Pascal Amoyel (photo credit: Ludivine B)
Who or what inspired you to take up the piano, and pursue a career in music?
When I was 12, the caretaker of my block of flats listened to me practicing scales and told us that the pianist Georges Cziffra had lived in the same block and that he had just moved to create a foundation for young people. She also said “why don’t you meet him, that may be your destiny!”
She was right… I had the great privilege to meet a man with tremendous humanity and generosity, and thanks to him, I became a pianist. I worked with him for 8 years
Who or what were the most important influences on your musical life and career?
Olivier Greif, Georges Cziffra, Krishnamurti, and silence.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
To write a musical show, “The 50 fingers pianist”, that pays tribute to Cziffra, from the young 5 year old little pianist playing in the circus, to the escaped soldier, from the bar piano player playing jazz in seedy night clubs of Budapest suburbs, to being sentenced to hard labour for having tried to escape from Hungary. His life is a very moving epic.
Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?
I wanted to record the complete Chopin Nocturnes by night. I was staying in a great French castle (Chambord) where I was alone. Deep in the night, I was closing it with a powerful cadence! This atmosphere out of time was favourable to the contemplation I wanted for this music.
Which particular works do you think you play best?
I have a special affection for the works of Liszt. As well as being every pianist’s father, creator of the recital, he stopped his career at only 35, at the height of his fame, adulated by kings and emperors. Slowly aspirated by the silence, he finally decided to take refuge in a small cloister in Roma, to dedicate himself to composition and contemplation…… I also love playing Scriabin.
How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?
It’s sometimes hard to balance between what we would like to play and what the programmers sometimes ask, especially when their request are made a few years in advance! I think that the most important thing is to make no concession, to be faithful to our desire and to what inspires us, because only that will serve music.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
Playing in the mythic Berlin Philharmonie is one of my best souvenirs in my performing life.
Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?
Liszt Harmonies poétiques et religieuses
Chopin’s Nocturnes (by Rubinstein!)
Who are your favourite musicians?
Edwin Fischer, Rubinstein, Sofronitsky, Pires.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
The dramatized concert “Le Block 15, ou la musique en résistance”, in which the cellist Emmanuelle Bertrand and I pay a tribute to two survivors of Auschwitz camp, the cellist Anita Lasker-Wallfisch (who lives in London) and the pianist and composer Simon Laks. We are always very moved by sharing those testimonies.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
It is not the ideas that inspire music, but music that inspires ideas.
Intuition is Intelligence.
What are you working on at the moment?
Actually, I am continuing my work about Charles-Valentin Alkan, a composer to whom I have dedicated a recording, including the Grande Sonate “Les 4 âges”. I am fascinated by this artist who is still not known enough, as well, generally speaking, by all those unconventional and out of fashion figures in the word History.
I am also starting, as a composer, to write a concerto for cello and string orchestra, for the cellist Emmanuelle Bertrand.
Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?
A wise man.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
The total acceptance of present time.
What is your most treasured possession?
To realise that something can be owned is an illusion.
What do you enjoy doing most?
Watching my children grow.
Pascal Amoyel performs works by Alkan, Chopin, and Liszt, and the world premiere of a new work by Nimrod Borenstein at Westminster Cathedral Hall on Sunday 8th December in a concert. Further details and tickets here
Voted “Solo Instrumental Discovery of the Year” at the Victoires de la Musique in 2005, Pascal Amoyel has established himself over the past few years as a significant personality on the musical scene. His recording of the complete ‘Nocturnes’ of Chopin by Pascal Amoyel has been awarded by the Warszawa Fryderyk Chopin Society within the context of the International Record Competition – Grand Prix du Disque Frédéric Chopin 2010 and in September 2009, the magazine Classica-Le Monde de la musique has considered his recording of the ‘Funérailles’ (Franz Liszt) as one of the 5 best ever.
As a teenager he was profoundly influenced by his encounter with György Cziffra, with whom he studied in France and Hungary for several years.
After receiving a Licence de Concert from the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris, he was awarded Premiers Prix in piano and chamber music at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique in the same city. He was awarded scholarships by the Menuhin and Cziffra Foundations, then won first prize in the Paris International competition for Young Pianists.
He appears as a recitalist and soloist with orchestra in Europe, the United States, Canada, Russia, Japan and China.
His recordings as a duet with Emmanuelle Bertrand or as a soloist have received the most prestigious awards.
Pascal Amoyel is also a composer, laureate 2010 of the Banque Populaire Foundation.
He use to work with Olivier Greif and gave the world première performance, and several works have been dedicated to him, including El Khoury’s Third Sonata and Lemeland’s Piano Concerto.
He is the artistic director of the festival Notes d’Automne, a meeting between Music and Literature, in Le Perreux sur Marne.