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2018.12.17 Official Report

【Official】Interview with IMADA Atsushi, winner of the Fourth Prize

When I performed, I tried to focus on what I was feeling on stage.

-How do you feel after finishing the Hamamatsu Competition?

I am pleased that I was able to perform with the orchestra in the final. I applied to enter the Hamamatsu Competition because the audience, the piano and the way it is run are all good, so I thought it was worth a try even if I didn't achieve a good result. That may be why it went well; it often doesn't go so well if you are trying to obtain a good result.

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-What did you talk about in your conversation with Mr. Takaseki, the conductor of the orchestra for the final?

He mentioned that this was the 49th time he had conducted Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1. He gave me some advice regarding my performance. He had written down the names of all of his previous co-performing pianists at the back of his score of the work, and showed me names such as Pogorelich and Gavrilov, saying, "These are the famous ones" (laughs). He said that when he co-performed with Gavrilov, he conducted the finale with one beat, which was one of the fastest performances in the world...I had the chance to hear a very rare story thanks to him.



-When you participated in the Hamamatsu Competition three years ago, you were studying overseas in London. Then, you came back to Japan once, but now you are studying overseas again, this time in Leipzig, Germany. What kind of impact is it having on you to live and study in Europe?

There is of course merit for me to live in Europe. However, I come back to Japan on a regular basis, and thanks to the Internet, I don't feel too lonely being in a foreign country, away from Japan. When I was in a competition for junior pianists about 10 years ago, mobile phones and emails were already available, but it was quite expensive to use them, so I tried not to use them...



-You are now in your 20s, so you are of the generation that has had that kind of experience in the past. One of the jury members, Professor Kobrin, talked to me during his interview about changes in the environment and the generation gap in acquiring information.

Yes, I read that interview article. I didn't have a mobile phone before getting into senior high school. When I was in Tokyo having lessons, I used to call home from a public telephone box to let them know which Shinkansen bullet train I would be taking to go home. By the way, I recently used a public phone, because my mobile phone battery was flat!

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-Around what time did you decide to go along the path of a pianist?


It was around 14, and it was the time I decided to leave my hometown to enter the Music High School of Tokyo University of the Arts. I don't think I was aware of what it would mean to go to down the path of music as clearly as I am now, but I did at least realize there would be no way back once I decided to choose the path.

There was no particular turning point; I started playing the piano when I was little, and began intensive training when I was in the higher grade of elementary school. The proportion of music in my life increased rapidly as I grew older, and the decision to choose the path of pianist has simply been a natural outcome.



-Did you discover anything new or experience changes in yourself during this competition?


It is of course important to exhibit your learnings during each stage of the competition, but this time I tried to focus on what I was feeling on stage...something impromptu. I feel I was able to undergo changes in myself through the four stages this time. But Professor Dina Yoffe told me at a reception that I should have expressed myself more; she said she wanted to see more of my ego ...

She wanted ego...it's difficult to know how to keep the balance.

It shouldn't undermine the style. On the other hand, if I'm worrying about how the jury members might evaluate my performance, my performance would never be convincing to the audience.

I am now able to absorb myself in the music more than before. Although I need to stay calm as well, I think it is important for me to increase my concentration levels even more, in a particular aspect.

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-How did you like the Yamaha, which was your choice for this competition?


It had a clear, singing sound. I liked its pleasant, expansive sound across the upper and lower registers.


-What is your trick for making friends with the piano on stage?


Well, I don't have any particular tip...if any, it's not to knock the keys as far as it's possible. Ah, I remember one thing that I was told by a German teacher right before this competition. It was to treat the piano as a frau...I mean, a female. That was very convincing to me (laughs).



-So, what change did that instruction make!?

Well, nothing in particular.

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-Oh, you don't mean that instruction changed your whole perception about how to treat a piano.


No, not really (laughs). I wish it had.



-Is any part of you going to change in the future as a result of becoming a prizewinner of the Hamamatsu Competition this time?


I'm sure many people across Japan were listening to my performance, but I was particularly conscious of the attention from the citizens in Shizuoka Prefecture because I am originally from this prefecture. So far, I have mainly given concerts in Kakegawa, which is my hometown, but now I am likely to give performances across the whole prefecture of Shizuoka...sorry, I'm talking about Shizuoka, although this is an international competition (laughs).

Chairperson of the Jury, Professor Noriko Ogawa said that we'd better market ourselves as the prizewinners of the Hamamatsu Competition. But I'm not good at that kind of thing...in the past, I was a finalist in the Queen Elizabeth International Music Competition, but I couldn't announce that at all to other people. I feel I should take care of that sort of aspect as well from now on.



-Do you have any particular composer you want to focus your study on moving forward?


First of all, I like the Romantic works very much, so I'd like to work on that repertoire. Meanwhile, since I'm now learning from a German professor in Leipzig, I'd like to study works by, for example, Bach and Beethoven, especially something like the Hammerklavier, because I am a student in my 20s and thus I have time to make the efforts. There are a lot of works I would like to spend time studying.



-In conclusion, what would you like to place most importance on as you build your career as a pianist?


I want to be a pianist who thinks first about what kind of music the composer wanted to create and what kind of atmosphere the composer wanted to convey; then I want to be a musician who can share my interpretation with the audience.


(Text by Haruka KOSAKA)

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Hamamatsu International Piano Competition

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