In an Exclusive interview with Iride Aparicio

Photos Courtesy: The Steinway Society

SILICON VALLEY, CA -- The February Spring Concert of the Steinway Society the Bay Area will be its first LIVE concert, (also streamed) and his second California concert for award-winning Russian Classical pianist Vyacheslav Gryaznov who, three years ago, gave such a remarkable performance at the Trianon Theatre in San José, that he not only received ravishing reviews from the press but three encores from his audience.  

Gryaznov is very talented. He is a music arranger, teacher, a beginner Bass player, learning to play Bass guitar, and a composer in the process of publishing his own compositions. But what makes each one of his concerts "unique" are what he calls his Transcriptions.

Also called adaptations or arrangements, in dictionaries,what Gryaznov calls  "his Transcriptions" are actually his own musical notations based on the original written musical score, that he altered, in order to make it sound as he hears it in his mind. The alteration  may be in the music's tempo, in the addition or the subtraction of  notes, in changes of its  dynamics or something else, which alters the sound of the original manuscript when he plays it. Gryaznov's concerts are world famous because of this. His CD's are also very popular, and even seasoned musicians admit that the Sound that Gryaznov conveys to his audience when performing, which is based on his own transcriptions, is unique. Because of it, we can expect that if in his first concert in Silicon Valley delighted his audience, his second concert, which will include seldom heard compositions, will be better.

To learn more about it, Cultural World Bilingual contacted pianist Gryaznov in Seattle, where he was performing, and in a telephone interview, asked him to discuss with our readers the music he will be performing in his February 12 concert at the McAffe Performing Arts and Lecture Center in Saratoga, California


C.W.B:  What type of music will you be bringing us this time?

V.G: "The first part of my concert will be dedicated to Western composers:  Mozart, Mahler, and Franz Liszt, the second part, to Russian composers. I will start with Mozart "Nine Variations on Lison Dromait, " a rarely played piece, that I almost never heard played before. In his Variations, Mozart wrote a very sweet piece and as I was rehearsing it, I was also trying to describe to myself what I was imagining when listening to it. Mozart is a very practical composer, but somehow his music in this particular piece, made me imagine a scene with two honeymooners, a young couple who are talking to each other. I even heard their sweet words at certain moments because musically, if we listen carefully to the piece, one can hear that inside it a clear dialogue between two people who are finally together talking to each other to explore themselves. So, to me, the piece sounded clearly like a dialogue, and I say of young honeymooners because each variation is sweet, and fresh."

"The Next piece is a Mahler/Gryaznov, adagietto from Symphony No. 5. This piece is my own arrangement. I made it for the left hand only, because in the original score this movement is written for a limited orchestra of strings and harp. So when I decided to add a pianist to the score, I made the arrangement for the left hand..

C.W.B.  Why for the left hand only?

V.G. "Because my arrangement requires for the performer to apply some unusual techniques to be able to imitate, at the piano, all the voicing and music layers of the orchestra, which need to be heard, or the piece is not good, So, even when the audience may not hear the Attack of the sound of the orchestra, they still need to hear its resonance (as an accompaniment) in the background, So, when playing it what I need to do is hit a piano key hard, and when my right hand is doing something else in a different register, silence the key I just hit, by removing my foot from the piano's pedal. By doing that, quickly, the audience can still hear the sound's vibrations in the background. There are a lot of challenges in playing the piece.

My third piece is Liszt, "Spanish Rhapsody" which I think is one of his best rhapsodies."

C.W.B. For what reason?

V.G. "Because it is so well crafted and the harmonic language so spicy that we could talk a lot about it and always find some extremely satisfying moments. At the same time, we could also hear some issues as well with the music. The melodies in this rhapsody are a gem, Liszt uses traditional Spanish songs but the way he arranges them and changes the coloration of the original music, is really too incredible to describe."

C.W.B. Are you playing your own transcription of this piece?

V.G.  "No, I am not playing my transcription of the Spanish Rhapsody, it is an original work because my arrangement of his Rhapsody is quite different from the original. In general, when you are doing an arrangement for piano you have more flexibility with the music. In piano arrangements the arranger has all the tools because the piano could reproduce  all the "sounds" played by the different instruments in the orchestra, but do it with a more refined sound because the piano allows you to explore the more intimate parts of the music and look at the score from different angles. I am not afraid to show these different angles. I am quite open about them. I enjoy using these different angles, these different perspective, but this type of arrangement is more applicable to the second part of my program - Russian composers."

C.W.B. why?

V.G. Because  my goal is to make their music feel different.


For the second part of his concert,  Russian composers, Gryaznov will play his  old classics: Borodin, Tchaikovsky and  Rachmaninoff, which he calls his favorite composer because his chord progressions and sudden shifts in his music hit his heart.

C.W.B. What can you tell us about the second part of your program?

V.G." I will start it with Borodin's Nocturne  from his String Quartet #2 and tell you an  interesting story behind this piece. There is a short movie by Disney called "The Little Match Girl" written by Hans Christian Andersen, and its Sound track was Nocturne from String quartet #2 by Borodin, that was played by the Emerson Quartet. I was deeply touched by the piece when I heard it in the movie, so I decided to do an arrangement on it. It took quite a while. It was not very easy for me to transfer the chamber music written for four string instruments to piano, so I have to change quite a lot to make it work."

C.W.B. In making your Transcriptions  do you hear the music in your head before you start the arrangement or do you plan the arrangement and then write it?

V.C. "The best way to make a Transcription, is to follow the flow of what is going on at the moment.. I may have a plan, but when something happens I change it, because what you are doing in a transcription is finding your way to the heart of the music."

"Continue with my concert. From Tchaikovsky I will play the Waltz of the Flowers from the Nutcracker and end with  Rachmaninoff's songs:  Night is Mournful Op 26 No 12, How Fair this Spot Op.21 No 7, Vocalise Op 34 No 14 and end with  Italian Polka, my old Classic. In these arrangements, I almost did not touch them much. I left them as written because vocally they have a lot of texture and lots of harmonies, so I left the music pure and clean.

C.W.B. I notice that you play Rachmaninoff often in your concerts, Why?

V.G. "I feel that his music is "Almost my own"  so I feel more responsibility for it. I enjoy his music very much because I feel his music more than the music of other composers. Rachmaninoff's music is never easy to play. but the most difficult part in executing it, is to craft all the details because his music requires a lot of management on the part of the pianist. You have to manage the structure of the form of the music. Know where you are emotionally, in order to build a stable house out of his music. Playing Rachmaninoff also requires a lot of thinking from the interpreter, and by this I mean asking yourself, "What do I want to express to my audience when playing this piece?  because to really show the power of Rachmaninoff's music, the performer needs to think of many small details, among them, be sure that the piece is clear, and that you are projecting it correctly  and at the end  put all these things into an emotional contact. This is the most important part. We (the pianists) have a story to tell, and I believe that when Rachmaninoff composed his music, he felt, that when interpreted, the pianist should feel it. You cannot play Rachmaninoff. You have to interpret him, find your emotional context with the composer."

To Order tickets for the VYACHESLAV GRYAZNOV Concert and the Home Concert Hall Performances go to: Steinwaysociety.com For any questions about the concert, contact their box office at (408) 300-5635.