For this month’s “For the Record”, I had the pleasure of sitting down to talk music with concert pianist and a dear friend of Theme & Variations – Alexander Gavrylyuk or as we affectionately call him, Sasha.
Following on from our interview with him last time where he talked about his favourite CD – the Horowitz Moscow live recording (click here), the first recording we talked about was Horowitz’s recording of Schumann’s Kinderszenen recording from 1987.
“You can really hear the inner child of Horowitz in the way he reflects upon this music – that sense of connection to his childhood which is a bit naughty, innocently…innocently temperamental and pure. Very poetic”
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The second recording he recommended was Janine Jansen’s recording of Bach’s Violin Concerto.
“It is just extremely well measured, elegant and sensitive towards every shade and phrase and yet has a complete phrasing about it, wonderful balance between her and the orchestra. In general a unique kind of sound.”
Its no wonder that Janine Jansen is the only musician Sasha plays chamber music with.
Finally, we discussed one of our favourite pianists who isn’t really talked about that often these days – partly because of the poor sound quality of 1930s recordings and his unmistakable, unique approach to playing which today’s traditionalists frown upon – Josef Hofmann. Hofmann’s prodigious talent made him the one and only pupil of the great pianist and rival of Liszt, Anton Rubinstein. Rachmaninov, a close friend of Hofmann’s and dedicated his third piano concerto to him famously declared, when asked who the greatest living pianist was, “well, there’s Hofmann, and there’s me.”
One particular recording which stood out to Sasha was Hofmann’s rendition of Chopin’s piano concerto in E minor.
“The Chopin concertos are usually difficult as it is for conductors but Hofmann makes it even more difficult for the conductor phrasing wise. He takes great risks in terms of phrasing and technically. But still, it is done in a most natural, logical way and in a style borrowed from Italian Opera. Definitely a very special pianist.”
Click here to listen to the second movement of that concerto recording.