Tag Archives: pianist

The Roskell Piano Trio at Sutton House

Heather Tuach (cello), Penelope Roskell (piano) and Colin Scobie (violin)

Following their previous sell-out concerts, the popular Roskell Piano Trio returns to Sutton House, a fine Tudor house in east London, to play trios by Haydn (“Gypsy”) and Schubert (No. 2), alongside works by Bartók and Armenian composers.

All the performers are well known to Sutton House audiences: Heather and Colin in their performances as part of the Fitzwilliam Quartet and Penelope as solo and also chamber pianist.

The Haydn Trio is one of his most popular, with the famous violin virtuoso “Rondo in Gypsy style” as the last movement. This is followed by solos and duos with a similar gypsy or folk theme, including some wonderfully tuneful cello pieces based on Armenian folk tunes that Heather has recorded recently on CD, piano solos by Albeniz, and the Rumanian Dances by Bartok.  The first half in particular is extremely attractive to all ages (and under 26s get in FREE). The second half features the glorious second trio by Schubert, full of lyricism, charm and drama. The soulful slow movement is particularly one to treasure: Heather says she loves it so much she wants it played at her funeral – may that not be for a very long time….

For a short taste of their last concert at Sutton House see http://crosseyedpianist.com/2013/03/19/roskell-piano-trio-at-sutton-house/

Before the concert there will be a FREE tour of Sutton House at 6pm by Richard Griffiths, the architect who restored the house for the National Trust in the 1990s.

Tickets: £10; concessions (proof required) £8; people under 26, disabled people and their carers FREE. Tickets can be purchased online at www.shms.org.uk or by telephone on 07505 609757. Advance booking is recommended for this concert.

The café/bar will be open before and after the concert and during the interval.

Click here for a leaflet for this concert.

 

Meet the Artist……Douglas Finch, composer & pianist


Who or what inspired you to take up composing, and make it your career?

I can’t remember exactly, but I just got more and more into music as a child – hearing my mother play the piano, listening to my parents’ collection of vinyl recordings of Chopin, Beethoven etc., improvising along with my paternal grandmother on the piano: sort of soft jazzy honky-tonk type things. Before I could read music (I started lessons quite late) I would experimentally fill up music paper with random notes and try to get my mother, or my neighbour down the street in Winnipeg to try to play it for me. Eventually I figured out how to make it sound better, and started to be able to play the stuff myself. When I was about nine, I remember announcing at the dinner table to my parents and two sisters that I wanted to become a composer, if not a psychologist, which was my second choice. But I ended up becoming a pianist first.

Who or what were the most significant influences on your musical life and career as a composer?

Though I’m mostly self-taught as a composer, I received encouragement and help from S.C. Eckhardt-Gramatté and Peter-Paul Koprowski, and my musical and aesthetic grounding was greatly influenced by my piano teacher William Aide. My mother introduced me to lots of books when I was young – from ‘Wind in the Willows’ to novels by Joyce Carol Oates. I think this helped me develop creative instincts. Though I never got to meet him, Glenn Gould – with all his individuality and eccentricity – had a profound effect on me growing up. As far as the musical canon is concerned, the inventiveness, depth, and universality of Beethoven’s music grabbed me in my teenage years, and still does. I think of him as the beginning of the modern musical age. My personal interpretation of the term ‘modernism’ is that the individual voice of the composer can deliver ‘truths’ which have a value beyond their fashionability, enjoyability or marketability. There is also J.S. Bach and Mozart, of course, and Schubert, Schumann and Chopin are recurring passions. Of the more recent composers, Bartok, Shostakovich, Ives, Messaien, Xenakis, Weill, (pre-America), Ustwolskaya, Vivier, Feldman, Janacek and Mompou have all offered something special to me. Ronald Stevenson, who I am fortunate to have gotten to know in the last few years, has been an inspiration not just because of his own music (including his masterful Passacaglia on DSCH) but also through his open-mindedness to a wide range of lesser-known music which he’s shared with me – including some wonderful choral folksong arrangements by Percy Grainger.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

As a player, performing Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier Book 2, Ives’ Concord Sonata and Beethoven’s op. 106 ‘Hammerklavier’ Sonata. Those experiences (including the task of memorising) helped develop my imagination and sense of structure – not only for composing, but for improvising. Balancing a career performing and composing has itself been a challenge, and I’m still trying to grapple with that. Improvising, besides being an artistic end in itself, has played a mediating role in this inner conflict. Perhaps one of my biggest challenges as a composer was finishing my first ‘opus’ – a piano sonata – in my last year at Juilliard, when I was also busy entering international competitions as a pianist. It was a kind of act of faith to switch gears in this way and start composing seriously. If my improvisation class teacher hadn’t taken me aside and said to me ‘look, from what I’ve heard you do, I think you should consider becoming a composer’, I may never have taken that plunge. It was the last, and practically the only thing he ever said to me in that class, and I’m still grateful for that. My first film soundtrack (Painted Angels, Jon Sanders dir.1999) scored for chamber orchestra was a similar plunge in the dark – very stressful yet exhilarating. From a curatorial perspective, the few festivals I’ve organised posed different challenges – perhaps the most hair-raising being the biggest ever Frederic Rzewski retrospective ever mounted – the first day beginning with the first (and only?) complete performance of his solo piano work ‘The Road’, lasting ten hours. His big compliment to me at the end of the two weeks was to say I was ‘one of the crazy people’.

What are the special challenges/pleasures of working on a commissioned piece?

I haven’t had many commissions, but I particularly enjoy it when there is an element of collaboration. My Viola Concerto (Night Love Song) which was premiered in Toronto last year had two collaborative angles – firstly, working directly with Rivka Golani developing the viola part and secondly working with musical and historical/mythical material from the Blackfoot – specifically the ‘Blood’ tribe in Alberta.

What are the special challenges/pleasures of working with particular musicians, singers, ensembles and orchestras?

Well, Rivka who I just mentioned was (and is) very inspiring. I also recently worked with a young Canadian pianist, now studying in Germany, Everett Hopfner who played my Preludes and Afterthoughts – fantasy-transcriptions on Chopin’s Preludes op. 28 across Canada after winning the É-Gré Competition in Brandon – Canada’s most important competition for contemporary music. To feel such enthusiasm and empathy from a young performer just starting out in his career is something that really lifts the spirit. I guess these are the positive experiences, which I tend to remember and look forward to. What I can find a bit difficult to deal with at times is when performers don’t try to read between the notes on the page – to go beyond the score and ‘interpret it’, which is after all what performers are meant to do!

Which works are you most proud of?

Usually the one I’ve just finished – in this case Three Chorales for piano (which Aleksander Szram will be recording next year as part of a CD of some of my piano and chamber music). I just hope that I can keep developing.

Do you have a favourite concert venue?

I’ve never thought about that much. But one of the worst, I think, was a place that used to be called the ‘Communist Club’ in Warsaw. I played a concert there on an abominable piano in 1980 during the Chopin Competition. I was told afterwards that Richter had just come to town a couple of weeks earlier and asked to give an impromptu recital there. That humbled me!

Who are your favourite musicians/composers?

I mentioned some earlier, but out of the myriad musicians I admire, I’ll also say Rudolph Serkin and Sergiu Celibidace.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

Hearing Jesse Norman sing Wagner’s Liebestod and Strauss’ Four Last Songs with an orchestra in London, Ontario when I was about 19. It wasn’t just the singing, which was overwhelming enough, but her stage-presence, and the magisterial slowness of her entrance.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

Try to be open-minded. Opinions are easy to form, and aren’t worth much. But you also have to learn discernment. This might seem paradoxical, but there is a fine balance required – the kind of thing that Zen philosophy seems to be dealing with.

Be generous to others, and as far as possible disinterested in your dealings – doing things for the betterment of the art of music and society rather than entirely for your own career. I think James MacMillan shows an admirably healthy attitude in his interview for this series when he says he never thought of music as a ‘career’.

What are you working on at the moment?

A piece for erhu (a 2-stringed Chinese ‘violin’) and piano for a Canadian duo.

Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?

Somewhere where I could experience both solitude and friendship in equal measure.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Solitude and friendship. And, more specifically, lying on a nice quiet beach somewhere with my wife and two daughters.

What is your most treasured possession?

Music.

What do you enjoy doing most?

Making music.

What is your present state of mind?

Tired, happy and just a little uneasy

Douglas Finch was born in Winnipeg, Canada, and began improvising, composing and performing on the piano from an early age with the help of his mother. He later continued studying with Winnifred Sim, Jean Broadfoot and at the University of Western Ontario with William Aide. After receiving a Masters from Juilliard in New York under Beveridge Webster, Douglas won several awards and was a finalist at the Queen Elisabeth International Piano Competition in Brussels.

After moving to London, he co-founded The Continuum Ensemble in 1994 and has collaborated in premiering many new works. He appears regularly with the ensemble at the Spitalfields and other Festivals and at the Southbank Centre, featuring composers such as Julian Anderson, Georges Aperghis, Henri Dutilleux, Charles Ives, Claude Vivier, Errollyn Wallen, Iannis Xenakis and many others.

He has composed for piano, chamber ensemble, orchestra, theatre and film and his score for the feature film ‘Painted Angels’ , was described in The Independent as ‘an extraordinary triumph of artistic will’.

Interview date: November 2013

Paul Badura-Skoda at St John’s, Smith Square

Paul Badura-Skoda (Photo @ DR)
Saturday 10th May, 2014 – St John’s, Smith Square, London
Chopin
Waltzes – A minor, Op.34/2, C sharp minor, Op.64/2, D flat, Op.64/1; Nocturne, op. posth., Four Mazurkas, op. 30, Barcarolle, op. 60
Schubert
Impromptu in B-flat D935 No. 3 ‘Rosamunde Variations’

Sonata in B-flat D960

The words “great” and “world class” are all too frequently bandied about in reviews and articles about musicians (and artists and writers too). But how does one truly define these over-used descriptions? If “greatness” comes from a life spent living with, and performing and writing about, some of the finest music ever written, forming a profound relationship with it and its composers, understanding with intimate detail its structures and nuances, then Paul Badura-Skoda is a living example of this.

Paul Badura-Skoda is a pianist I have long wanted to hear live. I was aware of him more as a respected pedagogue, writer on music and editor of works by Mozart, Beethoven and Chopin and others. My teacher frequently refers to him, I have met pianists who have studied with him, and I have listened to some of his recordings (including his latest in which he plays Schubert’s final sonata on three different pianos) with interest and curiosity.

His concert at St John’s Smith Square was an opportunity for me and my companion for the evening (a fellow pianist) to share a unique musical experience – and one which will resonate with us for a long time to come. To attempt to “review” the playing, the pianism, the musical understanding and insight of such a master would be churlish.

Badura-Skoda created a special and intimate soundworld and atmosphere from the opening notes of the bittersweet A minor Waltz to the life-affirming closing cadence of Schubert’s final Piano Sonata, a place where generosity of spirit and good humour ruled, a place of great intimacy, as if we had been invited into his own musical salon for the evening. Of course, Paul Badura-Skoda is steeped in that particular European tradition of music-making, and his teacher, Edwin Fischer, connects him to an earlier golden age of music making and culture.

Despite his age (86), Badura-Skoda cuts a sprightly figure (compare his twinkling eyes and brisk gait with the frailer Maurizio Pollini at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in April, who is more than 10 years Badura-Skoda’s junior) and displayed an obvious pleasure in being at St John’s Smith Square. And if there were some smeared notes and uncertain rhythms, the overall effect was of a musician who has lived with this music for many years and whose knowledge and understanding allowed the music to speak for itself, free of ego and unnecessary gestures.

Before the Sonata in B flat, D960, Paul Badura-Skoda said a few words about the piece, how he regarded it as Schubert’s “farewell” (it was completed less than two months before the composer’s death in 1828), and how the sublime opening theme suggests the words of a hymn or prayer. The first movement had a spacious serenity in the main theme, and the range of colours and nuances which Badura-Skoda brought to the music shone a new light on a familiar work for me: for example, the bass trills were voiced differently each time which gave them a greater resonance and sense of foreboding, and the exposition repeat was observed. The slow movement’s ominous tread was relieved by a middle section of great warmth. The third movement bubbled with all the exuberance of a mountain stream, the darker Trio hardly interrupting the mood, while the finale had drive and energy coupled with wit and humour, despite one or two uneven moments. This was an engaging and entirely satisfying performance, which was met, deservedly, in my opinion, with a standing ovation.

Meet the Artist……Vatche Jambazian

Who or what inspired you to take up the piano, and make it your career? 

I cannot pin point where the inspiration came from, I guess I was just very passionate and still am about the piano.

Who or what were the most important influences on your musical life and career? 

My first teacher, Edvin Alamshah, who was a former student of Arturo Michelangeli, was a huge influence in my younger days.  But I think the greatest influences are the great composers, and great music.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far? 

I like to think of the challenges more like journeys; however I think for most pianists the greatest challenges are communication.  Once you have the ability to communicate with your audience you have overcome one of the greatest challenges.

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?  

I haven’t recorded a CD yet but I have made many videos for YouTube and radio broadcasts. I think my favourite performances/recordings have to be the Scriabin and Janáček piano works.

Which particular works do you think you play best? 

It depends on how the coffee tastes in the morning!  There is no work I think of in that way, each piece of music has a soul and its own personality which breathes like we do, and on many occasions I’ve been proven wrong with a work I thought I could play best. However, Janáček sits very closely to me and agrees with me.

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season? 

By reading lots and lots of music and seeing what speaks to me. I never listen to recordings to make these decisions.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why? 

I have to say the Sydney Conservatorium of Music Verbrugghen Hall. It has lots of memories and a huge acoustic which fits my personality on stage.

Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?  

I absolutely adore Haydn and all of his works, and I have so much fun with him while I perform.

Who are your favourite musicians? 

Really don’t have favourites, just very open/honest interpretation from many musicians young and old.

What is your most memorable concert experience? 

I think my most memorable was a recital where I performed lots of Galina Ustvolskaya’s chamber works. She was a student of Shostakovich.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians? 

My friends and colleagues will laugh at this, but I always believe you must spend more time outside your practice room, meet people, go to concerts, classic or not, drink lots of whisky and take it easy.  I am not saying you should never practice – it’s very important: however some people really lose the sight of how it really is in real life. Spending 8-9 hours in a practice room can get very lonely: how are you supposed to communicate with people on stage when you can’t do that in real life?

What are you working on at the moment? 

I am working on the complete works of Janáček to perform and record in 2015.

Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time? 

Where I am now, happy and healthy.

What is your idea of perfect happiness? 

Where I don’t feel happy 24 hours of the day.

What is your most treasured possession? 

My piano scores

What do you enjoy doing most? 

Eating

What is your present state of mind? 

Panic (about to start teaching)

Vatche Jambazian performs works by Shostakovich, Mozart and Ustvolskaya at the 1901 Arts Club on Friday 16th May as part of the South London Concert Series. This concert is now **sold out**. Details of future South London Concert Series events here

Vatche Jambazian recently completed his BMus at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and is now based in London performing many recitals in the UK and abroad. He has been a prizewinner in many international piano competitions such as The Russian Music Piano Competition in San Jose and the Australian National Piano Award. He is a highly dedicated piano teacher who aims to bring enjoyment as well as discipline to the lessons.

Vatche has recently been appointed Ambassador for the Commonwealth Piano Foundation.

The Practice of Practising

An interesting programme broadcast on BBC Radio Three in which concert pianist Stephen Hough talks about the activity of practising, memory, how to balance perfection in practise with a sense of “letting go” in performance, and much more. With contributions from Nicola Benedetti, Joyce Di Donato, and Julian Bream. Many interesting insights from top international artists which have relevance to musicians of all levels.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03lzrsk

 

 

Meet the Artist……Christopher Guild, pianist

Christopher Guild, pianist

Who or what inspired you to take up the piano, and make it your career? 

Not my family, initially, although to their great credit my parents were always entirely supportive of me in any of my aspirations – and still are.  A dear friend of the family, who lived round the corner from us at the time, was a great classical music lover and had a piano in her home.  It was she who incited in me a real interest in classical music.

I had already begun to play the violin at my local primary school (this was by the time I was 8 years old), and she was getting in to the habit of practicing with me every day after school for 20 minutes.   I remember being allowed to play on the piano for 10 minutes after my violin practice every day, and chatting to this lady about classical music: she was from Berlin, and I remember her enthusing me about the great German composers, mainly Schumann and Beethoven.  Eventually I asked my Mum if I could start having piano lessons, and so they began in Elgin, the town of my birth, in 1995.

Years passed until I found myself in my third year at St Mary’s Music School in Edinburgh, working hard at the violin and keeping the piano ticking over although not taking it that seriously despite a recent victory at the Moray Piano Competition.  Something happened around this time and I suddenly realised I couldn’t stand the prospect of making the violin my career – although I still maintain I had a real flair for the instrument and indeed could have succeeded as a session musician, I never found it that comfortable to play and I always felt a deeper connection with the piano.  Somehow the piano suited me better: it seemed a more ‘independent’ instrument, you had total command of the music you were playing (I remember my teacher at the time, Margaret Wakeford, counselling me to ‘be your own conductor!’ when I played), and on the whole I much preferred the repertoire.  It promised me a greater deal artistically, even if the career path was to be more precarious.

Who or what were the most important influences on your playing? 

There are many people and many things, but one of the most important people has been Andrew Ball, whom I studied with at the Royal College of Music (London) for six consecutive years.  It was his open-mindedness, his way of thinking about music and indeed his great knowledge of just about everything which has steered me in to becoming who I am artistically.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far? 

I suppose this might be commonplace among all music college graduates in their mid-twenties, but it is the combination of attempting to make ends meet, whilst pursuing my artistic ambitions, and maintaining my artistic integrity in all that I do.  Keeping up my standards of playing amidst a hectic life of teaching, rehearsing, performing and of course those interminable periods spent on trains is certainly a challenge!

Which performances are you most proud of?  

Tricky!  I have to say that some of my recitals as a student tend to stand out: I’m proud that I performed works by Elliott Carter and Stockhausen in the same recital, for instance, and that I felt completely involved in the music.  Also, performances I gave of Reubke’s magnificent Piano Sonata in B-flat two years ago, a piece which has come to mean a lot to me.  More recently, playing the Bach Keyboard Concerto in D minor with Sian Edwards in Milton Keynes in 2012 was extremely memorable.  And of course, playing as part of my duo at our Wigmore Hall debut in November 2012 was very special.  Being in the green room before stepping on stage was something in itself, just looking at all the signed photos of so many of ‘the greats’ gazing down on you makes you realise just what a privilege it is to be performing in that hall.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in? 

Favourites so far in my career have been: Wigmore Hall, for the acoustic (it’s perfect, that’s it).  There have been a few stately homes and churches that were very comfortable to play in too.  I really enjoyed the Pump Room in Bath

Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to? 

Ask me in ten minutes and I’ll have changed my mind!  These days I’m gravitating largely towards British Music.  I have a real ‘thing’ for the Bridge Piano Sonata, the three Elgar chamber works too.  The music of Kevin Volans interests me currently.  As a performer, I strongly hope to get back in to contemporary music next season.  It sounds trite, I suppose, but any music with a truly strong and vital message will surely grab me.

Who are your favourite musicians? 

Glenn Gould, for his individuality, his refusal to compromise his artistic vision and integrity – I think that’s a very important thing.  Whenever I hear piano rolls, or old records, of the now lost age of pianists I come away feeling totally inspired.  I recently bought an LP of a piano roll of Moritz Rosenthal and some of the playing is mindblowing!

What is your most memorable concert experience? 

There are many, but sometimes how people react to a performance I’ve given is what makes a concert particularly memorable.  For example, after performing at the Dorking Halls in Surrey last season, a Russian lady came up to me in the foyer and gave me a little matrioska doll, as a way of saying ‘thank you’ for my performance of Scriabin’s Sonata No. 3.  She was visibly moved (slightly choked), and it was the way she did it  anonymously too which made the experience so potent.  I keep the matroyshka on the bookshelves next to my piano: it reminds me of music’s power to enhance peoples lives, its possibilities, its importance.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians? 

Keep an open mind!  You’re about to enter a field which is enormously competitive, a lot of people will be striving for the same goals.  It pays to think outside the box a little.  Try never to turn down opportunities, even if they seem irrelevant to your interests: I’ve pursued paths I never dreamt of pursuing (or particularly wanted to pursue), and I ended up with quite a few great concerts, or jobs, that I would never have got otherwise.  And never lose sight of your artistic goals.  Above all, have fun!

What are you working on at the moment?

The biggest project this year has been preparing the vast majority of Ronald Center’s piano music for recording.  Ronald Center (1913-73) was an Aberdonian composer whose music has been incredibly neglected both during his lifetime and since his death. Aside from this, I’m preparing quite a lot of duo repertoire, namely works with violin – Sonatas by Grieg, Haydn, Hindemith and Janacek – and works with oboe – Sonatas by Poulenc and Dutilleux.

What is your present state of mind? 

Positive!

Christopher Guild’s new recording of piano music by Ronald Center is available now on the Toccata Classics label. Further details including sample sound clips here

Born in Elgin in 1986 and brought up on Speyside, Christopher Guild studied piano and violin locally before entering St Mary’s Music School, Edinburgh aged 13.  He returned to Morayshire one year later to take top honours in the Moray Piano Competition – a victory which sees him as the youngest ever winner to this day. 

Christopher entered the Royal College of Music in 2005 as a Foundation Scholar, and remained there under the tutelage of Andrew Ball until 2011, successfully gaining a First Class BMus (Hons), and the MMus and Artist Diploma’s with Distinction.  He now combines a busy schedule as a performer with extensive work as a teacher, and coaches students at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance where he is the Richard Carne Junior Fellow in Performance.

Christopher Guild acknowledges the following organisations for their invaluable support to his studies at the RCM: Dewar Arts Awards, the Robertson Scholarship Trust, the Alistair Maclachlan Memorial Trust, the Cross Trust, The Royal Caledonian Schools Trust, the Hope Scott Trust, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Sir James Caird Travelling Scholarships Trust, the RCM Foundation, a Michael Whittaker Scholarship, and an Ian Fleming Award Award administered by the Musician’s Benevolent Fund. 


Christopher Guild’s full biography here

Christopher Guild’s Facebook fan page

Meet the Artist……Amit Yahav

Who or what inspired you to take up the piano, and make it your career?

There was a piano in the house ever since before I was born. It was my mother’s; she had played the piano as a young girl, and still plays the piano as a hobby occasionally today. It was a brown upright piano, which her grandfather had purchased for her. I have loved music for as long as I have memories, and have always enjoyed playing the piano. When I was slightly older and more advanced, my teacher at the time, Oscar Cano, explained to my parents that I needed a better instrument in order to make further progress. It was around the times that my parents bought a grand piano that they were able to afford, and I started going to watch concerts at the Concertgebouw (I grew up in Amsterdam) that I remember thinking, I want to be on that stage.

Who or what were the most important influences on your playing?

The greatest influences on my playing have been three of my teachers: in no particular order, the late Yonty Solomon, Oscar Cano, Mikhail Kazakevich and Niel Immelman. Most of what I know about playing the piano I learnt from these four great pianists.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

The music profession is one that requires a lot of persistence, and a great deal of determination. From performing and recording to teaching, almost everything in music is a challenge. For me it has always been a question of finding a new approach to learning a passage, or to explaining something to a student, etc.

The fact that classical music is being somewhat pushed aside in favour of other forms of music means that we keep being challenged to keep this century-old tradition alive, and to keep it relevant.

Which performances/compositions/recordings are you most proud of?

In June 2012, I played my Artist Diploma recital at the Royal College of Music. The programme included two Beethoven sonatas (“Moonlight” and “Appassionata”), as well as the Liszt Dante Sonata and Chopin’s G Minor Ballade. This mammoth programme, without a break, was a performance of which I was very proud.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in?

Every performance venue is different. I very much enjoyed playing in the Kleine Zaal of Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, the the Felicja Blumental Hall in Tel Aviv, and in the Purcell Room in London. I am generally more preoccupied with the instrument than with the hall. I love playing in locations that are more intimate, because I feel that I can then really communicate with everyone in the audience.

Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?

This is difficult. There are so many! I really enjoy playing Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, the Liszt Sonata, Beethoven’s “Appassionata” and his Fourth Concerto, so many things by Chopin, Saint-Saëns’s G Minor Concerto… Like I said, there are so many!

Who are your favourite musicians?

I love listening to Radu Lupu and Grigory Sokolov playing live. Of those pianists who are no longer alive, I really love many of Arrau’s recordings, as well as those of

Gilels’s and Richter’s. One of the pianists whose recordings I really admire is Julius Katchen. For some unknown reason, despite being quite a well-known name during his life, he seems to have been somewhat forgotten of late.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

I remember watching the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra under Zubin Mehta at the BBC Proms. It was a dreadful experience, in a way, because people with political affiliations made great efforts to try and stop the concert and interrupt it in the middle. The orchestra, however, played all the way to the end. For me, it was a sort of affirmation of the power of music, and how it is above political divisions.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

I think that good practice habits are crucial. Learning how to practise efficiently can dramatically reduce the amount of time one needs to spend practising a given passage. This has two important implications. Firstly, it allows one to learn a greater amount of repertoire, and to learn works quickly. I had to learn Beethoven’s Fourth Concerto in 4 weeks once. Secondly, the risk of repetitive strain injuries is reduced if one doesn’t need to spend 8 hours a day practising.

What are you working on at the moment?

Bach – C Minor Partita

Chopin – Polonaises op. 26, Concerto in F Minor op.21

Liszt – Transcendental Etude in F Minor (no. 10)

What do you enjoy doing most?

I love it when I get the time and the chance to learn something new. Preparing a new work for performance or recording is, for me, the ultimate journey of discovery.

Amit Yahav performs at St James, Piccadilly on Monday 14th October. Further details here

Recipient of numerous international scholarships and awards, Amit Yahav is a graduate of the Royal College of Music with distinction. Following his distinction on the Master of Music course, he was invited to participate in the RCM’s exclusive Artist Diploma programme under the tutelage of Prof. Niel Immelman and Prof. Vanessa Latarche, from which he also graduated with distinction. Previously, he had studied in London with the legendary Prof. Yonty Solomon and Prof. Mikhail Kazakevich, and in Amsterdam with Oscar Cano and Marjès Benoist.

Amit Yahav’s full biography

www.amityahav.com

Meet the Artist……Nadav Hertzka

Nadav Hertzka

Who or what inspired you to take up the piano and make it your career?

There was always music in my family, my father played the cello as a boy and my sister played piano for a few years. It was never a conscious decision to make it a career, more of a realisation that this is what I wanted to do with my life. I don’t want to sound too naïve, but I still view it that way.

Who or what are the most important influences on your playing?

In a way, the early influences are the most important ones, so I still consider the first recording I’ve heard of Murray Perahia as the single most powerful influence on my playing.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

There are lots of imperfect pianos out there, flight delays, last minute repertoire changes, etc. The main challenge is to have the right approach and try to make the best out of every situation.

Tell me about your new recording. How did you find the recording experience?

I feel very lucky, I’ve had a gorgeous Fazioli and an incredible team to work with. I’ve been in a studio many times before, but Henry Wood Hall felt different of course, a place with such rich history of recordings. At first you’re very aware of the situation, but once you let go it’s really just you and the music, and that’s a beautiful feeling.

I hear there is a second recording coming up in 2014?

Yes, I’m already hard at work. Very exciting repertoire, and it also gives me a chance to work with both my teachers again, Arie Vardi and Christopher Elton, so I’m very happy about that as well.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in?

I’ve performed several times in Wigmore Hall now and each time is special. So that’s probably my favourite.

Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?

Anything by Schubert, really. I hope that doesn’t sound too simplistic.

Which performances/compositions/recordings are you most proud of?

Well, I don’t compose, but I did write a few Cadenzas to some Mozart Concerti. Not proud enough I guess, in the end I’ve always played the original Mozart cadenza.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

Playing Mozart’s “Coronation” Concerto, and from the first note everything just clicked, it all fell into place straight away. That’s very rare.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

I think the most important thing is to understand the language, how music is written. There’s a strange Schenkerian consensus among too many people I think, that no one seems to question. To impose this method on every piece, every composer, is precisely to miss the point. It also goes without saying that one should be familiar with as much repertoire as possible, especially the kind you don’t find appealing at first.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m preparing for some concerts, playing Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet for the first time, as well as some new Liszt and Debussy. I’m also premièring a new work by Freya Waley-Cohen, titled “Five Breaths”.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

I don’t know about “perfect”, but in one way or another it would include a David Aaronovitch piece, defending free expression and democratic values, a Mahler Symphony and most likely some Baklavas to go with my Turkish coffee.

Nadav Hertzka performs in the “Pietre Che Cantano” international Festival in Rocca di Mezzo, Italy.

Nadav’s Tchaikovsky disc (Skarbo) is available now from Amazon, iTunes and other retailers.

Israeli pianist Nadav Hertzka has performed throughout the United States, Europe and Asia in major venues such as Carnegie Weill Hall, Wigmore Hall, Kings Place, Shanghai Conservatory, and Avery Fisher Hall. His festival appearances include the Mostly Mozart Festival in Lincoln Center, the Beethoven Festival in Israel and the Mozart Festival in Malta, as well as engagements in China, Russia, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, England and Scotland.

Mr. Hertzka made his orchestral debut at age 14 with the Haifa Symphony Orchestra, and has since worked with conductors Trevor Pinnock, Yi-An Xu, Mendi Rodan, Ishay Steckler, Eliezer Hachiti and Talia Ilan among others. He was featured on Radio and Television, including BBC3 and BBC Scotland. Winner of many international prizes and awards, including the Pinault Society International Piano Competition in New-York, the Frank Peleg and Ben-Haim competitions in Israel, the Rubin Academy Piano Prize, The Daniel Howard Trust Award, the Carlton House Award, and Howard de Walden Award. He is also a winner of the America-Israel Cultural Foundation Scholarship Competition, and has won scholarships in both Piano and Chamber Music.

Born in Tel-Aviv in 1986, Mr. Hertzka began his studies at age seven with Mrs. Nina Tansky. In 1996, he continued his studies with Mrs. Hadassah Gonen at the Israeli Conservatory of Music. He received his BMus Degree from the Tel-Aviv Rubin Academy as a student of Prof. Arie Vardi, and his MA Degree with Mr. Christopher Elton at the Royal Academy of Music, London.

The Beethoven Piano Concerto Project

It has long been my ambition to perform all 5 Beethoven Concertos in one evening, and it is great to be able to do this in a concert in aid of the Musicians Benevolent Fund. This charity has done so much over many decades to support musicians who have fallen into difficulties of one sort or another and provides invaluable scholarship money to talented students. The icing on the cake is that this will happen in my old Alma Mater, the RNCM in its 40th anniversary year, with an orchestra comprising many of its students past and present, with the very talented young conductor Daniel Parkinson. (Martin Roscoe)

All five piano concertos in one evening, performed by Martin Roscoe, one of the UK’s most acclaimed and versatile pianists, and conducted by Daniel Parkinson, together with an introduction by John Suchet. This promises to be a marathon feast of music, culminating in Beethoven’s Fifth ‘Emperor’ Concerto in the final concert at 9pm. By presenting all the concertos in a single day, audience members attending all three concerts will be offered a unique window on Beethoven’s creative life, and insights into the evolution of the piano concerto in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, from the youthful post-Haydn Nos. 1 and 2, through the No. 4, which marked a major turning point in the development of the concerto with the piano entering before the orchestra, to the sweeping proto-Romantic and virtuosic No, 5, the ‘Emperor’.

The concerts take place at the Royal Northern College of Music on 5th October, from 5pm, and tickets are available now. For further information, please visit the Beethoven Piano Concerto Project website: www.beethovenpianoconcertos.co.uk

I recently interviewed conductor Daniel Parkinson for my Meet the Artist series. Read his interview here.

BeethovenPCP A5 FLYER1

Meet the Artist……Clare Hammond

Clare Hammond (image credit Julie Kim)

Who or what inspired you to take up the piano and make it your career?

I was given piano lessons for my sixth birthday. My mother had always wanted to learn but had never had the chance so she was keen that I had the opportunity. I enjoyed the lessons, but didn’t consider making a career of music until I was 8 and was taken to an orchestral concert at the Royal Centre in Nottingham. I can’t remember which orchestra I heard now, unfortunately, but I was absolutely swept away by the music and decided then and there that I wanted to be a pianist. Of course, I had no idea then what this would entail, but the seed had been sown!

Who or what are the most important influences on your playing?

I think it’s important as a musician to be open to all sorts of influences so I couldn’t really point to any dominant strains in my playing. I try to listen to as many live performances and recordings as possible, and also to take what I can from observing theatre, dance and even sport. I enjoy teaching and learn a great deal both from explaining things in novel ways to my students and from the phrases they use to articulate their problems or thoughts to me.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

I spend a great deal of time working by myself and have found, as a result, that the greatest challenge of my career is to maintain perspective. It’s very easy to be thrown off course temporarily by minor setbacks and I sometimes feel that there is so much to achieve, in such a short space of time, that it can be extremely daunting.

What are the particular challenges/excitements of working with an orchestra/ensemble?

I adore working with orchestras and ensembles as it’s such a pleasure to be able to react to somebody else’s sound. You are forced to collaborate in real time, which is both risky and incredibly exciting. It’s easier to track the emotional and psychological development of a work when you’re not solely responsible for it, or at least it’s less exhausting to sustain!

Which recordings are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of my debut album, ‘Piano Polyptych’, which is a collection of contemporary piano music by British composers. It was quite a strain to learn all the repertoire in time for the recording, especially as much of it is extremely complex, but I have had so many opportunities as a result of the project. It was a particular pleasure to collaborate with the composers. It’s a completely different experience when you’re working on music by living composers as they can tell you exactly what kind of sound they’re aiming for. It brings an element of dialogue into what can otherwise be a very solitary pursuit.

Do you have a favourite concert venue?

I’ve performed in a number of venues with wonderful acoustics, but my principal concern when playing in concert is the quality of the piano. Recently, the best that I’ve encountered was at St George’s Hall in Bristol. Their newer Steinway is extremely responsive and has a very pure, glowing tone, supported admirably by the acoustic of the hall itself.

Who are your favourite musicians?

Personally or musically? In either case, I’m not sure I can answer this question. I know so many wonderful musicians who have so much to offer that to place them in any kind of order would be impossible!

What is your most memorable concert experience?

My most memorable experience of performing was not for an official concert per se but at my parents-in-law’s house. My father-in-law is a vicar and I gave a recital for a music society near to his parish a few months ago. Several of his parishioners were keen to hear me but couldn’t make it to the recital so we arranged a coffee concert the following morning. I performed on an upright piano in their front room, surrounded by about 12 people many of whom had never been to a classical music concert before. I’m not sure if it was due to the intimacy of the venue, or the fact that I knew many of these people personally, but I felt that my playing was at its most communicative. I now try to recreate that, with varying levels of success, in larger halls!

What is your favourite music to play? To listen to?

Again, I can’t give a specific answer to this question. Different works or styles of music are suitable for different occasions and express wildly varying emotions. In fact, one of things I love about being a pianist is the breadth of the repertoire. However hard you work, you can never learn everything that has been written for the piano so there are always new horizons to strive towards.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians/students?

I’ve found that the most important skill in teaching is to be able to tailor what you’re trying to explain to the particular skills and aptitudes of the student. Of course, there is a broad ‘syllabus’ of concepts that you need to communicate to students depending on the level that they’re currently at, but you also need to draw out what is individual and unique about them as a person. When I was studying with Ronan O’Hora, at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, I had the impression that he never taught two students in the same way. First, you have to understand the student as a personality, and then you can start teaching them music.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve been working on Piani, Latebre by Piers Hellawell, whose Das Leonora Notenbuch and Basho I recorded as part of ‘Piano Polyptych’. Piani, Latebre was commissioned by the pianist William Howard who premiered it at the Spitalfields Festival in 2010. I performed it as part of my inaugural recital as Artist-in-Residence at Queen’s University Belfast on 11th October 2012. My programme also included two pieces, Portrait and Spring Fantasy, by the Northern-Irish composer, Hamilton Harty, which have only recently been discovered. It’s quite exciting to give a world premiere of pieces which were written nearly 80 years ago!

What is your present state of mind?

Calm, on the whole, and drowsy. I’ve just eaten an enormous meal and the resulting haze of contentedness is impeding my ability to think clearly…

Acclaimed by The Daily Telegraph as a pianist of “amazing power and panache”, Clare Hammond has performed across Europe, Russia and Canada and has appeared recently at the Wigmore and Barbican Halls in London and the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. Her Purcell Room debut for the Park Lane Group concert series was praised by The Guardian for its “crisp precision and unflashy intelligence”.

A passionate advocate of twentieth and twenty-first century music, Clare combines a formidable technique and virtuosic flair onstage with stylistic integrity and attention to detail. Since her debut with orchestra at the age of eleven, she has acquired a concerto repertoire of over 20 works which she has performed at major venues across the UK and on the continent. Solo engagements have included recitals in concert series and festivals across Britain, in France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Denmark and Russia.

Clare Hammond’s full biography

Recordings, film clips and an interview at www.clarehammond.com/recordings.html

Forthcoming concerts:

Monday 24 June, City of London Festival

Saxton – Chacony for left hand alone; Bach-Brahms – Chaconne in D minor, transcribed for left hand; Harty – Portrait, Spring Fantasy; Sibelius – Five Pieces for Piano, Op. 75 “The Trees”; Saxton – Hortus Musicae (world premiere)

Tickets and further information here

Further information at www.clarehammond.com/concerts.html