Conversation with China

Q. Mr. Gavrilov, you made your international debut at the Salzburg Festival substituting for Sviatoslav Richter. Could you share with us the circumstances that led to this substitution and your personal sensations before, during and after the concert?

– The ministry of Soviet culture had informed the festival about Richter’s illness in a very short notice. The competition I won in July was just over and the gold medalist was a “hot subject” for the music market trade. Therefore my person was chosen by Salzburg festival director as a substitute. It is quite funny to describe feeling of a kid I was in surreal circumstances. It was those days as a dream for me, some times as a nightmare, some times very sweet. It was a pure cinematographic “happy end” after the concert. The double victory – East and West. –

Q. You derive from an artistic family, your father a painter, your mother a pianist. You followed your mother’s footsteps by becoming a pianist. Could you share with us your memories of your early childhood encounters with the piano? Does visual art also have a certain place in your life?

– I loved to play with piano, but hated learning it professionally. The process of learning was killing the magic and mystery of music for me those days. I was already composing when I was five years old but was reluctant to learn the music grammar. I loved painting much more as it was giving me greater freedom of expression at this age. Both arts was so close to my heart that it remained with me for the rest of my life. –

Q. You also engage in writing. What lead you to writing, what do you write about and how do you consider writing different to making music?

– I remember at first I was influenced by regret of Shostakovitch expressed in his memories who was very upset with the level of understanding of his music by people. Being extremely well known he felt completely misunderstood. Later I learned that people do not understand music deep enough and that literature connected with music art gives a possibility of greater understanding of the world of art in general for many people.
Only now I see that it is a perfect combination – music and literature “from one person”. It is two different languages. Literature first of all is the language of intellect, music is the language of feelings. When two are connected – it is a perfect tool for learning and understanding the universe. Both for me and my audiences. –

Q. A couple of months ago you’ve been on an extensive tour through the Ukraine.
What are the differences of playing for such a familiar audience rather than a less familiar one? What are the difficulties/ challenges and how is this different from performing for Chinese audiences?

– I can’t say the Ukrainian audience is “familiar” to me. I left USSR 32 years ago and had no idea what is going on in former USSR republics and peoples hearts and minds after break up of the Soviet Union. So, it appeared to be quite remote country for me to visit. Both intellectually and culturally I found many unexpected problems to establish mutual understanding there.
In general – for me there is no “challenge” to perform for any audience on the planet. “The challenge is all yours”. if I may put it in ironic way. My challenge is to extend music performing art, to let music flow as a cosmic energy enriching people. To unlock all the messages engraved in the music code of different music texts. This is a great process, because we are dealing with energy and spiritual information left for us by greatest individuals in modern European history of post renaissance time. Chinese audiences are different. There are great deal of people who are very close to European values and culture. For those who are not so deeply involved and understanding this culture great European music still remains lively possibility “to see” and observe the way of living, feeling and thinking of European people through the music tones. Any way it is a fascinating trip in the living psycho of foreign culture. –

Q. Since 2012 you’re also giving master classes if your busy schedule allows. What do you consider crucial to share with upcoming young musicians? What advise would you like to give to young Chinese pianists?

– It is becoming more and more difficult to explain all the complex of qualities musician should acquire. Mostly because the modern idea of music making is far away from it’s natural task as a tool of highest form of philosophy learning the world. I am not doing any master classes since 2014. As I came to conclusion that it dose not give a possibility to change peoples consciousness. Without changing it they will never understand what I demand and mean. Without changing global attitude towards serious music we will loose it very soon left with music entertainment which is already happening in Europe and other countries with European culture.
My advise to Chinese musicians would be – learn European cultures involved in composing of serious music and try to understand that music is ideal form of life and highest form of philosophy before all other qualities it has. –

Q. Could you share with us a bit about your revolutionary orchestra projects and your most recent Tchaikovsky symphonies’ recording project?

– My goal is bringing together symphonic and piano music on the same CD on a possible highest level of music art. Art is something which has gone from our daily life, from our reality replaced by music industry. All music making we have at the moment is a musical entertainment with no art in it. I want to turn it back to the golden age of music art. –


Photo: Guangzhou Opera House

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