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 / 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 2016/17, Martin Helmchen is guest soloist with major European orchestras including Hallé Orchestra Manchester under the baton of Andrew Manze, Philharmonia Orchestra and Herbert Blomstedt, Santa Cecilia Rom and David Afkham,  Gewandhaus Orchester with Herbert Blomstedt,  Nederlands Filharmonisch Orkest and Marc Albrecht, Tonhalle Orchester Zürich and Scottish Chamber Orchestra with Philippe Herreweghe as well as the Zurich Chamber Orchestra under Sir Roger Norrington. In France he tours with La Chambre Philharmonique under Emmanuel Krivine.

A passionate chamber musician, Martin Helmchen also continues a further collaboration with Julia Fischer on a tour of major cities in Asia.   He gives solo recitals and duo performances with his wife and cellist Marie-Elisabeth Hecker in London, Paris, Brussels and in Germany where he is artist in residence at the Schwetzingen SWR Festival in 2017.

For PentaTone, Helmchen has recorded Mozart, Mendelssohn, Schumann and Dvořák concertos as well as solo recordings and chamber music by Schubert, Schumann and Brahms. His latest CD for outhere music contains both Brahms cello sonatas with Marie-Elisabeth Hecker.

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 2016/2017

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: 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