Could you take us through a day in your life?
No two days are the same for me. When I am not on a concert tour, I might spend all day practicing and another day I might be vacationing. When I have a less busy schedule and some little breaks in between concerts, I love spending some time with my boyfriend, family and friends. I am now the artistic director of the Chamber Music Festival Ede so this takes up a lot of my time and energy as well. I also love adventures and exploring, so sometimes even if I am not traveling for concerts, I might just hit the road for fun!
Could you describe your creative process on a piece that's particularly dear to you?
I like to feel connected to the composer, so when I work on particular piece - I often read up about him/her. For instance, while working on Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on the Theme of Paganini recently, I found the diaries of his distant cousin Vera Scalon online, which was a fascinating read. I was transported to the days of summer 1890, when Rachmaninov was only 17 and spent his summer in Ivanovka - the estate near Tambov in the Russian countryside - a place very dear to him where he spent many summers writing his vivid and evocative masterpieces before leaving Russia.
What is your ideal state of mind for being creative?
Funny enough, I often get into the creative state of mind while… taking a shower… But in general I like to drawing inspiration from all aspects of life!
How do you make use of technology?
Well… I like good speakers, and I always travel with noise cancelling headphones. I can hardly survive without my iPhone, so I’m very grateful for YouTube for giving me easy access to a plethora of great recordings, and so much more. I still don’t get the point of using an iPad instead of sheet music though. I guess I am still old-fashioned in this department and carry around suitcases full of scores, which is sometimes quite heavy, but it makes me feel safe :)
What role does collaboration play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives?
I think various collaborations are very important and personally I am open to experimenting and discovering new possibilities. This year, I am going to participate in several art-crossing projects where there will be collaborations with actors, dancers and painters. I like to find unusual settings for performances. Last summer I performed in Athens on the Vouliagmeni Lake – an absolutely breathtaking place. The stage was basically built into the water, lit by the light of a full moon where I was performing Grieg’s Piano Concerto. The whole experience was magical and I think the setting also added something special to the impact the music had on the audience. This spring, together with five of my friends and frequent chamber music partners we’ll be performing two concerts in the spectacular 100,000-year old cave near Alicante - Las Cuevas de Canelobre. It should be quite an unforgettable experience I think!
How do you see the relationship between improvisation and composition?
To be honest I’m not sure how answer exactly as I don’t have much experience in either. But I think it’s different for each composer. Schubert for instance could improvise without stopping, and many of his compositions are improvisations which were just written down and are pieces that have stood the test of time, while many other genius composers were struggling with every line while creating their own masterpieces which have also become jewels of musical literature.
How do you work with sound and timbre to meet production ideals?
Sound is very important to me and I love to get as wide a variety of colours out of the piano as I can. It’s widely known that the piano is a percussive instrument, but I like to treat it as a singing, melodic one. Sometimes we have to cheat on nature and even though in reality it’s impossible to make a crescendo on one note or chord without repeating it - with inner power and the right attack it’s possible to create this illusion. But in general when working on sound I am constantly using my ears, it’s very important to listen - sometimes I imagine that I’m listening at different points of the hall. Pre-hearing or ‘anticipating’ is also very important, you need to know what kind of sound you want to create before playing it. It also helps to feel that your fingers are flexible and alive, kind of like the tentacles of an octopus!
From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work?
I’ve always been fascinated by synesthesia - a condition Scriabin had. I guess one can see his ability to hear the colours in his music; it’s incredibly vibrant and magnetising.
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
Classical music and art in general at its core is the expression of all aspects of the human soul. It is unique in a way that it can resonate with so many different kinds of people from all walks of life. I’m sure anybody can resonate with it in their own way. For me - every concert is a combination of connecting to the spirit of the composer, trying to be the ballast between him/her and the audience. I always try to treat the audience as a dear friend, whom I would like to tell the innermost secrets. Connection with the audience is vital and the most wonderful feeling for an artist is to sense this connection, when the listeners are breathing together with the music.
Do you have a vision of music and performance beyond the 21st century; an idea of what they could be beyond their current form?
Who knows? The world is changing so quickly and technology is developing so fast! I just believe that classical music will be always relevant and needed, as well as live concerts. The amazing thing about live concerts is that everything is happening at the moment. It is happening right there and then and never can be repeated, even if the same performer plays the same piece again the next day, it will be unique and different. Recording can capture the performance of course, but it would still be a copy of a masterpiece by Rafael or Rodin, and not the original. The artist lives through every emotion. Every event happening in the piece he/she is playing creates a unique atmosphere in the hall and this hopefully takes the audience along on a breathtaking journey. The realisation that they are the fortunate witnesses of the creation of art at the concert should make the audience realise how special it is and appreciate it even better. This is why the concert halls are still getting full and people are sometimes traveling to other countries to attend the concert of particular artist performing in a certain venue. I hope it will not change!