Casts a Spell over his Audience

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By Iride Aparicio

Photos Courtesy: Steinway Society

SAN JOSÉ, CA – Following a 24 year tradition of Concerts, and on this year, honoring the Romantic era (l825-l900) which saw the birth of the first celebrity pianists who free themselves from the musical forms, imposed to them by the royal courts and the church, and for the first time began expressing themselves in individual, “romantic” emotional works, the STEINWAY SOCIETY The Bay Area, continued its Season with a RACHMANINOFF Concert by 21st-century Romantic Russian pianist VYACHESLAV GRYAZNOV

Born in Yuzhno Sakhalinsk,young GRYAZNOV started thrilling his audience in Russia with his piano mastery since his early childhood. He studied music in Moscow,  and graduated with honors from the Central Music School of the Moscow State Conservatory where he continued as a Post Graduate student and is now on the teaching faculty of its Piano Department.

The pianist’s fame is evident by the many awards he had received in international competitions, among them the Moscow Rubinstein competition and To the Memory of Rachmaninov competition in Italy. 

And his fame  continues to grow in Europe and in the USA where he had appeared in prestigious venues like the Berlin’s Philharmonie in Germany and Carnegie Hall in New York.     

During his RACHMANINOFF concert,  which included Ten preludes , op, 23 and Six moments musicaux, Op. 26,  GRYAZNOV greeted his audience from the stage, walked to the grand piano, sat on the piano bench, with his back perfectly straight, shut  his eyes and remained silent, in intense concentration for a few seconds. After that, he exercised  his fingers over the keyboard, placed both his hands on the piano keys and began playing.


His selection of RACHMANINOV’s Preludes were varied in their style, harmony,tempo, rhythm, and difficulty. Each one  demanding a different playing technique.

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The  F sharp minor (Largo) Prelude was constructed on a four note theme that shifted all over the piano where one could hear it sounding differently in the upper keys, in the lower keys, or changed and embellished. In his performance, the pianist allowed the theme to be heard heard clearly’

More difficult in its execution was his second Prelude in B-flat major.(Maestoso) which GRAYZNOV played majestically, as the music demanded, allowing every note in the arpeggios to be heard clearly yet not loud, as his fingers ascended and descended the piano notes rapidly with his right hand and his left hand crossed over it, several times.

The Prelude in D minor (tempo di minuetto) as it name indicates is a minuette with a six- note theme that is heard in different tonalities, maybe because of modulation to different keys. More beautiful in sound, was The  Prelude in D major (andante Cantabile) a romantic piece with no recurring theme, smooth in sound but with contrasting dynamics which include Fortes.

The next one Prelude in G minor (Alla Marcia) is called a martial (suggestive of war) for its rhythmic elegance. which has a Marked beat similar to the beat of the Spanish Flamenco dance, specially at the end, where the tempo was well marked by the music and increases in loudness.  v His E flat minor Andante (written when Rachmaninoff daughter was born) has a beautiful sound. It has a four- note theme that does not change, but sounds different when it shifts and is heard played in the high notes, in the middle range notes or in the lower notes. The theme continues changing sound on until the end when it gets embellished.

In his C minor (Allegro) GRYAZNOV let his long thin fingers go wild over the keyboard playing arpeggios up and down the keyboard. It was one of his best interpretations. It was followed by another fast piece, an A-flat major Allegro Vivace where a theme repeats several times at fast tempo. It was also masterfully interpreted. His E-flat minor Presto  was really fast.  The Prelude is based on a 5 note theme and a series of fast scales whose notes seem to climb through the scaled in rapid succession and then  slide down. The piece was difficult but playing arpeggios and octaves ascending and descending at fast speed seem to fit the dexterity of  the pianist long fingers. He knows he is good doing it and he seems enjoy the challenge.  The first part of the concert ended with a a G-flat major (largo) Prelude.

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The  Six Moments Musicaux Op. 16. written by RACHMANINOFF with the purpose to be sold present difficulties to any pianist. They include a B-flat minor (Andantino), an E-flat minor (Allegretto) a B-minor (Andante Cantabile) an E-minor (Presto) a D-flat major (Adagio sostenuto) and a C major (Maestoso). The ones we will mention are the Allegretto that as its name indicated moves very fast changing the theme from one hand to the other which the pianist mastered, the  Andante Cantabile which he made it sound beautiful  and his C major Maestoso which sounded majestic.

During his SERGEI RACHMANINOFF Concert at the TRIANON THEATRE, on February 10th, GRYAZNOV kept his audience  captivated, yet what got him  the longest standing ovation that afternoon, was his encore,  of  PETER ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY Waltz of the Flowers,” from the Ballet “The Nut Cracker Suite.” Listening to his interpretation of the popular waltz. played “his way” with octaves arpeggios and embellishments, invigorated the audience. Played by the artist, TCHAIKOVSKY's melody appeared to jump from the restrains of the keyboard and take a life of it own; and its sound, could only be described as marvelous.

Being a virtuoso pianist, VYACHESLAV GRYAZNOV  interprets, his music, which is different than playing, because interpretation requires perfect Phrasing. In his case, his "touch" of the piano keys is gentle, but the dexterity in the pianist’s fingers allows his audience to listen every single note he plays, GRYAZNOV’s playing is so precise that it allows the audience to listen to the sound of every note clearly.

As a concert pianist, and composer, GRYAZNOV has many attributes. One of them is his dynamics. When playing his music never gives his audience the impression of being loud. because he pounded the piano in his Fortissimos. His pianissimos are always audible. In technique,  his Arpeggios, and his octaves are fluid. As an interpreter of music, he allows his music to breath to rest, to move and to let its sound be heard. When playing, GRYAZNOV seems to submerge himself in the music. Feel it, Transmit his feelings to the audience, and let the audience feel it themselves.

VYACHESLAV GRYAZNOV is on the faculty of the Moscow Conservatory and a visiting professor of piano at Japan’s Kurashiki Sakuyo University of Science and Arts. In 2016  he entered Yale University at their invitation, and was awarded the Artist Diploma in 2018. He now gives concerts in Europe and USA and his His transcriptions for piano are published by Schott Music, internationally.

S. Rachmaninov - V. Gryaznov. Italian Polka

To hear more of his music repertoire, you can go to VYACHESLAV GRYAZNOV YouTube channel

For information of STEINWAY SOCIETY THE Bay Area up coming concerts go to https://steinwaysociety.com/.