Who or what inspired you to take up the piano and pursue a career in music?
It was a very gradual process. I started out by improvising a lot at the piano and taking time to discover the instrument without any pressure or expectation. And I had two fantastic teachers as a kid, Laura Mauric and Marc Bonetti. My teacher Giovanni Carmassi, whom I met at age 11, inspired me to pursue this as a career. In his words :“I caught the disease”.
Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?
Who: My parents, who let me be whoever I wanted to be. My teachers, Giovanni Carmassi and Joan Havill. Angela Hewitt has been a mentor, and Robert Levin and Aldo Ciccolini. Each of them changed my life at some point.
What: “An Actor Prepares” by Stanislavsky and “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind” by Shunryu Suzuki, to name a couple.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
They have all come from inner struggles and doubts. Overcoming the idea of external pressure, learning to deal with my own ego, developing self-reliance, balancing/integrating music and life.
Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?
Maybe Bach’s D minor Concerto with the Mendelssohn Chamber Orchestra in Leipzig. Although I wouldn’t call it pride. Excitement and joy.
Which particular works do you think you play best?
The Goldberg Variations…But I haven’t learnt them yet.
How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?
I bore all my friends and family for hours, talking about this piece and that piece, asking them for their opinion (even though we all know I won’t listen) until their faces turn a sickly shade of green. Then I make a decision.
Jokes aside, I think it’s a combination passion and urgency to play certain pieces, and what makes sense strategically.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
Wigmore Hall. Perfect acoustics, beautiful size.
Who are your favourite musicians?
How much time do we have?! Carols Kleiber, Claudio Arrau, Jaqueline du Pré. Sergiu Celibidache, Alicia de Larrocha, Grigory Sokolov. And Murray Perahia, Richard Goode, Angela Hewitt, Robert Levin, Aldo Ciccolini, whom I’ve all had the privilege of meeting.
And I regularly check for Lady Gaga releases, obvs.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
Every time I play a piece for the first time is special. You never know what’s going to happen. It’s the moment in which the potential of a piece is revealed.
As a musician, what is your definition of success?
Where personal satisfaction and the public’s satisfaction meet. I also think success is healthiest when it comes as a side-effect.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
Empathy and resilience. For me, the two most important things in music and in life.
Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?
With the polar bears, celebrating humanity’s rapid and unexpected defeat of Global Warming.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
What is your present state of mind?
I’m always thinking about food. Right now: mango.