Andreas Staier is one of the foremost authentic-instrument keyboard players in the classical music world.
Staier was born in 1955 in Göttingen. His early training was on standard piano. Courses in realizing continuo parts in Baroque music at the Hanover Conservatory led him to study harpsichord, which requires a considerably different technique of touch. This study drew him into a repertory not frequently played on piano, going back to the English composers for the virginal. He continued studies in Amsterdam. His primary teachers in harpsichord and early music were Gustav Leonhardt, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, and Ton Koopman. His interest in the fortepiano began when he discovered the difference in sound and interpretation that results when that instrument is used for playing composers contemporary with it, especially Mozart and Beethoven.
In 1983 he joined Musica Antiqua Köln as its harpsichord player, then resigned from the ensemble in 1986 to embark on his solo career on both harpsichord and fortepiano. He also began teaching at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel, Switzerland, where he was on the faculty from 1987 to 1996.
His recital programs and recordings include the standard Baroque composers, but also earlier music and Spanish keyboard works. He looks for important links among compositions of various eras. For instance, he thinks Beethoven's Diabelli Variations are heard in a different light if one knows Bach's Goldberg Variations. He waited nearly a quarter of a century to play the Goldberg in public; his long-awaited first performance of it was in Montréal at the end of April 2000.
He has performed in major festivals and in most of the major concert halls of the world. He frequently works with other renowned artists, including Anner Bylsma, Tatiana Grindenko, René Jacobs, and various important early music ensembles. One of his closest partnerships is with tenor Christoph Prégardien, who sings with him in the early Romantic repertory. Their recording of Schubert's Winterreise on Teldec won six major international recording prizes.
In 2007 Staier won France's prestigious Diapason d'Or award for his album Mozart am Stein vis-à-vis played not on a harpsichord nor on a fortepiano but played on an instrument called a vis-à-vis that was a hybrid of the two. He continued to make acclaimed harpsichord recordings, including a 2015 set of Bach harpsichord concertos in which he was teamed with the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra.
Recording for Harmonia Mundi, Staier maintained a vigorous schedule in the 2010s. In the year 2015 alone he released three recordings, one of which, a group of Brahms clarinet sonatas with Lorenzo Coppola, brought his historical practice into the late 19th century: he used an 1875 Steinway piano that Brahms himself was known to have liked. In 2016 and 2017 Staier released ensemble recordings devoted to Schubert on the fortepiano. Staier has toured not only in Europe, North America, and Japan, but, as of 2017, in Korea, south Asia, and South America as well.
© Joseph Stevenson, James Manheim /TiVo