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Pavel Kolesnikov

Q&A

Rising Russian star Pavel Kolesnikov makes a keenly anticipated Kings Place recital debut with two signature composers, Couperin and Schumann, drawn from his extensive repertoire.

Why did you decide to take the path of a professional pianist rather than violinist – where you begin your music education?
Violin simply didn’t work for me in the way the piano did. I was lucky to realise this early on – when I still had time to choose. And of course, what made a huge difference in my decision to follow piano was that one can pursue ideas with the most independence – it’s incredibly self-sufficient.

Which artists and/or composers or have been most influential on your career?
I am easily and deeply impressed by other work. At different points I was strongly influenced by Sviatoslav Richter, Michail Pletnev and Grigory Sokolov; and then later Dinu Lipatti and Maria João Pires. However, lately, I notice that I am even more influenced by some artists outside of music, and in way, I find it much more fruitful. I must mention Henri Matisse and Francis Bacon, and also photographers Wolfgang Tillmans and Eva Vermandel, and fashion designer Raf Simons. This seems like a long list, but I do feel like a sponge, and processing these kinds of impulses is part of my everyday work.

What is your most memorable concert experience?
There are many, but quite recently Ermonela Jaho was breathtaking in Suor Angelica at Royal Opera House.

This is the first time you’ve performed at Kings Place, what are you most looking forward to?
I had a recording session with Samson Tsoy here a year ago. The acoustic is incredible and I am very much looking forward to the real performance experience here.

Can you tell us a bit about your ideas behind your upcoming concert, From Grandeur to Intimacy?
The music of Louis Couperin has become a very important discovery for me, as I am sure it should be for any listener. The thing is, in essence, that Louis Couperin has a particular way of delivering very personal emotion in an incredibly direct, intense way. There are not that many composers who are so outstanding at this, but Schumann (and in some way Brahms) were working in the same direction of magnifying some very intimate emotions and at the same time finding such a powerful, unrestricted way of conveying them. That’s why I think this combination on the programme works so surprisingly well, although it might look that it shouldn’t!

What piece of advice would you give aspiring young pianists?
To question everything and never take ready-made solutions. And never give up!

What’s next after the London Piano Festival?
I am going to do a wonderful four hands/solo Brahms programme with Samson Tsoy at Theatre de la Ville in Paris.

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