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Antoine Préat - Piano


1. You began your studies at the age of nine at the Junior Paris Conservatoire (CRR de Paris). One year later, you made your public debut at the Salle Gaveau. Can you remember what you played and your feelings at the time?

I played a Bach Prelude and Fugue if I remember correctly. It was quite a surreal experience now that I think about it: the Salle Gaveau is one of Paris’ biggest concert hall (circa 1500 seats), and it was almost full! I was completely unaware of the magnitude of the task at that age, and felt quite relaxed (Bach has always been one of my favorite composers, which made me feel very comfortable). Needless to say I would probably react very differently if I were to play there today…

2. Is your family musical?

My mother plays the cello as an amateur (at a very good level I must say) and adores music. My father doesn’t play an instrument but also appreciates classical music. My sister played the harpsichord for quite some time, but she went in a different direction. She has a wonderful voice as well.

3. In 2011, you were invited to continue your studies at the Ecole Normale de Musique A. Cortot, from which you graduated with a distinction. How do you recall your time there and the masters that trained you?

My time at the Ecole Normale was very formative. I entered the school at 14, which is a very important period in your formation in my opinion. The Ecole Normale gave me a lot of opportunities to perform and to develop as a young musician, which taught me a lot about how to feel comfortable on stage. Whilst a student there, I also followed a lot of theoretical classes (history of music, analysis, harmony, counterpoint and so on) which broadened my musical understanding, and made me aspire to be a musician rather than just a pianist. Regarding my teachers, I can’t stress enough how lucky I was to study with such amazing pedagogues. Ludmila Berlinskaia, with whom I studied for most of my time there, has had the most amazing life (daughter of the founder of Borodin Quartet, studied under Anna Kantor, and was part of Sviatoslav Richter’s very closed circle). She is such a fantastic pianist and teacher. I finished my studies with Guigla Katsarava, who taught me a lot about rigor and work ethic. He has a real sense of musical esthetics which transpires through his teaching.

4. You later continued your studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London, under the tutelage of Tatiana Sarkissova. How was it like to be mentored by this person and how you recall your time in this institution?

I am still a student at the Academy, and I am having an amazing time! There is so many opportunities to play in the Academy, as a soloist or as a chamber musician. I got to meet a lot of amazing musicians here, and am very glad that I still have a few years to develop in this fantastic institution. My teacher Tatiana Sarkissova continuously inspires me, she lives and breathes music. I feel that very few people are as dedicated as she is regarding respect for music.

5. You then decided to deepen your understanding of instruments by training on fortepiano and period instruments with Carole Cerasi. How did this experience enrich you and your interpretation?

Working on period instruments has completely changed my vision on style and freedom in baroque and classical music. Having an instrument which possesses same technical limitations as the ones the composers had renders performing a lot more organic and, quite paradoxically, freer. Knowing which options the composers had and what they could and couldn’t do is fascinating, and very enriching when going back to modern piano. Carole Cerasi has been a great mentor and an endless source of information.

6. In 2016, you were the youngest artist to be invited to join the Centre de Musique de Chambre de Paris, (directed by Jerome Pernoo) with whom you gave twelve concerts at the Salle Cortot in Paris. How did this honour and clearly moving experience feel like?

It was an incredible experience! Very rarely do we get the opportunity to do the same concert so many times, as comedians do. It was a very interesting experience, and all of the musicians really bonded, which created a great atmosphere on stage.

7. You have received an impressive number of awards from competitions. Does any one particularly stand out for you?

I would probably pick my very first one! It was a National Competition and I was 10. My parents and I were completely unaware of the etiquette, I played in jeans and snickers! It was my first experience, and it is thanks to this competition that I got to do my debut.

8. What are your fondest musical memories, privately or performing?

It is very hard to pick! I would have to say that playing Tchaikovsky’s trio in the Salle Cortot was an incredible experience: I was playing with two very good friends, and I think that it is the perfect hall for that piece. The choice of partners and location really made it an incredible moment for me. I also got the chance to give a recital in the domain of George Sand (Chopin’s partner), where I played notably his second sonata, which, if I’m not mistaken, was composed a few meters away from where I performed.

9. How often do your practice?

I try to practice a least five hours a day!

10. Would you consider teaching in the future?

I have been teaching for the past five years now, and I really appreciate it. I would consider it in the future, but it would probably depend on which conditions! I would love to become a teacher for pre-college students, it is such a defining and interesting age!

11. Who would your dream accompanist be, from the present or past?

It would probably have to be Arthur Rubinstein. I love his sound!

12. What advice would you give to young musicians at the start of their journey?

Find a teacher with whom you have a real connection, it will make the learning process all the more interesting and pleasant.

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submission October 2017