Yamaha Artist Gabriela Imreh: Dedicated to Discovery

8/1/2008 [Pianos & Keyboards]

Drives Her Yamaha Piano Like a 'Fine Sports Car' on New CD Release

BUENA PARK, Calif. — Gabriela Imreh was among the first pianists to be named a Yamaha artist, and vividly recalls the first Yamaha piano she played. "It was fast, exciting, and I was blown away by it. I had a concert with a small orchestra and they had been drowning out another piano during dress rehearsal. But, with the Yamaha grand piano, I felt like, 'OK, come on, I've got my boxing gloves on now!' The minute I got home, I called Yamaha Artist Services and asked, 'Do you have any more of those?'" Imreh purchased a 7' 6" Yamaha grand piano for her home that had previously been placed at The Apollo Theater. "It's so sensitive; it inspires me to try more things. It's so responsive, so precise. I often compare it to a fine sports car."

Gabriela Imreh
Gabriela Imreh
A native of Transylvania, Imreh began piano studies at age five, and graduated as the top conservatory student in Romania. Following her professional debut at age 16, she frequently performed on national media and with state philharmonic orchestras. Imreh met her future husband, the American conductor Daniel Spalding, backstage after a concert, and came to the U.S. in a trade orchestrated by former Secretary of State, George Shultz. "Mr. Shultz got me out of Romania," she says. "Daniel saw him with his wife at a performance at Tanglewood a few years ago and thanked him. Mr. Schultz said he rarely heard the end of the story or met the people. Both of them had tears in their eyes."

"Most artists don't get to have a partnership like Daniel and I do," Imreh says. "It's a tough business but one of the greatest things about our relationship is working together," which they do most often with the Philadelphia Virtuosi, of which Spalding is the conductor. Memorable concert tours of Uganda, South America and many US cities highlighted this past year.

"Learning new music has been a constant in my life. I find it a challenge but also a wonderful mission," she says, referencing treasures like the "Soirees de Vienne" cycle by Liszt, virtually unknown when she recorded it, or "Malediction." The latter, an extremely difficult Liszt work for piano and strings, has become a signature work for the Philadelphia Virtuosi and Imreh. "My recent album [Gabriela Imreh Plays Piano Transcriptions, Arabesque Recordings, 2007], is very much in the same category," she adds. "It's mostly works by well-known composers who are somewhat neglected, works I felt deserved to be heard. I love transcriptions," she adds. "They're very intimate." Like her three solo albums and two more with Philadelphia Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra, it was recorded on a Yamaha CFIIIS concert grand piano.

Imreh's upcoming Naxos release, New American Piano Concerto, was recorded last summer in England with Spalding conducting the Bournemouth Symphony. "It features the music of composer Vittorio Giannini, music that was lost for 75 years," says Imreh. "It's a very large concerto, 42 minutes, a pianist's dream, a real meaty piece and a late romantic work."

"For the future, I think the Giannini Concerto will be center stage, and I hope it will give audiences a chance to 'discover' a true American gem, both here in the U.S. and in Europe," she says. Following several American concerts, she and the Philadelphia Virtuosi will tour Spain in November. Next year, Imreh performs with the Bucharest Philharmonic for the first time since the regime changed.

For more information, write Yamaha Corporation of America, Piano Division, P.O. Box 6600, Buena Park, CA 90622, telephone (714) 522-9011, or e-mail infostation@yamaha.com.

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