Who or what inspired you to take up the piano and make it your career?
There are no musicians in my family but we always had a piano at home (my mother played as a hobby pianist) and my older sister was also having lessons, so I started playing as soon as I could climb onto a piano stool. I didn’t decide to become a professional pianist until quite late – I was 16 when I was in professional environment for the first time at Chetham’s School of Music and knew this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Who or what were the most important influences on your musical life and career?
My most important influence in my musical life was definitely my time at the Royal College of Music. I really feel that I met many of the most important people in my life today there and that I found myself as musician, pianist and person in the seven years I studied at the RCM for.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
I think the greatest ongoing challenge for a musician is to be able to accept that each piece of music you choose to play is a life-long work. You will never be entirely content with what you have achieved at the time or when you come off stage. You always strive for something better – but in a way, it’s also the beauty of music making.
Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?
My debut album for the label KNS Classical is very exciting. I recorded a disc with two major works by Schumann (Sonata No.3 and ‘Davidsbündlertänze’) which are both very special to me.
Which particular works do you think you play best?
I can identify myself most with the German Romantic repertoire. I always felt that the music by Brahms and Schumann were very innate in me. But I also enjoy playing many works by Liszt and much of the Russian repertoire. I have been able to explore much of this with my professor and long-term mentor Dmitri Alexeev.
How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?
I tend to have long-term projects for the next few years and I usually combine these with my current interests. I always think that coherence or an inner connection of works in a recital programme is very important.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
I don’t necessarily have one favourite concert hall but one of my favourites is definitely the Laeiszhalle in Hamburg. It’s a beautiful hall with a wonderful acoustic and it brings back great memories as Hamburg is the city where I spent most of my childhood.
Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?
Currently works by Schumann and Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto. I always love working on every programme I choose for each season. For listening it’s perhaps slightly different – I tend not to listen to that much piano music. I mainly listen to orchestral and chamber music and operas. I do occasionally enjoy listening to Jazz as well.
Who are your favourite musicians?
Many great artists from the past have given me much inspiration over the years, it’s impossible to list all of them but there are a few that I would single out: Furtwängler, Edwin Fischer, Sofronitsky, Kempff to name a few.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
The most memorable concert I have experienced was a piano recital by Radu Lupu in Brighton where his rendition of Schubert’s Sonata in A D959 was beyond description..…
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
First and foremost, to choose music as a career for the right reasons – one must love music to the extend that you could not live without it. Being creative, imaginative and respectful towards the music you are playing.
Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?
Having the freedom to combine concertizing, teaching and family life.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
To lead a harmonious life where I can enjoy music and family life to the full.
Caterina Grewe’s debut solo album of piano music by Robert Schumann is available now on the KNS Classical label. More information
German-Japanese Pianist Caterina Grewe, born in Tokyo in April 1988, has performed to great critical acclaim throughout the UK and continental Europe as a Steinway Artist.
More about Caterina here