"For me, most important is the audience"

6–12 July 2024
Fiery dance across 88 keys

Even as a young boy, he loved music. Especially folk music and singing. Giorgi Gigashvili (born 2000) started playing the piano when he was four years old. His mother, a pianist, advised him to do so as he had a good ear for music. Playing the piano came easily to him. "I learnt quickly." But practising, he admits, was often a pain. "Especially because I had so many other interests besides the piano!" says Gigashvili.

Soon his piano playing was good enough for his teacher to register him for a piano competition in Tbilisi. Giorgi came, played and won. Before that, he had never considered a professional career as a pianist. He wanted to sing. Not classical songs or opera. Giorgi Gigashvili was passionate about Georgian folk songs and pop songs, for which he wrote the arrangements himself. "Georgian songs are in my DNA," he says. This helped him to take part in a competition such as "The Voice Kids of Georgia" - where he promptly reached the final.

Singing helps him to play the piano, he is convinced. "Singing teaches you how to be present in front of an audience. And if you can sing, you know how to breathe and phrase correctly." He is passionate about this type of music. "It makes me feel something that I can't feel when I play classical music." The fact that he is used to performing as a pop musician in front of a "wild crowd" gives him confidence for his performances in front of a classical audience or a jury. He always imagines that everyone in the audience is his fan. "That takes away my nervousness."

Inspred by Argerich
Gigashvili had a major role model at the piano: Martha Argerich. She was always a great motivator for him. After hearing her play Prokofiev's 3rd Piano Concerto, he began to learn the notes by heart. In 2019, he then experienced the unbelievable at the Vigo International Piano Competition: his idol was the chairwoman of the jury, who awarded him the first prize. From then on, nothing could stop him.

Gigashvili won the Hortense Anda-Bührle Prize for one of the youngest participants at the renowned Concours Géza Anda in Zurich. In 2021, his phenomenal playing won him first prize and the audience prize at the Kissingen " Klavier-Olymp" and last year he was honoured with five out of six audience prizes at the Arthur Rubinstein Piano Competition in Tel Aviv. Contact with the audience, says the pianist, is the most important thing for him. That is why audience prizes mean a lot to him.

Torn between Classical and Pop
Giorgi Gigashvili wants to give a cross-section of his diverse pianistic repertoire at his debut recital in the Musikdorf. "The festival in Ernen has a unique aura. I'm looking forward to performing there and wish I had the time to attend more concerts after my recital." Despite his success, the 23-year-old has remained modest. For a young musician, it is a great help to know that he has people and institutions around who believe in him and support him, he says. He has been continuing his studies with Nelson Goerner in Geneva since 2021.

And what has become of his passion for pop music? It's still burning, of course, he says, laughing cheekily. He has formed an electronic and experimental band with his friends Nini and Nikala, with whom he regularly performs in Georgia. The band's name is "Tsduneba", which means "temptation".

Also in the piano week:
Following his successful debut in Ernen, Andrei Gologan returns with Beethoven's "Tempest Sonata", as well as music by Alexander Scriabin, Franz Liszt and Christian Mason, Composer in Residence 2023/24. The German pianist and winner of the Leipzig Bach Competition, Schaghajegh Nosrati, will not only bring music from Leipzig (Bach and Mendelssohn) to her third appearance in Ernen, but also another breathtakingly challenging work by the French piano virtuoso Charles Valentin Alkan (1813-1888). Alkan's monumental "Grande sonate: Les quatre âges" sets four different ages of a human being to music in four increasingly slow movements.

To conclude, Géza Anda Prize winner Sergey Tanin spans an arc from the classical sonatas of the Spanish composer Antonio Soler to the wild dance of the earth ("The Earth: Her Dance") by Christian Mason. He also interprets "fiery" works by Robert Schumann and a highly energetic gem penned by the American composer Samuel Barber (1910-1981).

Piano | 6–12 July 2024 | Fiery dance across 88 keys
4 recitals and a jazz concert

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Written in December 2023, by Marianne Mühlemann (translated by Jonathan Inniger)