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24 September 2021
"Hannes Minnaar brings many positive assets to Bach’s Goldberg Variations. The pianist clearly enjoys modifying voicings, amplifying textures, and shifting accents on the repeats "Classics Today, 30-11-2021
A convincing tonal colourist and ardent Romantic. He’s a natural talent with a bold streak.’ — Gramophone on Minnaar’s debut solo album with works by Rachmaninoff and Ravel
Dutch pianist 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. ‘My overall approach to music is to take a score very seriously, which is not the same as taking it literally. Pianists from earlier days are a constant inspiration in that respect. I admire such artists as Alfred Cortot, who does not position himself between the composer and the piece, yet leaves an unmistakeable mark on the music. Wilhelm Kempff’s aural richness and trueness, for example, is an example of something I aspire to.’
In Spring 2019, Hannes Minnaar performed on the renowned Master Pianists Series in Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw; as the first Dutchman in 20 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’. BBC Music Magazine proclaimed his second solo album their Choice of the Month, saying: ’Underlying Bach’s contrapuntal wizardry is a compelling emotional narrative’. On the third solo album, Gramophone wrote: ‘Minnaar’s identification with Fauré’s unique realm of music is complete and his deeply felt interpretations shine with clarity and infinite nuance.’ His album ‘Nox’, containing works by Schumann, Zuidam and Ravel, prompted a flurry of five star reviews in the Dutch press. Het Parool wrote: ‘He joins the ranks of the great pianists of our time’.
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.
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 250th anniversary of Beethoven has been a major focus for Minnaar in recent seasons both in performance and recordings. His discography includes Beethoven’s complete piano concertos, violin sonatas and piano trios.
Hannes Minnaar brings many positive assets to Bach’s Goldberg Variations. The pianist clearly enjoys modifying voicings, amplifying textures, and shifting accents on the repeats
Classics Today, 30-11-2021
In addition, Hannes Minnaar makes a remarkable effort to give each piece its own style, according to his writing, instead of wanting to unify the sound. Quite a success, in view of the results.
These new Goldbergs leave us under the complex and pregnant charm, almost addictive, that emerges from the interpretation of Hannes Minnaar. (...) Hannes Minnaar succeeds to gain an enviable place on the steps of a podium already well populated.
He plays it brilliantly.....Do I need yet another recording of the Goldbergs in my collection? I didn’t think so. But Minnaar has proven me wrong. Whether you have one too many (or a dozen or so like me) in your collection, this one is worth the listen.
Fanfare magazine, 01-3-2022
An extremely interesting recording that surprises the listener with new details.
Piano News, 01-3-2022
This variation series is a tricky puzzle, but Minnaar knows exactly how the pieces fit together. He is admirably consistent in his playing and makes the variations whirl, trot and shine.
De Volkskrant, 21-12-2021
The main event is much more rewarding than that. It is superb.
American Record Guide, 15-12-2021
He plays with enormous ease and almost the lightness and playfulness of Mozart's piano works. This production deserves a place of honor in the discotheque.
Music Emotion, 15-11-2021
Meanwhile, Hannes Minnaar is far off the mark.....Minnaar articulates sharply and phrases with the nonchalance of a jazz man. Rare, the pianist who mixes so many flavors through his trills, from sober to voluptuous. I will often listen to this beautiful double CD
The sound taken by the Challenge Records technicians is of excellent workmanship: the dynamics are sumptuous, full, capable of unleashing great energy and, at the same time, a convincing naturalness.
Hannes Minnaar has made a beautiful and especially exciting "Goldberg"
In Minnaar's light-hearted approach to this score, nothing stands out that shouldn't be there, nor is there anything to distract from it. The tempi are convincingly embedded, accelerations and decelerations are not an end in themselves, exaggerated agogic accents are omitted (also in the spun-out and only variation in minor: no. 25). Anyone who listens to this rendition with the notation included can only admire Minnaar's meticulousness.
Opus Klassiek, 24-9-2021
The pianist is incredibly consistent in his approach and his tempi; fluctuations are proportional and character differences between the variations are not magnified too much, but serve each other. The perfect trills betray muscular fingers. And taste, of course.
De Volkskrant, 23-9-2021
The consolation of art is palpable in every variation. It is making music without sensationalism and without dogmas, cool and calm. Each of the thirty variations is given a clear profile, although Minnaar eschews extremes in dynamics and phrasing. God lurks in the details and nuance, while his grip on architecture is unmistakable. The richness of sound is remarkable.
The tone is set in the Aria, whose lyrical quality is somewhat lost in the jungle of microrubati. Nevertheless, it is played brilliantly and brilliantly across the board. The encore, Daan Mannekes Gedanken zu Bach, is also very beautiful.
Het Parool, 23-9-2021