The Classical Station’s interview with Jorge Osorio for Preview!

Interview with Jorge Osorio
by Bethany Tillerson (Photo credit: Todd Rosenberg)

This week, Jorge Osorio appears on Preview! As one of Mexico’s most respected classical pianists, Osorio has received the Medalla Bellas Artes and collaborated with top orchestras across the world. Now, he has returned to his long-standing relationship with the Minería Symphony Orchestra of Mexico for his recording of Conciertos Románticos, which pairs Ricardo Castro’s Piano Concerto in A Minor with Manuel Ponce’s “RománticoPiano Concerto. Caleb Gardner discusses the new release with him for this week’s interview.

GARDNER: Thank you for talking with me this morning. I have become a fan of yours through listening to the new record, Conciertos Románticos. It’s beautiful. I’m a person who listens to music for a living, and I’m not often surprised at the quality of something that I’m not familiar with, but that was the experience I had. Ricardo Castro’s piano concerto is a very cool piece. Jorge, you’ve had both an enormous amount of live performances and a busy recording schedule. Is there a difference in the preparation or mentality of approaching a live performance versus a recording session? 

OSORIO: Yes, of course. On my recordings, I always seem to have some kind of momentum-like something that lets the music speak directly and spontaneously. I think sometimes in recording things can be what we call perfect, but it’s a fake perfect. I mean, what is perfection? Really the perfection about music is that it’s never perfect. That’s something that you are able to catch during a concert performance. That drive, that spontaneity, and that freedom is what I tried to have in my recordings. 

The way we recorded the Castro concerto, I was playing it with the Minería Symphony and with my friend Carlos Miguel Prieto. We gave two concerts before recording the concerto, so we had that sort of enthusiasm and energy about the live performance with the public. I’m very delighted with the results. 

GARDNER: Carlos Miguel Prieto is the resident conductor here of the North Carolina Symphony Orchestra.

OSORIO: Yes, I heard that and I’m so delighted. We’ve done some wonderful things together. We have a CD of three Mozart piano concertos recorded live in Mexico City, and most recently recorded de Falla’s Nights in the Gardens of Spain with a youth orchestra. 

GARDNER: So could you tell us more about the experience of collaboration, not only with him, but with the orchestra and what the recording experience entailed?

OSORIO: On a personal level, it goes back many years. I’ve been playing with him and the Minería Symphony for 30 or more years. I know all the musicians and it’s a lovely atmosphere. And of course, we had talked about this project for some years and I’m so happy it came to fruition. I have to say thanks to Cedille Records, also, because they’re willing to take risks; they listen to the artists’ requests and it’s been fantastic. It’s my ninth album with them, and the quality is fantastic. 

GARDNER: Can you tell our listeners more about the choices of artists and pieces on this CD? 

OSORIO: Mainly, I do things that I feel convinced about, that I feel passionate about, and that I love. I’ve played the Ponce concerto for many years. In the past year I rediscovered Ricardo Castro’s concerto and I thought that they go together very well. Ponce was born in 1892, Castro in 1964. Ponce’s concerto, of course, is very romantic in essence and is very virtuosic for the piano and for the orchestra. Ricardo Castro was also very interesting; he really was the very first virtuoso pianist to come from Mexico. Manuel Ponce’s concerto is one of the first piano concertos ever written in the Americas. It’s interesting and it’s so beautiful. It just deserves to be played more. 

GARDNER: Going back to the cultural aspects, when I talk to international performers, sometimes they note a difference and sometimes they do not in their audiences’ expectations for classical music. Some, for example, say that American audiences anticipate entertainment while European audiences anticipate a cultural experience. You perform frequently in Mexico. Do you anticipate or observe any cultural difference from your audience in Mexico? Do they have a particular expectation? 

OSORIO: I don’t think so. And I think that’s also how you as an artist present what you are performing and what you’re trying to convey. I think the public everywhere feels that and respects that. It is said that the public expects certain things, but maybe you can convince them otherwise. If I play a recital here or in Mexico or Chicago or Europe, I’m not thinking about the public. As a musician, you’re thinking about the music, what you’re trying to convey, and trying to have clarity as an artist so that that we can all rediscover at the moment of the performance the work that we’re listening to. 

GARDNER: All of us who’ve gone to music school know that becoming a professional player is a very solitary activity. But when you become a public figure, a pianist in demand, you’re pulled in different ways and you’re playing for the public. Has becoming a public performer changed your relationship to practicing? 

OSORIO: It is a solitary way of life, but even when I was young and starting to play, I was preparing for something. I haven’t really felt any different or that I wish it would be different. I love my solitary practicing and having the time to think things over. But then, of course, I know that I’m going to take it to another level once I get to the experience of performing. 

GARDNER: So you use the energy of the audience to propel your work. 

OSORIO: Yes, in a way, it works that way. But it’s also my responsibility. 

GARDNER: What’s the next step for you in your career and personally? What do you what’s on the horizon for you, for our listeners? 

OSORIO: There’s so much repertoire still that I want to learn. Being a pianist, a musician, I’ve had so many wonderful experiences. I just want to continue what I’m doing and keep developing, keep growing, and keep discovering. For instance, there’s so much to discover in Mexico. There’s a lot of chamber music that deserves to be heard. On the other hand, I have a huge list of repertoire that I want to learn. I’d like to go back to works that I studied when I was very young, because I’m different now. One develops and one keeps learning. My greatest joy is to grow and grow as an artist. 

GARDNER: Well, we thank you for how far you’ve come and what you’ve given the music world. Concierto Romantico is a wonderful example of something a little fresh and different. I know our listeners will enjoy it. Thank you so much for speaking with them this morning. 

Join us for Jorge Osorio’s Preview! interview at 7 p.m. on Sunday, August 13th. Listen on, on 89.7 FM, or on our app!