Exclusive Interview by: Iride Aparicio

Photos Courtesy: The Steinway Society

SILICON VALLEY-- Sponsored by The Steinway Society the Bay Area,  VYACHESLAV GRYAZNOV will return to Silicon Valley in an streamed piano concert that can be watched online from December l8 through December 21.  

An undergraduate and postgraduate student of the Moscow State Conservatory of Music, where he is on the teaching faculty,  and  holder of  an Artist Diploma from the Yale School of Music in New Haven, Connecticut,  GRYAZNOV  is  a brilliant pianist and composer,  whose  interpretation of the piano musical scores of the  classical composers is so accurate, that it  had won the pianist  ravishing reviews from music critics all over the world.

On a telephone interview from the East Coast, where he is preparing for the Broadcasting of his concert,VYACHESLAV, who speaks fluid English, tells Cultural World Bilingual that because of the pandemic, he was forced to interrupt his concerts during the Summer, so what, he did was to get to know different States of the United States, by driving from New Haven to San Francisco and back. During his trip, he also learned a bit of programming, to increase his technical knowledge before his first streamed piano concert.

He introduces himself as "A Russian pianist now based  in New York City,"   and when  we  mention that he should add to his description of himself, "and a  composer and "special" transcriptor, for the  inventiveness in his transcriptions and arrangements (more than 30 Concert arrangements and transcriptions of Classical music) " he  explains, smiling,  that arranging  music is not really "unique" because a few people still makes Classical musical arrangements, but that only a few pianists do them now because all they want is to perform. "Making arrangements is one part of my creative life," he adds, "And you also must have some kind of taste for it. But (making arrangements( it is so natural to me, that I do not consider that to be "special."


But  those people who have listened  to VYACHESLAV GRYAZNOV's  playing his arrangements in his concerts,  who  had  experienced  the nuances in his interpretation of the music, and have been moved by the  wondrous sound emanating from his piano, recognize the reason why he has won great acclaim throughout, Russia, Europe. with the Berlin Philharmonic,  and in the United States,which include Carnegie  Hall.

And in 2016, when VYACHESLAV GRAYAZNOV came to Silicon Valley, and made his debut in a concert at The Trianon Theatre, in San José, sponsored  by the  Steinway Society the Bay Area his interpretation of his arrangements, so enthralled the audience, that he received three encores. The artist may be to humble to admit it, but as a pianist, he is "unique."

C.W.B. Aside from the Streaming, what will be new in your December concert?
V.G. "I needed to share the idea of the concert because it is associated with the idea of my next project, which is to record my second album of transcriptions. With Steinway, a few years ago, we did the first one, "Russian Transcriptions" which was dedicated to my Russian works.  I covered in this album one Century of Russian Music: GLINKA, BORODIN, TCHAIKOVSKY, RACHMANINOV, and to PROKOFIEV. I was thinking to make my new album as a companion for the Russian album, but this time using my Western Transcriptions, so in this concert my idea is to cover quite a wide range of music history, beginning from BAROQUE and ending with MAURICE RAVEL."  

He explaines to us that some of  the works that he intends to record in his new album will be played   in his new concert which will include works by  GUSTAV  MAHLER (1860-1911) that never have  been recorded before,  but that he selected  to have a little challenge for his first  audio concert.. " This concert will be "mirroring" the album that I will record somewhere at the end of January 2021." he says.

C.W.B.: I noticed that in your new album you will avoid the Russian composers.
V.G:  "Yes, I will avoid all the Russian composers and include BACH, MONTEVERDI. GRIEG, DEBUSSY and RAVEL instead.  I noticed that I have a little gap in covering the Classical and Romantic Periods of music, so this time I even decided to use the LIZT transcription of BEETHOVEN's Symphony No 1. (And LIZT was a greater transcriber) and by doing that I think that I will be making a good context for my own album because I will be covering all the major periods in music history,  with the help of LIZT.

C.W.B: Among all the composers that you play, which one is your favorite, and why?
V.G: "I won't be very original because it is obvious from my playing that SERGEI RACHMANINOFF (1873-l943) is the closer composer to my heart.  The reason is that I feel that his music is my music and I really value that feeling. He is my favorite composer, and he will be my favorite for years because, when I play his music, I feel that I am playing about myself.  I feel totally neutral.  I don't have to think about the style, or how to play this or that. Everything comes to me so naturally.  He is difficult, and I don't play him without analysis, but it is kind of a different story. I feel that I am speaking from myself through his music, which is something that I cannot say when playing other composers. I can be "nice" with them and they can be "nice" with me, but I cannot have with them the direct relationship that I have with Mr.RACHMANINOFFI don't know why. Because I love other Russian composers. I like STRAVINSKY, when I did the Rite of Spring for two pianos, I was mad (loved) about his music, but still, my priorities and my taste so far go for RACHMANINOFF. 


C.W.B.: As a concert pianist, what composer gives you the most difficulty when playing his music and why?
V.G.: " I won't be too original in my thinking, but I think that for a lot of musicians, specially pianists the music by BACH, is the most challenging because as a performer, we need to know all the voicing, all the logic, all the harmonies, all these things must be in our brain to play him correctly, which is mostly the technical thing. The Second most important thing is that it is a lot of responsibility for the performer to make his own interpretation of the music because none of the Baroque composers marked anything, figures, articulation, tempo, dynamics, on their scores, which give the pianist a lot of freedom to interpret their music, but, on the other side the responsibility to ask, what type of story am I going to create when playing this piece? How am I going to interpret the style? So, the whole idea if completely up to you. Baroque music is a freedom and a responsibility, that's why I believe that to play BACH's music, is very challenging. It is also a problem in music schools because in editions, you have fingerings, articulations, etc. but while studying in thr conservatory (In Moscow) I learned that I should go from the original music, which is blank, (no notations) and that you have to feel it according to your knowledge of the period, and your own technique, otherwise is not so interesting, so for a performer, it make take years to learn how to approach BACH's music.." 

C.W.B.: And to End our interview, how do you, a concert pianist who for years have performed for live audiences around the world, will prepare for a Streamed concert?
V.G.: "This will be actually my first experience. So, I don't know how I am going to fee. I will know, after the concert, but I don't think that having no live audience can make a difference in my interpretation. All I know is that I have a goal. I have very interesting music to play, specially my own creations based on the music of the composer, so, even when I will record alone, I will try to share, in my music, (transcriptions) a lot of beautiful moments of music history and my own history as well. Because the range, of when I created these transcripts is also quite big, some I did last year, but the MONTEVERDI's program is still a work in progress, and some of the pieces were done many years ago. At the same time, the history of music and my history as a performer, as a composer, as an arranger of music will make this performance an interesting journey for me. When I play a piece, I have the ability to fantasize about the piece, and wrap my fantasies around the fantasies of other composers' music into my own creation.  So, the concert should be good."

As of this interview, GRYAZNOV's concert will include his transcriptions on the following works:   
Si Dolce e'l tormento by Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643), two pieces by Grieg, (l843-1907) Organ Fantasia in G Major, BWV  572  J.S. Bach (l685-l750), Beethoven: Symphony No 1 in C Major, Op. 21 (Trans. Liszt, c. l842). Symphony No. 5 in C# Minor  Gustav Mahler ( l860-1911) Prélude a L'aprés-midi d' un faune ( Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun), L. 86 Claude Debussy ( l862-l916)  La valse, poéme choroégraphique pour orchestre  Maurice Ravel (1875-l937).

TICKETS FOR THE CONCERT ARE ONLY $20.00 Per Household. To Order tickets for the concert next weekend DECEMBER 18-21 go to: Steinwaysociety.com

For questions about the concert, contact their box office (408) 300-5635. Please remember that because of the pandemic, The Steinway Society The Bay Area is also relying in on your generosity and accepting contribution.