• Born 1976
The French pianist Claire Désert has been active and influential as a recitalist, concerto soloist, chamber music player, accompanist, and educator. She is especially noted for her interpretations of Schumann, and for her chamber music work. Désert was born in Angoulême in southwestern France in 1967. She took up the piano at five, showed talent, and at 14 traveled to Paris to enroll at the Paris Conservatory (CNSMDP). Désert had a good feel for the chamber music field early on, winning the school's first prize for chamber playing, and then adding a first prize for general piano performance. In 1985 she began studies with Bulgarian pianist Ventsislav Yankov and won admission to the conservatory's Cycle de Perféctionnement advanced course. A French government scholarship allowed her to study at the Moscow Conservatory for a year, in one of the earlier Western-Eastern exchanges of that type, and back in France, she studied as a chamber player with cellist Roland Pidoux. Désert launched her recital career in the early '90s and got a boost with a Victoires de la Musique Classique newcomer award for her 1997 recording of concertos by Scriabin and Dvorak with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg. She has performed at major halls including the Salle Pleyel in Paris, Washington's Kennedy Center, and Wigmore Hall in London, and has been a frequent guest at music festivals in France and beyond, including the George Enescu Festival in Bucharest. Désert's recording career since the turn of the century has been busy. She has been a frequent collaborator with chamber groups, with pianist Emmanuel Strosser in duo piano repertory, and with other instrumental soloists. Two solo recordings of music by Schumann on the Mirare label, in 2007 and 2010, won widespread acclaim. Désert appeared with violinist Philippe Graffin in 2019 on Fiddler's Blues, a recital of works by Ysaÿe, Ravel, Enescu, and Debussy.