The interview was conducted by Merle von Oppen, 1 November 2018.
Your first CD will be released on 2 November 2018. What are your feelings about it?
I planned the CD for years. It was a moment of happiness, especially on the last day of recording sessions. The recording was rather exhausting: Two and a half days, 8 hours a day each. But now the CD is here and it feels wonderful. I’m already working on my 2nd CD (smiles).
The CD is called “Summit”. Why?
Yes, Summit. I have a close relationship to mountains. As a child I used to hike with my family in the mountains every year, where the Himalayas begin. And I still love hiking and downhill skiing today. Furthermore, the CD “Summit” is for me a meeting of Frédéric Chopin with Franz Liszt. The two great composers and pianists were close friends. And I wanted to present the pieces to create a connection between these very special composers. They were together in Paris and loved to hear each other play. This CD represents a summit of two romantic giants of the 19th century.
Why did you choose pieces by Liszt and Chopin?
When I was 10 years old my mother decided to prepare me for a Chopin competition. This was actually impossible because the repertoire is difficult and lengthy, over three hours of music. I started playing Liszt’s Etudes when I was 8 years old. Since then I have been playing both Chopin and Liszt practically always and to this day. I feel very comfortable with these works. At the age of 8 it was all new for me. There were a lot of challenges, also technical challenges. Today I feel as if I’ve been playing them all my life, and I indeed do (smiles). They are in my blood and soul. I know exactly what I want when I play this music.
The pieces on Summit are about death and religion. This is unusual for a young artist.
That wasn’t planned. I actually wanted to release the CD for the Reformation last year. At that time I was thinking of the religious pieces by Liszt and Bach. But Chopin is emotionally closer to me so I chose a different idea and a different approach. For Chopin death was an inevitable theme of life. He was always afraid of being buried alive. His last will was to have his heart taken out and brought to Poland. That is what his sister had done. And to this day his heart is in the Holy Cross Church in Warsaw. Chopin died in October 1849 and Liszt composed his “Funérailles” also in October 1849. It is well may be that “Funérailles” was intended as a memorial to Chopin.
What are your next steps?
I would like to give even more concerts among them “CD release concerts”. I have concert bookings in several countries at this point and of course I would very much welcome a wide distribution of my CD. I also plan my 2nd CD to have a relationship to the 1st one. At this point I would like to stay in the era of Romanticism. I love it. Romantic pieces have so much expression, they bloom on extremes, they talk to me and I understand what they tell me. They are practically limitless. I myself often have a sort of “explosion” of emotion and then it is wonderful to play the romantics, to let the freedom run its course in my own head and to let my own emotions flow into this romantic music.