Meet the ten pianists of Liszt Utrecht 2022

Meet the ten pianists of Liszt Utrecht 2022 that will be celebrating, discovering, and highlighting Liszt’s music together with you on 22 - 29 September 2022.

KaJeng Wong

”My purpose to perform at Liszt Utrecht is to play something that can show who I am, and to tell the world my approach to making music. I am really looking forward to meeting everyone in Utrecht: the pianists, the organizers, the audience. I have been growing into the repertoire that I have chosen. For each day that I am learning and memorizing these pieces, I am just more and more excited about his. It’s very challenging, the requirements are huge, but I really feel like this is a fantastic opportunity. 

also admire the creativity and innovation of Liszt Utrecht. The focus is more on discovering each contestant. We can have broad, exciting repertoire and the audience can experience each young artist in multiple rounds, in different types of recitals, on different pianos. It is more like a festival experience, and should always be this way. Oh, and other than being this seemingly serious person, I am actually very goofy. If you follow me on Instagram and check out my stories, you’ll find out.”

Click here to watch the first round performance of KaJeng Wong.

Matyáš Novák

I try to tell stories through music. For me, every piece is a whole, which I try to build with all the details, of course, but so that the whole still holds together. I try to see everycomposition in my mind exactly at one moment, which I find very important.

It is a great honor, a great joy and, of course, a great commitment for me to be in the top 10 pianists of Liszt Utrecht. The 2022 edition in particular is very close to me, because Franz Schubert (Franz Liszt as well) is one of my favorite composers. The idea to organise a festival, not only a competition is wonderful. I am convinced that there will be a special atmosphere during the whole event and I really look forward to it. 
I also appreciate the fact that the competition in the long term points out to the less played compositions by Franz Liszt, among which there are a number of wonderful compositions. I myself have more than 50 of Liszt’s works in my repertoire, yet I had to learn new repertoire for the competition.

Click here to watch the first round performance of Matyáš Novák.

Viktoria Baskakova

”I am quite an open, temperamental and emotional person. It is important for me to create an atmosphere in the hall that could help to immerse in the music and to share with the audience the beauty, facets and colors of the pieces, where each listener can find something of their own.  

Each participant has the opportunity to perform 4 concerts before the finals. So for me, the performances become one long story, one book consisting of 4 chapters and an important epilogue with a climax. It’s a wonderful possibility and a big pleasure to show myself from different sides. Liszt Utrecht is probably the only competition in the world that has such a structure. It’s truly more like a festival, where the audience can experience a more complete impression of the artist. I really like it, because it’s unique, interesting and creative.”

Click here to watch the first round performance of Viktoria Baskakova.

Tamta Magradze

”I believe that Liszt is a unique composer, as all sorts of emotions can be found in his works – from enormous pain to exhilarating joy. I always put my heart and soul while performing his music and I love every note. The main advantage of Liszt Utrecht is that we’re performing Liszt’s pieces which are not often performed. I think it’s very challenging and enjoyable for us participants as well as for the public.

It was very important for me to be a part of Liszt Utrecht as it has been my dream for a long time to have performed there. I’m feeling several emotions: I’m happy and proud as well as feeling major responsibility. It is an extraordinary feeling when your hard work is being acknowledged and you are given an opportunity to perform in front of the public this big, in an event of this level.

Click here to watch the first round performance of Tamta Magradze.

Derek Wang

”As an interpreter, what I’m essentially always looking for is that all aspects of the music making – the intellectual, the emotional and the physical – are all going to be united. And that for every passage that I play, I have an idea for it on all three fronts.

The physical aspect of performing is always important in all piano music of Liszt. But that’s also the joy for me: knowing that even in the most difficult virtuosic passages of his music, you have to sort of find the right key and unlock that passage. I’m also really excited about the songs and the chamber music because those are two aspects of music making that are very important to me, both in my education and in what I want to be doing professionally.

I get the feeling that the point of the programming of this competition is not merely for us to ”compete” against each other, but it’s also to be a real festival that celebrates all the different aspects of Liszt’s music that often get overlooked in the wider musical community. Liszt Utrecht is still a demanding and rich competition in terms of the repertoire and the intensity of it, but at the same time, there is, I think, a more human element that’s particularly inspiring and I’m lucky to be a part of it.”

Click here to watch the first round performance of Derek Wang.

Leonardo Pierdomenico

‘’I want to be a perceptive pianist and create unpredictable, refreshing moments. I want to surprise myself. Sometimes it turns out wrong, and sometimes it’s way better than expected.

It’s been almost five years that I tried to get in the competition because I tried in 2017, but I didn’t get in the semifinals. I tried once again and made it to the semi-finalists in 2020, but that edition was canceled. This time I decided to try it for the third time, and for me to have been able to get into the semifinals once again is such a great honor. I’m even more proud of myself and thankful for the opportunity. From the very day after the announcement of the ten semi-finalists, I started working on the pieces.’’

Click here to watch the first round performance of Leonardo Pierdomenico.

Vitaly Starikov

”When I play piano, I try to connect to the special energy in the hall and to any special, inspiring thoughts. I bring my idea of the music to the audience, and I do that in full concentration. It makes me forget the world. That’s the most important thing for me.  
The last two years least, Liszt has been one of the most important composers for me. It’s one of my favorite composers right now, and especially the unknown works of Liszt. The competition is important for me because one of the main ideas of the competition, as I see it, is to bring attention to this unknown music of Liszt. 
Liszt Utrecht comes closer to my idea of making music than most other competitions. And it’s good because for the audience, it will be like a concert, like a big musical event, not so much a competition. I am very happy because it’s a big honor for me to be a part of it.”

Click here to watch the first round performance of Vitaly Starikov.

Yukine Kuroki

”I have loved Liszt’s works since I was a little girl, so I have played many of his works. It is a pleasure for me to perform Liszt’s works. I would like to study many other works of Liszt besides the ones I will play in the competition. Currently I am a grad student at the Showa University of Music, and to deepen my understanding of Liszt as a composer, I am planning to write my thesis about him.  
My personality is cheerful and positive. People around me sometimes say that I seem to have no worries. I am always passionate and my fingers are always moving. I like technical passages and I love Liszt’s songs that scream love and despair. I want to combine that with my personality and express it well.”

Click here to watch the first round performance of Yukine Kuroki.

Minkyu Kim

”My wish is not only be a pianist, but also a great scholar. I love doing research. My doctoral project is about the music of Franz Liszt, I’m preparing a catalog of all his works. Leslie Howard is an inspiration to me, since he is also both a performing pianist as well as a scholar. 
Recently I found one small work by Liszt and in the archive in the US. It’s not a substantial piece at all, just like 3 minutes. I don’t think it has ever been performed or published. I want to include it in my repertoire. It’s very rare to find a new piece if the composer is well-known. It’s very special to perform this little piece in the competition.”

Click here to watch the first round performance of Minkyu Kim.

Yeon-Min Park

”When I look at myself, I am usually serious and delicate, and some even say that I am a noble person. I pursue naturalness rather than meaningless showmanship. However, I can be also very virtuosic, lively and energetic. I believe through Liszt’s music, which has diverse aspects, I can show a variety of myself as a pianist and a person. 
Since this edition is particularly for Liszt and Schubert, I recently learned and played Schubert’s music and Schubert’s songs arranged by Liszt. I am trying to get to know about Liszt not only by practicing and playing but also by getting seeking inspiration in everthyng that influenced him, in order to make deep connection with him. I listened to almost all the works that Liszt Utrecht requires. Among them, I selected pieces that evoked special emotions. I want to convey what I felt from music to people.”

Click here to watch the first round performance of Yeon-Min Park.