Who or what inspired you to take up the piano and pursue a career in music?
It was an coincidence that I took up the piano. But later I chose independently to pursue a career as a musician, because I noticed that nothing other than making
music made me feel great.
Who or what were the most important influences on your musical life and career?
Practically, it was my teacher Karl Heinz Kaemmerling, and my wonderful colleague, the violinist Benjamin Schmid – both during my studies at Mozarteum in Salzburg. Exposure to Friedrich Gulda and Nikolaus Harnoncourt were turning
points and led to greater inspiration for my musical understanding.
You are performing in the London Piano Festival this October – tell us more about this?
I loved Katya and Charles’ idea of performing what one likes most, and immediately said “yes”. Repertoire from the baroque and classical periods is my best repertoire. My interests and performing style have nothing to do with the “Russian piano school”, and I am deeply convinced that the modern piano offers the widest range of possibilities to create the sound appropriate for these works.
So I chose three composers: Scarlatti – his sonatas, of which there are so many, are one better than the next and always perfect for a discovery. Mozart is simply my favourite composer – I feel very close not only to his music, but to his entire personality. And Handel’s Suite is part of my award winning recording project for ECM.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
To start up from absolute zero with no money whatsoever. And to realize later on, that it is not only the musicianship, but Marketing and PR that you have to put your efforts in – a very disappointing discovery.
Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?
The already mentioned Handel Suites for ECM, and the brand new Mozart Piano Concerti with my New Classic Ensemble Vienna – we just recorded and produced them for the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation.
Which particular works do you think you perform best?
Mozart Piano Concerti
How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?
It is a mixture between requests from promoters and the works I would like to study or perform again – I try to find challenging combinations.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
The Concertgebouw Amsterdam. Everything feels perfect to me: The size, the acoustics, they always had a wonderful piano when I played…. and the red carpet on the stairs when you come down on stage feels like Hollywood….
Who are your favourite musicians?
Glenn Gould, Maria Callas, Friedrich Gulda, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Andras Schiff
What is your most memorable concert experience?
The one when my “plan” with a certain piece of music worked out, and fortunately there have been many.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
To be honest, I don’t know, as I am still learning something new myself each day.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Happiness is the flow to be so entirely occupied with what you do at the moment that nothing else exists. Naturally this cannot last your whole life, but also happiness cannot.
What is your most treasured possession?
Lisa Smirnova performs in the 2017 London Piano Festival at Kings Place in two concerts on 7 October. Further information and tickets here
Austrian-Russian pianist Lisa Smirnova is an internationally recognized concert artist renowned for her interpretations of baroque and Classical repertoire. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung recently remarked that her “sense of style, use of phrasing and ornamentation and tempi, that make the piano an instrument of harmony of vibrating strings, gave her performance its transcendent and unmistakable character.”
(picture © Lisa Smirnova)