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Interview with the Pianist Nelson Groener

Monday, 10 February 2014 , ora 8.54
"A pianist marked by poetical intuition, the breath of the shade and a charming delicacy"- this is how Nelson Groener was described in 2013. Born in San Pedro, Argentina, Nelson Groener is considered one of the most interesting pianists of his generation. After studying in Argentina, the young pianist took the courses of the Geneva Conservatory of Music, studying with Maria Tipo. Since 1990, he has been invited to perform in concerts and recitals in Europe, North and South America. These days, Nelson Groener will be in London, for a recital at Wigmore Hall.

Mr. Nelson Groener, thank you for accepting to give us this interview. For how long have you been collaborating with the Romanian Radio Broadcasting Corporation?

The first concert I performed at the Romania Radio Broadcasting took place in 1993. I performed the Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in D minor by Johannes Brahms, with conductor Eric Bergel. It is a performance which took place many years ago, but it is still very present in my memory. I had many opportunities to perform in your country and every time I was glad to meet the attentive and musical Romanian public. I have very dear friends in Romania.

You have recently released an album with opuses by Claude Debussy. Have you been working hard on this project?

I recorded the Debussy album in April 2013; it fulfilled my long time wish to achieve a serious analysis of Debussy᾽s works. He is a composer whose work I often approached with a public in different periods of my career; this is why I wished to unify all these experiences and try them out a little in this album which represents my vision over Debussy, who I have always admired.

Apart from this album, what other recordings are dear to you?

During my career I have recorded works by Chopin, especially those from his last creation period, for example the Sonata no. 3, Op. 58 (Barcarolle), Polonaise-Fantaisie, Op.61, a few Nocturnes and the four Ballades, on an old Pleyel piano, from Chopin᾽s time. The Fryderyk Chopin National Institute in Warsaw recorded these works. I recorded several pieces by Liszt, major opuses, such as the Sonata in B minor, the 12 Transcendental Studies, the second Ballade, The Death of Isolda by Wagner, in Liszt’s transcription. I could say that my discography represents the different interests of my musician’s nature. I am a musician who does not wish to specialize in a certain musical period, or in a certain musical language, but who enjoys approaching very different repertories.

Apart from the symphonic concerts, your agenda also includes recitals. Do you think that this alternance is beneficial?

I believe every artist should make this alternance. The concert and the recital experiences are very different. The recital generally represents a much bigger challenge for an artist. Firstly, because he is alone on stage and he cannot enjoy the company of a conductor and an orchestra. He must communicate the message to the public by only using his own personality. I believe this is much more difficult. In a recital, you have a palette of composers and works which are very different from the point of view of the language and the message that has to be transmitted, unlike during a concert; however, it is possible to have very complex concerts in a repertoire, such as, Concerto no. 2 by Brahms, which is very beautiful and involves experience of complicity with the other musicians. Sometimes you may feel disappointed when this complicity doesn’t exist and you can’t give your best to the public.

What does a concert or a recital mean to you and your life? Is it a unique, inimitable moment?

Every concert or recital is unique, because it is inimitable from one moment to another. For example, you may perform the same Opus in two consecutive days and, although your vision over it may not change, new elements may occur during the performance and these elements are revealed only at that moment. This is why I am talking about a unique experience, which also applies to recitals. If I get to think of myself and the way I live it, then I prepare for an inimitable, special performance.

On stage, you offer the public moments from your life.

These moments are indeed part of our lives. We work for many years until we get to a convincing vision of the work, dominated by our spirit which represents an essence of our spiritual forces; this way, the performance defines moments of life, that we offer to the public. Of course, the message of the composer, the one that you wish to transmit, dominates. I believe that, as much as possible, the ideal musician should totally respect the score he performs and, at the same time, he should offer his own convincing vision.

By offering, you will achieve, we may say.

Exactly, we offer even during our moments of solitude, of working at home, moments which are, of course, numberless. All these moments unify during the concert, which is inimitable and unique.

These days you are in Geneva, but what does your agenda include for the next period of time?

I have started the year with a recital in Paris, at the Bastille Opera House. I will repeat the programme at Wigmore Hall, in London on 21st February. This programme contains works by Bach, such as Partita No. 6, Suit En Plein Air by Bartok, and Schumann’s Symphonic Etudes. In March, I will perform concerts with Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, with opuses of Mendelssohn as part of a tour in Belgium, and then I will be in Argentina, with a different recital programme: the Variations Op.21 and Fantasien Op. 116 by Johannes Brahms and Sonata Hammerklavier of Beethoven.

Mr. Goerner, you travel all over the world, being a guest on all continents, but do you have your favourite public?

It is very difficult to tell, as I appreciate each public for various reasons. If I am to think of my last recital, I discover a very faithful Parisian public. This helped me concentrate and give my best. For the same reasons, I love the Japanese public, which is very attentive, although they do not manifest themselves very lively, in a Latin manner, as I am used to and which corresponds to my personality. I must say that I keep a special memory to the Romanian public; a charming memory. All the experiences I have lived in your country, from the beginning of the 90s, have revealed a public eager to listen to music, familiar with it, a public that I will always meet with pleasure. I hope that, in the next years, I will have more opportunities to return to your country.

Do you have a discographic project for this year?

Yes, of course, I have one. In March, in a few weeks, I will record the Symphonic Etudes and Kreisleriana by Robert Schumann. This will be my next album.

Mr. Nelson Goerner, thank you for the interview. In the end, would you like to address a few words to the Romanian public, who remembers you and who is looking forward to listening to you?

What I would like to address the Romanian public is that it is always present in my memories. I have had the opportunity to perform in Romania right from the beginning of the 90s, and since then, a profound relationship was created between me and the Romanian public. This relationship still exists today and is only waiting for the moment when it could be renewed on stage, perhaps in a recital. The last time I was in Romania, I performed the Piano Concerto for the Left Hand by Maurice Ravel. Therefore, I think it would be better for us to meet again in a recital.

Irina Hasnaș
Translated by Aida Birgilă and Elena Daniela Radu
MTTLC, The University of Bucharest