I am delighted to be featured in the blog of Frances Wilson.
“Frances Wilson…………a highly informative presence on the Internet, with her constructive and enthusiastic reviews of countless pianists under the name of ‘The Cross-Eyed Pianist’.”
Peter Donohoe, internationally-acclaimed concert pianist
Click Here to read the interview
Who or what inspired you to take up piano and make it your career?
I don’t remember much about what made me decide to play the piano and make it my life’s dedication, I only know that I always knew that I wanted to become a concert pianist.
I do remember getting a cassette tape with Chopin ‘Heroic’ Polonaise played by Ashkenazy and couldn’t get around how somebody could write something so beautiful and full of life.
Who or what were the most important influences on your musical life and career?
When I was in high school I met a classical guitarist who had a sensitivity and honesty as an artist which I had not seen. We would listen and discuss wonderful pieces of art in which he showed me delicacy in colour, shape and space which I didn’t think were possible. I was raised in a small coastal town in the Netherlands and in this seemingly non-artistic environment he was somebody who gave me the confidence to pursue the search for beauty.
Steven Osborne has been a big influence in the last years. He has helped me a lot, not only by his occasional mentoring but also seeing him perform and his work in seeking expression, character and technical confidence.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
I think the greatest challenge is still to come in securing a career and being able to reach a large audience in a world where classical music is still understood by a small number of people and where the artist has to deal with big political and intercontinental power shifts.
Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?
I have recently recorded my first disc. The things I have heard sound really good in terms of clarity and expression. But most proud am I to have been able to work with an incredible team – producer Andrew Keener and engineer Aleksandar Obradovic.
Which particular works do you think you perform best?
This is very difficult to answer: as an artist I am constantly looking to understand style and the composer’s score more and more thoroughly. Sometimes I have a pretty clear feeling of a particular expression in a particular style but realise that it couldn’t be the composer’s intention. It is a long search in which we must take our own life and experiences into account.
How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?
Depending to what certain halls and concert series have programmed and wish to listen to, I try to build a program in which I feel confident and in which the pieces have common ground in terms of expression and character.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
Not so long ago I performed in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. The experience was truly wonderful because the hall and the acoustics worked together so beautifully. My concept of sound in certain passages was suddenly so much more achievable as the circumstances were perfect.
Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?
I very much enjoy performing Schumann Allegro Opus 8. I love the tremendous drive and power of this particular piece. It brings so many questions to me which I don’t always know how to answer, and this is the beauty of it.
I am constantly return to listening to Buckner symphonies, they give me such a sense of space and structure. There something about these works that gives me clarity of mind in times when I need it.
Who are your favourite musicians?
There are a lot of musicians and artists in general whom I admire for their contribution to art and music. Each of them, in their personal view of music, has taught me things and changed or affected the way I see things nowadays.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
When I was living in Rotterdam the first concert I attended was Bach’s St Matthew Passion with the Rotterdam Philharmonic. The experience of such an incredibly powerful piece in a setting of a beautiful concert hall was something which has stayed with me.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
I think the most important thing for young artists is to have a very clear idea of how to reach the younger generation, and to be able to show why art is a necessity for the well being of our internal life.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Hopefully that is when mind, body and spirit become one and there is complete peace of mind.
What is your present state of mind?
At the moment I consider myself having a clear state of mind as I am able to make deeply-felt artistic decisions. In a world which is captured by an economical crisis, political shifts, and is in need of a new vision towards our perception of how we experience art, I find myself sometimes overwhelmed by all the possibilities on the one hand and doubts on the other.