Mitsuko Uchida does not seem easy to please. Her exacting standards apply to everything from her own piano playing, which is internationally revered, to chocolate – "this is the best in the world," she says, offering me a square of something very dark. There is darkness, too, to her words about how young musicians are faring today as they build careers in a cut-throat market, focused, in her view, excessively on rapid returns rather than lasting artistic substance.
Some significant talents, she suggests, risk wasting their potential because, in a get-rich-quick culture, they are being "overheated" by the music industry, doing too much, too young, and failing to develop further. "With anything in life, it is better to go slowly," she says. "I find it irresponsible of certain record companies and managers to sell the saleable youngsters very quickly. It means they have no time really to study and therefore they have nothing to say in their music. They play only a certain number of pieces and regurgitate these all the time. That's not what a young musician should be doing."
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