In my work as a music promoter (21C Media Group, the company I co-founded in January 2000, specializes in the area of classical music), I meet a lot of interesting and mostly brilliant people. In the course of conversing with artists and arts administrators, I find myself incredibly curious about what they do and think about when they are not working and what their non-musical influences have been. I've always enjoyed Vanity Fair's "Proust Questionnaire," so with a nod to that influence I'd like to introduce my own variation on the time-honored Q & A format with this "20 Questions" interview with the charming and enormously talented Israeli pianist David Greilsammer.
1. A few works of classical music that you adore:
Mozart's Magic Flute. Schubert's C Major String Quintet. Debussy's P_ll_as et Melisande. Berg's Violin Concerto. Ligeti's Piano Concerto.
2. Classical music recordings that you treasure:
Schubert- F Minor Fantasy for four hands played by Murray Perahia & Radu Lupu; Ravel- Piano Concerto in G played by Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli; Janacek String Quartets played by the Alban Berg Quartet; Schumann- Dichterliebe sung by Fritz Wunderlich
3. Favorite non-classical musicians and/or recordings:
Radiohead; Bjork, Keith Jarrett, Brad Meldhau, David Bowie, Caetano Veloso, Serge Gainsbourg, Stevie Wonder.
4. Music that makes you cry _ any genre:
Berg's Wozzeck, Puccini's Madame Butterfly, Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," Tom Waits' "Martha," Astor Piazzolla's "Adios Nonino"
5. Definitely underrated work(s) or composer (s):
All of Mozart's early piano concertos, early piano sonatas, and early operas.
6. Possibly overrated work(s) or composer (s):
Beethoven's "Emperor" Piano Concerto
7. Live music performance (s) you attended _ any genre _ that you'll never forget:
Keith Jarrett improvising at the piano/Carnegie Hall, New York; Leonard Bernstein conducting the Israel Philharmonic/Jerusalem; Rolling Stones/ Madison Square Garden, New York; Richard Goode playing Schumann at the Th_atre des Champs Elys_es, Paris.
8. A few relatively recent films you love:
City of God, Kill Bill 1 & 2; All About my Mother; The Lives of Others; There Will be Blood... and may I add a Broadway musical: Avenue Q!!!
9. A few films you consider classics:
Mel Brook's The Producers, Woody Allen's Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask, Billy Wilder's Some Like it Hot, Carol Reed's The Third Man, Milos Forman's Amadeus.
10. A few books that are important to you:
Isaac Bashevis Singer: The Slave; Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita; Albert Camus: The Stranger; Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love in the Time of Cholera; Paul Auster: Moon Palace; Lewis Carroll: Alice in Wonderland.
11. Thing(s) about yourself that you're most proud of:
1. Commissioning a new piece from a young composer and performing the world premiere of this work; 2. Being able to make the best Crme Brul_e in the world.
12. Thing(s) about yourself that you're embarrassed by:
The amount of chocolate I can eat in a single day.
13. Three things you can't live without:
Art, Art, Art.
14. "When I want to get away from it all I..."
Go to Venice and stare at my favorite Titian painting for hours.
15. "People are surprised to find out that I..."
Served in the Israeli Army for a few years
16. "My favorite cities are..."
New York, Paris, Tel Aviv, Venice, Kyoto.
17. "I have a secret crush on..."
Madonna, but I haven't told her yet. I'm waiting for her to first ask me to play in her next album.
18. "My most obvious guilty pleasure is..."
Discovering a beautiful piece of music that I had never heard before.
19. "I'd really love to meet..."
Duke Ellington, Marilyn Monroe, Frida Kahlo, J.S Bach, Quentin Tarantino.
20. "I never understood why..."
Arts and Culture receive so little support from countries and governments around the world. It should be a top priority, always.
21. Question you wish someone would ask you (and the answer to that question):
Q: Who would be your dream partner for your next performance of Mozart's two-piano concerto?
A: Keith Jarrett! And in the same dream, towards the end of the slow movement, we suddenly start improvising a long and beautiful jazz ballad together.
David Greilsammer will be living with Mozart in Summer 2008, playing all 18 of the composer's piano sonatas in an all-day marathon in Paris (July 5) and in six-concerts at the Verbier Festival in Switzerland (July 19 _ 31). He records exclusively for the naÇve label, which will re-issue his acclaimed recording of Mozart's three earliest piano concerts in July (France on July 8; Europe soon after; August in the US). Admired for his innovative, sometimes startling recital programs, Greilsammer was named the "Revelation of the Year" at France's "Victoires de la Musique Classique." His debut release for naÇve, "fantasie_fantasme," was named Record of the Year" by the London Times.