I hope this message finds you well and safe during these difficult times. The current circumstances seem so surreal—to think that only a couple of weeks ago we were traveling, going out and attending live performances! My thoughts have been with people on the frontlines of this crisis, whether it is those who have fallen ill, people who cannot stay at home due to their work in essential services, or the courageous healthcare professionals who have been battling this virus, to whom we are all so grateful.
This situation has of course put a halt to my concert activities. All of my performances in the next few months have to be postponed for better days, so I will be sending out updates whenever the new schedules are in place. I am now in Berlin with my family, trying my best to make the most of what I’m taking as an enforced sabbatical.
Before COVID-19 hit, my 2020 had gotten off to a spectacular start, so I wanted to share a few highlights with you—some memories of better times!
In January I was named among WQXR’s “20 for 20: Artists to Watch,” a list that “includes long-time heroes, established favorites and newcomers set for stardom who are redefining what classical music can be.” It’s an honor to be selected for this fantastic program (the alums of which are some of my musical heroes!) alongside truly stellar musicians.
Soon after this I was the subject of a lovely profile in Bachtrack by Hilary Stroh. This interview and article explores my thoughts on performing, programming, today’s concert world and my artistic ethos in general, as well as addressing my unconventional journey in music.
The start of the year was busy with concerts, including some debut recitals at significant venues such as the Konzerthaus Berlin, Wigmore Hall and the Gardner Museum in Boston—and the critical acclaim for these performances has been thrilling. My Wigmore recital was selected as the Editor’s Favorite of the Month in BBC Music Magazine, and I received a stunning review from the eminent Michael Church in International Piano Magazine, worth an extended quote:
I’m not often lost for words, but Nicolas Namoradze’s recital almost defeated me. I wasn’t expecting anything amazing: he’d won the Honens competition, and this gig was his reward, but winning a comp is no guarantee of greatness. Yet from the opening phrase of Scriabin’s ‘Black Mass’ sonata he had me hooked: those notes had honeyed grace, and the rest of the work unfolded in an opalescent glow, every bar being touched with beauty. I’ve never heard this puzzling work make such persuasive sense.
Namoradze then segued into Bach, with the Ninth Sinfonia followed by the sixth Partita whose Toccata led majestically on to six lovingly-characterised movements; the closing Gigue, which turns itself upside down and inside out, came with an exultant craziness which was never less than technically immaculate.
The programme for the second half didn’t sound auspicious: York Bowen’s Twelve Studies Opus 46, followed by six Etudes by a certain Mr Namoradze. Bowen is now all but forgotten, but his studies, written in 1919, are a fascinating blend of Romanticism and modernist experimentation. In this player’s hands they were riveting, each one being brought out like rabbit from a conjuror’s hat and allowed to run (very fast) wherever it liked. And if the virtuosity was dazzling, Namoradze’s own studies, which seemed like a continuation of Bowen’s, were doubly so. Finally five Scriabin encores delivered with a seraphic smile: through a slightly-open door we could see him literally jumping up and down with excitement in the backstage moments between coming back on and astonishing us. Come back and astonish us some more.
More rave reviews for my Wigmore recital include a brilliant one in Georgian by George Laliashvili; here is an excerpt in English:
Nicolas Namoradze’s London debut was a clear sign that he will have a very impressive career. The program itself was capacious and varied, presenting four contrasting composers and focusing on the particular connections found between them… Nicolas Namoradze is a musician with remarkable values. There is such power and conviction in his playing that one can hardly believe his age — one hears a multifaceted, wise master at one with the instrument. We hear so many young pianists, especially in London, and many of them are very talented and undoubtedly impressive — but the depth and sophistication that Namoradze displays is truly exceptional, earning him a special reputation among the new generation of musicians.
Soon after this I received a wonderful account of my Gardner Museum recital by Victor Khatutsky in the Boston Musical Intelligencer called “Tbilisi-born Pianist Transmutes Notes to Gold”:
Alchemist Nicolas Namoradze brought his lab of chromatic arts to the filled-to-capacity Calderwood Hall on Sunday, wearing his transmuting intentions on his lab apron sleeve… He enunciated and voiced to perfection, conveying a strongly felt concept, albeit not always a familiar one… Namoradze’s own Etudes evoked Ligeti’s Etudes, though much lighter in mood throughout. Engaging and brilliant, with names from Major Scales to Double Notes, they ironically suggested the theme of having fun during inevitable long practice sessions. But they also served as ample vehicles to demonstrate the composer’s wit along with digital prowess.
I’m glad that during these times we at least have the wonders of modern technology to enjoy this art-form in so many ways at home. However, I still can hardly wait for the day when we can return to sharing our love of music in live concerts. Until then, I hope you all stay well and healthy, and I look forward to our paths crossing in better days ahead!
Interview: “Still the best job in the world”
“It is difficult to believe that the concert pianist Nicolas Namoradze has not yet reached the age of 30. Mature, unapologetically cerebral, precisely spoken, his conversation entirely free of clichés and snappy sound-bites, nobody sounds less like a millennial. I am conscious during our conversation of feeling I am stepping back into a past of more composed and unhurried manners…”
Soundbite: Prokofiev Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 1
Listen to Nicolas and the acclaimed violinist Jonathan Crow perform Prokofiev’s stunning F minor Sonata for Violin and Piano, recorded live at the 2018 Honens International Piano Competition.