Who or what inspired you to take up the piano, and pursue a career in music?
I come from a musical home, both of my parents are piano teachers. Music was everywhere around me when I was growing up.
You are also a composer and a visual artist. Can you explain the connection between your music and visual art?
I’m a pianist who composes and paints. There are many parallels between visual art and music – tonalities, colours, textures, form/structure, proportions. One art form feeds the other. I’ve been drawing since I can remember myself. In recent years I’ve been creating a lot of digital art on my iPad. I also use the iPad to read music.
Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?
I was fortunate to have wonderful teachers. First, when I moved to Israel I studied with Arie Vardi; then with Seymour Lipkin and Claude Frank at the Curtis Institute of Music. They formed my musical understanding. Later on, András Schiff was very instrumental to my development. But perhaps the biggest influences are the personalities of the composers whose music I’m playing at the moment.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
Finding mental space in the midst of traveling and playing a lot of different repertoire at the same time.
Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?
I don’t think too much about past performances.
Which particular works do you think you play best?
It’s difficult to be objective about what I play best. I love many things and I have a big and eclectic repertoire, ranging from Couperin to pieces that I commission. I would say that right now I feel very connected to the music of Haydn and Schumann.
How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?
The process of putting together a recital programme is fascinating and at the same time can be quite daunting. The possibilities are huge. Firstly, I play music that I love and feel connected to. For example, at the moment I’m quite obsessed with Haydn. I’m working on 24 Haydn sonatas for the Lammermuir Festival in September. It is an enormous amount of work. This informed the last season, in which I programmed a different Haydn sonata in each of my recitals. I try to have a thread in my programs. It can be a thematic thread or motivic one.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
I’ve played in many beautiful halls in Europe and in the USA. It is hard to choose one, but if I had to it would probably be Wigmore Hall. It is just such a gorgeous and intimate place to make music.
Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?
To perform: anything by Haydn, Beethoven Opus 101, Stravinsky’s Petrushka, Rachmaninov and Prokofiev concertos.
To listen to: Sibelius symphonies, Mozart operas, Bach cantatas.
Who are your favourite musicians?
Bartok, Rachmaninov, Edwin Fischer, Schnabel, Szigeti, Furtwangler, Harnoncourt, Carlos Kleiber, Radu Lupu, Murray Perahia.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
András Schiff playing Goldberg and Diabelli Variations, and Opus 111 for an encore.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
Be patient and know your priorities in whatever you do.
Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?
Wherever life takes me.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Being outside, either in the woods or the mountains.
What is your most treasured possession?
The present moment.
What do you enjoy doing most?
What is your present state of mind?
Roman Rabinovich will be Artist in Residence at Lammermuir Festival, taking place from 9 to 18 September 2016 in East Lothian, Scotland. Alongside his concert series of 25 of Haydn’s piano sonatas, there will be an exhibition of Roman’s artwork. All of this art will be created especially for the project via iPad, inspired by Haydn and his music, and projected onto the wall. For further information about Roman, his art and performances at Lammermuir Festival, please visit his website: http://www.romanrabinovich.net