An interview with Richard Clayderman

Your repertoire and recordings have consisted of mainly classical pieces. Have you ever considered delving into another genre?

RC : In fact, among the 1000 titles which I have recorded in the past 35 years, there are less than 10% of classical titles. In fact although I have studied in a Conservatory the classical piano, I do not consider myself a classical pianist. I am rather what we usually call a Pop pianist with my own romantic style.

Who, in your opinion, is the greatest pianist of all time?

RC: Today, Lan Lan is one of my favourite classical pianists…. Years ago I had a great admiration for Arthur Rubinstein but I  have no doubt that Franz Liszt and Frederic Chopin were also fantastic piano players – though there is no way to listen to them when they were performing.

Now, I would also like to mention pianists like Michel Petrucciani or Chicorea for whom I have great admiration in the jazz field.

What do you think of David Helfgott as a pianist? Is it just hype or is he really good?

RC: So years ago, while being in an airport in Australia, I happened to meet with David Helfgott. I knew that he was a bit fond of me and I was personally a fan of him. We were so happy to meet and hug and we had a very warm conversation together. Since that time…. about 20 years ago, I have not meet him again. I think that he is a very good pianist !

Are there any performers who you would have liked to have worked with and why?

RC: There are many artists I would like to have the honour to cooperate with. To accompany Barbara Streisand or Paul Mc Cartney or Elton John would be a dream for me as I have a lot of admiration for their voice, their talent and their charisma. A long time ago, I remember having cooperated with Shirley Bassey and I will never forget this moment which I shared with her while playing for and with her. There is also the guitar player Pat Metheny with whom I’d like to work with: he is so elegant and so emotional when he plays that I am sure that, together, we could make a good team.

What is the most technically challenging piece of work you have encountered?

RC: I do not remember the most challenging one but I remember that many of the titles I have recorded have been quite challenging for me. Even though they do not seem, at first sight, difficult to perform they are not easy to be interpreted to reach the quality I want to offer to my audience and to me…. As an example, there is a Japanese composer / singer whose name is Tanimura: he has composed a song entitled entitled “Kazeno Komoriuta” and I have recorded my piano adaptation of this song and honestly I couldn’t expect that it would be so difficult and challenging for me to perform my piano version of this beautiful song.

Obviously there is a cult of celebrity at the moment. Do you think that one needs to fall in line with that or can talent alone suffice?

RC: Internet has considerably changed the rules. Some artists do not try to become celebrities: the internet does the job for them and makes them, slowly, famous…. without them wishing to become celebrated.

And I think that you can absolutely enjoy your artistic passion without seeking for the cult of celebrity.

What makes you a celebrity rather than just having fans? Obviously as an artist you will have fans but what is it that makes one a celebrity?

RC: I am not what one calls a celebrity. Some people know me because of my music and come and see me in my concerts but you very rarely see me or hear me in press or TV or radio magazines. I am rather discreet and shy!