PianoMartin Helmchen
Martin Helmchen © Giorgia BertazziArtist

Mr. Helmchen has a noble bearing and a noble sound, shaping lines as elegant and clean as a Greek temple’s.

The New York Times
9 / 31

Biography

With his highly virtuosic yet unpretentious style, pianist Martin Helmchen continues to impress the international music scene including superb debuts with Berliner Philharmoniker and Herbert Blomstedt, Wiener Philharmoniker and Valery Gergiev, London Philharmonic Orchestra and Vladimir Jurowski and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Andris Nelsons. In the USA, he has made his concerto debuts with New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall and at the Tanglewood Festival with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, on both occasions under the baton of Christoph von Dohnányi.

Martin Helmchen’s quest for exploring all facets of music-making is born in his passion for collaboration, not only with orchestras, but also through chamber music - largely ignited in early collaborations with the late cellist Boris Pergamenschikow. Since 2010, Martin Helmchen has been an Associate Professor of chamber music at the Kronberg Academy.


 

In 2017/18 season Martin Helmchen is soloist with City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Alexander Vedernikov, Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden with Herbert Blomstedt, Wiener Symphoniker with Tomáš Netopil, Orchestre National de Belgique with Hugh Wolff and Warsaw Philharmonic with Olari Elts as well as with San Diego Symphony and Jahja Ling.

Martin Helmchen joins his wife, cellist Marie-Elisabeth Hecker, in duo and in various ensemble collaborations. They join violinist Augustin Hadelich to perform at the 2017 Aspen Festival, Carolin Widmann on a chamber music tour to South America. Furthermore, Martin Helmchen regularely performs with Christian Tetzlaff, Antje Weithaas, Sabine Meyer and from 2018 onwards with Frank Peter Zimmermann. He gives solo recitals in Chicago, Montreal and major European cities including London’s International Piano Series, Amsterdam, Stuttgart and Bonn. Continuing his love of the Lied recital he collaborates further with Juliane Banse and Julian Prégardien, the latter in London’s Wigmore Hall.

2017 saw two recording releases: for Accentus music, live from performance, Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with Isabelle Faust and Jean-Guihen Queryas with the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig conducted by Herbert Blomstedt and for outhere music a release of both Brahms cello sonatas with Marie-Elisabeth Hecker. For PentaTone, Helmchen has previously recorded Mozart, Mendelssohn, Schumann and Dvořák concertos as well as solo recordings and Schubert duos with Julia Fischer.

An early impact on Helmchen’s career was winning the “2001 Clara Haskil Competition”. He was a Fellow of the “Borletti-Buitoni-Trust in 2005” and the “Credit Suisse Young Artist” in 2006, culminating with his debut with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra under Valery Gergiev at the Lucerne Festival. Between 2005 and 2007, Martin Helmchen was a soloist on the “BBC New Generation Artists” scheme. A former student of Galina Iwanzowa in Berlin, Martin Helmchen continued his studies with Arie Vardie at the Hochschule für Musik Hannover. Other mentors are Alfred Brendel and William Grant Naboré.

SEASON 2017/2018

Quotes

“His performance was in many ways exemplary, particularly in the slow movement, where his timid responses to the stern phrases from the orchestra seemed to reach us from some infinitely sad, distant place.”

The Telegraph, Ivan Hewett, 24.06.2016

“Martin Helmchen essayed the sort of playing that delights in itself – crisp, clear, dynamic, with a range of touch – and also at-one with the music, with no need to make points but with plenty of personality and many musical insights.”

Classical Source, Colin Anderson, 05.05.2016

“With Bach's partita in A minor, Helmchen voices an invitation for an inner contemplation: The way he plays the six dance movements, transparent, so very cantabile and with the devotion of a believing Christian, creates an atmosphere of concentration, a shelter from the burdens of everyday life.”

Der Tagesspiegel, Frederik Hanssen, 18.11.15

“Martin Helmchen emphasizes the unearthly beauty of the melody [Franz Schubert’s Piano Sonata in B-flat Major], interprets the music as song of a soul, which is in peace with itself [...].”

Berliner Morgenpost, Felix Stephan, 18.11.15

“Helmchen exuded charisma with precision in each note, lending a different character to every perfectly balanced phrase. He carried his performance with dignity and poise, completely in his element. The movements and gestures Helmchen put into his playing truly reflected the mood of Schumann’s work, creating endless joy and wonder, particularly in his approach to the powerful trills.”

Bachtrack, Kathryn Wareham, 28.09.15

“Tout est en effet d’une telle détermination, d’une telle préméditation que cette éthique du récital s’impose. Helmchen fait partie de ces artistes (évidemment, on pense à Alfred Brendel) qui possèdent une vision esthétique et culturelle organique d’une oeuvre et dont les doigts traduisent exactement toutes les facettes de cet univers. Avec Helmchen, le contrôle du son, le dosage des plans sonores, la maîtrise rythmique (dans les Diabelli !) et, au-delà de tout, l’égalité digitale laissent pantois.”

Le Devoir, Christophe Huss, 25.07.15

“Mr. Helmchen has a noble bearing and a noble sound, shaping lines as elegant and clean as a Greek temple’s. While Dvořák's concerto [Dvořák's Piano Concerto in G minor] is notorious for the discomfort it induces in its soloists, he never seemed to break a sweat, unleashing chromatic runs and laying down octaves with a style that was technically assured but also sly and nuanced, passing in and out of the orchestral textures. If Mr. Dohnanyi kept the emotional temperature rather cool throughout the concert, Mr. Helmchen provided ample sparks.”

The New York Times, Zachary Woolfe, 14.12.14

“Martin Helmchen is an astonishingly complete musician. He has it all – a technique that embraces a seemingly limitless range of tone, touch, colour and dynamics, underpinned by formidable stamina and lightly-worn-virtuosity…..Helmchen is graced with the sort of insight and fierce intelligence that goes deep into the character of music and throws it into the audience.”

classicalsource.com, Peter Reed, 29.01.14

Go back

Discography

Brahms Cello SonatasMarie-Elisabeth Hecker, Martin HelmchenMay. 2016, Outhere- Alpha Classics, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
Franz Schubert - Complete Works for Violin and PianoJulia Fischer, Martin HelmchenOct. 2014, Pentatone, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
Mozart Piano Concertos Nos. 15 & 27Nov. 2013, Pentatone, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
Robert SchumannSymphonische Etueden op. 13, Waldszenen op. 82, Arabeske, op. 18Nov. 2012, Pentatone, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
Bach Liszt BeethovenLive at Verbier Festival 2011Aug. 2012, idéale audience, DVD, Available on: Amazon
RecherchenGeorge Benjamin - Duet für Klavier und OrchesterDec. 2011, Ensemble Modern Medien, CD, Available on: Amazon
Robert SchumannPiano concertos by Schumann and Dvorak with the Strasbourg Philharmonic OrchestraNov. 2009, Pentatone, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
Franz Schubert Vol. 1Schubert - Sonatas for violin and piano with Julia FischerSep. 2009, Pentatone, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
SchubertMartin Helmchen plays Schubert's piano sonata No. 20, D. 959 and 6 Moments Musicaux, D. 780Sep. 2008, Pentatone, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
W.A. MozartMartin Helmchen plays with the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra Piano Concertos Nos. 13 & 24 by MozartSep. 2007, Pentatone, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon

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