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In conversation: Nathaniel Mander

Continuo Connect meets harpsichordist and fortepianist Nathaniel Mander

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In conversation: Nathaniel Mander - Continuo Connect meets harpsichordist and fortepianist Nathaniel Mander
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Nathaniel Mander, a harpsichordist and fortepianist, is known for his highly expressive and personal performances. And, as the Göttinger Tageblatt put it: "Even if the word surely wasn’t invented for a Baroque artist: his performance had verve!" As a solo artist, Nathaniel performs internationally, presenting repertoire ranging from Elizabethan music for the virginals to the music of Chopin and Schubert for fortepiano. He is particularly recognised for his expressive and virtuosic performances of 18th-century French masters and the music of Mozart, but he does not shy away from the 21st century. His recording of Bach’s Goldberg variations, released in 2022, has received international critical acclaim.

What is your earliest musical memory?

Dancing around to Tchaikovsky’s sleeping beauty waltz!

What made you decide to focus on keyboards?

Well it was my Mum’s idea for my brother and me to have piano lessons as we were both really into our classical music. That led me to baroque keyboard music and then I must have heard the harpsichord as a result of that. This awoke in me a fascination and passion for the harpsichord which I’ve followed ever since. I’m obsessed!

What’s so special about performing early music?

The language of 17th and 18th century music is very engaging and attractive. The aesthetic is bold, brilliant and colourful. I particularly love the combination of elegance and power in this period. What’s not to like?!

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Being at leisure with loved ones.

What is it that you most dislike?

Vulgarity.

Who is your favourite composer, and why?

Mozart forever! He’s very much a rococo composer who infused a style that is intrinsically light and pretty with such depths of emotion and beauty. At its best his music is astonishing and transcendental and as he said himself, always beautiful.

What is your superhero ability?

Rolling out of bed and out the door looking like I’ve stepped off a film set.

Do you have a lucky charm or ritual that you follow before performances?

My green room always ends up a chaotic mess which I find very cathartic. I find it equally cathartic tidying it up.

What are your hobbies and interests beyond music?

I love fabrics. I love how they feel and can be transformed into beautiful clothes. I’ve always liked dressing up and I still do.

How has classical music influenced your life outside music?

Training in music can instill a first-rate sense of self-discipline which I think can be very useful. Also, I’ve come to know myself better through all the time I spend alone practicing and travelling.

If you could meet anyone from the past, who would it be?

Oscar Wilde at some decadent dinner party. Now wouldn’t that be fun!

Do you have a favourite early / classical music joke?

My gags are always better in person, so do try and catch one of my shows!!

The next opportunity to catch Nathaniel in person is at a piano recital on 23rd May which he will give at the renowned Cobbe Collection.

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