The Hungarian pianist, Jenő Jandó, studied piano first with his mother, then at the Liszt Academy with Katalin Nemes and Paul Kadosa, later going on to win many major international piano competitions, including the Cziffra and Ciani Piano Competitions. However, his professional career really began when he took third prize at the Beethoven Piano Competition at the age of 18. He was also the winner of the 1973 Hungarian Piano Concours and took first prize in the chamber music category at the Sydney International Piano Competition in 1977.
Those winning brought Jenő Jandó's name before audiences beyond Hungary. But he did not become a familiar figure to USA album buyers until after the founding of Naxos by the German-born, Hong Kong-based entrepreneur Klaus Heymann in the late 1980's. Jenő Jandó was one of the first artists to emerge from Naxos' efforts to record Eastern European artists on a larger scale than any organisation outside the former East bloc had previously done. A Hungarian contact sent a tape of Jandó's playing to the company, and he was picked for one of the new company's showcase products: a complete recording of L.v. Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas. Jandó followed those up with complete tours through Mozart's piano sonatas and concertos, Bach's entire Well-Tempered Clavier, Béla Bartók's piano concertos, and comparatively rarer Haydn keyboard sonatas. Jandó continued to explore the heart of the traditional repertory, delving into Schubert's sonatas and undertaking a mammoth survey of Béla Bartók's complete piano music.
Jenő Jandó has also performed chamber music, inclining toward Hungarian compositions, and he serves as accompanist to his wife, mezzo soprano Tamara Takács. He has recorded, for example, Schubert's 'Trout' Quintet and L.v. Beethoven's 'Ghost' and 'Archduke' piano trios. As an accompanist, he has worked with Takako Nishizaki in recordings of the Franck and Grieg violin sonatas, the complete Schubert sonatas, and the Mozart sonatas. His special style of accompaniment also shows itself in Zoltán Kodály's Sonata for Cello and Piano as well as in a more recent recording of Dohnányi cello sonatas, in partnership with Maria Kliegel.
What suited Jenő Jandó so well to the Naxos operation, a label for which he currently records exclusively? He is an ideal jack-of-all-classical-trades. His familiarity with the piano literature is wide, and his musical memory is legendary: though he always brings scores of the works he is to play with him to a recording session, he simply lays them to one side and performs from memory. Like Glenn Gould, Jandó is given to humming along with his own playing -- a tendency his producers forestall by placing an unlit cigarette in his mouth. Jandó has expressed the amibition to cap off his career by recording a second complete L.v. Beethoven sonata set -- something previously undertaken only by a select group of the keyboard elite. So far he has recorded about 66 albums, including music by J.S. Bach, L.v. Beethoven, Schumann, Haydn, Béla Bartók, and many other composers.