The majority of my day is filled with music
Interview with the very talented pianist
- Can you describe in one sentence what the piano is to you?
The piano to me is, in its most elemental aspect, a medium of emotional expression and intellectual creativity.
- When did you place your fingers on the piano for the first time? Was it scary? Dreamy?
Although I do not recall the first time I played on a piano, as I was only seven years old at the time, I remember that music, whether I was playing myself or listening to someone else play, always affected me deeply, even at a young age.
- When did you fully understand and accept that the piano would be your life-long best friend?
It was in my last two years of middle school, when I began taking private lessons at the “Liceu Artistik” in Tiranë, in addition to the lessons at my middle school, that the piano assumed a more central role in my life. Although I was not certain it would be my profession at that moment, I knew it would stay with me for the course of my life.
- Among the great pianists, dead or alive, who would you say is your favourite?
It is hard to pick one favourite pianist, so let me list three pianists whose playing always amazes me: Sviatoslav Richter, who combines a deep emotional and dramatic way of playing with a great intellectual approach; Vladimir Horowitz, the wizard of the piano, his technical command and ability to add a great range of colours and shadings to the music has yet to be surpassed; and Artur Rubinstein, the most noble, honest and genuine artist, whose interpretations are natural and beautiful.
- Do you compose music?
No, I never felt the need to. There is great freedom in the act of performing a work that is on paper, the composers often leave so much room for interpretation, that I feel my creative thinking is always being challenged.
- What has been one of the most fulfilling works that you have learned and performed, and why?
One work which has been a part of my musical life for several years now, is the Piano Sonata in B Minor by Franz Liszt. It is a work that is demanding not only technically, but also challenges the emotional and intellectual abilities of a performer. Lasting about 30 minutes, the Sonata is a drama without words, very theatrical and encompassing a wide range of emotions, from the light of heaven to the fearful depths of hell.
- In which of your concerts have you felt the most satisfied with your performance and why?
My most memorable performances are often a combination of a particularly satisfying performance (technically and emotionally), an especially beautiful hall and instrument, and most importantly a wonderful audience. Two concerts that are embedded in my memory are my first performance with an orchestra in Toronto, in the wonderful Koerner Hall, in front of my friends and family, and my return to Tirana, Albania, playing at the Great Hall of the University of the Arts in front of my family, old teachers and friends.
- Are there any other artists in your immediate and extended family?
Yes, there have been two great artistic influences within my family, my uncle, Gëzim Rudi, a great Albanian film and theatre actor, and my great uncle, Ibrahim Madhi, who was the leading violinist in Albania, touring within the country and internationally for several years and recognized by the highest order of “Artist of the People”. I have drawn great inspiration from both.
- Who was your first piano teacher? Did you have any other piano mentors in your artistic life?
My very first teacher was Etleva Krantja, she was trained as a conductor, so after a couple of years I went on to study with Nedi Peku, a pianist and chamber musician. She was one of my most influential teachers, helping me develop the deep emotional connection to music. Since moving to Canada I have had several mentors, Leslie Kinton, Daniel Epstein, John Perry, David Louie and perhaps the other big influence in my musical career, James Anagnoson, with whom I studied for seven years.
- Do you teach?
I have a private studio in Toronto, where I teach pianists from different backgrounds, abilities and ages. I find teaching very enjoyable, and very rewarding, the success of my students giving me as much if not more pleasure and satisfaction than my own success.
- What is your advice to young pianists?
My advice would be to make sure that playing the piano is always an enjoyable, creative, and fulfilling experience. Only from this approach can it lead to a deep appreciation for music and perhaps even a career in performance.
- Describe a day in Rudin’s life.
Despite some common, repeating events, there really are no two days that are alike. This is at once the most beautiful and most difficult aspect of my life. On most days, I alternate between my own practicing and teaching at the studio, so the majority of my day is filled with music. In the evenings I enjoy to make time, when possible, and watch a film. I find that I draw a lot of inspiration from acting and actors, likely because I grew up watching the theatre productions that my uncle was in.
- With whom would you like to perform with, in the next five years?
Although my career is centred around solo performances, I particularly enjoy playing works for piano and orchestra. Next year I will make my ninth appearance with an orchestra, and I hope to continue such collaborations in the future.
- What do you hope people take away from your concerts?
What I hope the audience takes away from one of my concerts is that for at least one moment (whether long or short) they forget about the past and future and are deeply moved by the music in front of them, the emotions being so visceral and powerful that they feel as much a part of the performance as me.
- Can you add any praises/comments about your performance?
Rudin Lengo’s piano playing has been described as “profound, imaginative and exceptionally communicative” (Albanian Radio Television, RTSH) and his concerts have been received with great acclaim in Canada and the United States and abroad in the United Kingdom, Holland, Albania, Macedonia and Poland.
For more information please visit www.rudinlengo.com