THE Georgian-German pianist Catherine Gordeladze…
is considered one of the most remarkable young musicians in the world. The Zeitung fürs Dresdner Land wrote of the “instinctive sureness and elegance” of her playing; the Darmstädter Echo praised her “unmistakably individual performing style“, in a broad repertoire that ranges from Bach and Haydn via Chopin to Ravel, Ligeti and Kapustin – one of the most stunning performers in the world. Her accentuations and performance talents mix bravado playing and expressionism – poetic finesse and virtuosity few have every experience. Her album of works by the Russian composer Nikolai Kapustin – described by Piano News as a “grandiose” recording – was released on Naxos in 2011. Music critics, since and presently, are heaping praise on a prodigious musician. I talk to Gordeladze about her upcoming album, Dance Fantasies (released 5th May in the U.K. and available via Amazon), and how the music scene differs in Georgia – whether there is an active and popular music market there. I ask whether there was, on the album, a particular interpretation that struck her heart and which composer sparked her love for music. Gordeladze talks about the future and takes me back to her early days – how that passion for Classical music was ignited.
Hi, Catherine. How are you? How has your week been?
Hi. I am fine! I’m shooting a music video for my new album next week. I had a very enjoyable piano recital this week in a wonderful location in a small romantic town in Bad Ems (in Germany).
For those new to your work, can you introduce yourselves, please?
I am a Georgian-German pianist who was born in Tbilisi, Georgia and grew up there too. I now live in Frankfurt in Germany and enjoy a busy concert schedule playing piano recitals in countries all across Europe.
Dance Fantasies is your upcoming album. What can you reveal about the type of music and themes explored?
Dance Fantasies is my fourth solo album released by German label BELLA MUSICA/ANTES EDITION – featuring Dance pieces from the Classical repertoire.
Some of the works on the album are arrangements by great piano virtuosos including Leopold Godowsky and Sergei Rachmaninoff. Other pieces by Rameau, Czerny; Chopin and Ravel are performed in their original versions.
The project was developed following an offhand comment from a journalist who suggested that my playing style was ideally suited to “energetic and agile piano dances”.
Was there a particular piece or interpretation that struck you hard – one work that stayed in the heart longer than the rest?
For a long time, Ravel’s La Valse has been part of my repertoire and it gives me great pleasure to perform in concerts.
It follows 2014’s American Rhapsody. How does Dance Fantasies differ or expand on your previous album?
The tracks on American Rhapsody are a completely different repertoire to the new album. For several years now, Samuel Barber’s Piano Sonata has been part of my repertory and I enjoy performing it in concerts. It was actually this piece that first sparked my interest in the music of other American composers. I had intermittently come across piano pieces written by legendary American pianist L. M. Gottschalk in the nineteenth-century and was completely fascinated by these works.
Besides, I have always wanted to play George Gershwin’s brilliant Rhapsody in Blue! In connection with my love of Gershwin’s music, I came across the prominent American pianist Earl Wild and his Seven Virtuoso Etudes – based on Gershwin’s songs. This selection of works by the four American composers, released by ANTES EDITION, won the silver and bronze medals in the instrumental performance solo/album category of the renowned Global Music Award in the U.S.A. It was also specially recommended by the German online magazine Klassik.com and radio station hr2 Kultur.
Can you tell me how you got into music? Did you take up the piano at a young age?
Everything started when I was three years of age.
My parents enjoyed playing our grand piano though they themselves were not professional musicians. Their piano playing greatly influenced my interest in that particular instrument.
After my mother discovered I had ‘perfect pitch’, my first music lessons started when I was six-years-old at the Central Music School for Talented Children in Tbilisi, Georgia. Hailed a child prodigy, I made my first orchestral appearance aged seven and my first piano recital at ten-years-old.
PHOTO CREDIT: Misha Blank
Was there a particular composer that sparked that love and musical desire?
Yes, Johann Sebastian Bach.
How do you feel modern Classical music compares to the geniuses of the seventeenth and eighteenth century?
I do like several modern Classical composers very much, and there are many masterpieces nowadays. My favourite modern composers are György Ligeti, Giya Kancheli and Nikolai Kapustin. I recorded Kapustin’s Eight Concert Etudes and 24 Preludes in Jazz Style for the label NAXOS in 2010.
PHOTO CREDIT: Misha Blank
Born in Russia in 1937, Kasputin’s works are marvellous Jazz-imbued piano pieces. Working on his compositions has been a great pleasure and a demanding creative process for me. His music is a captivating and charming fusion of Jazz and Classical music. Performing Kapustin requires a great deal of pianistic virtuosity and a good ear for Jazz rhythms!
You are Georgian-German. How does the music scene differ in Georgia and Germany than to, say, the U.K. and U.S.?
I think the music scenes in Germany, U.K. and the U.S.A. are quite similar because there are such international countries. Many interesting and gifted musicians from all over the world are based in these countries.
The Georgian musical scene is very saturated as Georgia is a small country with a large pool of very talented musicians.
Georgian people have a musicality that comes very naturally to them.
I know you are releasing a new L.P. but any more musical plans for 2017?
I have three piano recitals coming up that tie in with my new C.D. release with presentations in Frankfurt, Dresden and Berlin. I also have several piano recitals in Germany and Italy.
Can we expect to see you touring at all this year?
Not in the U.K., unfortunately, but I have several upcoming concerts in Germany and Italy.
PHOTO CREDIT: Mischa Blank
If you had to select the three albums that have meant the most to you; what would they be and why?
Mikhail Pletnev: Scarlatti Sonatas (Virgin Classics)
Cecilia Bartoli: The Vivaldi Album (Decca)
Gidon Kremer-Astor Piazzolla: El Tango (Nonesuch Records)
I enjoy very much listening to these albums.
Who are the new artists you recommend we investigate?
Young Georgian cellist Lizi Ramishvili.
Finally, and for being a good sport, you can name a work (not one of yours as I’ll do that) and I’ll play it here.
Nikolai Kapustin performing Impromptu, Op. 66, No. 2
Follow Catherine Gordeladze
PHOTO CREDIT: Mischa Blank