Great artists of tomorrow
Nathalia Milstein’s career took an enormous leap forward in May 2015, when she emerged as the tenth winner of the Dublin International Piano Competition – and the first female winner, in fact, in the competition’s history. The win immediately opened all sorts of doors for the French pianist, now 22. ‘Thanks to Dublin, I’ve had many engagements in the best halls in the world,’ she says. ‘I’ve already played in the Leipzig Gewandhaus and Carnegie Hall in New York.
I’ve also played several times in Ireland since the competition, including a tour of nine cities across the country, so I’ve got some very strong links there.’
For the Dublin competition, Milstein turned to a much-loved friend. ‘In the final I played Prokofiev’s Second Piano Concerto, which was quite a challenge as it’s technically very difficult,’ she tells us. ‘When I was very small, I first enjoyed listening to Prokofiev’s piano music, and then I was drawn to impressionist composers such as Ravel and Debussy.’
If there’s a Russian-french theme running through Milstein’s life, that may have much to do with her parentage and upbringing – the daughter of a Russian pianist and violinist, who left the USSR shortly before it broke up in 1991, she herself was born and brought up in Lyon in France. It was, in fact, her father who taught her from childhood until her late teens, firstly at home and then at the Conservatoire in Geneva.
And those same two countries are also represented on her debut studio recording, for which she is currently hunting for a label to help her release it on disc. ‘I chose works by Prokofiev and Ravel for the CD,’ she explains. ‘It’s a recording of music from 1917, which was a very important year in the lives of both composers – for Prokofiev because of the Russian Revolution, and for Ravel because of the First World War.
pianist ‘I’ve played in the Leipzig Gewandhaus and Carnegie Hall’
They are very far apart as composers, but this provides some sort of link between them.’
But, she adds, don’t go thinking that she begins and ends at French and Russian Romanticism.
‘In Dublin, the works I played ranged from Bach onwards, and I covered as many styles as possible over the four rounds. I like a wide repertoire!’ Interview by Jeremy Pound