Our guest pianist Alexander Ghindin, an Honored Artist of the Russian Federation and laureate of international competitions, arrived in Armenia to participate in the “Music 20” international online festival. This festival, held on July 10-28 is a significant event in the cultural life of Armenia. “Music-20” was organized by the European Foundation for Support of Culture and the Karen Demirchyan Sports and Concerts Complex in Yerevan, Armenia. The Armenian State Symphony Orchestra was the official orchestra of the festival, performing under the baton of Sergey Smbatyan. Launched with the financial support of the European Foundation for Support of Culture led by Konstantin Ishkhanov, the event has taken good care of the safety of the musicians. After several months of the compulsory halting of the cultural life, famous musicians from different parts of the world arrived in Armenia to deliver presented high-quality performances of classical music and a diverse repertoire to the classical music lovers online.
Our talk with with Alexander Ghindin evolved around the “Music-20” festival, his special love for Armenia, musical life in the conditions of a pandemic and related issues.
-Mr. Ghindin, how long have you not been on stage?
-This is my second performance after a long break. I had a concert in Novosibirsk dedicated to the Great Patriotic War a week ago. However, that concert was also audience-free and live streamed online. Unfortunately, concerts with audiences are not being held yet and performances in concert halls with and without listeners are entirely different things. I can’t say one is better or worse than the other, because performing without an audience is what an artist does in parallel with their concert activity. It is similar to the work done in the studio during a recording, which also gives one a creative gratification. Performing online is also exciting and full of memorable feelings. Of course, I miss the audience a lot. I have not “met” listeners since March.
-And how did you react when you received an invitation to participate in the “Music 20” festival?
-It was a great joy, because first and foremost I had missed the interaction with my colleagues, and then, visiting Yerevan, as always, is a great delight to me. I adore your country, this city. I love the people who live here. I think Armenia is one of the best places in the world. And I am very sincere about this.
-During the “Music 20” festival you played Schnittke’s concerto for piano and string orchestra. Was that your choice?
-I also played Mozart. Yes, I chose the program myself. I was offered to play with a chamber orchestra. That’s why when selecting the program I focused on the fact that I was performing with a small group. And I think I made the right choice, considering that the musicians would be seated at a distance from each other. I like this concerto by Schnittke very much, and in my opinion, it is the most important work written for piano and string orchestra in the 20th century. It is indeed a very profound, large-scale work, comparable with Dante’s “Divine Comedy”. In fact, they convey the same ideas of creation, life, self-awareness. It is a very philosophical, deep and bright concerto and has a great effect on the listener of all sorts. It impresses both professionals and those who are not closely associated with classical music. I always play this composition with excitement.
-I am having an impression is that this concerto has a special place in your creative life.
-I have many years of connection with this work and have recorded it many times. I’ve recorded it with the “Moscow Virtuosi” orchestra and the conductor Vladimir Spivakov and although I have lived with this music so long, my feelings from its notes are still the same.
-The pandemic has had a great impact on the course of our lives, including culture. Do you think online broadcasting is a temporary solution or a new opportunity for the future?
-This situation has, in fact, affected musicians. Moreover, it has affected everyone in a different way, because we are all different. But you know, I personally do not regret these months spent at home. I was a chance to practice and just play the piano. And not just because it is my profession, but also because I understood that such an opportunity to improve my mastery may never ever occur. We all are always busy. The biggest problem of our profession is the lack of time. We do not have time to get used to the material, in the most direct sense of the word. It takes time to perform classical music with high mastery; in fact, daily long-term work. These three or four months I spent at home with my instrument was a unique workout, and I definitely learned something I had never done before. Besides, I have learned a lot of programs in which I take a special pride. As for the new opportunities after the pandemic, we’ll just wait and see.
-At the beginning of the conversation you expressed your affection for Armenia. What do you associate Yerevan with?
-I know what Yerevan is like in summer. It is a big holiday. The city always reminds me of a huge, wonderful guest house with very good people. The city seems to live in a folk masquerade 24 hours a day. Unfortunately, in the current conditions there are certain restrictions, which is unusual. Let’s hope for the situation to be resolved very soon.