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Nordic maestro plays Grieg

Pianist offers a varied program to mark anniversary

Feb 12,2007
Leif Ove Andsnes at his piano Courtesy of Mast Media
Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes, hailed as “the most interesting pianist of his generation” by The New York Times, will present Scandinavian sentimentalism when he plays a Grieg Ballad, a Beethoven piano sonata, Schuman’s Suite for Four Pianos and Mussorgky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” at Seoul Arts Center tomorrow.
Born in 1970 on a windy island west of Norway’s mainland, his parents were music teachers and music was an integral part of his life. At 15, he began studying with Czech-born professor Jiri Hlinka at the Bergen Conservatoire. He made his debut in a major recital at 17 and the following year he performed the Grieg Piano Concerto during a gala ball at the annual Bergen Festival.
Andsnes did not become famous by winning competitions but built his reputation through a series of well-received concerts. At the European Grand Prix for Young Musicians (1988), one of few major events he entered, he placed second to violinist Julian Rachlin. Although he downplayed the prize’s significance, within one year he had engagements with the Berlin Philharmonic and the BBC Proms in London.
“There is no special reason[people began to want me to play]. I just have been following my way. Everyone has to find their own way, there is no recipe,” he said.
In 1998, he became a recipient of the Gilmore Artist Award. In 2006, Andsnes won three Gramophone Awards and his recording of Rachmaninov’s Piano Concertos No. 1 and No. 2, which he said is one of his favorite repertoires, won him a 2006 Classical Brit Award.
Andsnes has a busy performance schedule that keeps him on the road for 240 days of the year performing around 100 concerts. He had eight concerts in January as he swept through Italy, Russia and Norway, followed by seven different concerts in Japan before visiting Korea. After his Asian tour, he will begin a European tour with the Santa Cecilia Orchestra from Rome under conductor Antonio Pappano.
“As a traveling musician one can feel quite restless and one misses the feeling of being at home,” he said.
Besides touring, Andsnes has devoted himself to the annual Ris?r Festival of Chamber Music, of which he is a co-director.
As a consequence of his efforts, the 16-year-old festival has grown to be one of the finest musical events of its kind, featuring artists like the violinists Maxim Vengerov, Gidon Kremer and Joshua Bell, cellists Heinrich Schiff and Steven Isserlis and pianist Lars Vogt.
“I love the richness within what we call classical music, and this makes life very varied and challenging. I think music is about sharing. It is one of the most important reasons to have a music festivals,” he said.
This year is the 100th anniversary of Grieg’s death and to commemorate the famous Norwegian composer Andsnes, will start the recital in Seoul by playing Grieg’s Ballad in the form of Variations on a Norwegian Folk Song in G Minor Op. 24.
“The Grieg ballad is his most substantial piece for solo piano but it is rarely performed outside Norway,” he said. “It was written in a period of crisis. One can hear quite a bit of sorrow and anger in the piece.”
When not performing, he often returns to Bergen where he has a house in the mountains that overlooks a glacier.
“Not only Norwegian musical history but Norwegian nature in general gives Norwegians a tremendous sense of their roots, of belonging somewhere. This is important in my life, too,” he said.
The concert starts at 8 p.m. For more information visit www.sac.or.kr/eng/.

By Limb Jae-un Staff Writer [jbiz91@joongang.co.kr]



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