Martin Garcia (Gijón, 25 years old) laughs heartily when he hears himself called “el Alcaraz del piano”. Like the winning tennis player of the last US Open, the young pianist is set to conquer New York with his Carnegie Hall debut this Wednesday. With a program that includes works by Schubert, Chopin, Rachmaninov and four of his own pieces, García arrives at the New York concert hall on the wing of the Cleveland International Piano Competition prize, which he won in 2021. Expressive, energetic and very physical before the keyboard, during the talk the guaje García is a whirlwind of smiles and ideas.
“The American public is very enthusiastic and knowledgeable, here you will find someone anywhere who listens to six hours of classical music a day… About 50 or 60 people will come to Carnegie from Cleveland, there will be managerscircuit people [profesional]… VIP guests. I know a third of the audience and they are key figures in the world, so it will be a great letter of introduction”, he says with a smile in the piano store and rehearsal room in New York, the city where he has lived for three years. , where he finishes polishing his gleaming grand piano before it is moved into the theater.
“I lived here throughout the pandemic, in which I immersed myself in Chopin’s work, to present myself at the international Chopin piano competition in Warsaw in October 2021,” he recalls. In the birthplace of the Polish musician, the young virtuoso took third place, as well as a special prize for the best concert. Also inspired by the pandemic, he composed the pieces that he will perform this Wednesday, which he titled silent music. “During confinement he walked Fifth Avenue deserted, without cars, in silence, while listening to the music on headphones. quiet music de Mompou”, he says of the strange experience that left the city and the world speechless.
After the success of Warsaw, García has not stopped giving concerts all over the world, especially in Europe and Japan. He comes to Carnegie directly from the Barcelona Auditorium, where last week he performed with the Barcelona Symphony and National Orchestra of Catalonia (OBC). After his consecration in New York, Norway awaits him and, again, Japan; in total, about 70 concerts this year. “It’s funny now to play in New York, in a place like Carnegie, when my audience is mostly in Europe and Japan. Poland is not the same as New York, nor is the way people react. While in the US there are music lovers where you least expect it, in Europe there is more tradition and in Japan, the enthusiasm of the US but multiplied by a hundred, something similar to the fan phenomenon. 75% of the audience in Japan are women.” Garcia recalls his concerts at Tokyo’s Suntory Hall, the cathedral of Japanese classical music, with obvious satisfaction.
With no musical tradition in his family, he began at the age of five to emulate his older brother, who studied piano but abandoned it at the age of 18. “As a result of chance, professors from the Soviet Union arrived in Gijón, virtuosos of Vladímir Spivakov who took advantage of the trip to Spain to request asylum. It was the result of chance… the presence of those pedagogues in a small city in the north, to teach me the values and ideals of music. His dedication transmitted to me the whole tradition of the Russian school.” Martín García immersed himself in that culture: in music, in literature, “he used to read Dostoevsky as a child, without understanding him,” he says with a laugh.
Thanks to those teachers, whom she soon took over in Madrid, where she moved to at the age of 14, Galina Eguiazarova, her teacher for a decade, learned “why a piece is played, what is really behind an object with keys made of wood and a bit of metal like a piano.” The magic of pressing silence and turning it into something similar, she says, “to godless transcendence.” “Music defines us all: everyone walks the streets with helmets, whatever you hear, there is music for everyone”. He doesn’t dislike the jazz of the fifties and sixties, “improvisation is something important for a pianist”. In his spare time, he also likes to play Nintendo and the motor world, especially four-wheelers, perhaps a metaphor for the speed that music has brought to his life.
Trained in Reina Sofía School of Music in Madrid and in the Mannes College of Music New Yorkthe interpersonal relationships that he established with his teachers since he was a child ―the last one, Jerome Rose, in New York― prevail in his opinion over the institutional ones, those inherent to the “10 or 15 schools [de música] important” in the world. He doesn’t want to confess which is his favorite composer, “just like with food, no matter how much you like a dish, you don’t repeat it three times a day, right?” But he points out that underneath the apparent ease of Mozart, whom he describes as intuitive, or the sacred dimension of Bach, “a composer who put music even above the divine”, he is guided by the purity of a radical vision of music, discipline and the constant search for unattainable perfection, as well as transcendence. That is why he always ends his concerts dissatisfied, “dissatisfied would be the right word”, aware at the same time that “each concert is the last” and that the vertigo caused by calls like this Wednesday’s is not stage fright, “but respect”. “I try not to care where I play, not to care more than the values and ideals of music.”
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Martín García, the young Spanish pianist conquering Carnegie Hall