You have been described as a pianist who possesses a refined and cultured art as well as a pianist who restores the immense human and poetic message with great sensibility, when interpreting Schumann. Are these the characteristics that give character to an interpretation of the great works of the romantic repertoire?
I believe that a deep loyalty to the composer’s requirements is of more importance than the character of the interpretation. Many times the so-called “personality” leads too easily to arbitrariness that is interpreted as an original execution. In this sense, delving deeper into the conviction that the creator felt when he composed, is a way of approaching a piece. In Schumann’s particular case, the poetry is connected to very precise intuitions, which he gives shape to and because of that they are able to transmit something ineffable, a certain voice that is recognized from a distance. Interpretively I look for that voice to coincide with a way of saying something, of phrasing, that can illuminate hidden points, between the lines, where the message is found. A refined or hidden message, far from affected or extremely mentally constructed forms. He who listens wants to hear a heart that beats.
At what artistic stage should a pianist approach works such as the Kreisleriana, where high poetic and technical standards are equally required?
That moment, in my opinion, does not depend on age but on a deep experience that does not conform to superficiality and dramatic effects. In Kreisleriana the music lives in a pure state, as if it were fire that was creating the forms. The emotional range is immense and of such intensity that the interpreter should only approach it after having created prolonged silence within himself, and having evoked the “language made of notes” where Schumann seems to “explain” something very arcane but at the same time close to the human being. Technically, the ear (the “listening”) must guide us like a light in a place that is fantastic and real. The pianist should forget about his hands and listen in order to make others listen. .
The works of Schumann, Brahms, Chopin, Liszt, Scriabin etc. that have been recently published, have also been interpreted by other great piano masters. What influence do the versions passed on by Rubinstein, Arrau, Horowitz or Bolet, among others, have on an interpreter?
The versions of great interpreters always show us a safe path. I believe that they should not excessively influence the vision of the person seeking to recreate these works today. Each one of them has passed on to us their own experience and in certain cases have reached the level of very noble archetypes. The greatest influence on us could be that we demonstrate the same respect and sincerity when approaching the music. After that it is up to each individual to embark upon a piece and make it their own.
Are you especially fond of any current pianist?
He died a few years ago, and was unjustly left to the side: Gyorgy Cziffra. More than fondness what has greatly drawn me to him is the eloquent way in which he makes the piano sing and the art of the rhapsody. Today it is easy to preach about what a pianist should be. It would be very beautiful to find someone that could follow his steps.
Last year was the commemoration of Franz Schubert’s bicentenary. Works such as his Impromptus or the Moments Musicaux, that you have recorded, are often interpreted with the fortepiano. What should people think of these versions?
There are attractive fortepiano versions. It often turns out that the instruments used feel “old” rather than antique, and as if they have not been looked after as they would have been in their time. When the instrument is beautiful, and even if it is not (it can also happen with a modern piano), there is a certain evocative force. Anyway, I prefer versions for piano, and if possible instruments that are at least twenty-five years old. But this is another topic and a very interesting one.
If you had to emphasize some of your qualities as an interpreter which one do you think would describe you the best?
Being convinced that music demands to be served and not to dare to serve myself by her, to no end. Knowing that a spiritual world lives in music. If this is a quality it will make itself heard. Without these principles, other qualities that I would like to have could not blossom.
Is a pianist a bearer of the influence of his teachers or on the contrary does he reach a level and gain his own musical personality that is accentuated over the years?
I truly feel that one is a carrier of stimuli, energies and teachings, that are incorporated through the course of time and that always need to be worked upon and updated. What becomes accentuated over the years is the certainty that composers, masters and musicians are a part of the human necessity that goes beyond mere concert activity. For that reason all the incorporated seeds bare fruit, and only in this way, the musical personality – which is rather an identity – is accentuated.
What are the greatest difficulties with interpretations of works as subtle as Brahms’ or Scriabin’s Waltzes?
In both cases the waltzes are transfigurations of the dance and the ternary rhythm. Both evoke a circular dance that is danced by the emotions, mind and intuition. In the few waltzes of Scriabin one can feel the memory of very deep experiences. For me, the greatest difficulty is to set an interior waltz rhythm to allow the listener to dance without actually moving. To Brahms, the waltzes are fleeting breaths of something that once was.
These compact discs published by Edelweiss Emission are exclusively available by subscription and mail. Do you believe that this offer can open the doors to a new market of consumers?
I think it is innovative. It opens the doors to a direct, personal contact, where a greater importance can be given to the CD as an artistic and intellectual work, and not as another mere object of consumption, which has lost its value and proportion. I also believe that it is a way of showing greater respect to those who love music.
Besides the works of Chopin, Liszt, Schubert and Schumann, you have dedicated a CD to Clara Schumann. How would you define Clara Wieck’s music and what stylistic connection do you believe exist with Robert Schumann’s works?
Clara Schumann is a completely original composer. The connection with Robert Schumann is interior and from that starting point there are certain common voices. You only have to listen to the Concerto, the Trio and some of the Lieder, to admit that it shouldn’t have taken a hundred years for us to remember her with the admiration she deserves, not because of her intimate closeness to the greatest exponent of German musical romanticism.
Should a pianist impose his style on the works of a composer, or on the contrary should he adapt to the musical characteristics of the score, possibly leaving aside some of his interpretive qualities?
If the interpreter has a “style” that imposes itself on the composer, any composer would have the same effect on that interpreter. I believe that there is a subjective listening, a way to be in contact with the reality of the composer. It is certainly not achieved by imposing oneself. It is like believing that by covering a flower we can have a greater view of it. An artist does not leave aside qualities, but he tries to apply the ones he has so that the life contained in music can be presented in the closest way to that which it is.
Which composers do you plan to record next?
One is Beethoven. I have already begun recording a group of his sonatas. I am also preparing works by Scriabin, the Bach Concertos and another volume of Schumann’s complete works.
What upcoming performances are in your agenda?
Among others, a series of concerts dedicated to Schumann’s chamber music, in a trio, quartet and quintet, as well as a European and Latin American tour. I will also be performing in the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires.
Will we see you performing in our country soon?
I have a series of recitals planned for next year. It makes me very happy to play in Spain.