various other preludes, fantasias and fugues. His Bach playing is incisive and clear, appearing to be fashioned on the Glenn Gould approach. However, it is rigid in tempo and narrow in dynamics and often has little characterisation; Steuerman is also abrupt with endings to movements. John Duarte writing in The Gramophone preferred Steuerman’s partitas to those of András Schiff, but Steuerman omits the repeats. With the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and James Judd he recorded three of Bach’s keyboard concertos in 1986, and in 2002 Steuerman recorded Bach’s ‘Goldberg’Variations BWV 988 for the Actes Sud label. Other Philips recordings include Scriabin’s Piano Sonatas Nos 3, 4 and 5, plus some shorter works, and Mendelssohn’s complete works for piano and orchestra with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra and Constantine Orbelian. In 1996 Steuerman recorded three piano suites by Girolamo Arrigo for Arion as well as the complete piano works of Othmar Schoeck. For Naxos he plays the piano part in Bernstein’s Symphony No. 2 ‘The Age of Anxiety’.
© Naxos Rights International Ltd. — Jonathan Summers (A–Z of Pianists, Naxos 8.558107–10).