Leeds finalists announced
9 September 2015
- Heejae Kim, 28 (Korea)
- Tomoki Kitamura, 24 (Japan)
- Drew Petersen, 21 (USA)
- Vitaly Pisarenko, 28 (Russia)
- Anna Tcybuleva, 25 (Russia)
- Yun Wei, 21 (China)
Realpiano uses Yamaha Disklavier for recording and production service
9 September 2015
Realpiano founder Jonathan Dodd in his studio
St John's Smith Square to host Southbank International Piano Series recitals
7 September 2015, London, UK
Piano repertoire takes centre stage at St John's next season(Photo: Joss Gamble)
St John’s Smith Square is to host the bulk of the 2015/16 and 2016/17 Southbank Centre International Piano Series while the Queen Elizabeth Hall (QEH) undergoes a two-year refurbishment.
The forthcoming season will see a total of eight Southbank Series recitals at St John’s between October 2015 and April 2016, including Nikolai Demidenko (3 Nov), Steven Osborne (3 Feb), Tamara Stefanovich (26 Feb) and the winner of the 2015 Chopin Competition (11 Mar).
‘We hope that our partnership with the SBC International Piano Series will consolidate our own programming identity, and help us to share this with a wider artistic, critical and audience base,’ says St John’s director, Richard Heason. In terms of longer-term outcomes, ‘a more defined identity’ for St John’s is high on Heason’s list.
The partnership with the Southbank is the cornerstone of a wide-ranging season of piano music at the Baroque London church. ‘When we knew the SBC International Piano Series would partly be coming to St John’s, I was keen to capitalise upon this and see how we might add value to our other wonderful events,’ explains Heason. ‘I’m aware that a number of pianists really enjoy playing here and so, for the right repertoire, it is a key venue.’
Among Heason’s personal highlights are two complete cycles: Warren Mailley-Smith’s Herculean Chopin series and the London Piano Trio playing Beethoven. He’s also looking forward to Rolf Hind’s Occupy the Pianos festival (11-13 September), and says it ‘will be wonderful to see this come to fruition’. Two-piano repertoire comes under the spotlight in April with a concert by the Labeque sisters as well as a lunchtime performance of Messiaen’s Visions de l’Amen. But the icing on the cake, says Heason, will be the opportunity to hear Beethoven’s last three sonatas in a single evening at Jean-Efflam Bavouzet’s SBC International Piano Series recital on 26 January.
‘The piano has the greatest repertoire by far for any solo instrument and we could programme many years of events without repetition or boredom creeping in,’ adds Heason.
Of Keyboards and cravats: Federico Colli
3 September 2015
With the 2015 Leeds International Piano Competition in full swing, we thought we’d take a look back at the 2012 winner. Federico Colli – the curly-haired, cravat-wearing Italian – thrilled judges with his performance of Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto, beating runner-up Louis Schwizgebel. Colli was featured as our ‘One to Watch’ in the January/February 2015 issue, and you can read the full article below.
Of keyboards and cravats
Federico Colli’s career received a boost when he won the Leeds International Piano Competition, and his recent Southbank Centre debut confirmed his original artistry. By Michael Church.
With his silk cravat and perfectly cut suit, Federico Colli walks on stage like a dandy. But as his Southbank Centre debut last April revealed, there’s a singular artistry underpinning his performance. Mozart’s Sonata No 5 in G is regarded by many pianists as downright trivial, but in Colli’s hands it opened up like a spring flower, its outer movements shot through with brilliant lights and its andante exquisitely shades. Colli tended to brush the keys rather than strike them, and he was sparing with the pedal. He was faithful to the architecture of Beethoven’s ‘Appassionata’ and white hot throughout. Colli wound up with an account of Schumann’s First Sonata so original that it might have been a brand new piece, yet it still felt true to the composer’s spirit. Colli’s ultimate gift is absolute clarity of intention.
Colli, 26, started playing the piano for fun when he was four, but insists that even at ten he wasn’t thinking about a career as a musician: maths, physics and philosophy were just as interesting to him. He played Fur Elise in his first concert; a video shows him bursting into tears after playing it because he was unhappy with his performance: ‘I felt I had a duty to the music, and I had let it down. From that moment on, I became a perfectionist.’ Growing up in Brescia – the birthplace of his hero Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli – he was taught by Sergio Marengoni, and left the Milan Conservatory at 16 with flying colours. He then went to study under the Russian pianist Konstantin Bogino, by which he was practicising for eight hours a day. Colli won the Cantu Piano Competition at 20, but got knocked out of the London International Piano Competition in the first round. ‘I was sad,’ he recalls of that event. ‘I decided to concentrate on chamber music and studying the solo piano repertoire in depth. I decided to grow up as a man.’ Three years later, in 2012, Colli won the Leeds International Piano Competition, aged 24.
‘And a new chapter of my life began. I started to think philosophically about what I played. I recently talked at length to the Italian philosopher Emanuele Severino, and we discussed the Kathekon, a benign force [defined by the ancient Greek philosophers] that can counteract all the evil in the world. The way I play Schumann’s first Sonata is my attempt to get expression to that power. I am also looking for ways in which I can apply Nietszche’s philosophy to music, and Kierkegaard’s; reading his work for me was a life changing experience.’ He observes that the philosophy of Hegal – an exact contemporary of Beethoven – can be seen reflected in the opening phase of the ‘Appassionata’, and he makes a neat case for that view, adding sternly that ‘he who does not think in this way, does not deserve to be a musician.’ His other big concern is ‘actuality in music – when a thing is complete in its essence. If you look at my performance of Shubert’s Op 142 Impromptu on Youtube, you will find my attempt to realise this.’ Chopin doesn’t interest him much, and Liszt not at all: ‘There is no mystery in them.’ He says he is still too young to understand Bach and Brahms: ‘Finding the right sound for Brahms is very hard: you need to have physical strength, be a big Genghis Khan – and also quite arrogant’. For Brahms, Radu Lupu is his exemplar. And Stravinsky? ‘Petrushka is too virtuosic for me. I am a virtuoso, I can play anything I want, but at this moment in time we don’t need more virtuosos. We need the philosophy of music.’
So where does the dandyism fit in? ‘A dandy is a man who loves beauty. I am an artist, and I love beauty and truth. And yes, I collect jackets and cravats. I counted with my girlfriend a couple of days ago – 36 cravats in my wardrobe. For jackets, I love Yashimoto and Christian Dior. But they are expensive, so I wait for the sales.’
To coincide with his debut at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall in 2014, Colli released his first solo CD, entitled Pictures at an Exhibition, featuring music by Beethoven, Scriabin and Mussorgsky. Find out more and buy here.
Find out more: www.federicocolli.eu
The 2015 competition
The 2015 Leeds International Piano Competition takes place from 23 August to 13 September. The finals will take place on 11 and 12 September, with the Prize Winner’s Gala Recital on 13 September.
Find out more: www.leedspiano.com
Casio announces launch of new Celviano Grand Hybrids
2 September 2015
Benjamin GrosvenorValentin Behringer
Casio is to launch its new Celviano Grand Hybrid models in October this year. A product of the company's collaboration with C. Bechstein, the new instruments combine features of digital and acoustic pianos while replicating the touch of a grand piano.
Benjamin Grosvenor, who been appointed as the brand ambassador for the range, said: 'I’ve really enjoyed my time so far playing the Celviano Grand Hybrid, and I’m very impressed with the quality of the instrument and the depth of touch it has, as well as its unique features - for example, the choice of three of the world’s most renowned piano sounds. Being able to play silently with my headphones in the comfort of my own space, while experiencing real piano action is a great benefit. I think this instrument would be a fantastic learning tool for aspiring young pianists, given the inclusion of a real piano action, and also something for those professionals who might need to practise during non-social hours. I’m delighted to be involved in the project.'
The release of the Celviano Grand Hybrids mark 30 years of Casio making digital pianos.