Yehuda Inbar, pianist

Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music?

In kindergarten we had a music teacher who cane to play for us every week. We used to walk, move and dance to the music she played. I loved her playing and was very enchanted by the sound of the piano, so at the age of 5 I told my mother I would like to learn to play the piano with that teacher. At that point, with the help of my brother, I was already playing some songs that we used to sing in kindergarten. The teacher, Dafna Feder, thought it was too early to start and suggested I wait until after Passover. I patiently waited and started right after. I stayed with her until I was 17… Apart from the piano, I also played the flute and guitar, I used to draw, and an ambition to practice only developed much later around the age of 15. It was the love of certain pieces that made me start practicing more seriously.

Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?

I had wonderful teachers in Israel (Eithan Globerson, Vadim Monastyrski), and I always also feel I learn from recordings by the musicians I admire. When I was 21 I was about to complete my Army service at the Israeli Defence Force (in Israel there is a three-year compulsory military service). It was quite a tough period as I was doing mornings in the army, and it was only in the afternoon that I could start practicing the piano. I started having repeated pains in my arms and I was quite anxious about my ability to develop as a concert pianist. I was very fortunate to have met Dina Turgeman, a very nobel, gracious lady in her 80s of Belgian origin, who prior to World War II was a student of the legendary Chopin interpreter and pedagogue Stephen Ashkenazy. She literally saved me from that hopeless physical and mental condition and helped me gain self-confidence in my abilities and freedom to play.

The most recent influence is Joanna MacGregor, my teacher at the Royal Academy of Music. I am very lucky to have Joanna’s guidance, and she is a very original and inspiring musician. She helped me to find my own way through the musical world, which can sometime seem to be very confusing. With her mentoring I developed both my own repertoire interests and a broader sense of what it means to be a performing musician. In London, I also have to chance to play for Stephen Kovacevich at his home every few months and have his musical advice.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

A surprise playing-directing of Mozart concerto K415 which I played at St. Martin-in-the-Fields with the Brandenburg Sinfonia, the conductor being late for the only rehearsal we had. I had to play and unexpectedly direct the concerto myself in the concert that day. A big challenge as well as a very empowering experience.

Of which performances/recordings are you most proud?

The past years as part of my research into Schubert’s music I had the chance to discuss Schubert’s music and identity with some of the most prominent living composers, including Michael Finnissy, Brett Dean, Richard Barrett, Jörg Widmann, and others. This resulted in several new Schubert-inspired commissions. Around this project, I recently recorded my debut CD featuring 2 extraordinary and unusual unfinished Schubert sonatas (D571,D840 “Reliquie”), followed by Michael Finnissy’s Vervollständigung von Schubert’s D840, which he wrote to my commission (this is the first recording of the piece), and Jörg Widmann’s Idyll und Abgrund six Schubert Reminiscences. I recorded it in the legendary Jesus Christus Kirche in Berlin with its unique acoustics on a colourful and clear-sounding Bechstein. The CD will be released by the German label Oehms Classics on May 2nd 2019 in my St. John’s Smith Square evening recital as part of the Kirckman Concert Society Series.

Which particular works do you think you play best?

Over the past years, I’m most fascinated by Schubert’s piano sonatas and am currently in the process of learning and performing the entire cycle. I also particularly love playing Mozart concerto’s.

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?

This is a combination of my own repertoire interests, discussions with colleagues I play chamber music with, and requests from promoters and orchestras. In general, I choose pieces that fascinate and challenge me, and in which I feel I can use my abilities and understanding to bring something new to them.

Who are your favourite musicians?

I admire many but if I must choose a few : Alfred Brendle, Martha Argerich, Mark Padmore, Maria Joao Pires, Brett Dean and many others.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

Maybe hearing Mark Padmore and Christian Beziedenhout perform Winterreise in Berlin, Uchida playing Mozart and Schubert.

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

For me the greatest advantage of being a musician is the freedom to do what I want and what interests me. So I would say the definition of success would be the ability to choose to do things that I love, to play pieces I love with people or orchestras I enjoy working and playing with.

What advice would you give to young and aspiring musicians?

Never stop learning and questioning things, work consistently in small steps, and don’t try to be like someone else…

Yehuda Inbar’s debut album featuring Schubert’s Unifinished Sonatas, and works by Finnissy and Widmann is available now on the Oehms Classics label

Israeli pianist Yehuda Inbar was born in Haifa. In 2015 he moved to London to study with Joanna MacGregor at the Royal Academy of Music. Since then he has performed at Royal Festival Hall, made his playing-directing debut in St Martin-in-the-Fields with the Brandenburg Sinfonia, and was recently selected as artist for the Kirckman Concert Society for a Wigmore Hall recital debut. As a soloist Yehuda has also played with the St. John’s chamber orchestra, the Haifa Symphony Orchestra , Netanya-Kibutzim Chamber Orchestra, and Ashdod symphony orchestra. He has taken part in festivals such as the Israel -Festival, Piano Festival of the Royal Academy of Music, Dartington Summer Festival, Tibor Varga Festival and others, and appeared in piano duo with Michel Dalberto. Yehuda’s playing has been broadcasted on BBC Radio, Classic FM, and on the Israeli radio channel “Kol Hamusica “.

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