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International Piano is a unique bi-monthly publication written for and loved by pianists and discerning fans of piano music all over the world.

Each bi-monthly issue includes interviews with top pianists and rising talent, performance tips, news, features, analysis and comment. You will find exclusive tutorials by concert artists, in-depth articles on piano recordings and repertoire, masterclasses on piano technique, and festival, concert and competition reports from around the globe.

Every edition includes a five-page Symposium, hosted by Jeremy Siepmann, which brings together leading experts and international pianists for a round-table debate.

Our comprehensive reviews section examines the latest recordings, books, DVDs, sheet music and concerts.

Plus, each issue includes free sheet music – often rare or newly released works – for readers to add to their collections.


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INTERNATIONAL PIANO SERIES 2015/16

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Southbank Centre, London

View the 2015/16 brochure

Competition Calendar

See the major 2014 and 2015 piano competition deadlines.

Summer School Round-up

See the major 2015 international summer school offerings.

Latest News

Rhinegold LIVE announces new partnership

8 January 2016



The Bösendorfer 280
The Bösendorfer 280

From 2016 onwards, Rhinegold LIVE recitals will use a Bösendorfer 280 full-size concert grand supplied by Markson Pianos.


The 280 is one of Markson's two flagship grands and was acquired in 2014.

Markson Pianos have previously supplied instruments for the Music Teacher Awards for Excellence ceremony.

'As Rhinegold LIVE moves in to its third successful year, we are delighted to become associated with the Bösendorfer brand,' said Derek Smith, chairman of Rhinegold Media & Events. 'The 280 was selected for its true all-round nature, affording sensitivity in chamber accompaniment, and power and clarity in solo recital; our series comprises solo piano, opera, lieder and chamber repertoire, so the 280 is a perfect fit.'

Markson Pianos managing director Simon Markson said: 'Markson Pianos are delighted to be associated with this prestigious concert series through the provision of a fabulous new, full size Bösendorfer concert grand for each piano performance.'

The inaugural Rhinegold LIVE recital was given by Julian and Jiaxin Lloyd Webber in April 2014. Other Rhinegold LIVE performers include Nicholas McCarthy, the Allegri Quartet and Mary Bevan.

The next Rhinegold LIVE recital will take place at Conway Hall on 4 February. Jonathan Plowright will present a programme of Brahms, Chopin, Paderewski and Mozart, and the performance will be followed by a Q&A with International Piano editor Owen Mortimer. Tickets are free and include a complimentary glass of wine.

Rhinegold LIVE

Winner takes it all

6 January 2016, Ismene Brown

Wholly cultured: Lukas Geniušas
Wholly cultured: Lukas Geniušas

What part does winning a competition play in building a rewarding career? The question is fiercely debated whenever the great contests come round – never more so than in the past few months with the coincidence of the Tchaikovsky, Chopin and Leeds piano competitions. 

One young pianist is going about quietly succeeding, both in competitions and in building a concert reputation: among the artists presented in the Southbank Centre’s current International Piano Series is the 25-year-old Lithuanian-Russian Lukas Geniušas . 

Geniušas’ track record in competitions is impressive: joint second in last year’s Tchaikovsky; second in the 2010 Chopin; and winner of that year’s Gina Bachauer Competition. Although aged only 19 when he entered the latter two, Geniušas was already a veteran of the Russian piano school. He is the third-generation scion of a piano dynasty. His mother Xenia Knorre teaches at the Moscow Conservatoire, his father Petras Geniušas has taught at the Royal Academy of Music and his grandmother Vera Gornostayeva was for 56 years a leading professor at the Moscow Conservatoire (Ivo Pogorelich was one of her students). 

Gornostayeva, who died last January aged 85, was a student of Heinrich Neuhaus, the legendary tutor of Sviatoslav Richter and Emil Gilels. It felt natural, says her grandson, that she should take over supervision of his piano studies when he was 12. She transmitted to him Neuhaus’ imperative for a pianist to be ‘wholly cultured’, in literature and art as well as all kinds of music. This, says Geniusas, is really what the ‘Russian Piano School’ stands for – thought he points out that in fact, the approach was formulated by Germans and Jews, namely Neuhaus, Alexander Goldenweiser, and Samuel Feinberg. 

‘My grandmother brought me up culturally,’ says Geniušas. ‘She was something of an expert in Russian literature, and she would speak about music in terms of poetry, and vice versa. This was Neuhaus’ signature style, the integration of literature and music. I think it’s helpful to have a world of the imagination, a metaphorical world of poetry in mind when speaking about music, and to apply these worlds to make music.’ 

Lithuanian, with German and Polish roots, Geniušas still describes himself as immersed in the Russian tradition, aiming to unite both the technical grandeur and the fantasy that has been taken for granted in that country’s pianists since the Soviet heydays of Gilels and Richter. 

On entering the Tchaikovsky Competition last summer (where he was bumped put of first place by a much less experienced pianist, Dmitry Masleev), he already had a satisfactorily full diary of engagements all around the world, including the IPS recital in London. Nevertheless, the young Lithuanian explains soberly that competitions are essential in building a career these days, even given the risks of not winning: ‘You might think because I have so many engagements that I need competitions any more, and it might seem greedy for me to enter one again, but I don’t agree. Our profession requires that we keep reminding society about ourselves to get performances, which is why I enter competitions again and again. The Tchaikovsky was in fact quite a stimulus to new concerts, although I was having a busy year already, thanks to Chopin 2010. This autumn, following the Tchaikovsky, I’ve played around 25 concerts: five different concertos, two different recital programmes, three chamber concerts…’

Geniušas has changed his mind about the need for self-promotion: ‘I used to think we should be shy about being too much “out there”, but then I realised this was fake modesty, because we have to do that for the art, in a way, to put the art out there too.’ His International Piano Series recital fields a conservative programme of Beethoven, Brahms and Bartók, together with that calling-card of all Russian pianists, Prokofiev’s seventh sonata. Geniušas has described himself as a conservative of a ‘positive kind’, but he wishes he were powerful enough in the market to insist on playing his beloved Hindernith, or recent Russian piano music by Leonid Desyatnikov. 

‘Desyatnikov is a dominant influence for me,’ Geniusas explains. ‘He is an exceptional personality and a fantastic talent. I’ve recorded his music – mostly the lighter side of his work. I devised a programme of three Russian contemporary composers, calling it Emancipation of Consonance, in reaction to Schoenberg’s treatise from the 1920s on the ‘emancipation of dissonance.’ It’s all about restoring melody, and about modern composers exploring their links with a classical repertoire – a Soviet popular tradition, a Russian folk tradition. It’s not easy to sell, even in Russia, and I’m not sure that the time has come for me to dictate my repertoire to international promoters. That’s a sad reality’. 

IP has a pair of tickets to give away to Lucas Geniušas's recital as part of the International Piano Series on 12 January at St John’s Smith Square, London. To enter the draw, email competitions@rhinegold.co.uk with the subject line "LUKAS GENIUSAS IPS" by 8 January.

http://geniusas.com

January Issue Out Now!

6 January 2016

Serbian-born pianist Tamara Stefanovich, known for her thought-provoking juxtapositions of core repertoire and contemporary works, shares her passion for music with the power to irritate, shock and amaze; we explore the volatile yet often fruitful relationship between composers and their foremost interpreters; and why the wild wizardry of Vladimir Horowitz continues to divide critics. Plus, poetry and panache at the International Chopin Piano Competition; Jonathan Plowright challenges the status quo on Brahms; celebrating a new generation of French pianists in London; subtlety and excess in the music of Olivier Messiaen; how fingering can make all the difference to communicating style and character; Warren Mailley-Smith on the mental, emotional and physical demands of performing the complete solo piano music of Chopin in 11 concerts; free sheet music of three miniatures by Richard Rodney Bennett; and your chance to WIN a 50-CD box set of Vladimir Horowitz’s unreleased live recordings!

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Personal Touch - Jonathan Plowright 

6 January 2016, Jonathan Plowright

Jonathan Plowright
Jonathan PlowrightDiane Shaw

Brahms has always held a particular fascination for me because of his style, the way he writes for the piano and the poetry in his music. Also, I believe he is (after Bach) the most ‘linear’ composer: his writing is very contrapuntal and full of hidden canons. In fact, I think his music has everything.

The first piece of Brahms' I learnt, aged 17, was the F minor Sonata. I am fortunate never to have really struggled with the technical difficulties of this or of any other piece by Brahms. That is probably because his music suits the way I play. When I was recording the Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, I looked at the autograph score online. There were a few corrections that Brahms had made in pencil, in addition to adding some fingerings. It was interesting to see how he must have used his hands by looking at the way he fingered his music. I realised then that I tend to use my hands in a very similar way to create a particular effect.

This may sound contentious, but I have rarely heard Brahms played how I think it should be, and I constantly disappointed by people’s perception of his music as heavy and bombastic. Pianists tend to play Brahms with a lot of pedal, and I think this is completely wrong. In fact, if you look closely at the score, this is not what is written Brahms put in pedal marks specifically where he wants them. He alters the accompaniment to change the texture, and he is constantly ‘thinning out’ the sound. Pianists seem to have an almost pathological fear of losing a bass note, and as a result everything gets over-pedalled. Examine the score, however, and you’ll find that whenever there is any kind of moving bass that involves quavers or semiquavers, Brahms jumps up an octave from the initial bass note. In other words he clears it and thins the texture by pushing the bass up an octave (sometimes two) higher.

The next, and third, volume of my complete recordings of Brahms’ solo piano works includes the Hungarian Variations, Eight Klavierstucke Op 76, 16 Waltzes, and six Klavierstucke Op 118. At the time of writing this I’m working on the fourth volume, to be recorded in January 2016: Two Rhapsodies Op 79; two sets of Paganini variations, the Ballades Op 10, and four Klavierstucke Op 119. There’s a perfect example of what I mean about pedalling in the Rhapsody Op 119, No 4, about two-thirds of the way through. A section marked pp ma ben marcato is followed 16 bars later by a five-bar phrase with three ascending pedal Gs. Brahms asks you to shut the pedal down even though it’s all over the same harmony – otherwise the texture would become far too thick.

The most frequently used word in Brahms’ scores is leggiero. Look at the start of the Intermezzo Op 119, No 3: molto piano e leggiero: or the Intermezzo before that piano sotto voce e dolce. At the start of the B minor Ballade (Op 10, No 4) the music looks almost like curtains hanging down. Brahms puts two quaver rests after the first quavers in the left hand (B naturals). Only in the last two bars of that figure – 45 bars further on – does he finally ask for full pedal. He makes exactly the same request in the first page of the Ballade No 2. Of course you would use a little pedal here, but not full sustained until the final two bars.

The pianist who I think gets closest to Brahms is Radu Lupu. I also like a lot of what Katchen does. Katchen is the Erroll Flynn of Brahms players, giving us a swashbuckling view of the composer! It is clear he has thought carefully about the music, even though I would prefer a little more poetry. 

I’m not sure why Brahms has been so misrepresented – I suspect not because of any particular interpretation. Maybe it’s before over time concert halls have become larger and pianists felt the need to fill the space; or perhaps having played the two concertos in a way that cuts through the thick orchestral texture, they then approached the solo music in the same manner? However, some pianists do take a rather cavalier attitude – as if what is written in the score is not really that important. It is as though the notes are so beautiful they are just there to be enjoyed. That is when the piece gets lost or is clouded by personal preference, instead of looking at what Brahms is actually trying to say.

The third volume in Jonathan Plowright’s survey of Brahms’ complete piano music is now available on the BIS label (BIS 2127).

Plowright will perform a Rhinegold LIVE recital at London’s Conway Hall on Thursday 4 February 2016. The evening includes a drinks reception at 6.15pm followed by the performance at 7.00pm, featuring music by Brahms, Mozart, Chopin and Paderewski. Sign up for free tickets at www.rhinegoldlive.co.uk.

http://www.rhinegold.co.uk/live/recitals/2016/jonathan-plowright.asp

WIN tickets to Lukas Geniušas' recital at Southbank Centre's International Piano Series!

4 January 2016

Lithuanian-Russian piano virtuoso Lukas Geniušas makes his debut in Southbank Centre's International Piano Series on 12 January 2016 and International Piano has a pair of tickets to give away!

Geniušas - who features as IP's 'one to watch' artist in the January/February issue - will perform Beethoven's Sonata in C minor, Op.10 No.1, Brahms' Sonata No.1 in C, Op.1, Bartók's 3 Burlesques and Prokofiev's Sonata No.7 in B flat, Op.83 at St John's Smith Square in London. 

To enter the draw, email competitions@rhinegold.co.uk with the subject line "LUKAS GENIUSAS IPS" by 8 January.

Further information about the recital can be found on Southbank Centre's website.


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