Who or what inspired you to take up the piano and pursue a career in music?
Everything started when I was three years of age. My parents enjoyed playing our grand piano though they themselves were not professional musicians. Their piano playing greatly influenced my interest in that particular instrument. After my mother discovered I had ‘perfect pitch’, my first music lessons began when I was six years old at the Central Music School for Special Gifted Children in Tbilisi, Georgia. I made my first orchestral appearance aged seven and my first piano recital at ten years old. At home, we owned recordings of great musicians such as Sviatoslav Richter, Emil Gilels and Vladimir Horowitz, who inspired me a great deal as a child.
Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?
Most of all, my teachers inspired me. Neli Gachechiladze was my first teacher at the Central Music School in Tbilisi and gave me very good musical grounding. With her I worked very intensively on difficult repertoire performed on a platform as a child and young musician. She instilled in me a strict discipline for my instrument and provided a creative environment in which to develop my musicality. I was also highly influenced by another of my teachers during my studies at Tbilisi State Conservatoire, the brilliant pianist and composer Nodar Gabunia. He was a pupil of the great pianist and educator Alexander Goldenweiser. With him I learned to ‘sing on the piano’ in a wonderful way, learning to develop my own individual style and work with dramaturgical consolidation through interpretation. Later in my career I worked with legendary pianist Alexis Weissenberg. His excellent tutelage and vibrant personality influenced my musical life a great deal.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
I think my CD recordings have been the most challenging for me, as I worked hard to put across my own personal style, strength and imagination in choosing repertoire.
Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?
I am very proud of my recording of Nikolai Kapustin’s ’24 Preludes in Jazz Style’ and ‘8 Concert Etudes’. It was a huge challenge to record these enormously demanding piano pieces over only three days.
Which particular works do you think you play best?
I think that is up to the audience to decide!
How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?
First of all I choose the works that mean the most to me personally. Then I combine these either thematically, dramatically or stylistically with other pieces to make up a concert programme.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
Yes, the Kurhaus Wiesbaden in Germany, near Frankfurt. It has a very good acoustic and atmosphere and is in a wonderful location.
Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?
It is difficult to establish a favourite piece to perform, because my taste changes over time, and I go through distinct phases of preferring some composers over others. One piece I never tire of is J.S. Bach’s ‘Goldberg Variations’.
My favourite to listen to include J. S. Bach’s Matthew’s Passion, G. F. Handel’s ‘Messiah’, Mozart’s ‘Symphony No. 41’ (‘The Jupiter’), J. Haydn’s ‘Symphony No. 104 (‘London’), Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 (‘Eroica’), Schubert’s ‘Winterreise’, Mendelssohn’s ‘Violin Concerto’,
Tchaikovsky’s ‘Symphony No. 6’ (‘Pathétique’) and ‘Variations on a Rococo Theme for ‘Cello and Orchestra ’, Chopin’s Piano Concertos (to listen to and perform!) , Ravel’s ‘Bolero’ and Rachmaninoff’s ‘Piano Concerto No. 3 ’.
Who are your favourite musicians?
Sviatoslav Richter, Emil Gilels, Vladimir Horowitz, Artur Rubinstein, Alexis Weissenberg and Mikhail Pletnev.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
When I was 11 years old I took part in a gala concert at the Tbilisi Opera in the presence of the former Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze. In those days, in Georgia we didn’t have adjustable piano stools. I was very little girl, and the chairs were all low for me. So I decided to come out on stage carrying thick wads of sheet music. Everyone thought that I was going to play all of that music but when I went to sit down, I put the music on top of the stool to increase my height! It was very funny, the audience applauded me before even began the performance! The concert was broadcast live on television throughout the former Soviet Union.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
It is very important for musicians not to copy anyone else, rather search and discover your own individual and unmistakable style. It is a long creative process, but in the end it brings you much more joy and makes your music unique and more remarkable.
Catherine Gordeladze’s Dance Fantasies album is available now on the Antes Edition label. More information here