On 16 April, Spanish pianist Javier Perianes returns to Southbank Centre to perform Chopin’s most compelling works – the Op.48 Nocturnes and the third Sonata – and Debussy’s Estampes as part of the International Piano Series. Ahead of his performance, we discover more about one of the 21st century’s most thrilling pianists.
One of the leading figures on the Spanish and international piano scene, Perianes came from a small village in Southern Spain where it was more common to play a woodwind instrument rather than the piano. Big band music was very popular in the area and Perianes regularly played with the local band as a child. At eight years old, he made the change from clarinet to piano whilst on holiday. His Aunt, a piano teacher at the Conservatoire de Manuel Castillo in Seville, showed him a grand piano for the first time and he was immediately captivated by the colours and sounds of the instrument.
In an interview with ICMA, he recalls his early visits to the Conservatoire where he attended concerts by Radu Lupu, Krystian Zimerman, Maria João Pires and Gregory Sokolov. ‘It was encouraging for me to have the opportunity to see those giants, legends of the piano.’
Perianes returns to Southbank Centre after his performances with the London Philharmonic Orchestra in Royal Festival Hall, where he performed the Beethoven Piano Concerto Cycle over two consecutive evenings. Perianes’ compelling Beethoven interpretations have won critical acclaim for their striking individuality and vision, and opened fresh perspectives on some of the best-known works in the classical canon. In this video, Perianes guides us through a number of the composer’s Piano Concertos.
It’s just over a century since the death of Claude Debussy and many artists including Perianes have paid tribute to a composer who has been described as the great ‘colourist’ and father of modern music. Debussy’s Préludes are among Perianes’ favourite works. Perianes believes Debussy’s music seeks to evoke the hidden and the inexpressible, and explore what lies beneath. His most recent recording, described by The Times, ‘navigates a poetic path through these 12 brilliant, sometimes shadowy, miniatures'.
Perianes is best known for his solo work but chamber concerts play an important role in his career. He finds great pleasure in working with his colleagues, discussing and agreeing on ideas as he described in an interview with Bachtrack: ‘We can find true masterpieces of the great composers in chamber music. It is a real pleasure to rehearse, work and play with musicians you admire who are also very good friends’. He recently embarked on a US tour with the Grammy Award-winning Orpheus Chamber Orchestra which culminated in a concert at New York’s Carnegie Hall.
Classical music is one of the oldest forms of music. Many people argue that the interest in classical music has slowly been dying out as younger generations engage with newer genres of music. Perianes commented on the future of classical music in an interview with ICMA: ‘I think some small stuff, some small details are changing. That’s inevitable. The conception of the audience is different. The way of accessing the music is changing. But I think the perception and the expectation of people will not diminish.’