Still only a tender three year old, the London Piano Festival, organised by pianists Charles Owen and Katya Apekisheva is already a significant part of the London piano concert calendar, an event much looked forward to by myself and piano friends. In just three years it has grown from a weekend festival to a 5-day extravaganza and it looks set to extend further, such is the quality and variety of its programmes and performers. The secret of its success and evident popularity (judging by the commitment and enthusiasm of the audiences) lies in a simple formula: an impressive line up of pianists, imaginative programmes and a friendly atmosphere. Owen and Apekisheva curate the festival and also perform in it, thus creating a wonderful sense of common purpose, very much music with friends, for friends, and amongst friends. This year the young Russian pianist Pavel Kolesnikov stole the show, at least as far as I was concerned, in both his solo concert on Saturday afternoon (review here) and his performance with his duo partner Samson Tsoy which opened the 2-piano marathon on Saturday night.

While last year’s 2-piano marathon had a rather epic sweep to its programme, this year’s was more thoughtful, the main focus being the centenary of Claude Debussy’s death, and the tone was set by the opening works, Schumann’s Six Pieces in Canonic Form, performed with exceptional control, poetry and musical maturity by Pavel Kolesnikov and Samson Tsoy. It would be hard to match the exquisite intimacy of this performance, but the great thing about the 2-piano Marathon is that each pianist brings their distinctive voice to the repertoire performed, the pairs of performers sparking off one another, collaborating and interacting with evident enjoyment. Two works by Arnold Bax provided an impressionistic follow up to the Schumann, expressively played by Margaret Fingerhut and Charles Owen. Three works by Poulenc offered further contrasts, the triptych closing with his joyous l’Embarquement pour Cythere. The first half closed with Stravinsky’s Concerto for Two Pianos, a work which requires lightning-fast reflexes, masterfully played by Kolesnikov and Tsoy. It was good to see this extraordinarily mature duo together in more extrovert music.

The deliciously sensuous post-interval works by Debussy – En Blanc et noir and Danse Sacree et Danse Profane – were welcome bookends to Thomas Ades Lisztian Concert Paraphrase on Power Her Face, which while expertly played felt over-long and self-indulgent. It was good to see Stephen Kovacevich grace the stage once again at this year’s festival, side by side with Charles Owen in Debussy.

The closing work, Rachmaninov’s Russian Rhapsody for two pianos, was memorably played by Konstantin Lifschitz (who gave a solo performance earlier in the festival) and Katya Apekisheva, and left us with a hummable foot-tapping folk tune for the homeward journey.

Plans are already well underway for the 2019 London Piano Festival and full details will be announced in the new year.


Photo credit: Viktor Erik Emanuel / Kings Place 

 

Part of the generous line up of concerts at this year’s London Piano Festival, Pavel Kolesnikov’s afternoon recital was entitled From Grandeur to Intimacy and featured music by Couperin and Schumann.

At first sight one might struggle to find connections between these composers, but Kolesnikov successfully demonstrated that the common thread is an ability by both composers – refracted through the lens of Kolesnikov’s sensitive, committed playing – to create profound intimacy and emotional depth – so much so that it borders on grandeur.

Kolesnikov’s approach is understated, idiosyncratic, mature and elegant. Limiting physical gestures to an occasional hand lifted gracefully from the keyboard, his physical stillness allows one to fully appreciate the beauty and natural poetry of his soundworld – at times so delicate, so tender, that I felt close to tears.

Couperin’s Suite in G minor felt unexpectedly modern with its crunchy harmonies and colourful dissonances, highlighted by some lovely, carefully-placed “finger legato” and overholding of certain notes – a technique drawn from harpsichord playing, which, combined with judicious pedalling, brought a wonderful range of tonal nuances on a modern piano. The short dances which comprise the suite were graceful and introspective, often improvisatory in character, thanks to the pianist’s fresh take on these courtly miniatures, and Kolesnikov sustained an incredible, almost tangible build up of tension with his restrained, concentrated approach. This was carried into the opening of Schumann’s great Fantasie in C, Kolesnikov allowing only a fractional pause before commencing this piece. Now, in the impassioned opening measures of Robert Schumann’s musical love missive to his beloved Clara, the tension released for a moment to allow this personal outpouring of emotion to flow and swell. Here is love in all its aspects – from breathless excitement to heart-skipping joy or whispered tenderness and introspection. Intentionally improvisatory in its structure and approach, the three-movement format of the work was indicated but the transitions between the movements so subtly and elegantly handled that there was never any interruption to the narrative flow, and Kolesnikov capitalised on this to present a reading which was deeply romantic, rich in expression and emotional breadth, and also highly personal.

Not yet thirty (and he looks much younger), Pavel Kolesnikov plays with an impressive maturity and individuality of approach of a musician twice his age, something which strikes me every time I hear him. Do seek out his recordings (on Hyperion) or hear him in concert. Definitely a “great” in the making.

(Picture credit: Viktor Erik Emanuel / Kings Place)

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

I come from a musical family. All of my siblings learned an instrument when we were growing up, although I was the only one mad enough to have taken it up as a career. Myth also has it that my paternal grandfather (whom I never met) had a wonderful tenor voice, but he was too poor to have it trained. I was lucky in that from a very early age my parents took me along to all the concerts at our local music club. It happened to be one of the best in the country, which meant I regularly heard artists such as the Amadeus Quartet, the Beaux Arts Trio, Barenboim, du Pré, Brendel, Lupu, Menuhin, Perlman, Fischer-Dieskau, de los Angeles. The list goes on and on – I even heard Arthur Rubinstein a couple of times. How could I not want to be able to make music like these musicians?! It was subsequently one of my proudest moments when I stepped out onto that very same stage years later to do a recital myself.

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

I think that all of my teachers in turn helped to make me into the musician and person I am today – Cyril Smith, Angus Morrison, Vlado Perlemuter, Leon Fleisher. Even my very first teacher, a retired professor from the Royal Academy of Music, whom I remember as being quite strict and rather grumpy, but he ensured that I knew all the basics of harmony and counterpoint so that by the time I went to the RCM I already had almost half of Bach’s ’48’ under my belt. And I even managed to survive a few lessons from the legendary Adele Marcus (legendary for all the wrong reasons!), long enough to learn how to draw a beautiful cantabile out of the instrument. A massive inspiration for me was meeting and playing with Leonard Sorkin, the leader of the original Fine Arts Quartet in the USA. It was a formative time in my career when I was still in my early 20s, and I learned so much from working and performing with Leonard – he literally spoke from the heart through his playing, and his phrasing and articulation were so utterly natural and so ‘conversational’. I have always since tried to emulate that.

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

Combining motherhood with a performing career was definitely challenging as they are both so emotionally all-consuming. Undoubtedly though, the greatest difficulty for me was the decade I spent dealing with a seemingly endless succession of career-threatening physical problems. They were all apparently due to something my specialist told me was ‘dysautonomia’, a malfunctioning autonomic nervous system. I won’t go into the medical details here (otherwise it would be guaranteed to make my readers instantly click onto another page!), but I had to have operations on my shoulder and hand, as well as numerous cortisone injections in both arms. Thankfully that is now all several years behind me, and I am back playing again.

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?

I remain particularly proud of the very first time I played at the Royal Festival Hall – Grieg Concerto with the Young Musicians Symphony Orchestra, and recorded by the BBC. I remember walking off the stage thinking: “Yes, I can do this!”.

I was also very proud of the live radio broadcast I did with Leonard Sorkin for WFMT Chicago. As I mentioned previously, I was at the beginning of my career while he was in the twilight of his. I remember the producer being visibly moved after we played the Brahms G major, saying it had reminded him of Bush/Serkin. As far as my recordings go, maybe they are are bit like children (or students) in that you’re not supposed to admit to any favourites! But if pushed, I do harbour a particular fondness my recording of the Russian Mighty Handful, such attractive repertoire and much of it still seldom played.

Which particular works do you think you play best?

That feels a bit like asking someone what they like/dislike most about their appearance, so I couldn’t possibly comment! My listeners might have their own views…

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

Obviously concerto repertoire gets discussed with orchestras/promoters – you have to fit in with their season. Solo recitals give one much more freedom of choice, and I have always loved to explore highways and byways, or to come up with some sort of theme or connecting thread in my programmes. I have always believed that you need to offer audiences something they wouldn’t normally just get listening at home.

You are performing in the London Piano Festival – tell us more about this?

I have known Charles Owen for a number of years and he has become a very dear friend. We used to live in the same neighbourhood and would meet each other for lunch or a walk in the woods and have a good old natter about life and the universe and all things music. So when he asked if I would like to take part in the two-piano gala at this year’s festival, the answer was of course a resounding yes!

Given my association with the music of Arnold Bax, it seemed obvious that we should choose something from the wealth of two-piano repertoire he wrote. We’ve picked two fabulous pieces: ‘The Poisoned Fountain’ which has a totally spooky atmosphere, and ‘Hardanger’, which is a light-hearted and infectious tribute to Grieg. I’m also playing a group of Poulenc pieces with Katya Apeshikeva which are sheer riotous fun!

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

My favourite concert hall is anywhere with a warm, supportive acoustic and a feeling of connection to the audience. Somewhere like the Wigmore Hall fits the bill perfectly, plus I have an extra fondness for the place as it was where my husband-to-be came into my life when he turned up backstage there a few years ago!

Who are your favourite musicians?

Where do I start? – it’s a long, long list! Pianists past include Rubinstein, Cortot, Lipatti, Curzon, Gilels, de Larrocha, Annie Fischer. Pianists present include Lupu, Perahia, Goode, Schiff, Kovacevich, Fleisher, Peter Frankel. And that’s just the pianists…

What is your most memorable concert experience?

My most memorable concert experience has to be the super-glam concert of film music I took part in at the Royal Albert Hall. The LSO was conducted by John (Star Wars) Williams and the evening was compered by Sir Richard Attenborough. I got to perform some wonderful pieces, and Michel Legrand had even made a special arrangement for me of his music from “The Go-Between”. There was a great deal of razzmatazz about the whole concert, although I have to say it did take me by surprise when they changed the colour of the lighting each time the music changed key!

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

The definition of success for me is when I manage to meet my own exacting standards – it could be a single phrase, or a movement, or maybe (but rarely!) even a whole concert.

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

When I was starting out, a friend of my parents who had been a professional violinist very helpfully advised me that if I loved music I shouldn’t take it up as a career! Of course I ignored his advice but, joking aside, his provocative words did make me realise how important it is never to lose sight of why we have chosen to do music in the first place. There will inevitably be times of struggle and disenchantment which could severely test one’s love of music. Whatever happens, we must try to keep our passion for music intact whether we are performing or teaching. On a practical level, in an over-saturated market, it is vital to be creative and flexible in the way one manages ones career. If we are still going to persuade people to come and hear live music, we have to find ways to make that experience more meaningful and relevant, be it collaborating with other genres such as dance, the visual arts or theatre, or working with living composers, or simply being able to talk to your audiences in an engaging manner.

Where would you like to be in 10 years time?

Still playing and teaching, please.

What is your present state of mind?

If we are talking about the way the world is heading, I am very worried. But if it’s on a personal level, then I am happy and contented, being surrounded as I am by a warm, loving family and many wonderful friends. On a professional level I am feeling really excited as I have a major recital project happening next year. It is based on an idea that is very close to my heart. As it is still in the process of being organised, I can’t talk about it just yet except to say: watch this space!

Margaret performs in the London Piano Festival’s Two-Piano Marathon on Saturday 6 October. Further information and tickets


Margaret Fingerhut is regarded as one of the UK’s most distinguished and poetic pianists, renowned for her exploration of the highways and byways of the repertoire. As a concerto soloist she has appeared with the London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and the London Mozart Players, in major venues such as the Royal Festival Hall, Royal Albert Hall and the Barbican. She is often heard on BBC Radio 3 and Classic FM and many radio stations worldwide.

Her extensive and eclectic discography on the Chandos label has received worldwide critical acclaim and won many accolades. Her numerous discs reflect her long-standing fascination with exploring lesser-known repertoire, including works by Bax, Berkeley, Bloch, Dukas, Falla, Grieg, Howells, Leighton, Novák, Stanford and Suk as well as several pioneering collections of 19th century Russian and early 20th century French piano music. She was the soloist in the première recording of Elgar’s sketches for his Piano Concerto slow movement, arranged by Percy Young. Other première recordings include Edgar Bainton’s Concerto Fantasia, Bax’s Octet and works by Howells, Leighton, Lennox Berkeley and Michael Berkeley. “Margaret Fingerhut deserves our most heartfelt admiration for her championship of the byways of the British repertoire twentieth century piano repertory.” (MusicWeb International). Margaret also made the first recording of a student piece by Rachmaninoff, as well as two solo piano pieces by Sergey Taneyev.

Two of her Bax recordings – the Octet with the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields Chamber Ensemble and the Concertante for Piano Left Hand and Orchestra with Vernon Handley and the BBC Philharmonic – were short-listed for Gramophone awards. Her disc of solo piano music by the Polish/French composer Alexandre Tansman was awarded the accolade of “Diapason D’Or” in France and received high praise: “A triumph of piano playing” (Pianist). Her recent CD of encores, “Endless Song”, was Featured Album of the Week on Classic FM and was selected as “Editor’s Choice” in Pianist magazine as well as being awarded an “Outstanding” accolade in International Record Review.

Margaret also maintains a keen interest in working with contemporary composers and she has commissioned and performed works by Paul Spicer, James Francis Brown, Peter Copley and Tony Bridgewater, in venues such as the Wigmore Hall, Purcell Room and at the Three Choirs Festival.

Margaret is a Professor of Piano at Trinity Laban Conservatoire and a Visiting Tutor at Birmingham Conservatoire where she was recently awarded an Honorary Fellowship. She is a regular guest at summer schools such as Chetham’s, Jackdaws and Dartington. Her teaching at Dartington was described by The Spectator magazine as demonstrating “enormous skill and sympathy”. She has given masterclasses in the USA, Canada, China, and Japan, and she has also been on the jury for many competitions including the BBC Young Musician of the Year.

Born in London of Polish, Ukrainian and Irish ancestry, Margaret went to the Royal College of Music where she studied with Cyril Smith and Angus Morrison. She subsequently studied with Vlado Perlemuter in Paris and Leon Fleisher at the Peabody Conservatory of Music, Baltimore. Margaret lives in London and East Sussex.

margaretfingerhut.co.uk

3 – 7 October 2018
Kings Place, London
2018 promo video here

Katya Apekisheva | Alexandra Dariescu | Margaret Fingerhut | Ingrid Fliter | Stephen Kovacevich | Konstantin Lifschitz | Leszek Możdżer | Charles Owen | Paul Roberts

“A reminder of what a fabulous variety of sound can be conjured from two pianos”
5* The Telegraph

  • Third annual London Piano Festival at Kings Place with Co-Artistic Directors Charles Owen and Katya Apekisheva
     
  • Solo recitals by Konstantin Lifschitz and Ingrid Fliter, amplified jazz performance by Leszek Możdżer and lecture/recital on Debussy by Paul Roberts
  • Two-piano Marathon with Stephen Kovacevich, Margaret Fingerhut, Konstantin Lifschitz, Ingrid Fliter, Charles Owen and Katya Apekisheva which will be recorded by BBC Radio 3 for future broadcast in Radio 3 in Concert
  • Family concert of The Nutcracker and I by Alexandra Dariescu with piano soloist, ballerina and digital animation

img2171sim-canetty-clarkecurated

Charles Owen and Katya Apekisheva announce the programme of their third annual London Piano Festival, taking place from 3-7 October 2018 at Kings Place, London.  This year the Co-Artistic Directors bring together seven pianists in addition to themselves for a programme of solo recitals, jazz, a family concert, lecture/recital and the highly anticipated two-piano marathon.  The theme of this year’s Festival is the centenary of the death of Claude Debussy which is seen throughout the 5-day series.  This year the London Piano Festival are bringing in a student ticket scheme, offering £5 tickets to a number of events during the 5-day Festival.

The highlight of the London Piano Festival is its Two-Piano Marathon, referred to as “altogether exemplary” by The Times (2016). In various pairings, Stephen Kovacevich, Margaret Fingerhut, Katya Apekisheva, Charles Owen, Konstantin Lifschitz and Ingrid Fliter perform a range of works by Brahms, Bax, Debussy, Adès, Stravinsky, Rachmaninov and more.  The Two-Piano Marathon will be recorded by BBC Radio 3 for future broadcast in Radio 3 in Concert.

The Festival opens with a concert by Co-Artistic Directors Charles Owen and Katya Apekisheva performing both solo and duo repertoire.  Katya opens the concert performing Schubert’s Moments Musicaux 1-3, Granados’ The Maiden and The Nightingale and Ginastera’s Three Argentinian Dances before Charles performs Ravel’s Gaspard de la nuit. The second half of the concert sees the duo perform Three Nocturnes by Debussy (arranged by Ravel), marking the composer’s centenary, and Milhaud’s Scaramouche.

“At the London Piano Festival we want to bring together a whole range of music appealing to piano lovers of all ages.  As 2018 marks the centenary of Debussy’s death, we felt it was important to mark this within our programming this year.  We also love to present contemporary music at the Festival and this year we’ll be performing an existing piece by Thomas Adès who is a great friend of Charles’.” Charles Owen and Katya Apekisheva

Both Owen and Apekisheva will be releasing solo albums to coincide with the opening concert of the London Piano Festival this year.  Katya is releasing an album of Scriabin, Chopin and Fauré impromptus on Champs Hill Records, a programme which she brought to the Festival in 2016.  Charles is releasing a double-disc of Brahms’ late piano works on Avie. This follows the recent release of their duo recording in January 2018, Rachmaninov: The two-piano suites; Six Morceaux, Op. 11 which Gramophone magazine called “a highly recommendable disc”.

The London Piano Festival features two solo recitals by pianists making their debuts at Kings Place. Russian pianist Konstantin Lifschitz performs a programme of works by Schubert, Janáček and Debussy, and Argentinian pianist Ingrid Fliter performs Beethoven Sonatas before they both join the Two-Piano Marathon.   Celebrated Polish jazz pianist Leszek Możdżer brings a night of amplified jazz to the Festival, following his sold-out show at Kings Place in 2017 which London Jazz News called “a great show that held the attention from start to finish”. 

Commemorating the centenary of Claude Debussy, concert pianist and writer Paul Roberts presents a lecture/recital in Kings Place’s Hall Two about Debussy’s Piano Music on Saturday 6 October, focussing on Debussy’s Images books I and II.  Paul Roberts is the leading authority on the music of Debussy and Ravel, having written Images: The Piano Music of Claude Debussy, Debussy: a biography and Reflections: The Piano Music of Maurice Ravel.

For this year’s family concert, Alexandra Dariescu brings her ground-breaking multi-media piece The Nutracker and I, by Alexandra Dariescu for piano soloist, ballerina and digital animation to Kings Place for the first time, following its critically-acclaimed world premiere last year.  Tchaikovsky’s beloved ballet music features throughout and includes favourites such as Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, Arabian Dance, Chinese Dance, Pas de Deux, and the Flower Waltz in 15 virtuosic arrangements by Mikhail Pletnev, Stepan Esipoff, Percy Grainger and three brand new variations by Gavin Sutherland.  Dariescu is releasing an album of The Nutcracker and I on Signum Classics on 27 April.

Full programme

Wednesday 3 October, 19:30pm | Hall One
OPENING NIGHT – Charles Owen and Katya Apekisheva
Schubert Moments Musicaux 1-3, D.780 (KA)
Granados Maiden and the Nightingale from Goyescas, Op. 11 (KA)
Ginastera Three Argentinian Dances, Op. 2 (KA)
Ravel Gaspard de la nuit (CO)
Debussy Three Nocturnes (arr. Ravel) (KA & CO)
Milhaud Scaramouche (KA & CO)

Thursday 4 October, 19:30pm | Hall One
ON AN OVERGROWN PATH – Konstantin Lifschitz
Schubert Sonata in A minor, D 784
Janáček ‘On an Overgrown Path’ 1st series
Janáček ‘On an Overgrown Path’ 2nd series
Debussy Preludes Book I

Friday 5 October, 19:30pm | Hall One
LESZEK MOŻDŻER IN CONCERT 

Saturday 6 October, 14:00pm | Hall Two 
IN THE MIND’S EYE – DEBUSSY’S IMAGES – Paul Roberts

Saturday 6 October, 16:00pm | Hall One
TEMPEST – Ingrid Fliter
Beethoven Sonata No. 18 in E-flat major, Op. 31, No.3
Beethoven Sonata No. 17 in D minor ‘Tempest’, Op. 31, No. 2
Beethoven Sonata No. 22 in F major, Op. 54

Saturday 6 October, 19:00pm | Hall One
TWO PIANO MARATHON – Stephen Kovacevich, Margaret Fingerhut, Katya Apekisheva, Charles Owen, Konstantin Lifschitz, Ingrid Fliter
Brahms Variations on a Theme by Haydn, Op. 56 (KL&IF)
Bax The Poisoned Fountain and Hardanger (MF &CO)
Poulenc Élégie (MF & KA)
Poulenc Capriccio (d’après Le Bal masque) (MF & KA)
Poulenc L’embarquement pour Cythère (MF & KA)
Debussy En blanc et noir (SK & CO)
Rachmaninov Russian Rhapsody (1891) (KL & KA)
Arensky Suite No. 1, Op. 15 (IF & KA)
Thomas Adès Concert Paraphrase on Powder Her Face (CO & KA)
Stravinsky Scherzo à la russe (CO & MF)

Sunday 7 October, 14:00pm | Hall One
THE NUTCRACKER & I BY ALEXANDRA DARIESCU

 


(source: Albion Media press release)

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

I come from a family of musicians; my mother was even playing concerts with me in her belly so I guess I’ve been drinking it all in since I was a bean. I began with the violin so the viola is a natural sibling instrument and I’m happily bilingual as both violinist and violist. I rarely think of my life as a musician in terms of a career, I just knew that music would hold the greatest challenges and rewards, and so there was no other path… here I am on it!

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

There many musicians to whom I’m thankful for inspiration, but if I think back to being drawn to improvisation as a child it is learning this skill that has had a powerful influence on my music-making and has opened many musical doors, sparking my curiosity at every stage.

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

Learning to say no. And overcoming fear.

Which recordings are you most proud of?

I’m proud of the discs I’ve made with my group ZRI—we’re recorded both the Brahms Clarinet and Schubert C major quintets, re-scored to include santouri (dulcimer) and accordion to reconnect with the Hungarian, folk, and cafehaus traditions that inspired Johannes and Franz when they each went drinking in the Zum Roten Igel pub in Vienna and heard the gypsies play. We’re playing at Kings Place on April 8th with our brand new Charlie Chaplin live score and concert program!

Which particular works do you think you play best?

I’ll leave that for the audience to decide…

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

Often I’m invited to play particular repertoire but if I’m in charge then I’ll choose a program according to the context in which it’ll be performed. The particular venue and kind of audience you expect is crucial for a choice of what to play and how to present a program. That’s not to say I’ll choose something that may be in an audience’s comfort zone—sometimes the most exciting concerts push those boundaries—but it’s always a consideration in planning. And the bottom line is it’s got to be something that I’m really into myself or else how can I expect anyone else to be?

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

I like to give concerts in weird and wild settings, and not necessarily traditional halls. But as far as more regular stage settings go, I love Wilton’s Music Hall in Shadwell—it’s a stunning Victorian music hall with a gorgeous natural acoustic. The Wanamaker Playhouse is also awesome: all wood, candle-lit, and perfect for a chamber group or solo.

Who are your favourite musicians?

How long have we got?! I like people who make music with risk and real-time flow, who have an individual voice and personality, who explore sound and colour, who like to groove…people who can captivate you with their imaginations. Magicians of sorts. Vladimir Horowitz, for example, or Bobby McFerrin.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

It’s impossible to choose! Playing with Malian rappers at a festival in Timbuktu? Leading Bjork’s string orchestra in the Albert Hall? String trios with my father and sister in an old Berlin Ballroom? Solo Bach in an underground cave in the south of France?…

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

When you are physically and imaginatively in the zone at a concert, when the flow of the music is bigger than you yet you are also standing at its helm… where your intuition is your guide, where you’re experiencing the music for the first time whether it’s from an old score or improvised… and when the audience are right there with you from start to finish.

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

Play with your mind and heart not your fingers. Learn to talk as well as sing on your instrument. And, to quote Charlie Parker: ‘If you don’t live it, it won’t come out your horn’!

What is your present state of mind?

I’m excited because I’m on a plane to the north of Norway where I’m spending 3 days working with some amazing folk musicians on a new Folk-meets-Baroque project.

 

Max Baillie performs in Time Line with Oliver Coates, Thomas Gould and Rakhi Singh on 28th February, part of the Time Unwrapped season at King’s Place.

Further information


A graduate of the Yehudi Menuhin School, Cambridge University, and Berlin’s UdK, violinist and violist Max Baillie leads a uniquely versatile career. He performs across a diverse spectrum of music spanning new commissions, improvisation, and collaborations with artists from all over the world. As a soloist and chamber musician he has performed on stages from the Royal Albert Hall to Glastonbury, from Mali to Moscow, and plays regularly for television and radio broadcast.

Max is a founding member of ZRI, Zum Roten Igel. The ensemble has toured to major festivals with its re-scored versions of the Brahms clarinet quintet and the Schubert C major quintet, including accordion and santouri (dulcimer). He also has a duo with his ‘cellist father Alexander Baillie with whom he recorded a disc of folk-influenced violin and cello duos earlier this year. Max also features regularly with Notes Inegales, an improvisation group which ventures into adventurous cross-cultural and cross-genre collaborations at its regular club night Club Inegales.

For over ten years Max held the Principal Viola position in the London-based group Aurora Orchestra, playing a major role in its creative path. He conceived and directed the first of Aurora’s Brazilian dance collaborations, featured as soloist in Julian Philips’ dedicated commission Maxamorphosis drawing on his background as a trained dancer, and in 2016 curated the first season of late night ‘Lock-in’ concerts at London’s Kings Place.

Max is partnered with the National Youth Orchestra of Britain to build an online educational resource for young string players, and is currently working with an animator to create a short film about how to approach solo Bach as part of his Bach Voyager project.

www.maxbaillie.com

itin-14

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

I don’t remember myself NOT playing piano.  As I was told by my parents (non-musicians but avid music lovers) I was drawn to the piano from a very young age. I was not that interested in toys – the piano was my toy. Pursuing a career in music must have been my first teacher’s idea: Natalia Litvinova was and has been a very important influence in my life (musical and not).  My conservatory professor, Lev Naumov, remains to this very day an inspiration and a driving force for my musical endeavors.

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

Can’t put challenges on the scale. Everything becomes a challenge and a reward when done with utmost dedication.

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?

I believe they are to come. There is a light at the end of the tunnel….

Which particular works do you think you play best?

I try to play works that I play best. 

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

I choose whatever fascinates me hoping my audience doesn’t mind my whims.

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

There are many and they change. I suspect it has nothing to do with geography.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

Once I was scheduled to perform a concerto in Santiago, Chile. At the rehearsal ( fortunately not at the performance itself) I found out that the conductor and the orchestra were playing a different version of the piece. I had to change the concerto on the spot. Will never forget that.

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

I don’t have one. I just want to do my job well.

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

To be a musician is a privilege. 

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

I hope I am still around in 10 years ( roviding the world is still there as well)

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Would not be perfect happiness if I were able to explain it.

What is your most treasured possession?

I don’t treasure my possessions. 

What do you enjoy doing most?

I enjoy non-doing most

What is your present state of mind?

Ambivalent

 

Ilya Itin performs sonatas in D by Schubert and Rachmaninov on Saturday 7th October, part of the London Piano Festival at King’s Place. Further information here

ilyaitin.com