2020 Gilmore Young Artist Maxim Lando and his Busy Year
October 24, 2023
We are thrilled to be welcoming back to Michigan our 2020 Gilmore Young Artist Maxim Lando, who will replace Illia Ovcharenko in the Rising Stars Recital Series on Sunday, October 29, at 4 pm.
Mr. Lando was First Prize winner in both the 2022 New York Franz Liszt International Competition and The Vendome Prize 2021/22, and earlier this month performed Liebermann’s new Frankenstein suite for piano in New York as part of the Crypt Sessions presented by Death of Classical. Three Dances from Frankenstein, Op. 140, based on the composer’s acclaimed ballet, will be on Lando’s program on the 29th. Maxim spoke with us about how his year has been going.
Tickets are still available to hear Maxim Lando on Sunday, October 29. Click to see his full program and purchase in-person or online tickets.
How did your performance of the U.S. premiere go for you?
Absolutely fantastic! The opportunity to play in this creepy crypt could not have been a more perfect fit. When I first walked in I couldn’t believe my eyes – there was a smoke machine pouring out fog for me to make a video of the piece, and then a circle of candles surrounding the piano for the concert a few hours later. I couldn’t have asked for a better atmosphere. The world premiere was in another perfect setting, the very old St. Paul’s Church in Sketty, Wales during the Gower Festival this past summer.
What was it like working with Lowell Lieberman on the commission?
I have been crazy about Lowell’s music for as long as I can remember. When I was younger I listened to his 2nd piano concerto probably more times than any of the standard piano concertos, so when Pierre asked me who I wanted to commission a work from as part of the Gilmore Young Artist award – my immediate answer was Lowell Liebermann. I was absolutely shocked and unbelievably happy when he agreed to write a piece for me. Don’t even get me started on the scope of what he wrote. The idea that he would write this major new piano composition never even occurred to me, and I can’t even describe how monumental it feels.
What kind of direction or request did you provide?
I had absolutely zero requests. We met up at a restaurant for lunch, and we talked and laughed and told stories. It was a perfect first meeting and I just walked away thinking, how is it possible that this composer whose music I have been obsessed with for so long, could be so down to earth and fun to talk with? The only thing that I might have been secretly hoping for was something along the lines of his Gargoyles, in that the music would be virtuosic but also beautiful and appealing (like all of his music). I can say very confidently that Frankenstein delivers on all of that and more.
Were there any surprises in the process?
I was mostly surprised by the piece itself – when I looked at the music and saw this gigantic score, I was flabbergasted. First of all, a crazy truckload of notes, and then realizing that this was actually a large-scale, 20-minute work that Lowell had written – I think I was a bit overwhelmed. The music comes from Lowell’s full scale ballet, but the way it is written isn’t like a transcription. This is a stand-alone major work for piano that utilizes the instrument in every way possible. It is virtuosic, exciting, daring, dramatic, heartbreakingly beautiful, and as pianistic as a work could be. Honestly I think that this might be one of the hardest pieces I’ve ever played, and I KNOW this is going to become a cult piece for pianists. The biggest surprise is that somehow Lowell seemed to completely get me on every level. He wrote a piece that was perfect for me. I’m always craving a good adventure story and to me Lowell’s Frankenstein is the epitome of adventure.
Have you had any time for R&R?
Honestly I thrive on constant new projects and my favorite thing to do is trying to put them into action. I guess I think of that as my relaxation. Also I’ll play as much ping pong as I can, eat and cook good Italian food, and hang out with friends and family any chance I get. Right now I am finishing up an eight-city concert tour of Germany with my violin partner and good friend Tassilo Probst. Last year we released an album called Into Madness on the Berlin Classics label, so this is our first Into Madness tour. We’ve been having a blast.
What are you looking forward to in the next 4-6 months?
Two things that I’m most excited about are putting together my first ever song album, and directing my first music video. I recorded my own first composition called Shadows for piano and orchestra with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra this past summer, and I’m planning to release a story-line video to go with the music within the next few months. I also can’t wait to give the premiere live performance of David Chesky’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with the Czech National Symphony in Prague in March. I’m definitely excited about several other concerto performances coming up, starting with playing Brahms 2nd Concerto with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra on November 10th. After that I’m doing Prokofiev 2 with he Charleston Symphony, Tchaikovsky 1st Concerto with the Mobile Symphony, and I’ll have a chance to play Florence Price’s Concerto for my first time with the Kennett Symphony. There are also a number of special solo and chamber music performances in the next few months, including a shared solo concert with the unbelievable Janice Carissa – another Gilmore Young Artist and an amazing friend – at the Vilnius Piano Festival in Lithuania, and a concert with one of my favorite people on the planet – violinist Daniel Hope on the Chamber Music Detroit series.