By Iride Aparicio
Logo Vyacheslav.jpg

Photos Courtesy: The Steinway Society

SILICON VALLEY, CA -- Award-Winning Classical Pianist Vyacheslav Gryaznov is considered The World's Best Concert Pianist by a number of music critics for many reasons. Among them, his preeminent technique playing his instrument, for his masterful interpretation of the music he plays, but mainly, because he plays from his own Transcriptions, (As he calls his arrangements of the original Classical musical scores). So, the music that Gryaznov plays in his concerts is the composers' music, but as Grayaznov's re-wrote it in his transcriptions. Because of it, every Classical piece that he interprets at the piano has a Unique sound.

And he demonstrated to his audience last February 12, when he came to Saratoga, California to play in the first Live concert, (The pandemic stopped their live concerts for awhile) sponsored by the Steinway Society the Bay Area. His Live concert was also going to be streamed, but technical difficulties at the beginning of the streaming transmission made it impossible for those streaming the concert to see the beginning of his concert, so they missed watching his performance of his opening piece which was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  "Nine Variations on Lison Dromait."

For those streaming his concert, the concert started with Gryasnov, dressed in black shirt and pants, already sitting at the piano, about to start his second piece, described in the program as Mahler/Gryaznov Adagietto from Symphony No 5. Because of the technical changes he did to the Mahler's piece in his Transcription and what he needs to do, as a pianist, during its performance to accomplish the sound he wanted, and to explain it to us during a telephone interview with Cultural World Bilingual prior to the concert as we will explain them to our readers.

For his Transcription, he used Gustav Mahler's (l860-1911) original orchestral score of Symphony 5, which is a limited orchestra piece for strings and harp. The first thing to keep in mind about this piece, however, is that Mahler wanted to convey sadness with his piece, so its tempo needs to be played Adagietto (The Musical Tempo that is played slower than Adagio). and to convey the sad mood, playing it correctly demands a high degree of interpretation on the part of the pianist.

 Gryaznov was not concerned with changing the interpretation of the piece when writing his "Transcription. What he wanted to do was to use Mahler's string piece. add a piano to the strings and harp section and play his Transcription at the piano, using the high notes to imitate the sound of the strings and harp and the low-sounding notes to imitate the sound of the piano. And to make the piece Unique, played it at the piano using only his left hand. 

When he rehearsed, however, he did not get the sound of strings and piano that he wanted, so he determined that for the audience to be able to hear the sound of the piano, as he played the strings in the upper range notes of the keyboard with one hand, it required that he hit a low key very hard first, and keep its sound vibrating, by applying the piano pedal, and when the sound was still vibrating and still could be heard play the higher notes imitating the strings. That Created the effect. He admits it is difficult and that it requires technique on the part of the pianist.  So, maybe because in this particular Transcription, Gryaznov actually created a new sound to Mahler's Symphony, and make the work unique by decided to play it with only one hand, he may have also decided to included his  own name, next to Mahler's name in his concert program.

Being one of the concert pianists with big hands, strong fingers with perfect digitalization, and capable to execute Liszt, (1811-1886) at the piano, for the third piece of his concert Gryaznov played, Liszt's Spanish Rhapsody as written, not as a transcription, and his performance was superb.

By perfectly marking the different beats of the gypsies' dances, he managed to bring alive those dancing the dances, allowing us to see them in our minds. The tall slender males dressed in black, with their curbed back, a hat on their head and their arms stretched in the air over their heads clicking their fingers as the heels of their boots stomp the floor in a fast "taconeo" (The name of the sound produced by the heels of the flamencos, as the gypsy men are called, kicking the floor rhythmically). The skirts of the gypsy women twirling in the wind as they dance around a camp fire clicking their castanets (That the pianist imitated rhythmically in the middle range notes) and even "The canto hondo" (the lament-sounding singing of the Flamencos playing their guitars (Played in the low-sounding notes of the piano stretching their sound) All the different rhythms, of the  Jota, the  Flamenco, The Sevillanas, that Liszt imitated in his Rhapsody and embellished with running scales, fast arpeggios, and loud chords, were played with ease by Gryaznov, with the ease that only a  master player can replicate  because of the speed and  technique required. He played Liszt perfectly that night in a magnificent interpretation that absorbed the spirit of Spain. In our opinion, this was his best work in the night's program. Applause followed the piece that ended the first part of the program.

photos i.jpeg

The second part of Gryasnov's concert was dedicated to Russian composers: Alexander Borodin, (1833-l887)  String Concert #2, Peter Tchaikovsky (l840-1893)  The Waltz of the Flowers from his ballet The Nutcracker, and Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) songs Night is mournful Op 26 No 12, How Fair this spot Op 21 No 7, Vocalise Op 34 No 14, and Italian Polka. The works, were not his Transcriptions, but played as originally written by the composers.

The Boradin piece was s lovely piece based on a melodic theme which we hear several times as it moves from the high notes, to the middle range notes and then to the lower notes. When repeated, the theme is embellished by chords or slightly changed. And if we have seen the Nutcracker Ballet, we all are familiar with the Flower Waltz, which in the ballet is danced by a group of ballerinas wearing white tutus. Tchaikovsky's piano's arrangement allows the melody to float over the keyboard like clouds stretching over the sky, and when embellished with chords sounded lovely. Gryaznov's interpretation was followed by applause

And the Rachmaninoff's songs, which many of us were not familiar with, but like most of Rachmaninoff's music, were rich in texture, varied in harmonies and difficult in their chords' progressions, fast scales, changes in volume and tempo and technical and were all executed by Grayaznov with the proper technique, and feeling. The pieces were also the proper ending to his masterful Unique concert.