Artist Interview: Einav Yarden, piano

By Erik Petersons on October 31, 2018

After studying with Leon Fleisher at the Peabody Conservatory, Israeli-born pianist Einav Yarden mounted a robust career in Europe and released three recordings that were meet with international acclaim. For her Philadelphia debut, she is bringing an assortment of works by Schumann, Haydn, Beethoven, and Bartók. We took some time to hear about her program, reflections on her education, and other musical inspirations.

Erik Petersons: How did your November 30th program come together and what do you hope to communicate to the audience?

Einav Yarden: My program for PCMS pivots around the theme of the Fantasy. Fantasy is one of those illusive terms which often mean different things for different composers. The Fantasy with Schumann serves as a code word for outburst of spontaneous passion and emotion, while with Beethoven it is a declaration of exploration and expansion of the sonata-form spectrum, and with Haydn – employment of the freedom that the term implies, to center the narrative around surprise and humor. The Bartók Burlesques don’t strictly fall in a fantasy category but in their playfulness and wittiness, form a link to the Haydn.

EP: What are some of the ways that Leon Fleisher influenced you as an artist and your approach to music? And now as a teacher, what are some things you find yourself passing on to students?

EY: Working with Leon Fleisher at the Peabody Conservatory has had a tremendous influence on me as a musician and pianist. His ability to distill the essence of a musical phrase, of a harmonic progression, to strip it down to its core bone structure, is something that I hold as true greatness in music making and is something that influenced me hugely. Keen sense of architecture is in everything he plays, be it a gestural motive, a full phrase, or a whole section (and actually, even in his own speech!). You are always acutely aware, as it were an irresistible force of nature, where he is taking you, around which corners he turns, where does he pause, and how he uses that pause to propel the motion forward. Every note has a purpose, it is always in motion and in relationship to what’s before and after it. Of course these are some of the elements I am keen on passing on to my students, especially that sense of architecture and musical punctuation. Music is relationships; and I wish to help my students be able to understand those relationships and the many levels in which they exist in music. For me this is part of the ability to read music, to understand the language of the piece in front of you.

EP: You are currently based in Berlin. Where is your favorite place to perform in Europe and what country have you loved visiting the most?

EY: I have to say that I am not really a person of favorites. I don’t have a favorite piece or a favorite composer nor a favorite place to perform in. Each are different and unique as is the audience in each place and I enjoy and relish in the differences. I spent eight years living in the US, it has had a significant imprint on me and I love coming back there to perform. Its audience is warm and generous, and I feel connected to its landscape and people. If forced to pinpoint a couple places, I will say that performing at the Berlin Philharmonie was a very special experience, and that recently I had the pleasure of performing in a most glorious hall, the Margravial Opera House (Markgräfliches Opernhaus) in Bayreuth, a baroque theater built in the mid-18th century, and not only its beauty is simply breathtaking, but the experience of performing there, acoustically, was unforgettable as well.

EP: What is your practice routine like and where do you go for inspiration as an artist?

EY: First of all – the music itself is an inspiration! When I have good practice sessions – that can be a huge source of inspiration (of course not all practice days are such). For me, creativity is inspiration. When I feel creative, I get inspired. That can be in an active way but in a passive way as well. Inspiration can be in anything, it has to do with observing and reflecting on what’s around you. Of course, I also find great inspiration in good films, art, books, Jazz music, and people.

Einav Yarden will perform on Friday, November 30, at 7:30 pm at the American Philosophical Society. For tickets and information, visit the concert page. For more information about Einav Yarden, visit her website.