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.

Here’s a delightfully simple and utterly enjoyable way to allow yourself some time off during your busy day.

Every day for a month pianist and conductor Alisdair Kitchen will post one of Bach’s iconic Goldberg Variations on Norman Lebrecht’s blog Slipped Disc, accompanied by Alisdair’s personal commentary on the music.

Here’s the Aria

Get your Daily Goldberg Variations on Slipped Disc

Klara Min (photo credit © Lisa-Marie Mazzucco)

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

Music itself.

My mother is a composer and she taught many piano students at home so I became familiar with the sound of piano when I was very little. I remember enjoying the beautiful sound, and I was amazed that my fingers could make music. As a child, I always liked singing and I think I tried searching for my own way of singing on piano, too. Since then my dream was to become a pianist who performs all around the world.

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

I think I cannot just pick one. Music is a reflection of life, and all I absorb, observe and experience in life influence my playing.

One day when I was twelve in Japan, my grandmother bought me two cassette tapes with Horowitz’s playing Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas. I didn’t know who he was and didn’t know much about different pianists back then, but his playing of Beethoven’s third movement of Moonlight sonata made my heart run. I remember very clearly that I was extremely excited about the inner beats of that movement. I also grew very closely to Tchaikovsky’s Symphonies and Chopin’s music.

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

I guess challenges change according to where you are in life. I must say that the greatest challenge nevertheless is to accept what we call ‘Ars longa, Vita brevis’ (Art is long, Life is short). I can only do my best in music, so I give in and be humble before music. It is so easy to let your ego burn yourself, but if you truly appreciate the beauty of music nothing else but for the sake of music, then you learn and grow.
And I like challenges in general, so I gladly accept them. It is so easy to give up, so give up giving it up!!

Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?

I am happy when I feel that the audience empathizes with me in music. Sometimes it is not easy. But there are certain moments that I feel connected to the listeners. Those moments give me a heartfelt pleasure.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in?

I like concert halls with good acoustics. Performing is listening and the acoustic is very important.

I used to love intimate spaces for a performance, but nowadays I prefer spacious venues where I can project farther.

Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?

I enjoy complete silence. I like to imagine sound before creating or listening. I don’t listen to music all the time but when I do, I enjoy listening to Lied, Beethoven String Quartets, Kreisler, Cortot,  J.S. Bach, and many more.

Who are your favourite musicians?

There are so many for so many different reasons!

My favourite pianist of all time is Alfred Cortot. He really has a distinctive tone I love.

But there are so many musicians who I respect and admire, not only limited to pianists. The list will go on and on. Being a good pianist is one thing, but being a good musician is more important for me.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

The Berlin Philharmonie Hall, where the stage is surrounded by the audience in 360 degrees. I felt a bit dizzy in the beginning as everywhere I looked, I could have eye contact with the audience. I found it most fascinating, and the audiences in Germany are such sincere listeners. I felt that they really expected to hear music not a show-off. It was a very special experience.

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

Love. Love life. Embrace human nature. Be joyful with what life gives you and cherish.

There is a Russian poem by Pushkin I used to enjoy in my teenage years.

Should this life sometime deceive you,

Don’t be sad or mad at it!

In the day of grief, be mid
Merry days will come, believe.

Heart is living in tomorrow:

Present is dejected here:
In a moment passes sorrow:

That which passes will be dear

Music is to cherish life. And musicians, performers in specific, should carry enormously positive spirit even in the midst of performing the gloomiest music in order to do so, and that comes from loving.

It takes great maturity. It is a great mind that enables all, not a dexterity.

What are you working on at the moment?

I have been working on the programme for my Wigmore Hall bebut Recital (which took place on April 23): Schumann Arabesque, Fantasiestuecke Op. 12, Chopin Sonata No. 3 and Mazurkas, and a UK premiere of Sean Hickey’s Cursive.

After the debut recital, I will be working on character pieces I have commissioned with American composer Henry Martin, and all Beethoven Piano Concertos for which I will be making a recording with DELOS next year.

What do you enjoy doing most?

I enjoy travelling, discovering new façade of life by experiencing different cultures, food, people and language.

And by travelling, giving concerts, it is the most exciting experience.

But what really nurtures my mind, what makes myself in tune is the connection with God and another human being. I think my longing for deeper connecting with another being is a fuel for making music.

In everyday life I love hanging out with friends, and walking in Riverside Park with my puppy.

Pianist Klara Min has appeared in concert in North America, Europe and her native South Korea in major concert halls, including the Berlin Philharmonie Hall, Gasteig Hall in Munich, New York’s Carnegie Hall, and the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) hall in Seoul. She made her Carnegie Weill Recital début in 2002 as a winner of the Artists International Competition in New York. She is a recipient of a Samsung scholarship. Her competition prizes have included the Grand Prize of the IBLA Grand Prize International Competition, the Best Performance of Mozart Prize at the Viotti-Valsesia International Piano Competition in Italy and a top prize at the World Piano Competition in Cincinnati. Born into a musical family in Seoul, Klara Min started her first piano lesson with her composer mother, going on to study at Yewon School and Seoul Arts High School, the Manhattan School of Music and the Lübeck Musikhochschule. She has been a member of the piano faculty at Wesleyan University in Connecticut and an assistant teacher at Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. She is a Yamaha Artist.

www.klaramin.com

brittencurated

An intimate portrait of Benjamin Britten, as seen through a sequence of bittersweet songs for voice and piano and voice and guitar, provided the perfect antidote to the Wagner marathon at the Proms. The concert included an intense and very moving performance of the Canticle ‘Abraham and Isaac’ with tenor James Gilchrist, soprano Ruby Hughes and Imogen Cooper at the piano.

Read my full review here

Watch the entire concert (click on the picture to go to the BBC Radio Three website)

pcm

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

I am without a piano until early August when my new (old!) grand piano arrives. After the initial sense of loss after saying goodbye to my trusty Yamaha upright has worn off (on seeing my despondent face this morning, the time when I am usually busy practising, my husband suggested asking for the Bechstein to be delivered sooner), I am going to try practising in a different way – without a piano.

There is much to be gained from working away from the piano and the ‘distraction’ of the keyboard: reading, analysing and annotating the score, marking up fingering schemes, cutting through the music to the heart of what it is about, its subtleties and balance of structure, studying style, the contextual background which provides invaluable insights into the way it should be interpreted, listening to recordings by others.

Reading: I habitually read scores in bed, having given up reading novels when I embarked on my diploma studies. I tend to read a score in a general way initially, for overall structure and shape, patterns and “colours” (this visual aspect is very important in my learning method, my synaesthesia assisting in the process). In a busy or complex score, such as the Messiaen I am learning at present (Regard de l’Etoile and Regard de la Croix), where there are some awkward chord clusters, I like to have a good idea of the shapes of the music imprinted in my mind’s eye. This also helps with memory work. Detailed reading comes with a careful analysis of the structure of the music, including a careful reading of the separate parts for left and right hand, and highlighting any potential pitfalls, or very tricky/awkward sections.

Another aspect of “reading” is reading around the score – i.e. books on music and composer, from detailed analaysis to performance practice and general commentaries, and programme notes.

Listening: Another important aspect of the learning process, there is useful work to be done by simply listening to other people’s interpretations of a piece or pieces on which I am working. This is not to imitate another’s reading of a work, but to gain insights or ideas, particularly for performance practice. For example, I have been enjoying Schiff’s recording of Bach’s Fifth French Suite, which I am working on at present. His treatment of ornaments in the repeats of the ‘Allemande’ is interesting and worth considering when I return to the keyboard.

And like “reading around”, there is useful work to be done “listening around” the music I am studying – again for historical context, stylistic considerations, interpretation etc. (I have a Spotify playlist called “For Reference” which I where I collect tracks which inform my current learning.)

Thinking: This may seem rather vague, but I spend a good deal of time thinking about the music I am learning, often when I am far away from the piano, such as on the District Line on a Monday morning on the way to my other job. This includes memory work (aural, visual and kinesthetic), “imagining the sound”, considering interpretative aspects, communication and emotion. This sits rather well with my teacher’s maxim “think before you play”.

Inspirations: Going to concerts provides me with some of the most potent and exciting inspirations – and it doesn’t have to be piano music either.