‘Minnaar joins the ranks of the great pianists of our time’ (Het Parool)
Hannes Minnaar is consistently described by the critics as being able to convey musical essence in all its purity. They talk about his spontaneity and naturalness, an ease without superficiality. In 2019, Hannes Minnaar performed on the renowned Master Pianists Series in Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw; as the first Dutchman in 22 years. Hailed by the national press as an undisputed success, NRC noted his playing as ‘free of bluff and swagger’ and ‘in deference to the music at all times’.
Minnaar first gained attention as second prize winner of the Geneva International Music Competition 2008, and third prize winner at the Queen Elisabeth Competition 2010. The influence from his teachers including Jan Wijn, Jacques van Oortmerssen and Ferenc Rados, and masterclasses with Menahem Pressler profoundly informed his performance inspiration. Among conductors, Minnaar has worked with Herbert Blomstedt, Antony Hermus, Xian Zhang and the late Jirí Belohlávek. He collaborates with all major Dutch orchestras including the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and orchestras throughout Europe. Minnaar was made a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellow in 2011, and he received the Dutch Music Award in 2016 – the highest honour bestowed upon a classical musician by the Dutch Ministry of Culture.
On his debut solo album of Rachmaninov and Ravel, Gramophone commented: ‘A convincing tonal colourist and ardent Romantic. He’s a natural talent with a bold streak.’ BBC Music Magazine proclaimed the second album their Choice of the Month, saying: ’Underlying Bach’s contrapuntal wizardry is a compelling emotional narrative’. Of the complete Piano Concertos with the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Jan Willem de Vriend, the Emperor Concerto was a recommended recording on BBC Radio 3’s Building a Library. It was said to have ‘passion, drama, vital rhythms, transparency, and, more important: a celebration of unity, with pianist and orchestra continually sparking off each other.’
During the extraordinary pause that the worldwide pandemic placed on ‘normal’ concert schedules Minnaar found inspiration and solace in Bach’s Goldberg variations. He undertook a concert tour throughout some of Holland’s monumental churches also recording the piece. He also recorded a recital disc, Nox, based on a nocturnal theme (Schumann, Ravel and a specially commissioned cycle by Robert Zuidam), which prompted a flurry of five star reviews in the Dutch press.
Vitally important to Minnaar’s musical raison d’être is his work with the Van Baerle Trio, founded together with violinist Maria Milstein and cellist Gideon den Herder in 2004. Nominated by Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, they were ECHO Rising Stars 2013–14. The trio has released the complete works of Beethoven for piano trio including the Triple Concerto performed with the Residentie Orchestra under the baton of Jan Willem de Vriend.
At home, next to a modern grand piano, Hannes Minnaar plays an Erard from 1858, which he has on loan from the Dutch Musical Instruments Foundation.