Welcome Hitomi and Julia to the C.M.S. sofa and thank you for taking time out to answer some questions about yourselves and your music.
First of all, let's talk about your early playing life. How old were you when you first began to play your instruments and why?
Julia: I started my professional lessons almost at the age of 7, which is considered as quite late, though I knew that I wanted to be a pianist since I was 5. One day I heard someone playing the piano on TV and at that very moment I decided I wanted to be a professional pianist. So I told my parents!
Hitomi: When I was 5 years old, I had a chance to listen to the violin lesson at my school. I remember I wanted to start playing immediately.
Julia, who was your first piano teacher?
I would like to mention maybe not my very first teacher, but a teacher who introduced me into the big world of classical music. Valery Piassetski was my teacher from the age of 10 and up until I moved to London. He was, and still is a wonderful piano teacher, but he was also my mentor and supervised both my pianistic and personal development by recommending books, movies and concerts to attend. Valery saw my curiosity about the world around me and encouraged and nurtured it. Saying that, I can not but say how grateful I am to my Academy teachers, Tatiana Sarkissova and Michael Dussek, who opened new horizons for me and helped me enormously in my personal and professional maturing and becoming the musician I am now.
How did you become a duo?
Hitomi: When I began my MA at the Royal Academy of Music I was looking for a nice pianist, keen to study sonatas and I talked to my teacher. Our teachers are great friends and thought that our personalities would match and were absolutely right!
Do you have a favourite pianist/violinist or composer?
Julia: Oh, that's a tough one! I tend to have a favourite pianist for every composer I play: Daniel Barenboim for Beethoven, Mitsuko Uchida for Mozart, Nikolai Lugansky and Sergei Rachmaninoff himself for Rachmaninoff and etc. If I really have to choose one or two, I would probably name Emil Gilels and Eugene Kissin, their sound is simply magical and always brings tears to my eyes. Choosing a favourite composer is practically impossible for me. We are so lucky to have so much wonderful music to play! And there is much more to explore!
Hitomi: When I listen to the recordings of Itzhak Perlman I’m always moved by his warm and humane sound. While I was living in London I attended concerts and was especially impressed by Anne-Sophie Mutter and Vilde Frang. Their sense of elegance and musicality takes me to another world.
Now to the day of a concert. Is there anything special that you like to eat before a concert?
Hitomi: When I’m nervous before a concert, usually I can’t eat so much. But I try to eat chocolate which is my favorite, and it gives me enough energy to perform.
Julia: I know a lot of my colleagues enjoy bananas before a concert, though that option is not possible for me as I am allergic to bananas. But I really enjoy a cup of coffee before a performance, especially during the cold seasons. Luckily, it doesn't give me a caffeine rush, so I only get warmth and a wave of inspiration from its comforting aroma.
And finally, why did you choose the name Clair De Lune?
Julia: One of our favourite pieces to play is the Debussy Sonata. Our name is a way of showing our affection towards the composer.
Hitomi: We wanted a name which sounds romantic and dramatic.
Thank you Hitomi and Julia for sharing this with us. Best wishes for your performance on the 27th September.