Since I had organized in my series “Podium Jonge Musici” in deSingel in Antwerp a few concerts with Winners of the “Franz Liszt Competition” – Nino Gvetadze, Vitaly Pisarenko and Masataka Goto, I was invited by the Competition to attend the finals of the 10th edition in november in Utrecht.
I had followed via internet the first rounds, and I was immediately touched by the personality and playing of this young Georgian pianist Mariam Batsashvili.
But hearing her “live” was even much better.The Liszt concerto n°1 with the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by James Gaffigan was stunning. She stole my heart. For me there was no doubt, she was the Winner.
And so it was. Mariam became the first female pianist to win the “Franz Liszt Competition”. She is a honest and sincere musician, not looking for special effects, but playing with integrity, respectful of the composer and of the piano.
Mariam Batsashvili studied successively at the Mikeladze Central Music School in Tbilisi with Natalia Natsvlishvili and at the Hochschule für Musik Franz Liszt in Weimar with Grigory Gruzman. She won prizes from various competitions such as First Prize at the International Franz Liszt Competition for Young Pianists in Weimar in 2011 and Second Prize at the María Herrero International Piano Competition in Granada in 2012.
After the Competition, she gave a concert in the big Hall of the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and was invited to play all over the Netherlands. She than toured in Asia and in South America, and was acclaimed everywhere with standing ovations.
Mariam Batsashvili was chosen by the Concertgebouw Amsterdam and Bozar in Brussels to become “Rising Star” of the 2016 – 2017 season; this means that she will play in 21 of the most prestigious Concert Halls in the world, including Carnegie Hall New-York and Musikverein Wien.
Herewith a few questions:
1) Dear Mariam, first congratulations with all these fantastic news.
How do you feel since November 2014, when you won the Franz Liszt Competition in Utrecht ?
Thank you dear Carlo, I am feeling very good, because I am doing what I love and what I was always hoping for! Play Concerts, learn new Repertoire, meet new people, travel!
2) How long in advance did you prepare yourself for the Competition ?
I have been practising one year before the competition very intensively on the pieces that I performed in the competition.
3) You are only 21 years old, how did you assimilate such a huge and difficult repertoire ?
When did you start the piano ? When did you know that the piano would become your career ?
I am 22 by now, practising and learning.. and there are so many new things beside my current repertoire that I want to learn to widen my repertoire, so I am on it now!
I started to play the piano at the age of 4. When I was 7, decision of me being the Pianist was made. I somehow realized that Piano playing is exactly what I wanted to do. My grandmother’s wish, me to become a pianist, became my wish as well.
4) You played mainly works by Liszt at this Competition.
I see that for next season you will also play Bach, Beethoven and Bartok for your recitals.
Are there also new concertos on your program ?
I always was playing pieces from different composers, I actually think, that its really important to know different periods of music, also because to play Liszt well. They all help each other!
I am learning the 2nd Piano Concert of Saint Saens, which will be performed with the Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra with Conrad van Alpen on the 2nd of October.
On 5th of February I will be playing the Tchaikovsky 1st Piano concert with Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra with Rafael Payare conducting. I am also very happy to play the Bach, Beethoven, Bartok, Mendelsohn etc.
5) Do you think that Competitions are important for the career of a pianist ?
I think that first of all one should practise, go deeper in the music, try to do the best for understanding the moral of the piece, that one can say something with it and then it’s time to share it with the public, so that means taking part in the competitions or play some concerts. Winning the competition is another topic, it’s also a bit a matter of luck, so what I am saying is, that one should just go and play, it’s not always about the result, but the fact of going up the stage and saying whatever one needs to say through the music!
Thank you for your time, and wishing you all the best. We will certainly have the opportunity to meet again very soon at one of your concerts.
Thank you very much!