A big thank you to the Japanese Record Academy for naming my recording of Bach’s Art of Fugue as Best Instrumental CD of the Year! Also to all of you who have purchased it and kept it in the top of the UK charts for so long already. I am glad that many people will get to hear this music who haven’t heard it before. Just yesterday I made the final selection of Sonatas for my first Scarlatti CD on Hyperion which I will record in Hannover in February. Hard to choose among 555, but I think I have a nice group of 17.
Going back a few weeks: after Cleveland and some days at home in Ottawa, Canada, I went to New York and devoted a day to listening to 4 young pianists play for me at Klavierhaus–Fazioli’s new showroom on 56th Street (in the Meridien Hotel). We had fun (see photo)! I taught them for six hours and we had lunch and dinner together as well. It’s good to follow their progress. I don’t do that very often because I simply don’t have time. Then I performed for an enthusiastic audience at the Schubert Club in Greenwich CT where they have an annual recital in memory of a local piano teacher. I also went into the WQXR studios in NYC to do some commentary on my Bach recordings that they were playing on air. Then back to London, but only for 48 hours. Then on to Japan, and a lot of jet-lag.
It had been more than 25 years since I last performed in Tokyo’s Suntory Hall – one of the great concert halls of the world. Then it was Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto with the Japan Philharmonic. This time it was Messiaen’s massive Turangalila Symphony with the Yomiuru Nippon Symphony and maestro Sylvain Cambreling. The other soloist was ondes martenot player Cynthia Millar whom I was very happy to meet as we are almost neighbours in London. We had a very short time to pull it all together, but it worked! The TV cameras were there (it will be broadcast in Japan in January), the hall was full at 2000 seats, and it was a very moving performance. The Fazioli concert grand sounded terrific in the hall and against the orchestra. Cynthia put one of her speakers near my piano bench, and I heard sounds coming from the ondes that I had never heard before. Maestro Cambreling obviously has the piece in his blood, and the orchestra (many of whom were playing it for the first time) did an excellent job. We will be repeating the performance in Utrecht and Brussels at the beginning of March next year. A night to remember!