When Miklos Perényi plays Bach, it is so quiet in the concert hall that no one even dares cough. His playing has such a balanced, rarely achieved clarity that it goes straight to the heart. The Hungarian cellist is one of those exceptional musicians, whose playing elicits nothing but praise from even the most hardened of critics. They repeatedly emphasise the overwhelming beauty of his cello sound. Although his solo career has taken him to all the major music venues in the world and he is acclaimed as one of the most sensitive contemporary interpreters, the Hungarian cellist does not consider himself a star. He never puts his virtuosity on show but retreats totally behind the music.
Miklós Perényi gave his first concert performance in Budapest at the age of nine. His musical abilities were developed under the lasting influence of his teachers, the legendary Enrico Mainardi in Rome and Ede Banda in Budapest. After winning the Pablo Casals International Cello Competition in Budapest in 1963, he was invited by Casals several times to take part in his masterclasses. He subsequently spent several summers at the Marlboro Festival.
Miklós Perényi has been teaching at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest for 35 years. In 1980 he was awarded the Kossuth Prize and in 1987 the Bartòk-Pasztory Prize for his contribution to music. His close association with his fellow countryman András Schiff is reflected in numerous joint concerts. They have also recorded a prizewinning CD of all Beethoven’s compositions for cello and piano on the ECM label.
Instead of playing with toy trains like other children of his age, Benjamin Perényi was already playing the piano at the age of three. This comes as no surprise as the son of the famous cellist Miklós Perényi is the youngest member of a family which boasts several generations of musicians.
When Benjamin was eleven, he was admitted to the Exceptionally Gifted Children’s Class at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, where he continued and completed his studies. The famous pianist András Schiff was so impressed by the young musician’s exceptional gifting that he made him a gift of a Steinway piano. Apart from his father’s decisive influence, Benjamin Perényi’s musical development was furthered by his teachers Jenö Jandó and István Lantos and by the internationally acclaimed pianist Zoltán Kocsis, who, in May 2009, invited him to appear in concert with the Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra. Benjamin Perényi, whose repertoire comprises works from Bach to Bartók, has also appeared twice at the Schleswig Holstein Music Festival as a chamber musician. In October 2001, he and his father gave their first joint performance at the Geneva Conservatory of Music. This year, in addition to their contribution to the Cello Festival in Kronberg, they are scheduled to perform together at the Bartók Seminar in Szombathely, Hungary.
Father and son Perényi are playing Bach, Dallapiccola, Debussy and Bartók on Thursday, 1 October at 7pm at Stadthalle Kronberg. You can hear Miklós Perényi also on Sunday, 4 October at 5pm at Stadthalle Kronberg.