„An Incarnation of the Ideal“
Dina Ugorskaja on her encounters with the music of Franz Schubert
“Schubert and his “heavenly lengths” have accompanied me throughout my entire life. In this music, time occasionally seems to stand still: the state of lingering and resting seems to predominate above all others. We are overwhelmed with unbearable pain, with abysses of despair and hopelessness. How can it be that the confrontation with death – so immediately present in this music – dissolves all of a sudden into a floating, ethereal impermanence? Unexpected joy emerges, as if we were hearing the laughing of a child.
The child’s perspective, combined with unparalleled maturity, makes up the essence of Franz Schubert’s music as I see it. It reminds me of a passage from Schiller.
In 1795, three years before Schubert’s birth, Friedrich Schiller wrote in his treatise “On Naïve and Sentimental Poetry”: “Thus, for us, the child is the incarnation of the ideal: not the ideal we see fulfilled, but one we have renounced. We are by no means moved by our perception of the child’s limits and its helplessness, but rather by the way we conceive the child’s pure, free energy, its integrity, its endless possibilities. A moral, sensitive person shall thus revere the child as a holy object – an object of which the idea is so sublime that it demolishes any greatness that stems from experience. No matter how much the object may lose in our regard when we judge it by means of practical perception, it gains all the more richly when it is judged by ideal reasoning.” ………. (from the Booklet notes by Dina Ugorskaja)
Born in Leningrad (now once more Saint Petersburg) into an artistic family of Jewish origin, Dina
Ugorskaja started learning the piano when she was young, as well as voice and composition. In
1990, when she was fifteen years old, she became the target of anti-Semitic threats; her family had
to leave the Soviet Union abruptly, and they fled together to Germany.
The “philosopher at the piano” has made herself a name with a performance style marked by profound sensitivity and sobriety.
Her engagements have led her to make solo appearances at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, the Liederhalle in Stuttgart, the Philharmonie in Cologne, the Herkulessaal in Munich, the Sala Verdi in Milan, and Radio France Auditorium in Paris. She has been invited to perform at festivals including the Schubertiade in Feldkirch and the Kassel Music Festival.
Dina Ugorskaja is also passionately committed to chamber
music: for instance, ever since her participation at Lars Vogt’s chamber music festival Spannungen
in Heimbach, she has formed a duo together with the renowned cellist Tanja Tetzlaff.
2019 marked the 10th anniversary of her fruitful collaboration with the CAvi-Music label. In coproduction with Bavarian Radio (Munich), she has released recordings of Handel suites, late Schumann works, the six last Beethoven sonatas, and both volumes of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier – all of which have been praised by critics.
Regarding her recording of Beethoven’s Hammerklavier sonata,
Eleonore Büning wrote in the Frankfurter Allgemeine: The immense Adagio sostenuto, bearing the
indication that it is to be played ‘passionately and with much feeling’, is rendered as a sublime,
radiant hymn, and one would no longer want to hear it any other way.
Regarding her recording of the Well-Tempered Clavier, Crescendo magazine wrote in October 2016: The listener does not feel directly addressed, but rather as the silent witness of these intimate dialogues between Bach, God, and the universe – thanks to the fact that Dina Ugorskaja always maintains a noble distance that protects the inner fragility of Bach’s musical discourse. […] This is an impressive manifesto for the freedom of the human intellect.” Ugorskaja’s recordings for CAvi-music have been repeatedly nominated for the International Classical Music Awards and for the German Music Critics’ Prize. Her last album with works by Schubert received the ICMA award posthum.
Dina Ugorskaja passed away after a long period of illness in September 2019.