Posted: 11:17 PM (Manila Time) | Apr. 23, 2004
By Martin Valdes
Inquirer News Service, Manila
HE'S young, he's attractive, he's tall, and his fingers have
more moves than the LA Lakers. Maksim Mrvica is back to seduce
audiences with his brand of kinetic classical interpretations. A
few months ago, Maksim exploded into the Manila scene igniting
the evenings with the sound of the familiar made fresh and
fiery. Now he's returned with a new album with more compositions
called "The Piano Player Re-packed." Super! sat down with the
lanky Croatian ivory-pounder and tickled his keys with a few
Q: You started playing piano at a young age. Did you ever want
to be anything else? Like a football player or a porn star,
A: Not really. All my life I wanted to be a piano player. All
my friends wanted to be policemen, or doctors, or surgeons. But
all I wanted ever since I was young was to play classical music.
Q: Did you ever wish you had just ... a smaller instrument?
Yeah, a few times. When you have to travel from country to
country, and every place has a different piano, and not all
pianos are that good.
A: Sometimes I wish I just played the violin. At least you
can go on holidays with your violin. Sometimes I want to go on
vacation somewhere and I can't because there's no piano there.
But the last time I had a show in Manila, that piano wasn't
Q: Nice job of putting a modern twist on classical pieces. Ever
consider a modern piece with a classical twist? Like Zeppelin's
"Stairway to Heaven" in C Major? Or a Sir Mix-A-Lot version
called "Baby got Johann Sebastian Bach"?
A: (Confused look) Well, I've never done it. All my life I've
been trained in classical music and I've played only classical
music. What is interesting for me is to change classical into
modern, and not really the other way around.
Q: You were 18 when you won your first major competition. Did
that help with the ladies?
A: Ah. (laughs) A little bit, yeah. I did some television
interviews after I won, and (laughs) yeah, I suppose it did
Q: Your first album of contemporary Croatian pieces, "Gestures,"
did really well. Now you've gone international. Are you
considered a big celebrity back home yet?
A: People in Croatia knew me from before because I've
invested so much in my career for a long time, but I don't think
I am a celebrity or anything like that.
Q: So no streets named after you as of now?
A: Not that I know. I don't really think about things
Q: We've got a Chinese restaurant with your name on it.
A: I know. And there's a French restaurant in Paris as
Q: So do you hang out with famous people?
A: You know that Croatian doctor on the television show "ER,"
Doctor Luka Kovac?
Goran Visnjic? He is a friend of mine. I know him from my
Q: What's your favorite purchase with a pianist's paycheck?
A: I have this electronic piano...
Q: Oh Christ...
A: (Laughs) But I really love my car. It's a Toyota Celica
and I'm going to drive it from London to Croatia. Normally it
takes about two days, but my wife, my friend and I will stop in
several cities along the way.
Q: Ever screw up during a live performance and think, "What the
heck, no one knows how this piece is supposed to go anyway"?
It's very difficult to play a whole concert without making one
mistake. I don't think anybody can do it. The levels of mistakes
are different, you know. Sometimes when I listen to some
fantastic pianists who don't seem to make mistakes and play
everything perfectly, it doesn't do anything for me. So small
mistakes are not that important to me, because you have a bigger
idea of what you are doing. And also, different places have
different crowds. Some know more about classical music than
Q: How about the whole rock-n-roll thing of drinking or getting
high before a concert?
A: I can't afford to drink before a concert because of my
hands, you know. My muscles. If I take alcohol, I won't be able
to control them!
Q: Who is better, Vanessa Carlton or Alicia Keys?
A: Who is Vanessa Carlton?
Q: I'm not so sure myself. But what about Alicia?
A: She is a gorgeous young woman! She plays a different
type of music so I can't really judge. But on her new song, I
heard a very technical piece and if she is the one playing on
the album, then she is very good. She must have classical
Q: I was listening to your CD on the way here. Very frenetic
energy you've got going. Ever, you know, fool around with the
missus while listening to your own music?
A: I'm not going to answer that.