2009 Media Questions
Your favourite composers and why:
J.S. Bach for his unsurpassed mastery of counterpoint, the supreme beauty of his major choral works and his overall intellectual profundity. Also, the whole generation of musicians who flourished after him such as his sons C.P.E Bach and W.F. Bach, Muzio Clementi and Carlos Seixas for their virtuosic works, progression in the use of classical forms and creative ornamentation.
Your favourite key in music and why:
D flat major is a very soothing key signature. Some of the most profound and memorable nocturnes were written using this key signature such as those by Chopin, Faure and Scriabin. It is in great contrast to C minor, which often introduces elements of pathos, tragedy and anguish. However, C minor usually arouses a feeling of restlessness within me.
What music are you listening to right now:
Fritz Wunderlich singing Schubert’s An Die Musik and other such anti-depressants.
Your favourite non-classical music:
Folk music, especially that which has survived of the primitive and indigenous cultures of India, Turkey, China and Indonesia. I also retain strong bonds with Polish folk music such as the mazurka, oberek, krakowiak and polonaise.
Who do you admire and why:
I admire the great pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski who was able to capture the hearts of millions of people around the world in music as well as politics while maintaining a strong character based on humility, compassion and respect.
What is the proudest moment of your life so far and why:
The day I first conducted a group of Monteverdi madrigals in public with no prior conducting experience.
Your favourite activities besides playing piano, and why:
I enjoy reading books about music philosophy and semiotics by authors such as Suzanne Langer, Theodore Adorno, Roland Barthes and Leonard Meyer. I also enjoying visiting the theatre for modern productions of classic plays, especially those of Chekhov, Miller, Marlow and Shakespeare.
The country or city you would most like to live in and why:
I appreciate London’s vibrant and cosmopolitan energy, the privilege of choosing between a variety of top performers each evening in virtually every field of the arts, the ability of networking with interesting people of multitudinous nationalities, and for the precious museums and architectural wonders.
The fact that it doesn’t build upwards like New York has its advantages and disadvantages. Travel distances are sometimes lengthy as a result, but likewise many boroughs maintain an intimate “small-town” feeling and are consequently quiet on weekends to catch up on valuable sleep that was erratic or simply not present during the week.
One word to describe your character:
The natural gift you would most like to possess:
The ability to improvise a fugue on the spur of a moment.
What are your passions in life, and why:
As much as I enjoy long outdoor walks and hikes, formal and informal dancing, going to the theatre, movies, and concerts with friends, the one thing I could never live without is people. I have a passion for stimulating conversations, learning about other cultures, taking part in interviews/debates, reading interviews of important people, and that hypnotic state of heightened awareness one experiences while performing on stage to a public who truly appreciates it.
A cause you would fight for, and why you believe in it:
I would fight for bringing better music education into the schools. Although the Mozart effect has now become a hot debatable topic, the sheer benefits of learning music for one’s own growth and development are extraordinary enough. Performing music requires the use of virtually all of one’s intelligences, cultivates a strong sense of discipline and instills pride and confidence upon the slightest achievement.
Your most memorable concert experience:
Most recently, it was Kurt Masur conducting the LPO in Dvořák’s New World Symphony.
Your favourite food:
I enjoy starting the day with an Italian cappucino and then progressing on to a German breakfast with their hearty rye breads, and a Hungarian lunch made of paprika goulash or some savory crepes. For dinner I would eat Polish borscht soup and a tasty fish such as the Wild Alaskan Pollack with tiramisu for dessert.
Your favourite colour:
Your favourite number:
Your favourite movie:
Rhythm is it! starring Simon Rattle.
Your favourite book:
“Schnabel’s Interpretation of Piano Music” by Konrad Wolff.
Do you have any pre-performance rituals?
The process of warming up before a concert has beguiled me for as long as I can remember. After some failed attempts at superstitious activities such as counting all the lights in a hall before stepping out on stage(!), I’ve experimented with two extreme methods – one having to do with intense relaxation and the other with a heightened sense of nervousness. I’ve discovered that my best concerts take place after employing the latter method which can involve anything from picking fights with random people to spontaneous fits of rage or any other activity that creates a situation of tension and anxiety.
In other words, instead of trying to fight off that feeling of nervous anxiety, I accept it and even try to harness it to the fullest extent possible.
If you could host a dinner party with 3 other people, whom would you invite and why:
Gabriele Salvatores, Ennio Morricone and Giancarlo Giannini to discuss the future of Italian cinema and to propose the possibility of making a movie based on the murder of the late Renaissance composer Carlo Gesualdo.
If you weren’t a pianist, what would you like to be and why:
A singer, in order to experience an ‘instrument’ of greater sensual immediacy, the ability of doing a crescendo on a single note and for the joy of sliding in between the notes.
One word to describe piano competitions:
Ratatouille (as in the French stew)