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
10 / 28

Biography

With his highly virtuosic yet unpretentious style, pianist Martin Helmchen continues to impress the international music scene including superb debuts with Berlin Philharmonic and Herbert Blomstedt, Vienna Philharmonic and Valery Gergiev, London Philharmonic and Vladimir Jurowski and with 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 and recitals - 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 the 2015/16 season, Helmchen joins his wife and cellist Marie-Elisabeth Hecker for performances in trio with Christian Tetzlaff at the Schubertiade, with Sharon Kam at the Rheingau Festival, with Carolin Widmann in Théatre du Louvre, Paris. Helmchen and  Hecker join Veronica Eberle and Antoine Tamestit for concerts in Hamburg, Amsterdam and Zurich.  In recital, he can be heard in Vevey, Basle, Bamberg and Tokyo. 

In 2015/16,  Martin Helmchen has an important presence as a soloist performing piano concertos with Philharmonia Orchestra,  opening and closing their season under the baton of Christoph von Dohnányi, and appearing in spring 2016 with Ed Gardner. He returns to Orchestre de Paris with Lionel Bringuier, Hamburg Philharmonic with Philippe Herreweghe, Helsinki Philharmonic with Cornelius Meister and Royal Stockholm Philharmonic with Sakari Oramo. Martin Helmchen is also returning  to the USA with Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Grand Rapids Orchestra, and Houston Symphony - where he is making his debut with Andrés Orozco-Estrada. 

For PentaTone, Helmchen has recorded Mozart, Mendelssohn, Schumann and Dvořákconcertos as well as solo recordings and chamber music by Schubert, Schumann and Brahms. For other labels he recorded concertos by Shostakovitch, d’Indy and George Benjamin. 

Former student of Galina Iwanzowa in Berlin, Martin Helmchen still receives tutelage from Arie Vardie at the Hochschule für Musik, Hannover. Other mentors, with whom Martin regularly continues to study, are Alfred Brendel and William Grant Naboré from the Klavierakademie Comer See. 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.

SEASON 2015/2016

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

“[...] mit der empfindsamen Zugabe von Schumanns "Der Vogel als Prophet" wandelte er schließlich auf den Spuren des legendären Wilhelm Kempff [...]”

Stuttgarter Nachrichten, von Helmut Fiedler 22.02.2016

“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

“Er bringt den Notentext zum Sprechen, stellt Sinneinheiten her. Als staunte er jedes Mal wieder aufs Neue, wenn die zarten Klanggebilde unter seinen Fingern entstehen.”

Mainpost, 27.01.14

“[...] Lebhafte Kontraste zwischen expressiver Klangdichte und träumerisch liedhaften Passagen lotete der Künstler opulent aus. Emotional und machtvoll steigerte er die Intensität seiner Werksgestaltung bis zu einem wahren Klangrausch als Finale. [...]”

Südwest Presse Online, Rudolf Wesner, 25.01.14

“Formal-inhaltliche Ausgewogenheit und fein dosierte Klangfarbenmischungen als Ergebnis einer souveränen Anschlagstechnik waren die vorherrschenden Gestaltungsmerkmale. […] Da KV 505 ungewöhnlicherweise zudem einen obligaten Klavierpart enthält, ergaben sich im Verbund mit Martin Helmchen bezaubernde, sternstundenverdächtige musikalische Zwiegespräche.”

F.A.Z. Rhein-Main-Zeitung, Harald Budweg, 05.11.13

“Gleichwohl forderte das Stück alle virtuosen Qualitäten des Pianisten, der mit dem kraftvoll von Herreweghe geleiteten HR-Sinfonieorchester glänzend korrespondierte. Launig und pointier wirkte der Künstler besonders im Finale 'Presto scherzando'…”

Frankfurter Neue Presse, Matthias Gerhart, 04.11.13

“Auch der famose Martin Helmchen kann nicht verleugnen, dass er gereift, älter geworden ist und viele neue (Kammermusik-) Erfahrungen gesammelt hat. Aber er ist nach wie vor der Philosoph am Klavier, mit seiner kleinen Liebe zur Pointe.(...)”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Eleonore Büning, 06.07.13

“Stürmer und Dränger mit empfindsamen Seiten: [...] Das leise Spiel ist Helmchens Spezialität; beeindruckend, wie viel Tiefe sein helles, weiches Piano hat.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Jenny Berg, 20.03.12

“Sein beherzt ungekünstelter, deutlich artikulierter Zugriff war erfrischend biedermeierfrei. Da herrschte himmlischer Durchblick statt schwammiger Gefühlswolken.”

Die Welt, Peter Krause, 14.01.12

“Mr. Helmchen performed with a warm, fluid touch and poetic nuance in the slower sections, highlighted inner voices in the more tumultuous movements and sustained momentum throughout — no small feat.”

The New York Times, Vivien Schweitzer, 02.11.11

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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: Amazon
Mozart Piano Concertos Nos. 15 & 27Nov. 2013, Pentatone, CD
Robert SchumannSymphonische Etueden op. 13, Waldszenen op. 82, Arabeske, op. 18Nov. 2012, Pentatone, CD, Available on: 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
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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