(Photograph: Josep Molina/PR)

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

I actually took my first musical steps playing the clarinet in the marching band of Nerva, the village where I grew up.  This was the first instrument I ever learned, and I could see myself taking it further.  But then an aunt introduced me to the incredible sound world of the piano and from the beginning. I was absolutely fascinated .  As for the second part of the question, I feel that things have always progressed very naturally: I never had to make any decision as to whether or not to pursue a career in music.

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

I’m really lucky in that I’ve always had extraordinary teachers: Julia Hierro (my first teacher), María Ramblado, Ana Guijarro, and Josep Colom have been a source of wisdom and inspiration throughout my student years. I’ve also had the chance to get great advice from Daniel Barenboim, Richard Goode, or Alicia de Larrocha, all of whom I deeply admire.

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

Every new piece I learn – I like to think of that as the greatest challenge!

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?  

It is quite hard to pick a particular concert or recording, but perhaps for its special significance maybe I’d pick having taken part in one of the last concerts of the Tokyo Quartet during their farewell season, doing the Brahms and Schumann Quintets. It was a highly emotional experience and unforgettable for me as I was a long-time admirer of the Quartet.

Which particular works do you think you play best?

I prefer to leave that to audiences, but I also like to think that what I should play best is what I’m performing or working on at the moment.

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

One consideration is to link recording plans with the launching of recordings with Harmonia Mundi and, on the other, to consider particular requests from promoters as well as any lines of programming that orchestras and conductors might have. In any case, when I work on devising a recital program I like to find some unifying principle and/or connections amongst the works being presented.

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

It’s difficult to choose just one among so many extraordinary concert halls where I’ve had the great pleasure to perform. Suntory Hall in Tokyo presents a very special combination between its admirable acoustics and great audience capacity; another wonderful hall that is a favourite for its forward-looking conception is the New World Center in Miami. And how to forget the magic and tradition one can feel in temples of music like London’s Wigmore Hall, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw or New York’s Carnegie Hall.

Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to? 

I hesitate to even begin answering the first question: the repertoire is so vast, rich and varied! Like I said before, perhaps whatever piece I’m working on or performing at the moment becomes my favourite. As to my listening habits, let me just give you a small glimpse through my iPod playlist: Granados’ Goyescas with Alicia de Larrocha, Tchaikovsky Symphonies with St. Petersburg Philharmonic and E. Mravinsky, Brahms Symphonies with N. Harnoncourt, Chopin Nocturnes with MJ Pires, the last Schubert Sonatas with Radu Lupu, Beethoven Sonatas with Daniel Barenboim, Mozart piano concertos with Mitusko Uchida, Schubert Trios by the Beaux Arts, Debussy by Michelangeli and a very long etcetera.

Who are your favourite musicians? 

As a pianist I’m such an admirer of many of today’s musicians such as Barenboim, Pires, Lupu or Sokolov. At the same time, I must also say that I’m fascinated by past musicians like Schnabel, Lipatti, Michelangeli, Rubinstein, Myra Hess, Hoffman, Cortot, etc. If we add to the list other instrumentalists, singers, and conductors the list would prove to be endless!

What is your most memorable concert experience? 

In addition to my collaboration with the Tokyo Quartet during their farewell season I should single out my debut in Lucerne with Zubin Mehta, my recent collaborations with Tabea Zimmermann, Beethoven’s Emperor with Daniel Barenboim, Ravel’s G Major with Daniel Harding and the London Syphony, the Schumann with Michael Tilson Thomas, and my debuts with Yuri Temirkanov and Maazel, among many others. I greatly cherish those memories.

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

Honesty, dedication, personality, work and passion.

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

I’d like to be exactly the same but of course with the maturity, experience and depth ten years will bring!

What is your present state of mind? 

Searching, exploring, discovering and delving deeper!



(Photo: Marco Borggreve)

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

I was born into a musical family. My father Ernst (a tenor) was the preeminent Evangelist (in the Bach Passions) of his time and also a wonderful Liedersinger.

Under these circumstances it is difficult to describe when the passion for music arose. It was simply always there and, maybe as the smell of leather permeates the childhood of the son of a shoemaker, the smell of music permeated mine.

My mother talked about me always being drawn to the piano – at three years of age I would walk over and start playing, my arms reaching up to the keyboard.

The conscious decision to pursue the career was thus more like an acceptance of the inevitable.

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

Again I must start with the earliest and biggest influence – my father.

From the earliest age I was immersed into going to operas, oratorios and lieder recitals. Wonderful musicians like Karl Richter, Erich Werba, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau came to our house to make music and as soon as I was able to I had to accompany for pupils who came to the house for lessons. What better training could a child wish for.

In early adulthood my dreamy childhood fantasies were quickly adjusted to the reality of music-making through my studies at the Mozarteum in Salzburg with Hans Leygraf and then through my Juilliard studies with Herbert Stessin and the iconic William Masselos.

At age 17 the towering presence of Alfred Brendel came into my life and studies and dialogue continued for many years for which I am thankful to this day.

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

The pianist’s life is one of constant growth.

As an interpreter you have to find just the right mix of ego and humility and this requires tremendous investment not just in the art of music, but also in the growth as a human being. Therefore challenges are omnipresent in your daily life as you walk through this growth.

Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?

I am still very pleased with my early recordings of Mozart, Schumann and Gubaidulina for Sony. Later I challenged myself with the Perspectives Recordings of which the Beethoven op 106 was a milestone of sorts. The human growth I talked about in the last question is audible however in the last recording of Schumann Fantasy and op 109- so may be I could say this one is the one that has reached an intermediate goal. My public perfomances have always been mirrored by the CDs so therefore I am also at a new level of expression in this medium.

Which particular works do you think you play best?

I do believe that my talent lies mostly in the interpretation of the central european repertoire. I also very much however enjoy commissioning new music from all over the world.

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

I am a strong believer in the importance of programming. The piano recital offers to the pianist an opportunity to combine pieces  and lead the audience from work to work much as a curator would in a museum. In the past six seasons I have made the Beethoven Piano Sonatas the central part of this exhibition and I combine them with works that intuitively or intellectually  share or juxtapose ideas, keys or moods.

Do you have a favorite concert venue to perform in?

I love the famous halls in this world- each one has something particular and stunning to offer. All share the component of facilitating densely concentrated moments in time, thus making the creation of great art possible.

I also sense however that there will be evermore a branching away from these platforms of high culture  and that music in less formal settings will become more and more popular. In the best circumstances this can aid the art form tremendously as it will create an atmosphere of accessibility without watering down the content.

Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?

I always enjoy the pieces that I am working on at the moment. In listening  I like to be surprised by repertoire I don’t know.

Who are your favorite musicians?

Edwin Fischer,  Wilhelm Kempf, Bruno Walter

Edwin Fischer once said that the perfect interpretation is to enliven a work without violating it. These three performers all shared this ability.

What is your most memorable concert experience

May be in an odd turnaround from my previous answer this still remains Leonard Bernstein with New York Philharmonic performing Mahler 2nd symphony. A wildly involved performance that was stirring to attend- oddly I am much less fond of the recording of this very concert.

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

Where does work begin and inspiration end?

We find ourselves in a very strange profession. Ultimately we are the flag bearers of a great achievement of human civilization. Ideally we go on stage in front of thousands of other human beings and transport them to never before experienced emotional heights. Years of study in matters both musical and philosophical have brought us to the point where we find ourselves capable of presenting phrases with such intensity and knowledge that they reach the listeners ear without distraction. Great art is made.

At the same time we live in an age of crippling competition and ability. Worldwide travel and immediate availability are a matter of course in a world where the other one will go and play if you don’t. Quick fix artistry is rampant in a selfie culture that looks to propagate the own achievement through any means possible. The music world is a confusing place.

At some point the student today has to make a decision to involve herself in the slow process of musical growth. At the same time modern aspects of musical performance cannot be ignored but must be incorporated in order for artistic intensity to be realized.

The young student must address this dichotomy early on in order to be able to successfully navigate the art form.



Coming from a rich tradition, the pianist Andreas Haefliger is: “consummately lyrical. Exhibitionism and pretence are antithetical to his musical personality”; he has “a vision of musical architecture second to none and a tender, profoundly cultivated sensibility, from which music flows unimpeded” ( International record review, September 2014). He has won many plaudits for his Beethoven Perspectivesrecitals on disc (Avie) and at major halls and festivals. He is also much sought-after as a chamber musician – past highlights include Mostly Mozart New York with the Takacs Quartet, and Salzburg Festival with Mathias Goerne. In 2014 he gave the premiere at the BBC Proms of a new concerto written for him by Chinese-American composer Zhou Long.

Haefliger was born into a distinguished Swiss musical family and grew up in Germany, going on to study at the Juilliard School in New York. He was quickly recognised as a pianist of the first rank, and engagements with major US orchestras followed swiftly – the New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Pittsburgh, Chicago and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestras among them. In his native Europe too, Haefliger was invited to the great orchestras and festivals – such as the Royal Concertgebouw, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Orchestre de Paris, London Symphony Orchestra and Vienna Symphony. He also established himself as a superb recitalist, making his New York debut in 1988, and has since performed regularly at major venues in Europe such as the Lucerne, Salzburg and Edinburgh Festivals and the Vienna Konzerthaus, as well as at major halls across North America and Asia.

Haefliger is a regular visitor to London’s Wigmore Hall, where he appears in December 2015 for the next instalment of his Perspectives series, in which he performs the complete piano works of Beethoven alongside works by other composers from Mozart to Ligeti. This series has formed the focus of Haefliger’s solo recital appearances and CD recordings in recent years. His latest chamber music project gathers friends Benjamin Schmid and Karen Gomyo (violins), Lise Berthaud (viola) and Christian Poltera (cello) for intensive rehearsal periods and concerts every year at the Louisiana Museum in Copenhagen, which the group will then take further afield. In spring 2016 he performs with his wife, the distinguished flautist Marina Piccinini, on an extensive tour of the USA.







(photo Susie Knoll)

The Croatian pianist Dejan Lazić first came to my attention, perhaps for the wrong reasons, when I read about his 2014 fracas with The Washington Post over the “right to be forgotten” in Google searches. He asked for a review from 2010, which he felt was unfair, to be removed. The incident sparked a lively debate across the networks about whether artists should respond to negative reviews or make such requests, and whether critics and reviewers need to be more careful about what they say. To me, it was a rather neat example of “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”: I read about Lazić, my curiosity was piqued and I wanted to hear him live.

I missed his Queen Elizabeth Hall concert in winter 2014 so I was pleased to see him on the roster of the Wigmore Hall’s lunchtime concerts. And how glad I am that I decided to go to the concert, for he presented an imaginative programme of music: two greats of German music – Haydn and Schumann – were juxtaposed with dances by Shostakovich and Lazić himself, all of which revealed his strengths.

Anyone who makes me smile in Haydn gets my applause……

Read my full review

(photo: Kelley Eady Loveridge)
Who or what inspired you to take up the piano and pursue a career in music?

My dear teacher and mentor, Dr. Rae de Lisle, senior lecturer at School of Music, University of Auckland, who has taught me for 12 years. Maestro Chung Myung-Hoon who was the first South Korean pianist who became the Silver Medalist (no Gold-Medalist awarded) at 1974 Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition, who is now an internationally sought-after conductor.

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

My mentor, Dr. Rae de Lisle who has taught me since I was 9 years old until I graduated from University of Auckland with First Class Honours. She has seen me grow up and has guided me to where I am right now.

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

I grew up in New Zealand until I came to London last year. London life is completely different to New Zealand life where its population is only 4 million people. Studying at the Royal Academy of Music and living in London, the metropolitan city has been very challenging since I didn’t know anyone and I didn’t have anyone who supported me. I had to completely depend on myself and this was great challenge.

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of? 

2009 my performance of Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No.2 when I was 17 years old. 2012 My debut recital at Auckland Town Hall, Chopin Preludes Complete, Bach/Busoni Chaconne. Recent performances of 2013 New Zealand Wallace Piano National Piano Competition of my Liszt Piano Sonata, Ravel Gaspard de la Nuit, Rachmaninov Piano Sonata No.2 and 2014 New Zealand Wallace Piano Festival my complete recital programme of J.S. Bach Partita No.6, Rachmaninov Moments Musicaux complete.

Which particular works do you think you perform best?

Rachmaninov Piano Sonata No.2 Op.36 (Original version), Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 2 and Rachmaninov Moments Musicaux Op.16 complete.

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

First of all, I have to know which venue I would be playing in and also what kind of audience, and this depends on the country, suburbs (whether it is a small town or big city). In small towns, I have to play relatively well-known works or well-known composers. In the big cities, I can introduce more contemporary works and new composers.

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

Auckland Town Hall Great Hall and Concert Chamber. Auckland is where I grew up and I went to almost every single concert in this venue where I received inspiration and motivation.

Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?

Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No.2 Op.16. I have worked so hard to prepare this work and performed it so well. Now, I like listening to Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 3 which I am currently working on.

Who are your favourite musicians?

Stephen Hough, Leif Ove Andsnes, Arcadi Volodos, Gil Shaham, Joshua Bell, Hilary Hahn, Maxim Vengerov, Vasily Petrenko and Vladmir Ashkenazy.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

2012 Auckland Town Hall Concert Chamber Debut – Sold out. 2009 Lev Vlassenko International Piano Competition 2nd Prize – Brisbane, Australia. 2013 Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No.1 with Auckland Philharmonia – Auckland Town Hall Great Hall, New Zealand.

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

Always have to remember that I am making music in order to solely share with audience. It’s never about showing off my talent but inspiring audience making them to appreciate the beauty of the classical music. Always aiming at making audience to feel that their couple of hours of listening to my performance was life-changing experience.

What are you working on at the moment? 

Chopin 4 Ballades, Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 3.

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

Becoming an artist in residence for Wigmore Hall, London, Seoul Arts Centre, South Korea. Regular concerto soloist with Philharmonia Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Continuing to enjoy making music even though it is difficult journey and lonely life in order to share the music with many people around the world (not just in major concert halls, big cities but small rural towns as well). I would like to have a good family who can continuously support me to achieve my vision of sharing classical music to as many people as possible.

What is your most treasured possession? 

My experiences of travelling to many countries for my performances.

What do you enjoy doing most?

Meeting with my best friends for a good catch-up and conversation.

What is your present state of mind?

I am looking forward to preparing new works for 2015.

Jason Bae was born in Daejeon, South Korea in 1991 where he began studying piano at the age of five. At age 12, he has made his concerto debut with Auckland Symphony Orchestra performing Grieg Piano Concerto Op. 16. A year later, he became the youngest concerto soloist to perform with Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra for the ‘SkyCity Starlight Symphony Concert in the Park’ at the Auckland Domain in front of 200,000 people. Under the baton of Rossen Milanov, Jason performed Stravinsky’s Concerto for Piano and Winds as a soloist with New Zealand National Youth Symphony Orchestra in 2010. He has also appeared as a concerto soloist with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra of Australia, Auckland Youth Symphony Orchestra, Christchurch Symphony Orchestra and Bach Musica. 

Jason’s full biography is on his website

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

I don’t remember much about what made me decide to play the piano and make it my life’s dedication, I only know that I always knew that I wanted to become a concert pianist.

I do remember getting a cassette tape with Chopin ‘Heroic’ Polonaise played by Ashkenazy and couldn’t get around how somebody could write something so beautiful and full of life.

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

When I was in high school I met a classical guitarist who had a sensitivity and honesty as an artist which I had not seen. We would listen and discuss wonderful pieces of art in which he showed me delicacy in colour, shape and space which I didn’t think were possible. I was raised in a small coastal town in the Netherlands and in this seemingly non-artistic environment he was somebody who gave me the confidence to pursue the search for beauty.

Steven Osborne has been a big influence in the last years. He has helped me a lot, not only by his occasional mentoring but also seeing him perform and his work in seeking expression, character and technical confidence.

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

I think the greatest challenge is still to come in securing a career and being able to reach a large audience in a world where classical music is still understood by a small number of people and where the artist has to deal with big political and intercontinental power shifts.

Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?

I have recently recorded my first disc. The things I have heard sound really good in terms of clarity and expression. But most proud am I to have been able to work with an incredible team – producer Andrew Keener and engineer Aleksandar Obradovic.

Which particular works do you think you perform best?

This is very difficult to answer: as an artist I am constantly looking to understand style and the composer’s score more and more thoroughly. Sometimes I have a pretty clear feeling of a particular expression in a particular style but realise that it couldn’t be the composer’s intention. It is a long search in which we must take our own life and experiences into account.

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

Depending to what certain halls and concert series have programmed and wish to listen to, I try to build a program in which I feel confident and in which the pieces have common ground in terms of expression and character.

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

Not so long ago I performed in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. The experience was truly wonderful because the hall and the acoustics worked together so beautifully. My concept of sound in certain passages was suddenly so much more achievable as the circumstances were perfect.

Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?

I very much enjoy performing Schumann Allegro Opus 8. I love the tremendous drive and power of this particular piece. It brings so many questions to me which I don’t always know how to answer, and this is the beauty of it.

I am constantly return to listening to Buckner symphonies, they give me such a sense of space and structure. There something about these works that gives me clarity of mind in times when I need it.

Who are your favourite musicians?

There are a lot of musicians and artists in general whom I admire for their contribution to art and music. Each of them, in their personal view of music, has taught me things and changed or affected the way I see things nowadays.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

When I was living in Rotterdam the first concert I attended was Bach’s St Matthew Passion with the Rotterdam Philharmonic. The experience of such an incredibly powerful piece in a setting of a beautiful concert hall was something which has stayed with me.

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

I think the most important thing for young artists is to have a very clear idea of how to reach the younger generation, and to be able to show why art is a necessity for the well being of our internal life.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Hopefully that is when mind, body and spirit become one and there is complete peace of mind.

What is your present state of mind?

At the moment I consider myself having a clear state of mind as I am able to make deeply-felt artistic decisions. In a world which is captured by an economical crisis, political shifts, and is in need of a new vision towards our perception of how we experience art, I find myself sometimes overwhelmed by all the possibilities on the one hand and doubts on the other.

Cyrill Ibrahim performs at St James’s Piccadilly, London on 11th January at 1pm

Born in Rotterdam in The Netherlands, in 1984, Cyrill Ibrahim started playing the piano at the age of seven. One of his first mentors was Leonardo Palacios, a classical guitarist from Uruguay. He subsequently enrolled at the age of 18 at the Rotterdam Conservatory. He graduated as Bachelor of Music with Distinction.

During his studies, his tutors were Aquiles Delle Vigne, Barbara Grajewska and Marcus Baban. To his delight, Cyrill was loaned a grand piano by the Dutch Music Foundation during his studies in the Netherlands.

In 2009, the pianist Paolo Giacometti offered him a place at the Utrecht Conservatory to follow the Master of Music programme. He studied there for a year before moving to the United Kingdom.

Cyrill graduated from the Royal College of Music after undertaking the Master’s Degree in Performance under the tutelage of Professor Andrew Ball. The Dutch Government showed its faith in Cyrill’s skills as a pianist by offering him a full Huygen’s Scholarship for the entirety of his studies with the RCM.

He participated in the masterclass of the Portuguese pianist Maria Joao Pires at the Karma Ling Institute in France. In addition to this, he studied at the Birmingham Piano Academy, Chetham’s Summer School, the Lucca Estate and the Orchestral Conducting Course that is run by Antonio Ros Marba in Spain. Over the years, he has received tuition from, among others, Philip Fowke, Peter Donohoe, Ruth Nye, Matthias Kirschnereit, Dr. Robert Markham, Malcolm Wilson, John Humpreys and Katarzyna Popowa-Zydron.

He has performed both as soloist and a chamber recitalist on the national and international stage for such halls as the Berliner Philharmonie and Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.

Cyrill has had the privilege of working with the concert pianist Steven Osborne. In a magazine interview, he said of the pianist: “I recently met a talented young Dutch pianist called Cyrill Ibrahim, who has an intensity and openness that really impressed me. I think he could be someone really worth listening to.”



(photo: Jean-Baptiste-Millot)

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

I first heard the sound of the piano in my grandmother’s house. She had taken up piano studies late in life, with real devotion. I remember looking at the scores and asking her lots of questions… Later on, my sister began to take lessons – I was fascinated. The dream of a career came much later, when I was a teenager and had had the chance to listen to some great artists in the flesh and on recordings; I naturally wanted to play like them! One of the most inspiring souvenirs from those early years are the Chopin Nocturnes, recorded by Artur Rubinstein – truly unforgettable.

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

First of all my teachers: Jorge Garrubba, Juan Carlos Arabian, Carmen Scalcione, Maria Tipo. Very different personalities, but all true musicians whose advice have never left me. Their aim was to make you a musician with your own voice, to help give you the means to express what you have inside you and to avoid many of the traps every young aspiring musician encounters. Something I try to do myself when I teach…

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

One of the greatest challenges has been to leave my family and come to live alone in Europe when I was eighteen. It was not easy, but I grew as a person and as an artist. The second big challenge came after winning the Geneva Competition (1990). Concert engagements did not arrive immediately, and when finally things started to happen, I realised that I was only at the beginning of a lifelong process of searching inside myself and the music I play – which I consider the greatest possible challenge.

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?

I enjoyed listening to a live recording of Brahms 2nd Concerto I played a few years ago with the NHK Symphony Orchestra at Suntory Hall, and also enjoyed some of the many performances I gave at the Chopin and His Europe Festival in Warsaw – one of my favourite festivals. But I seldom listen to my old recordings: there is actually something almost terrifying when we do so. We evolve, and to face earlier performances is not easy! On the other hand, it can sometimes be refreshing. Maybe one had less experience at that time, less knowledge and so on, but a fresh, perhaps more intuitive look at the music.

Which particular works do you think you play best?

I probably have most affinity with the Romantic repertoire: Chopin, Brahms, Liszt, Schumann…but I have never tried to be an specialist. For instance, I believe that if you play Mozart well. you will play Chopin well too, so important is the classical element in the big Polish master’s music. I don’t believe in ‘closed compartments’ in music.

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

I simply choose the pieces that I really need to play in that particular moment of my life – that’s the key thing. Pieces I’ve been living with for a while until I feel I might have something to say, and that conviction – modest but strong at the same time – guides me. Apart from that, a programme must have an inner logic and contrasts, too: it sometimes takes me many months to decide.

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

Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires is undoubtedly one of my favourites: in this great hall, one has also the feeling of intimacy you get in a chamber hall, and the sound is so warm! I also love the big hall of the Liszt Academy in Budapest – one of the best you can dream of – and Suntory Hall in Tokyo. Both are very special venues.

Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?

Last season I was performing Beethoven’s ‘Hammerklavier’ Sonata very often. When I play the work, there is nothing on my horizon that I could find greater, more fulfilling. The same is true of every great piece of music: for a performer, the favourite piece should be the one you are playing at that moment, as if your life depends on it.

Who are your favourite musicians?

Among pianists, the great ones from the past: Rachmaninoff, Cortot, Schnabel, Lipatti, Artur Rubinstein, Vladimir Horowitz. You can easily recognise them after hearing any of them play just one phrase: their sound was so individual, so special. And, among those from today: Radu Lupu, Grigory Sokolov, Martha Argerich, to name but a few…

What is your most memorable concert experience?

If I had to choose one, I would choose when I played Rachmaninoff’s Third Concerto at the final stage of the Geneva Competition: I managed to forget I was in a contest and evaluated by a jury. So the music started to flow, even though I was playing the piece in public for the first time. Later I happened to listen to the recording of that evening with pleasure.

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

For an aspiring musician, the essential thing is to remain true to oneself. It is increasingly difficult to achieve; the striving to make a career can easily push a young musician to be swallowed up by the concept of ‘profile’ and marketing. And that can be dangerous: it may stop the development of a true personality. One needs lots of patience, to think of the long term, and believe in what one has to say.

You are on the jury of the Chopin Competition and performing at the opening concert. What are you looking forward to about your time in Poland?

The prestige of the Chopin Competition will naturally attract fascinating young artists and I am of course eager to discover them. It is so inspiring to hear so much talent, with their fresh ideas, and to guess their projection in the future.  I hope I will accomplish my duty as a juror – it’s a very tough one. We are all subjective and respond more easily to someone who has a picture of a particular piece that is somehow close to yours. I will try not to fall into that trap!

What do you enjoy doing most?

I could not imagine myself doing something different! I just wish I have the inner strength to serve music the best I can for many more years to come. And never to stop developing…

The grand finale of the 17th International Chopin Competition takes place in Warsaw from 18-20 October. Further information here

Nelson Goerner’s new disc of complete Chopin Preludes is released in December 2015 (Alpha Classics) and his Beethoven Hammerklavier Sonata & 6 Bagatelles Op.126 will be released in March 2016 (Alpha Classics)

Nelson Goerner has performed with many of the major orchestras including the Philharmonia Orchestra under Claus Peter Flor, the Deutsche Symphonie Orchestra of Berlin under Andrew Davis, the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Emmanuel Krivine, the Hallé Orchestra under Mark Elder, the Suisse Romande with Neemi Jarvi and Raphael Fruhbeck de Burgos, the Orchestra of the 18th Century with Frans Bruggen, the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie with Ivor Bolton, and the NHK Symphony Orchestra of Tokyo under Fabio Luisi.

His festival appearances include the Salzburg Festival, La Roque d’Anthéron, La Grange de Meslay, Edinburgh, Schleswig-Holstein and Verbier, as well as the BBC Proms.

In the 2013-14 season, Nelson Goerner was the subject of the Artist Portrait series at the Wigmore Hall in London, where he gave four recitals exploring such diverse repertoire as Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann, Chopin, Debussy and Bartok.

A keen chamber musician, Nelson Goerner has collaborated with artists such as Martha Argerich (in repertoire for two pianos), Janine Jansen, Steven Isserlis and Gary Hoffman.

Nelson Goerner has a strong connection with the Mozarteum Argentino in Buenos Aires, and a student scholarship has since led to many performances. Mr Goerner also enjoys a long association with the Chopin Institute in Warsaw, where he is a member of the artistic advisory committee. With the Institute, he recently explored the interpretation of Chopin on contemporary pianos by Pleyel and Erard dating from 1848 and 1849. These performances were recorded for the Chopin Institute’s own label, with the recording of the Ballades and Nocturnes winning a Diapason d’Or.

Mr Goerner is very active in the recording studio and his discography includes recordings of Chopin, Rachmaninov, Liszt and Busoni, and a DVD of repertoire by Beethoven and Chopin in a live performance from the Verbier Festival. His Chopin recording on the Wigmore Hall Live label was instrumental Choice of the Month in BBC Music Magazine, and his recording of Debussy for the Outhere/ZigZag Territoires label was awarded the Diapason d’Or of the Year 2013. Nelson Goerner’s most recent recording of repertoire by Schumann was BBC Music Magazine’s Recording of the Month in March 2015. His next recording project will feature repertoire by Beethoven.

Born in San Pedro, Argentina, in 1969, Nelson Goerner has established himself as one of the foremost pianists of his generation. After studying in Argentina with Jorge Garrubba, Juan Carlos Arabian and Carmen Scalcione, he was awarded First Prize in the Franz Liszt Competition in Buenos Aires in 1986. This led to a scholarship to work with Maria Tipo at the Geneva Conservatoire, and in 1990 Nelson Goerner won the First Prize at the Geneva Competition.