Pianist Martin James Bartlett (1996) admits that his life changed completely when he won the title of BBC Young Musician of the Year in 2014. Victory in this competition allowed him to begin a complete professional performing career, giving him the chance to travel and meet and work with inspiring musicians.
It is easy to see that Bartlett has the personality and characteristics to enable him to bewitch his audience. The sensitivity or even sensuality of his playing is breathtaking, and his imagination overflows. Depth, poeticism and picturesque beauty inhabit his concerts alongside quite explosive eruptions of emotion. He seems to give his whole heart and soul to every performance. and yet his performances are also very precise, carefully considered and well-grounded.
In 2017 he was in the top 30 finalists of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, USA. A year later, he won 2nd place at the Bad Kissingen Piano Olympics, along with the audience prize. The great pianist András Schiff invited him to the open masterclasses at the Salzburg Mozart Week to learn Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24. Then followed an invitation to the Verbier Festival Academy, where Bartlett played with piano maestros András Schiff, Richard Goode and Sergei Babayan in open masterclasses.
Last summer, as a student of Vanessa Latarche at the Royal College of Music, Bartlett returned to the BBC Proms and the Cheltenham Music Festival, played at the Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Cadogan Hall, among many other performances. He has performed with all the leading British orchestras – the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Philharmonic, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. He has also performed in Japan, Poland, Germany, the US, Austria and Switzerland.
Bartlett played at Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday National Service of Thanksgiving at London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral, and as part of the Chinese State Visit in 2015 he gave a private concert for the First Lady of China Peng Liyuan. He loves jazz, has recorded with Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Nicola Benedetti, and doesn’t hesitate to share his knowledge and interpretation of music (see his story on YouTube on Schumann’s Scenes from Childhood). During the Van Cliburn Competition, in answer to a question on what his strengths are, Bartlett answered: the ability to find a new way to look at old things. Meanwhile, he admitted that his weak point may be that his interpretations are occasionally too odd, which not everyone will support. At the same time, critics say that Bartlett can be trusted with the widest variety of repertoire.