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Henri Barda Piano Recital

by Chiho Iuchi

The veteran French pianist Henri Barda will hold a recital in Tokyo next week for the first time in six years.

Born in 1941 and raised in Cairo, Barda’s prodigious talent was recognized when he was 6 years old by the Polish-immigrant pianist Ignace Tiegerman (1893-1968), who founded the Conservatoire Tiegerman in Cairo and became Barda’s teacher.

At age 16, Barda moved to Paris to study under maestro Lazare Levy (1882-1964) and then under professor Joseph Benvenuti at the Conservatoire Nationale Superieur, where he graduated with top grades in piano and chamber music. In the late 1960s, he went on a four-year scholarship to the Julliard School in New York, where he attended concerts by his favorite virtuosos Sviatoslav Richter and Vladimir Horowitz at the Carnegie Hall.

Through the influence and guidance of such greats, Barda absorbed various traditions that helped him develop his style of brilliant and elegant — but sometimes darkly passionate — performances.

Barda also worked with Jerome Robbins, the choreographer of the stage and film productions of “West Side Story,” and served as stage pianist in collaboration with ballet dancers of the Paris Opera Etoiles, who performed in Robbins’ new productions featuring the music of Chopin.

Despite having worked as a professor at the Conservatoire Nationale Superieur in Paris and the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris — and despite being admired by many talented pianists whom he has guided — Barda has not often performed public concerts. The upcoming event provides a rare opportunity to see him making music in the flesh in a program comprising works by Brahms, Beethoven and Chopin that he has honed to brilliance through his half-century-long career.

Henri Barda Piano Recital takes place on Dec. 18 at the Kioi Hall in Kioicho, Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo (7 p.m.; ¥6,000-¥7,000; [03] 3580-0031).