Interview with Pascal Amoyel, Concerto Pianist

Pascal Amoyel, French concert pianist, kindly agreed to do an interview with me. Pascal was voted "Solo Instrumental Discovery of the Year", and studied with Georges Cziffra. Here he answers questions about music and the piano...

1. What made you choose a career in music?

At first, I almost became a doctor. But music was too important in my life. When a pupil asked the poet Rilke if he thought that he could become a poet, he answered "yes" as far as the pupil felt that he couldn't not be one.

2. Who are your favorite composers, and why?

Mahler at first. A unique harmonious invention and a capacity to be granted no limits in language, nor at the same time to give nothing up.

Then, the composers-pianists Liszt, Scriabin and Chopin, to whom I dedicated several recordings (Complete Chopin Nocturnes, Complete Poems by Scriabin...)

3. Which CD in your discography are you most proud of?

It is difficult to answer this question. But I believe that the recording where it seems to me to have gone to the deepest is the one dedicated to the Harmonies Po├ętiques et Religieuses by Liszt.

4. Where is your favorite place to perform?

Recently, I participated in a concert in the Victoria Hall of Geneva. I do not remember having felt previously so much emotion and comfort in a concert hall. Soon, I will have the huge privilege to play to the Berlin Philharmonie.

5. What are you planning for Franz Liszt's bicentennary this year?

Many very different programs. A program with choir in works inspired by Gregorian themes, the complete of the Harmonies Poestiques et Religieuses, tours in Europe with Anima Eterna, in China, Canada...

I shall also pay tribute to the one who was my master during 8 years, Gyorgy Cziffra, in a musical show honoring Liszt. I am happy to be able to celebrate in my way this composer whose attraction towards the spiritual touches me extremely.

6. What was it like to study with Cziffra, one of the most skilled and famous pianists of the 20th century?

I had the big privilege to work with Cziffra for 8 years, in academies but also in private. Beyond the legendary pianist, he was also a very generous man, full of compassion.

When he gave lessons, he did not speak a lot. But a simple glance could knock down you. He lived music so much that when he showed an example, a whole world opened which I can't explained in words. It is this flame, the most essential and the most instinctive, that he succeeded in passing on. And it is doubtless the most important thing in a master-student relationship.