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Vikingur Olafsson makes New York recital debut at Mostly Mozart Festival / New York Times Q&A

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Vikingur Olafsson, who is widely considered Iceland's pre-eminent pianist, hasn't had music lessons since he graduated from the Juilliard School in 2008. He has taken part in a master class here and there, but these days, he says, he learns more by simply listening to his own recordings. "The way we hear music inside our heads is quite different from when you're listening to the playback," Mr. Olafsson, 33, said during a recent interview at Lincoln Center, where he is making his New York recital debut on Friday and Saturday at the Mostly Mozart Festival. "The way you perceive time, and the way it actually is."

The technique seems to have paid off: In recent years, Mr. Olafsson has given the premieres of six piano concertos, including one conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen at the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Reykjavik Festival in April. And Philip Glass invited Mr. Olafsson to share the billing with him in a performance of his Études. This year, Mr. Olafsson released an album of Mr. Glass's piano works on Deutsche Grammophon. The record makes a strong impression in how much it contrasts with Mr. Glass's own performances.

Listen to Mr. Glass's take on Étude No. 2 & read the New York Times Q&A