Pascal Amoyel (photo credit: Ludivine B)
Pascal Amoyel (photo credit: Ludivine B)

Who or what inspired you to take up the piano, and pursue a career in music?

When I was 12, the caretaker of my block of flats listened to me practicing scales and told us that the pianist Georges Cziffra had lived in the same block and that he had just moved to create a foundation for young people. She also said “why don’t you meet him, that may be your destiny!”

She was right… I had the great privilege to meet a man with tremendous humanity and generosity, and thanks to him, I became a pianist. I worked with him for 8 years

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

Olivier Greif, Georges Cziffra, Krishnamurti, and silence.

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

To write a musical show, “The 50 fingers pianist”, that pays tribute to Cziffra, from the young 5 year old little pianist playing in the circus, to the escaped soldier, from the bar piano player playing jazz in seedy night clubs of Budapest suburbs, to being sentenced to hard labour for having tried to escape from Hungary. His life is a very moving epic.

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?  

I wanted to record the complete Chopin Nocturnes by night. I was staying in a great French castle (Chambord) where I was alone. Deep in the night, I was closing it with a powerful cadence! This atmosphere out of time was favourable to the contemplation I wanted for this music.

Which particular works do you think you play best? 

I have a special affection for the works of Liszt. As well as being every pianist’s father, creator of the recital, he stopped his career at only 35, at the height of his fame, adulated by kings and emperors. Slowly aspirated by the silence, he finally decided to take refuge in a small cloister in Roma, to dedicate himself to composition and contemplation…… I also love playing Scriabin.
 
How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season? 

It’s sometimes hard to balance between what we would like to play and what the programmers sometimes ask, especially when their request are made a few years in advance! I think that the most important thing is to make no concession, to be faithful to our desire and to what inspires us, because only that will serve music.

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

Playing in the mythic Berlin Philharmonie is one of my best souvenirs in my performing life.

Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to? 

Liszt Harmonies poétiques et religieuses

Chopin’s Nocturnes (by Rubinstein!)

Who are your favourite musicians? 

Edwin Fischer, Rubinstein, Sofronitsky, Pires.

What is your most memorable concert experience? 

The dramatized concert “Le Block 15, ou la musique en résistance”, in which the cellist Emmanuelle Bertrand and I pay a tribute to two survivors of Auschwitz camp, the cellist Anita Lasker-Wallfisch (who lives in London) and the pianist and composer Simon Laks. We are always very moved by sharing those testimonies.

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

It is not the ideas that inspire music, but music that inspires ideas.

Intuition is Intelligence.

What are you working on at the moment? 

Actually, I am continuing my work about Charles-Valentin Alkan, a composer to whom I have dedicated a recording, including the Grande Sonate “Les 4 âges”. I am fascinated by this artist who is still not known enough, as well, generally speaking, by all those unconventional and out of fashion figures in the word History.

I am also starting, as a composer, to write a concerto for cello and string orchestra, for the cellist Emmanuelle Bertrand.

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

A wise man.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

The total acceptance of present time.

What is your most treasured possession? 

To realise that something can be owned is an illusion.

What do you enjoy doing most? 

Watching my children grow.

Pascal Amoyel performs works by Alkan, Chopin, and Liszt, and the world premiere of a new work by Nimrod Borenstein at Westminster Cathedral Hall on Sunday 8th December in a concert. Further details and tickets here

Voted “Solo Instrumental Discovery of the Year” at the Victoires de la Musique in 2005, Pascal Amoyel has established himself over the past few years as a significant personality on the musical scene. His recording of the complete ‘Nocturnes’ of Chopin by Pascal Amoyel has been awarded by the Warszawa Fryderyk Chopin Society within the context of the International Record Competition – Grand Prix du Disque Frédéric Chopin 2010 and in September 2009, the magazine Classica-Le Monde de la musique has considered his recording of the ‘Funérailles’ (Franz Liszt) as one of the 5 best ever.

As a teenager he was profoundly influenced by his encounter with György Cziffra, with whom he studied in France and Hungary for several years.

After receiving a Licence de Concert from the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris, he was awarded Premiers Prix in piano and chamber music at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique in the same city. He was awarded scholarships by the Menuhin and Cziffra Foundations, then won first prize in the Paris International competition for Young Pianists.

He appears as a recitalist and soloist with orchestra in Europe, the United States, Canada, Russia, Japan and China.

His recordings as a duet with Emmanuelle Bertrand or as a soloist have received the most prestigious awards.

Pascal Amoyel is also a composer, laureate 2010 of the Banque Populaire Foundation.

He use to work with Olivier Greif and gave the world première performance, and several works have been dedicated to him, including El Khoury’s Third Sonata and Lemeland’s Piano Concerto.

He is the artistic director of the festival Notes d’Automne, a meeting between Music and Literature, in Le Perreux sur Marne.

www.pascal-amoyel.com

(Picture © Guy Vivien)

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

I heard my father playing Chopin, Grieg and Schumann at home almost every evening on our small upright piano. Then I tried to imitate him! As I was gifted, he decided to do everything necessary to help me in my development: courses with great teachers, day to day work. He believed in my musical career from the very beginning and that was probably the most important.

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

Arthur and Karl-Ulrich Schnabel (with whom I really learned my Beethoven), then Leon Fleisher, who was for me a kind of Mentor, and Christian Ivaldi, who opened my brain to the world of Wagner and Strauss, which radically influenced radically repertoire and the texture of my personal sound.

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

Playing the 32 Beethoven sonatas in 10 days.

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

Playing a concerto with orchestra is the utmost gift a pianist can receive! The piano concerto repertoire is just fabulous and I always feel like it’s an achievement in a solo career. The main problem is to build a relationship with a conductor in a very short rehearsal time. You can feel a kind of frustration sometimes. It is why my relationship with Philippe Jordan is very special, as we have recorded and played so many concertos since 2007! The complete Beethovens on CD and in concert as well as Mozart, Brahms and Saint-Saens. The musical result is amazing because we feel like chamber music partners.

Which recordings are you most proud of?

My Brahms 2nd concerto with LPO and Paavo Berglund, the Beethoven Fifth Concerto with O.P. Radio-France and Philippe Jordan, and my last live recording of Beethoven’s ‘Hammerklavier’ Sonata recently released.

Do you have a favourite concert venue?

This is a tough question. For recital, I would say Wigmore hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall, Köln Philharmonie and Metz Arsenal.

With orchestra, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, Salle Pleyel in Paris and Royal Festival Hall in London. Next season I will make my debut in two great European hall: Tonhalle in  Zürich and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam!

Who are your favourite musicians?

Among others – Furtwangler, Celibidache, Barenboim, Boulez, Brendel, Pollini and Sokolov. I rediscovered Arrau recently: a genius.

Regarding the conductors I’ve played with I would mention Esa-Pekka Salonen, Daniel Harding, and of course Philippe Jordan. Recently I played with the young conductor Edward Gardner: he was astonishing.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

Philippe Jordan conducting Parsifal in Bayreuth.

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

Beethoven always to play and listen, I listen more than ever Wagner’s Ring..and all the others.. Then Bruckner 4/5/7/8/9, the complete Mahler

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

Do not only work solely at your instrument, although it is crucial to spend hours on practising. The main thing is to have an exhaustive knowledge of orchestral and operatic repertoire in order to make the piano like a real orchestra

What are you working on at the moment?

The 5 Beethoven Concertos and the 32 Sonatas, as well as some Wagner paraphrases to celebrate this genius!

I also have some modern music as usual, new studies from Georges Benjamin and a Piano Concerto by Tristan Murail.

Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time

Any place where I could perform Beethoven’s music.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

My wife’s love forever and music everywhere.

What is your most treasured possession?

Patou, my dear cat!!!!!

What is your present state of mind?

Promethean!

Interview date: November 2013

François-Frédéric Guy is regarded as one of the most fascinating pianists of his generation since his career was launched by his debut with Orchestre de Paris and Wolfgang Sawallisch in 2000.

Guy is an artist of immense interpretative authority and superlative technique. He has spent much of his career performing the works of Beethoven, recently completing recordings of the five concertos with Philippe Jordan, and the 32 Sonatas.  Guy has performed worldwide with orchestras such as the Berlin Symphony, Hallé, Philharmonia, London Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris and San Francisco Symphony and conductors including Esa-Pekka Salonen, Bernard Haitink, Daniel Harding, Neeme Järvi and Michael Tilson Thomas.

www.ffguy.net

Alexandre Tharaud (image credit: Marco Borggreve)

Despite the bad weather, the gales, and the cancelled trains, I managed to get into central London yesterday (thanks to the District Line which was fully operational from Richmond) to view the ‘Honoré Daumier: Visions of Paris’ exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts (review to follow), and to hear French pianist Alexandre Tharaud in a lunchtime concert of music by Bach, Schubert and Chopin. I had been much looking forward to this particular Wigmore lunchtime recital because the programme was all music I know well and love.

There is perhaps a lesson in here, for the concert was a disappointment, and it made me wonder whether I should, in future, select concerts which do not feature music I know well……

Read my full review here

Pierre-Arnaud Dablemont

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

What an embarrassing question for me! I could say that I immediately fell in love with the instrument, that it was inside me and so on, but that would be a big lie. The truth is I can’t remember how I came up with the idea to learn how to play the piano. I remember I wanted to take a ballet class, but it didn’t work out and I never had my ballet lessons. Next thing I know: I’m playing the piano. But one thing is absolutely sure: my parents didn’t force me. They had no musical background and were pretty scared by my aspirations to be a professional musician. Concerning my career choice, I can’t remember whether someone or something specifically influenced me; I think it grew in me and finally became obvious in my teens. I started studying mathematics alongside my studies at the conservatory; finally I stood up for myself and came out of the closet as a full-time music student!

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

My teachers Véronique Menuet-Stibbe and František Maxián. They are very different pianists and both brought me what I needed at the time I met them. I only recently discovered how much I owe them for the pianist I am now and how deeply they influenced me. Of course, some world-class famous pianists played an important role in my development as well, like Schnabel, Michelangeli, Gould, Pollini or Pogorelich, among others.

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

Being happy with what I do and finding out who I really am as a pianist. It takes time to find your repertoire, to understand who are the composers you’re able to understand and play well, and who are those you like but shouldn’t play. It takes time to get what’s important for you in music, which direction you want to give to your work. And I have the feeling that giving yourself space to think is a real challenge in today’s music business.

Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?

Well, my first album was released 3 months ago and I’m very proud of this achievement. It was a difficult project and I’m happy I managed it from the beginning to the end. It was very important for me to understand the whole process and I gained a immensely valuable insight. I’m also very proud I can offer it for free.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in?

Not really. As long as there is a good piano, the basics of a concert hall and an attentive audience, I’m happy with the venue.

Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?

Of course I love performing Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit and Janáček’s On an Overgrown Path as well as In the Mists, and that’s why they are part of my debut album. I have also a special thing for performing Beethoven and contemporary music: both feature in my next recording projects. I don’t listen to a lot of piano music (I used to) but in my current playlist, you’ll find Brahms’ Violin Concerto (C. Ferras/ H. von Karajan), Brad Mehldau’s Elegiac Circle, Dvořák’s ‘cello and piano concerti (Dupré/Barenboim – Richter/Kleiber), Beethoven’s Symphonies (Fürtwangler) or Bach’s Goldberg Variations (Gould – 1981).

Who are your favourite musicians?

Those who make me think, those who make me want to play the piano.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

Performing in the dark, with just one little reading lamp for me to see the keyboard. This was a difficult Messiaen/Berio/Takemitsu program: the experience was amazing both for the audience and me. I’d like to do it more often, maybe with a more standard repertoire. I think it really enhanced the performance and was really interesting, musically speaking.

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

Never take anything for granted. Find your own truth and stand up for it. And remember that piano playing can’t only be based on goodwill, feelings, intuitions or piano practice. It is much more than that.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on my next recording dedicated to Beethoven’s Sonatas op. 27, 28, 109, 110 and 111, so I’m diving into his piano works, especially the Sonatas and Concerti, and it’s a real pleasure to go back to this music I haven’t played for a long time. And alongside this work on Beethoven, I’m learning Bach’s Partitas, quite new repertoire for me, and planning several multimedia projects for next year.

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

I hope I’ll keep the same attitude towards life and music, the same amount of insane musical ideas, the same passion for my instrument, with a little more free time and easiness to realize my projects.

What is your most treasured possession?

I don’t own much things, I don’t really connect with objects. My piano is certainly the best answer I can provide here.

 

Pierre-Arnaud Dablemont has built a reputation as a unique recitalist with an unusually broad repertoire. His multifaceted musical personality and insatiable curiosity have led him to exciting new directions, going beyond the beaten paths of the usual conformist thinking and giving him a particular view on the works he interprets.

His album Introducing Pierre-Arnaud Dablemont, released in July 2012 is Dablemont’s first solo recording and includes works by Janácek and Ravel, two composers who have a particular resonance with Pierre-Arnaud Dablemont and reflect his path in the music world.

In 2013, Dablemont will release two new albums featuring six piano sonatas by Beethoven op. 27 n°1 & 2 “Moonlight”, op. 28 “Pastorale”, op. 109, op. 110, op. 111. Alongside these two recordings, the pianist will issue an essay on piano and interpretation. In the course of 2013, he will also appear in a documentary film about his work and point of views and release video recordings of several recitals.

Actively involved in the expansion and promotion of contemporary piano repertoire, Dablemont has premiered new works by composers Pavel Trojan, Petr Pokorný, Edith Canat de Chizy. In 2013, he will perform and record two new short pieces by British composer Steven Berryman: …brightly illuminated, vividly seen and Can it be such raptures meet decay?.

Born near Paris, he grew up in a non-musical family. Dablemont received his first piano lessons at age 8. Showing a talent for music, he quickly became more serious about piano and began his education under Véronique Menuet-Stibbe. He later studied with the eminent pedagogue and pianist František Maxián at the Prague Conservatory, who particularly influenced his playing.

Pierre-Arnaud Dablemont keeps a widely-read blog. There he writes about his concerts, practicing as well as he publishes detailled essays on music or analysis of works.

www.pierre-arnaud-dablemont.com