SILICON VALLEY-- Sponsored by the Steinway Society the Bay Area on their 26th Season, HOME CONCERT HALL presented the online streamed recorded performance of Russian Pianist/Composer VYACHESLAV GRYAZNOV, from December 18 to December 21. His concert covered a broad range of classical music, starting with the Baroque Period of Western European Art Music (From 1600 to around 1750) and ended with the Impressionistic Period of European Classical Music (That arose in the late l9th Century and continued into the 20th Century) with a work by Maurice Ravel.
Recorded in New York City, GRYAZNOV's streamed piano concert was instructive in its organization. By selecting to play the "Music Styles" of the different periods of Music in chronological order, starting with works written in the 15th, 16th, 17th l8th and 19th Centuries and ending with a work from RAVEL, his concert allowed his audience not only to listen to the Styles of Classical music created in different Centuries but also to be able to compare their differences..
We should also mention that all the music that VYACHESLAV GRYAZNOV plays in his concerts, is from his own enthralling transcriptions that he is famous for. A transcription of a musical work, may be compared to a music arrangement where the original written notes of the composer's piece remain as written, but , when arranging it, the transcriber may add ornaments to it, vary its tempo, change its dynamics, add arpeggios to the notes or alter something from the original manuscript with the purpose to give the composition "his own" interpretation. Described poetically, we could say improve the sound of the piece by adding his own feelings to the composer's work.
GRYAZNOV's streamed program included: Si Dolce él Tormento, By Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) Organ Fantasia in G Major, BWV 572 by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) Symphony No. 1 in C Major, Op. 21 By Beethoven, (1770-1827) (Trans. Liszt c. l842), Morning Mood and Anitra's Dance from Peer Gynt Suite by Edward Grieg (l843-1907), Addagietto of Symphony No. 5 in C# minor for left hand by Gustav Mahler (1860-l911) Prélude a L'aprés- midi d' un faune L. 86 (Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun) by Claude Debussy (1862-1916) and La Valse, Poème choréogrphique pour orchestre by Maurice Ravel (1875-1937).
In his first streamed concert, GRYAZNOV's interpretations of his transcriptions was seamless. His concert may be described as "Magnificent" and enhanced by the proper use of stage lighting and Focusing on the part of the cameraman who allowed those watching the concert online, to watch closely (panning the action ) to follow the pianists' fingers. speeding up and speeding down the piano keys during his Baroque Tirades and Arpeggios, also focused on his hands to allow us to observe (in Close ups) his hands crossovers, and the Tremolos in his fingers. Being able to actually watch these pianistic details was interesting for the audience because their execution is something that the audience hears, but never sees in live concerts.
Cultural World Bilingual selected to review for our readers, the three Transcriptions from GRYAZNOV's concert that we considered worth mentioning because of their difficulty in execution, uniqueness, or the mastery in their interpretation on the part of the pianist. The first one, the Organ Fantasia in G Major, BWV 572 by JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH
Musically speaking, a Fantasia is a composition in which the composer allows himself to create a composition without conventions of form of style. Nobody knows exactly when BACH composed this particular one, but we learned that the earliest extant manuscripts of the work are from 1710, but that the piece was more likely composed in BACH's early years (1708-17o7) but ot all the musicologists agree with the theory. What we do know, is that the piece was originally written as an Organ's piece, and that BACH shows it, (in some manuscripts) written in three staffs: The top staff, using the G- clef, the middle one changing from the G clef to the Bass-clef and with the third staff also written in the Bass-Clef (for the organ pedal).
GRYASNOV's piano interpretation of the BACH's Organ Fantasia in G Major, BWV 572 was masterful. He started playing it at a presto time, with both his hands close to each other in the mid range of the piano keyboard and every one of his fingers, speeding up and down the piano's keys. There were also a few hands crossovers in this movement. The second movement was slower in its tempo. Like a Fugue, it had a theme and the theme moved to different keys. And when in speed the second part was slower, its contrapuntal melodic line and its arpeggios in both hands, made it difficult to play because each hand was playing a different melodic line togethar but in counterpuntal fashion, with the left hand going down the notes in the keyboard, and the right hands playing the upper notes in the keyboard, so the fingers were moving fast, each playing different melodies and he the hands moving in opposite directions.
For the pianist, to play this piece is difficult. It requires total concentration and an impeccably memory on his part to be able to play the correct melodies in each hand. And because of the speed, it also requires great dexterity in his fingers. We also need to remember that a pianist playing BACH also requires that the sound of every written note must be heard clearly by its listener. We could say here that in his interpretation of the Organ Fantasia in G Major, BWV 572 by JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH the GRYASNOV met all the requisites.
Beethoven: Symphony No 1 in C Major, Op. 21(Trans. Liszt 1842) was selected for two reasons: The piano piece is a symphony, that was Transcribed for the piano by composer and concert pianist Franz Liszt. and to play it properly it requires a difference in piano's styles. The original work was composed by Ludwig Van Beethoven in l800, to make his debut as a composer of symphonies and it was dedicated to Baron Gottfried Van Swieten, who had been an early patron of the composer. When Beethoven first presented it, however, his symphony was criticized by the Viennese critics because it opens with a dominant chord in F major instead of a chord in its key (C major). The critics also mentioned his extreme use of Scalar figures and its theme, because it is played not only in a variety of keys but often heard as an inversion.
When years later (l863) Liszt, who had previously transcribed other Beethoven's symphonies for piano, and even played them, was asked by his publisher to transcribe the complete set of Beethoven's symphonies. When Listz transcribed it, he suggested in his transcription that (being a symphony) to interpret it properly, the pianist had to be able to imitate the different sounds of the orchestra's instruments at the piano. He even notated (in the score of his transcription) the instruments of the orchestra that the pianist had to imitate, and also the pedal marks, and the piano keys' fingering.
Knowing these facts, when we listen to GRYAZNOV's playing the piece during his streamed concert, we noticed that he managed to imitate, the sounds of different orchestra's instruments (at the piano) and even the sound of the full orchestra, in the lower range of his instrument, which was interesting. But what in our opinion, made his playing of this particular piece worth mentioning, was his ability to play piano, in two different styles. When we Listened attentively, to his interpretation of the piece, we were able to detect the different styles: he played some parts of the piece using the solemn piano style of Beethoven and other parts using the flourished style of Liszt's .
And at the end, we decided to review, Gustav Mahler's Adagietto from symphony No 5 for Left hand, because of the "uniqueness of the piano piece, which is actually played in the left hand from beginning to end.Written information informs us that Mahler wrote the piece for his brother, who also was a pianist, when he lost the use of his right hand, but the information was never verified.
GRYAZNOV began the piece softly with the left hand moving to the upper notes to play the melody and then jumping rapidly to the lower range notes to play the accompaniment, in some passages, holding the pedal. to allow the accompanying chords to "resonate" in the background accompanying the melodic notes. Making the piece sound melodically, requires perfect timing on the pianist, because the piece must sound as a melody played with chords, but to get that effect the left hand had to move rapidly from the high notes to the lower keys to play the chords, without skipping a single beat, As the piece progresses, the notes in the lower range take precedence, and get louder, but , we the audience, still must be able to listen to the beauty of melodic line.which is not easy . If GRYAZNOV's interpretation of the Addagietto, was also one of his Transcriptions, it was "Unique."
And we will end our review by mentioning that also "Unique." in this streaming, is that pianist VYACHESLAV GRYAZNOV' allows his audience to listen to three Centuries of different styles of Classical music in a single concert.
For those who missed watching the concert, the good news, is that pianist GRYAZNOV's second CD will be on the market at the end of January and that some of the pieces that he played in this concert are in his CD. We suggest that those interested in purchasing the CD contact the Steinway Society Organization Steinwaysociety.com or call (408) 300-5635 for more information.