Pianists corner

Interview Marc-André Hamelin – part-1 the learning years

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We meet Marc-André Hamelin in Berlin, not far from the Teldec studios where he has just recorded a virtuoso programme consisting of transcriptions of operas by Liszt and Thalberg coupled with the Hexameron variations. His ease and cordiality immediately establish a warm contact, and the conversation goes well in French on subjects of a richness at least in the image of the character. It was not the late hour, it could have lasted until the early morning.

The next day we meet the pianist again to conduct an in-depth interview, focusing on two directions: his learning of the piano and the rare repertoire he defends.

This first part of the interview is devoted to the learning years, an opportunity for the pianist to recall the memory of his teachers and to tell anecdotes with remarkable detail. Between Yvonne Hubert in Montreal, Harvey Wedeen in Philadelphia and Russell Sherman in Boston, not to mention his father, an amateur pianist who played a decisive role in his life, Marc-André Hamelin reviews the characters and highlights of this decisive period.

The musical illustrations accompanying these interviews were recorded at a later meeting in Paris on a 1926 Pleyel concert piano, model A (owned by our friend Christophe Labarde).

Interview part-1 the learning years

Seymour Bernstein: Chopin & Pedagogy (Interview)

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From his nest on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, legendary pedagogue Seymour Bernstein is joined by tonebase Head of Piano Ben Laude for an interview at his faithful Steinway. (2020).

Bernstein shares his thoughts on the role of teachers in a student’s personal journey with music and offers simple but powerful insights into natural, effortless use of the arm in piano playing.

Tatiana Nikolayeva talks about Shostakovich

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The Russian pianist Tatiana Nikolayeva (1924-1993) was close to the great composer Dmitri Shostakovich and recorded his complete Preludes and Fugues opus 87 in homage to Johann Sebastian Bach – which was dedicated to her – four times: in 1962, 1987, 1990 and in 1992 as a filmed performance.

“Aside from the Shostakovich, though, Tatiana Nikolayeva will be remembered as a Bach player who flung stylistic considerations to the winds and played the music with an irrepressible musical intelligence and knowledge of the resources of her chosen instrument” James Methuen Campbell

Leon Fleisher Masterclass, Ravinia 2013

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Leon Fleicher, he was one of the most prominent pedagogues of recent years. He studied from the age of 9 with Artur Schnabel and began a brilliant career. At the age of 36 he lost the use of his right hand and naturally devoted himself to teaching, which he did for nearly 60 years at the Peabody Institute and the Curtis Institute. Among his students were Hélène Grimaud, Yefim Bronfman, Louis Lortie, André Watts,
Piotr Anderszewski, Bertrand Chamayou, Severin von Eckardstein

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Alfred Cortot and the Chopin Etudes

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Alfred Cortot was a supreme interpreter of Chopin – he studied with the composer’s pupil Émile Descombes – and fortunately he left us many recordings made over the course of several decades.

Among his most significant contributions to recorded music are his stupendous accounts of Chopin’s Etudes, his expansive, creative interpretations taking these works well beyond the realm of technical studies to reveal their rich musical content.

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The rarities of Pianists Corner : Grażyna Bacewicz, Piano Sonata n°2

Grażyna Bacewicz, Piano Sonata n°2

Grażyna Bacewicz, in addition to being a renowned Polish violinist and prolific composer, was an excellent pianist, as evidenced by her monumental Sonata No. 2, composed in 1953, which she performed herself (surprisingly, there is no trace of any Sonata No. 1). The writing is resolutely modern, harmonically audacious and of immense expressive richness. The exploratory aspect summons very varied climates, from a diffuse anxiety to an electric outburst. The first movement, Maestoso – Agitato, broad and full of determination, gives way to a lyrical and mysterious Largo, before an unpredictable Toccata.

Discover the interpretations of Anna Szałucka

The rarities of Pianists Corner: Komitas, 7 dances for piano

Komitas, 7 dances for piano

Komitas (1869-1935), a priest, composer, musicologist and singer, is a key figure in Armenian culture. He worked for the rediscovery and revival of traditional Armenian music. The 7 Dances for Piano, with their monothematic structure, the use of Armenian modes and the very particular rhythmic writing, are characteristic of Komitas’ work of re-appropriation and re-creation.

Discover the interpretations of Mikhail Kollontay and Takahiro Akiba.