The next great Spanish pianist

Described as a pianist of great elegance, Javier Perianes (above) will play Grieg's Piano Concerto on Aug 26.
Described as a pianist of great elegance, Javier Perianes (above) will play Grieg's Piano Concerto on Aug 26.PHOTO: DANIEL GARCIA BRUNO

Javier Perianes, who plays in Singapore this month, is making waves in the global scene

When Javier Perianes plays Grieg's Piano Concerto at the Esplanade Concert Hall at month's end, he will not mind if the audience is moved to applaud between movements.

Silence between movements is the unwritten rule of the concert hall, but the Madrid-based pianist says: "Clapping is an expression of happiness. Why should we limit people who want to express their emotions?"

Especially for a concerto which he describes as "the perfect example of a Romantic concerto, full of amazing melodies and beautiful dialogue between different instruments and the piano".

Perianes, 38, was on the telephone with The Straits Times before a performance in Hobart, Australia.

He makes his debut with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra on Aug 26, under the baton of Polish conductor Michal Nesterowicz.

  • BOOK IT / SSO SUBSCRIPTION: SHAKESPEARE400: JAVIER PERIANES PLAYS GRIEG

  • WHERE: Esplanade Concert Hall, 1 Esplanade Drive

    WHEN: Aug 26, 7.30pm

    ADMISSION: $15 to $78 from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to www.sistic.com.sg)

The programme is billed under the orchestra's celebration of Shakespeare's 400th anniversary and includes the Fantasy Overture from Tchaikovsky's Romeo And Juliet as well as Sibelius' Third Symphony.

Perianes' performance of Grieg may be the highlight of the evening.

The Spanish pianist has been making waves in global musical circles in the last five years. A reviewer for The Guardian newspaper in April described him as a player of "great elegance and understated flamboyance", after he played Saint- Saens' Fifth Piano Concerto with the storied London Philharmonic.

He has appeared with the New York Philharmonic, the Orchestre de Paris, Boston Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and worked with the cream of conductors including Daniel Barenboim, Charles Dutoit, Zubin Mehta and Lorin Maazel.

He records exclusively for the respected Harmonia Mundi label and comes to Singapore after a three-week tour of Australia playing with ensembles such as the West Australian Symphony Orchestra and Queensland Symphony Orchestra.

The pianist was born in Nerva, a little village near Seville, the son of a housewife and electric technician. As a seven-year-old, he played the clarinet in the school big band. Then a relative showed him a piano and played for him. "I was attracted by the beautiful orchestral sound of the instrument," he says.

Nerva being too small for a serious student of music, he studied in nearby Seville, then Madrid and Barcelona, working with some of the best teachers, including classical pianist Josep Colom.

There was no break-out moment that propelled him into the international limelight. "Just a lot of hard work," he says.

Many consider him the next great pianist out of Spain, after the late Grammy-winning Alicia de Larrocha, who Perianes says gave him a few lessons.

De Larrocha, who died in 2009, casts a long shadow. When Perianes played with the San Francisco Symphony, he was told that the last Spanish pianist to take the stage with it was the queen of the keys. "It's really a great honour to be the next Spanish pianist to play with those orchestras," says Perianes, who is married to a piano teacher.

He prefers being called a "musician", not a pianist.

"The piano is just a way to convey an emotion. This is an instrument that I pick to convey my feelings and, maybe in the next life, I might pick another," he says. "The piano is part of the equation, but not the entire equation."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 09, 2016, with the headline 'The next great Spanish pianist'. Print Edition | Subscribe