Martin Klett, pianist

Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music and who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?

Growing up in a family of musicians made music an ever-present part of my childhood. My mom is a flautist and my dad a pianist, so there was nothing more natural and joyous for a 3 year old me than to reach for the keys myself. The awareness that music was also my calling came when I was about 15. 

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

The first answer that pops up in my head is the coronavirus pandemic, but this is something that goes for every performing artist. I believe that the biggest challenge for me was realising that my versatility as a musician is an asset rather than a setback. Exploring the many treasures of chamber music repertoire, Argentine tango, early music and jazz has been wonderful, but in many ways difficult as they say it’s harder to promote an artist without a clear profile. But I am an artist who’s comfortable exploring different extremes, leaving the beaten path.

Which performances/recordings are you most proud of? 

The project that I feel most proud of is definitely my ‘Lamento’ album. The programme combines Bach Concertos (for piano and strings) with tangos by Salgán and Pugliese (in my arrangements for piano, strings and 3 bandoneons). With this recording, I made a dream come true: Perform Bach concertos with an ensemble of solo strings in a baroque manner on modern instruments. I still can‘t believe that I seem to be the first one who did this! And putting together an orquesta típica to play music by my biggest idols of tango was intense but highly rewarding.

Martin Klett & Ensemble – Concerto in D Minor for Piano and Strings (I Allegro)

Martin Klett & Ensemble – Recuerdo (in the style of Salgán)

Which particular works do you think you perform best?

The answer to that question may come as a surprise for some readers: the music I feel most comfortable with is Mozart! The clarity, simplicity, beauty and crisp perfection of Mozart‘s music inspires me like no other music. It also seems to fit very well to my hands (Chopin doesn‘t!). Another composer I really understand on a spiritual level is Brahms.

What do you do off stage that provides inspiration on stage?

This one’s easy: dancing tango! It gives me insight in so many aspects of art and life: connecting me to others, to the music, to the space around me and to myself! Art so firmly rooted in life. 

I also enjoy hiking, cooking, baking and a good movie or series

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

I have such a colourful artistic life that I don‘t really have a particular repertoire that I choose for a season. The truth is that very often, I play a different programme with different colleagues in every concert!

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?

Definitely the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg for the most impressive Steinway D piano that I’ve ever played on. It was chosen by Mitsuko Uchida, and I had the pleasure of playing Brahms‘ Horn Trio on it. It answered perfectly to the softest dynamic intentions that I had, and fit the acoustics of the chamber music hall perfectly. Also, and I say this with a hint of pride: Hamburg is my hometown!

What do you feel needs to be done to grow classical music’s audiences?

When I attend concerts as a listener, I try not to find out the programme beforehand; I like to be surprised. And I like hearing new niche repertoire! If I have the feeling that the artist presents an experience, surprises me and invites me into his/her/their world, I feel excited. And this is exactly what I think we should offer to our audiences. 

What is your most memorable concert experience?

I was to perform with my clarinet partner Sebastian Manz at the Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in 2009. We arrived at the concert venue to find that he had forgotten his Bb clarinet!!! We were able to get a clarinet from a colleague in Schwerin just in time for the concert. Then, elated, we sweated through the concert in 35°C heat!

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

Having the luxury of choosing repertoire and colleagues for my concerts.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

Listen, listen, listen! To other musicians, to your own sounds, to your feelings!

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

This will tell you more about me than any of the other answers above: The more peaks the better! I‘m not even pretending to be modest here… 🙂

The pianist Martin Klett transcends borders with his effortless musicianship. With equal commitment and refinement, he performs classical piano concertos and jazzy recitals with duo partner Sebastian Manz. The press lauds the “cultivated, spirited touch” (Crescendo) and “suave technique” (Piano News) of his Rachmaninoff album and his “passion, ease and precision” (Rheinpfalz) in tango programmes with the Cuarteto SolTango.

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