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Christian Ihle Hadland

Q&A

Acclaimed pianist Christian Ihle Hadland has established himself as a true craftsman of the piano. At this year’s London Piano Festival, he juxtaposes the lyrical, intimate worlds of Schubert and Schumann with the sheer power and visceral thrill of Rachmaninov’s Second Sonata.

‘Playing in London is always such a thrill. The knowledgeable audience and the feeling of being in the centre of the musical life in Europe.’

Tell us more about your concert at this year’s London Piano Festival.

A well-packed Saturday evening with two performances: First a recital with a rather unknown, probably unfinished, but heavenly beautiful Schubert Sonata in E-minor, Schumann’s delicate and nostalgic Waldszenen, and the colossus second Rachmaninov sonata. Then we’re heading for the big Two-Piano Marathon finale with two pieces that I know well, but for some reason have never performed: Brahms’ variations on a theme by Haydn (although the theme is not by Haydn) and Bartok’s intense arrangement for two pianos of seven pieces from his Mikrokosmos.

Which artists and/or composers have been most influential on your career?

For composers; Mozart above all. I remember when I was seven and watched Amadeus for the first time – things would never be the same again. Of course I have several other musical heroes; Bach and Schubert I would particularly point out, but there are sublime works by almost any composer who wrote for the piano. For pianists: Sviatoslav Richter I come back to again and again, I simply never get tired of his sound.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

Playing with Renée Fleming at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in 2006. I had listened to her recordings for a long time (and still do), and then suddenly the phone call came in asking if I wanted to accompany her. I almost fell off my chair. I remember clearly when we where performing and I thought to myself: Nothing can top this. And it didn’t – but that’s totally fine! A mesmerizing experience, and still is.

This is the first time you’ve performed at Kings Place, what are you most looking forward to?

Playing in London is always such a thrill. The knowledgeable audience and the feeling of being in the centre of the musical life in Europe. I’ve never performed at Kings Place, only heard great things about it.

What piece of advice would you give aspiring young pianists?

That they should cherish the day nobody calls them young anymore! Haha. I would say to them as I say to my students: Don’t try to be smart. Just play works you love, and only play with people you enjoy playing with. Of course, most cannot pick and choose from the age of 20, and neither could I. Just don’t forget the pleasure of playing. This is why you started in the first place.

What’s next after the London Piano Festival?

Two projects that I’ve been looking forward to for a long time: Clara Schumann piano concerto with Ed Gardner in Bergen, and Mozart Concerto No. 18 with Martin Fröst in Sweden. Tucked in-between is a chamber concert in the Oslo opera house, which is always nice.

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