Recent Swiss intrview in English. Translated by Todd&Svetlana Harris.
Andrei Gavrilov is a world famous pianist and conductor. He was born and raised in Moscow. At the Moscow Conservatory he was among the favorite students of Lev Naumov.
At the age of 18, Andrei won the First Prize at the International Tchaikovsky Competition. In the same year, 1974, he played at the Salzburg Festival in place of Svyatoslav Richter, who had fallen ill. The young man’s performing style was called brilliant. And then – life-long music. In recent years, Andrei Gavrilov has been living comfortably near Zurich. With the earth and stars of Heaven for inspiration and surrounded by his family and closest friends .
Children’s heartfelt emotions, the deepest secrets of overcoming a person’s self, come off in thought about the development of the philosophy of music. And embodied in the harmonies of sounds and nature. We agreed in advance that Andrei Gavrilov would respond in writing.
Q: Our time is synthetic – Andrei, you read in the Bible that in the beginning there was a word. Or is it fundamentally firstly music?
Of course – music. This is very simple. The word is perceived using logic. Even if it is pronounced before the appearance of space. Music and intonation are perceived even before speech, before even the utterance of the simplest “word”. Logic is perceived later. Therefore – music is primary, the word is secondary.
Q: Your autobiographical and philosophical book “Andrei, Fira and Pitch” has been translated into several languages. Why did you decide to express yourself in words?
A. G.: Musical language is insufficient for our time, just as the literary language is insufficient. Both of them have serious limitations as carriers of information. Our time is the time of synthesis. We expand, respectively: the more languages the creator uses, the more complete the picture of knowledge and expression of the modern world and man.
Q: Taking in the cosmos of a man larger than life – You left for the West in 1985. It seems that Gorbachev is involved in enabling the success of your choice to be free. Which piece of music best reflects the memory of those events? Maybe Mussorgsky? Why?
A. G.: Yes, Mikhail Sergeyevich has become one of the closest members of my family ever since. The compositions closest to me are those that combine deep philosophy, innovative musical and artistic ideas and the power of humanism. There are very few such works for piano. Among them are “Pictures from the Exhibition” by Mussorgsky, who managed to embrace the cosmos of Russian people from the pre-Christian era to the prophetic vision of the future. Music in and out of time – In the early 2000s – a triumphal meeting with another Moscow.
Q: What then determined the choice of concert programs? And … how close are the 21st century to Handel and Bach?
A. G.: I never “choose programs” in isolation from my internal process of development in music. Only my spiritual life determines the program of performances. Handel is timeless. His works are interesting and valuable as the embodiment within the music of mentality and worldview of the heroic, the “royal” character of the individuality of the highest European world of the Baroque era. Bach does not belong to time, he is cosmic and timeless, which puts him in a separate musical and philosophical cosmos, where he is alone. As the “fifth evangelist”, who expressed Christianity in musical language, as well as the worldview of the deepest souls of the secular European man of the Christian world of the Baroque era.
Q: In another decade – a tour of the cities of Russia and Ukraine. The water has flowed a little, but the mood is different. So what is the difference between, say, Rachmaninoff then and today?
A. G.: “Rachmaninov” is different, but evolving in his execution. The time has come when I embrace all the wonderful composers (there are not so many, unfortunately) as my own children. Then they begin to sound free, deep, adequate. The growth and depth of the performer is greater – their materialized musical thoughts sound more evenly scaled to the ideas of their musical creators.
Q: Philosophy of music and life – With the music in your performance, world studios have recorded over 70 discs. Many CDs are included in the Golden Collections, often referred to as reference. J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations has millions of auditions on the Spotify music service. Why do you choose “Pictures from an Exhibition” by Mussorgsky, “Symphonic Etudes” by Schumann, Sonata in B Minor by Liszt for recording “here and now” from the musical Universe? How does this happen? So, what is next?
A. G.: There are tragically few deep philosophical opuses in piano literature. The most striking among them, expressing almost utopian tasks, both artistic, philosophical and technical, are “Pictures from the Exhibition” by Mussorgsky, Symphonic studies by Schumann and Sonata in B minor by Liszt . They expressed in full the picture of the consciousness of their creators. With all the suffering and expressed philosophy of life of each author. The last three years of my life I gave to these works, which to this day have not been deciphered in their philosophical, literary and poetic, artistic depth. Some are recorded, and others are a work in Progress, not as yet executed in a way that elicits the fullness of their utopian, idealistic, futuristic beauty, and allows these qualities via the realization of their inherently complex, almost “impossible” (for man) technical expression.
Q: The living soul of music – You play in the Tonhalle Maag of Zurich on April 12 and 13, accompanied by the Berlin Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Michael Zuckernik. You and this team can be heard on the stages of Switzerland and Germany. What does music want to share with the world in Zurich on Easter days?
A.G .: The composition becomes great when the composer manages to express his consciousness in it most fully. Even the whole picture of the subconscious. In the First Concerto, Pyotr Ilyich expressed himself in its entirety, with all its hidden dreams, suffering, joys, even the anticipation of its own end. He predicted the tragic denouement of his life. Tchaikovsky’s first concerto is not a piano concerto, but Pyotr Ilyich himself. Therefore, each time, performing this work, we call back into the world the living soul of the composer and live his life with him. This is a rare, always unique, individuated experience, giving and taking a lot of strength, supplying sumptuous manna for the “mind and heart.” –
Thank you very much for the interview. Good luck in your work and life!
The publication was prepared by Marina Okhrimovskaya
Photos from the personal archive of Andrei Gavrilov
Video: Andrei Gavrilov Cultural Channel, YouTube