So it's no surprise to find that, when she plays two of Mozart's concertos at the Barbican tomorrow, with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, she will also be directing from the keyboard. "Mozart's concertos simply don't need a conductor," she announces with characteristic emphasis. "They were conceived so that the pianist would also direct - as Mozart himself would have done." But she would never do the same for Beethoven: "Beethoven's concertos are a quite different matter," she explains. "Not because he's technically more difficult, or more sophisticated. More because in his music there are a lot of confrontations between instruments, and it's very difficult to be confronting someone while you are playing with them." So a conductor must hold the ring? "Yes. It's very difficult to look menacingly at the orchestra from your keyboard - and, anyway, they wouldn't necessarily know how to react. Beethoven's music is confrontational, while Mozart's is essentially conversational."
Uchida is as intransigent as ever on the subject of classical music's debasement by record labels in their desperate search for sales. She also has a message for the South Bank Centre, when it emerges from its wraps next year: "People don't dare describe that institution any more as a classical music venue - yet why else are they refurbishing it? Amplified pop doesn't need a good acoustic space. Why can't they put their foot down and say that? Classical music must not be apologised for, or ghettoised."
Tomorrow, 7.30pm (020-7638 8891)Reuse content