Masterclass weekend

8th February 2010 | Concerts, Musings | 2 comments

discussing Brahms with Omri Epstein and Sebastiaan van Halsema

discussing Brahms with Omri Epstein and Sebastiaan van Halsema

A moment during my weekend of masterclasses, which finished last night with a delightful concert by the participants. It was a most enjoyable experience to work so intensively with six young professional pianists, and two fine young string players, violinist Sulki Yu and cellist Sebastiaan van Halsema, who had volunteered to be my ‘resident artists’ for the weekend, playing whatever duo and trio repertoire the six pianists wanted to work on. None of the participants had the opportunity to rehearse with one another beforehand, so the first time they played together was in front of the masterclass audience. I wasn’t sure how this formula would work – I’ve only ever seen it done the other way round, with a pianist as the ‘resident’ – but because they were all experienced musicians, because of the constructive attitude of our two resident string players, and because everyone entered into the spirit of the project, the result exceeded my expectations.


  1. Steve Zade

    Norbert Brainin talked of an impromptu master class in an interview with the German magazine ‘Ibykus’. Georges Enescu, unhappy with the interpretation of Mozart’s KV 387 quartet in an early Amadeus Quartet concert (at a Bryanston School festival), suggested that Brainin and his fellow musicians should spend the afternoon with him. “I’d very much like to show you how to play Beethoven’s quartets, but unfortunately it will have to be on the piano.”
    Brainin recalled,”he played straight through all the quartets (from memory), including the late quartets…What we learned was colossal; Enescu may have played the quartets ‘only’ on the piano, but there is a great deal to be shown, and learned from that instrument. It is hard to believe, but no less true; on the piano one can produce every nuance, whether hard, soft, legato – and one can sing, especially sing! I think it was Schnabel who said that the piano is the most expressive of all instruments. Not the violin, but the piano, truly sings.”

    • Susan Tomes

      This story is pure gold for pianists, Steve. Thank you for posting it.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *