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

Actually no one in my family is a musician; I never had pressure from my family, and the start of my adventure with music was one of the most natural processes – so natural that I still don’t know if I chose the music, or if the music chose me.

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

Definitely some things I’ve read – philosophical essays, some big German, French, Italian and Russian novels. And of course the holy books.

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

Every time disenchantment has made its way into my heart.

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?

Always the next one!

But I’m still touched by some unbelievable experiences, such as my debut at the Royal Albert Hall in London with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Which particular works do you think you play best?

The new one I’m going to practice!

But Mozart is without any doubt a great friend of mine.

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?

I try to understand the changeable directions of my artistic wishes, and follow them. A concert programme should be a coherent spiritual journey, where different composers and music works interact and connect with each other, reaching a common vision at the end.

Some composers, however, are like lights in the dark for me: things may change on the surface, but deep inside they are always there. I can think of Mozart, Beethoven and Schumann, who have always been very close to my soul.

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

The Amsterdam Concertgebouw: that staircase seems to be the stairway to heaven!

Who are your favourite musicians?

Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, Grigory Sokolov and Sergiu Celibidache.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

A concert with Maestro Gergiev in St. Petersburg. The concert was at 10pm, he arrived at 9.55pm. No rehearsal. Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No.3 on the menu. My debut with him and his orchestra. Live broadcast in all Russia. I wouldn’t wish those first five minutes on my worst enemy!

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

To me, this kind of success simply doesn’t exist. Art is an never-ending creative process, and for this reason it will always be ahead of us, moving infinitely, and as finite humans we will never catch up!

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

Just one: that there can be no Beauty if it’s not connected to the Truth.

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

I don’t know where I’d like to be, but I certainly know where I’d like not to be: in the land of illusion. I wish to always remain devoted to the Truth.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

When a human being is able to connect with all his own innermost feelings.

What is your most treasured possession?

My will.

What is your present state of mind?

Restless.

Federico Colli’s first album of Scarlatti Piano Sonatas is available now on the Chandos label.

Federico makes his Wigmore Hall debut on 1 November 2018. He will also be making his US debut at Ravinia Festival on 4 September 2018 and his New York debut at Lincoln Center on 2 December 2018.


Italian pianist Federico Colli is internationally recognised for his intelligent, imaginative interpretations and impeccable technique, praised for his ‘crystalline brilliance and translucence that takes you to the heart of everything he plays.’ (Gramophone)
Federico first came to prominence after winning the Salzburg Mozart Competition in 2011 and the Leeds International Piano Competition in 2012. Since then, he has been performing with orchestras including the Mariinsky Orchestra, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, RAI National Symphony, BBC Symphony, Royal Scottish National, RTÉ National Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Hallé Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Vienna Chamber, Camerata Salzburg, Klassische Philharmonie Bonn, Polish Radio National Symphony, Philharmonie Zuidnederland, Pomeriggi Musicali Orchestra, Orchestra della Toscana, National Philharmonic of Ukraine and Orquestra Sinfônica Brasileira; at venues such as the Vienna Musikverein and Konzerthaus, Berlin Konzerthaus, Munich Herkulessaal, Hamburg Laeiszhalle, Beethovenhalle Bonn, NDR Landesfunkhaus in Hannover, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Muziekgebouw Eindhoven, Barbican Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Usher Hall in Edinburgh, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, Dublin National Concert Hall, Salle Cortot in Paris, Rudolfinum Dvorak Hall in Prague, Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome, Teatro degli Arcimboldi in Milan, Lingotto in Turin, Philharmonic Concert Hall in Warsaw, Teatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro and the Mariinsky Concert Hall in St Petersburg.

Read more about Federico Colli

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

When I was very young, my grandmother made up a game of tapping a rhythm and having me name the song the rhythm was from. She seemed to think I was good at this game so one day, as a 4-year old,  I was taken to an admission test for a “special music school for gifted children” in Riga, Latvia (the former USSR).  After tapping out some more rhythms, singing and matching pitches, I remember being asked whether I wanted to play the violin because my 4th (ring) fingers were relatively long.  I said that I couldn’t play the violin “because we didn’t have one at home but we already had a piano” and so it was decided.  I spent 9 years at that school and received an excellent musical foundation.  It was always assumed by my family that I would become a musician.  There was also a personal experience of catching the music-making “bug” which remains a vivid memory. I was once practicing a piece by Khachaturian called “Ivan’s Song” and suddenly I heard myself play and appreciated the beauty of the music; there also seemed to be a meaning to that haunting melody which couldn’t be put into words.  I guess a part of me understood the importance of this experience and I realized that I have a skill which, in turn, gave me a sense of identity.

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

I was always fascinated by the piano’s orchestral potential and studied many transcriptions, primarily by Liszt and Busoni. That led me to making my own piano versions of music I was dying to play on the piano, like “A Night on Bald Mountain by Mussorgsky.”  Not being a composer, transcribing still gives me a feeling of creating something new.   I also love jazz and the freedom it gives and try to bring an fresh, improvisatory element to my playing.  And of course there were various teachers along the way, Vladimir Feltsman being the most important one.

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

Unquestionably, the need to propel one’s career is a challenge to many musicians and it has been a source of many soul-searching hours for me. Motherhood was also a show-stopper, literally. That existential struggle between just wanting to play the piano for my personal growth as a musician and serving the larger purpose of bringing art and beauty to people because of my training and calling is always present.

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of? 

My most recent recording, the newly transcribed set of “Brandenburg Duets” is a result of several painstaking years arranging all 6 Brandenburg Concertos by Bach for piano-4-hands.  Embarking on a project of such magnitude taught me an important lesson on perseverance. I am very happy with the way the recording came out and grateful to my piano partner Jenny Lin and the Grand Piano label of Naxos Records for making the CD set a reality.  The feedback has been tremendous so far as I am constantly being told by listeners that they just love how the music makes them feel and how the piano conveys the material somewhat more clearly than an orchestra in this case and brings the concertos into a new perspective.  It feels great to have been able to pull this off and I can’t wait to get the arrangements published.

Which particular works do you think you play best?

I have always found playing Bach gratifying, especially the Partitas, since it’s a challenge and a thrill to memorize long sequences of such superior material and to have to focus on precision and conveying intentional meaning to such a degree.  His music is an endless source of wonder.  I love Liszt, especially his poetic and mystical side, and have had some transformative experiences while playing his music.  I feel a special affinity for the musical personalities of Schumann and Brahms and the Russians, of course, since they permeated my upbringing.  I also absolutely revel in Spanish music, particularly Albeniz.

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?

There is usually a mental queue of repertoire in my head and possible combinations which evolve over time.  I try to play the music I enjoy most.

Who are your favourite musicians?

I have heard some amazing recitals by Radu Lupu where one’s attention was held from the very first note until he walked off stage.  I love Martha Argerich, Richter, the recordings of Gyorgy Cziffra and Rachmaninov.

Do you have a favorite concert venue to perform in and why? What is your most memorable concert experience?

I had an epiphany a long time ago while waiting to perform a harpsichord recital at a small venue on City Island, in the Bronx.  In the middle of the usual, mild pre-concert anxiety, it occurred to me that the audience members were gathering to hear Bach at noon on a Sunday because it was important to them.  They made the trip instead of taking a nap or watching TV.  My nervousness and ego didn’t matter, what mattered was transmitting the music they wanted to hear in a manner worthy of the task.  Since then the venues and other details became secondary to the privilege of being the medium for this singular venture.

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

Being able to hold people’s attention and transport them into a different time and place.

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

As much as I venerate iconic pianists, I think that one shouldn’t listen to recordings before learning a particular piece well enough to have found one’s own interpretation, however initially tentative it may be.   Other than hours of practice and years at schools and conservatories, It’s important to have cultural and artistic references to gain a deeper understanding of music we perform.  Traveling, reading, looking at art and investigating historical details will help you find a unique voice and interpretation.  In turn, that unique voice will help a musician find success in today’s musical market.

What is your idea of perfect happiness? 

Being alone in a (pleasant) place I’ve never been before.

What is your most treasured possession?

Without a doubt, my Bosendorfer piano.

 

Eleonor Bindman’s Brandenburg Duets were completed and recorded in 2017 and released by Naxos Records on their Grand Piano label in March 2018

 

Praised for “lively, clear textured and urbane” performances and “impressive clarity of purpose and a full grasp of the music’s spirit” (The New York Times), New York-based pianist, chamber musician, arranger, and teacher, Eleonor Bindman has appeared at Carnegie Hall, The 92 Street Y, Merkin Hall, Alice Tully Hall, and on solo concerto engagements with the National Music Week Orchestra, the Staten Island Symphony, the Hudson Valley Philharmonic, the New York Youth Symphony, and The Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra of Moscow, Russia. Ms. Bindman is a prizewinner of the New Orleans, F. Busoni and Jose Iturbi international piano competitions and a recipient of a National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts award.

Born in Riga, Latvia, Ms. Bindman began studying the piano at the E. Darzins Special Music School at the age of five. Her first piano teacher, Rita Kroner, hailed from the studio of Heinrich Neuhaus, the venerable Russian piano pedagogue. After her family immigrated to the United States, she attended the High School of Performing Arts while studying piano as a full scholarship student at the Elaine Kaufmann Cultural Center. She received a B.A. in music from NYU and completed her M.A. in piano pedagogy at SUNY, New Paltz under the guidance of Vladimir Feltsman. The Poughkeepsie Journal describers Ms. Bindman as a strong pianist who attacks her work with great vitality and emotion…and mesmerizes her audiences with her flair and technique” (Barbara Hauptman).

 

More about Eleonor Bindman

 

krpan

Winner of the 61st Ferruccio Busoni International Piano Competition, Ivan Krpan shares his thoughts on influences, inspirations and performing

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

My parents inspired me to start learning about music when I was a child. My father is a violinist and my mother a musicologist so I have been surrounded by music my whole life. When I was six years old I started to go to Blagoje Bersa music school in Zagreb and for some reason I liked the piano more than other instruments so that’s how it started.

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

My parents had a big influence on me especially during the first years of music school. My first teacher, Renata Strojin Richter, taught me all the basics of piano playing and music in general so I am really grateful to her. And of course, my current teacher, Ruben Dalibaltayan, taught me a lot during our piano lessons in the Music Academy in Zagreb.

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

I cannot really say but I think that the greatest challenge in life of any artist is to pursue and develop your ideas every day.

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?

When I look back I see that every performance has its own place in my musical development and that every performance is a representation of my state of mind at that point. All my performances make a big picture for me so I appreciate them all.

Which particular works do you think you play best?

I like to think that I play best any work I am currently playing.

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?

I play works I like or works I am interested in. And when I play works I am interested in, I start to like them. Also, I am still studying so I have to play what is required for exams.

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

No, I don’t have a favourite concert venue. I enjoy playing in lot of different places. Also, I think that people who I play for are more important than the hall itself.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

I don’t know because every concert is different, so I remember them because of all those different things I encounter. For example, I remember some concerts because of the beautiful pianos I played and some because the awful pianos that I played on! Also I remember some when the audience was very noisy during the concert and at some other concerts I had the feeling that people were really interested in what I was trying to give them.

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

I think that you are successful if you are going forward following your ideas. The most important thing in art and in life in general is that nothing ever stays the same. Everything is changing and so we should also change and evolve. It is not easy but if you manage to do it then you are really successful.

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

The most important thing for anyone is to be yourself without pretending and to do what you love to do.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Perfect happiness is when you do what you love to do and when you can help others live that way.

 

Ivan Krpan’s debut recording is available exclusively on IDAGIO and juxtaposes two giants of the Romantic era: Robert Schumann and Frédéric Chopin. 

Listen here


Ivan Krpan was born in Zagreb in 1997. He began studying the piano at the age of 6 at the Blagoje Bersa Music School in Zagreb, under the tutelage of Renata Strojin Richter. From 2013, he has been studying piano with Ruben Dalibaltayan at the Music Academy in Zagreb. He has won several first prizes in national and international piano competitions: first prize in the EPTA International Piano Competition in Bruxelles in 2014, 1st prize in the International Piano Competition Young Virtuosi in Zagreb in 2014, 2nd prize in the International Danube Piano Competition in Ulm (Germany) in 2014 and 1st prize in the International Piano Competition in Enschede (The Netherlands). In 2015 he won 4th prize in the 1st International Zhuhai Mozart Competition in Zhuhai (China). Recently he won the annual Ivo Vuljević prize awarded by the Jeunesses Musicales Croatia for the best young musician in Croatia in 2015. He has participated in masterclasses of Dalibor Cikojević, Siavush Gadjiev, Ruben Dalibaltayan, Djordje Stanetti, Kemal Gekić, Pavel Gililov and Klaus Kaufmann. He won a special prize from Dean of Zagreb Music Academy in 2014.

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

I don’t think I can give a definite answer but I remember an immediate fascination with the piano though it wasn’t really something I seriously pursued until the age of about 11. Having said this, I don’t think one really chooses to pursue music but, rather, that it is a calling.

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

I suppose, repertoire-wise, Marc-André Hamelin was the biggest influence – his recordings really opened the door to me as to what there was off the beaten track. Opera has also been quite important to me in recent years. Aside from these more obvious things, art and literature (contemporaneous to whichever music I’m studying) are generally of huge importance when it comes to cultivating an understanding of the music.

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

I think most musicians, if they’re honest, will answer that earning a living is up there. In connection to this is the aspect of striking a healthy balance between teaching and playing together with whatever else we have to do.

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?

There are some tracks I’m very proud of. I think all CD recordings I’ve made I’m proud of in different ways but, for me, I also think it’s more a sense of what each CD represents; what was going on in my life at the time and the memories connected with learning the works.

Which particular works do you think you play best?

At the moment I am especially drawn to the nineteenth century. I feel I have a particular flare for operatic fantasies but if you had told me that ten years ago I would have laughed in utter disbelief!

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?

At the moment, it tends to revolve around what I’m doing recording-wise but not exclusively so. There are also certain things I imagine I would like to play at certain times of the year – not quite sure why that is but the seasons do influence this.

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

I can’t say I do though there are places I enjoy playing and I do sometimes programme works specifically for the space and instrument if I feel it might be particularly gratifying.

Who are your favourite musicians?

Marc-André Hamelin, Myra Hess, Georges Cziffra, Raymond Lewenthal, Maria Callas and Richard Bonynge to mention but a few.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

Probably giving the Hellenic première of the Liszt Hexaméron in Athens, 2012.

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

Earning a living – the rest is an added bonus.

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

I think a sense of what our purpose is. It’s something so obvious it’s overlooked. The world will always need music – it comforts, enlightens and, above all, unites us. Sharing it I regard as a solemn duty and one of grave importance in these fractured and distorted times.


Mark Viner is recognized as one of the most exciting British concert pianists of his generation and is becoming increasingly well known for his bold championing of unfamiliar pianistic terrain. He studied at the Purcell School of Music and the Royal College where his principal teachers included Tessa Nicholson and Niel Immelman. Having won first prize at the C.V. Alkan – P. J. G. Zimmerman International Piano Competition in Athens in 2012, his international engagements have flourished, he has been broadcast on German Radio and been invited to the Oxford Lieder Festival, Cheltenham Music Festival, ProPiano Hamburg and Husum Rarities of Piano Music in Germany. Last year he was invited to play for the Prince of Wales’s visit to his hometown of Oxford. Due to his close association with unjustly neglected areas of the piano literature, he was recently elected Chairman of the Alkan Society.

His recent recording of Aklan’s 12 Études in the major keys Op. 35 was praised for ‘turning Alkan’s forbidding torrents of notes into real music’.

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

My first piano was my uncle’s wedding gift to my aunt. At the time he was moving houses and the piano was ‘temporarily’ housed in my home, where it stayed for another 6 years! My first piano teacher (a small ballet company’s piano accompanist) was the person who really pushed me and my parents to think that it was really possible to consider a career path in Western classical music, a very new concept in China at that time. You must remember that this was merely only five years after the end of the Cultural Revolution!

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

The support of my mother throughout my life, and how she let me pursue what I loved to do, regardless of any social or financial consideration.

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

Juggling being a ‘hands-on’ mother of two young children and pursuing a performing career!

Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?

There are some gems which I recorded for Pianist Magazine that turned out unexpectedly well. I have now recorded a large number of CDs for the magazine and I am very proud of issue 100, both for its significance and the music in it.

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

Not really. I would say perhaps the audience play a more important part in influencing my performance on the day rather than the venue itself.

Who are your favourite musicians?

I am not what you call a loyal listener, I go through phases. However, the old masters seem to always make me stop and pay attention whenever I hear them: Guido Agosti, Shura Cherkassky, Vladimir Sofronitsky, Pablo Casals, Alfred Cortot, Benjamin Britten, Louis Kentner… the list will go on and on.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

Collaborating with James Loughran and the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra on Mozart’s Piano Concerto K.488. Also a small recital I gave in the Scottish border when the front leg of the old Bechstein piano suddenly broke during the final movement of Beethoven’s ‘Les Adieux’ Sonata; in happiness I hope!

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

Great question! Without sounding a cliché and being corny, all I want is just to play to people. My definition of success is being able to make that special bond with the audience – even if it is just to one single person on the night – in a short magic moment music can touch special places deep within.

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

To be forever inquisitive – one always finds answers if one keeps asking questions.

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

Pretty much the same as I am now, but perhaps travelling further afield to play more concerts, as the children will be more grownup. Also, dare I hope for much better gardening skills?!

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Waking around with my family the day after a good concert.

What is your most treasured possession?

I am a very laid back Buddhist; I think that one of the main ideas of Buddhist teaching is to try not to hold on to many earthly possessions.

Chenyin Li performs two piano sonatas by Beethoven, Stravinsky’s Petrushka Suite and three Chinese transcriptions as part of the Bluthner Piano Series at St John’s Smith Square on 23 May. Further information and tickets here

www.bluthner.co.uk


The Chinese pianist Chenyin Li is internationally acknowledged as one of the most exciting and sought-after musicians of her generation. Her career was launched after winning the 6th Scottish International Piano Competition in Glasgow, as well as being the first prizewinner of the Campillos International Piano Competition, Dudley International Piano Competition and the European Beethoven Gold Medal. She has been described as a “gritty, fiery and athletic pianist, backed by a strong technique arsenal” (The Daily Telegraph), and “a player of remarkable subtlety” (The Scottish Herald), who “understands the original intentions of the composers as well as bringing her own individual interpretation which invests the music with a new life” (National Business Review). Read more

www.chenyinli.com

Conductor, recording  producer and Artistic Director of the Hertfordshire Festival of Music Tom Hammond interviews Stephen Hough CBE, who this year is the Festival’s Principal Artist and Featured Living Composer – plus a cycle of his oil paintings will be on display at Hertford Theatre during the duration of the Festival (June 10-16).

Stephen, have you ever done an interview about your paintings that hasn’t referenced music, or the piano?
No I haven’t. In fact I’ve very rarely spoken about my painting, in speech or in print.
Do you remember a day when you put paint onto a canvas for the first time, and thought “Now, I’m a painter”?
I haven’t really thought in those terms. My painting is something very private, partly because it’s the most sensual thing I do artistically. Playing the piano is sounds in the air, writing music or words is marks on a page, but painting is dirty, physical, earthy – and tangible/present. I can look at what I’ve done and show it to someone. It exists. And it can be destroyed … gone for ever.
Can you describe your processes? What sort of paints, canvases, brush techniques, textures, etc.?
I’ve used mainly acrylics in the past but recently I’ve fallen in love with domestic gloss paint. Its liquidity and the vibrancy of the colours. I like to mix other things in with the paint – grit, sand, shredded paper etc. I use a palette knife mostly but also brushes. And fingers, but with surgical gloves!
When a painting is framed and/or hung, do you step back and think ‘finished’, or do you look at a canvas later and think ‘wish I’d done something slightly differently’?
I think with abstract art in particular it’s never finished. That’s one of its fascinations. It’s an improvisation like jazz. When is a riff or a solo finished?
Will you be nervous about people’s reaction to seeing one of your paintings?
The first time was hard – like taking off my clothes in front of strangers! And any time when someone else is in a position of judgement it is an emotional risk …
 
Is the process of painting cathartic, or stressful?
Mainly cathartic, though not relaxing. I get very excited and energized when I paint.
You’ve probably collected more air miles than Phileas Fogg; do you take paintings with you when you’re working in, Asia, Australia, South America…..?
In the past I tried doing small pieces in hotel rooms. But it’s pretty frustrating, and now I’m painting bigger works it’s impossible.
What was the last painting or other purely visual art that you saw that spiritually moved you, and can you explain why?
I loved the recent show at Tate Britain – All Too Human. I’m moved spiritually by the fragility of human life portrayed in art, not by angels and altarpieces. Christ in glory doesn’t move me; Christ as everyman suffering does.
In one hundred years time, would you like to be remembered for your paintings?
I honestly can’t think about that. But the indestructibility of paint perhaps means that when CDs are faded the globs on canvas which have avoided the landfill might still be hanging in there somewhere.

Stephen Hough will be in residence and involved in four events on June 10 and 11 at this year’s Hertfordshire Festival of Music. Book online, by telephone or in person. Full details here
Image: ‘Dappled Things’ by Stephen Hough