The Concert Hall of the Mariinsky Theatre is presenting a new series of the Contemporary Piano Faces international festival – there will be concerts together with the Mariinsky Orchestra under the baton of Valery Gergiev as well as recital programmes by unique musicians from various generations and different schools who all have their own “voice”, unlike that of any other performer: Denis Matsuev, Christian Blackshaw, Goran Filipec, Ohad Ben-Ari, Vladimir Milošević, Eric Ferrand-N’Kaoua, Nikita Abrosimov, Ignasi Cambra, Sangwon Kim, Edisher Savitski and Vakhtang Kodanashvili.
Denis Matsuev: “It was a wonderful initiative on behalf of Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Theatre to establish a festival with such a wonderful and subtle name as Contemporary Piano Faces in order to come together and present audiences with utterly different piano schools from all over the world.
“Of course, it is important to understand that the Soviet (Russian) piano school is, in my opinion, the best; first and foremost, it brought to life the art of singing on the piano, it existed in the “closed” USSR in a kind of detached manner. Today young pianists have the opportunity to take master classes and change their teachers. And so the various piano schools, including the Russian one, have mixed together. And I believe there’s something positive about that.
“At the Contemporary Piano Faces festival you will be able to see different generations and different schools. That is just great, because piano music is tremendously popular throughout the world.”
Valery Gergiev has stated that the festival’s task is to invite musicians to St Petersburg who have already won international acclaim but who are, as yet, less well known in Russia and to introduce new names and clear the path for young talents as well as to popularise piano music.
The Contemporary Piano Faces-2013 festival will cover numerous themes. Pianists from different generations who have had differing performing experiences with different traditions will all come together here: Denis Matsuev opens the festival with the Mariinsky Orchestra under maestro Gergiev (14 and 15 April), while the festival comes to a conclusion with a recital by British pianist Christian Blackshaw, a subtle lyricist and an intellectual, whose concert programme this time features works by Schumann and Schubert (21 April). Over the course of a week, these acclaimed maestri’s performances will “frame” diverse programmes performed by the festival’s young participants: Croatian pianist Goran Filipec will be performing on 16 April, followed by Ohad Ben-Ari from Israel on 17 April. On 18 April at an evening of chamber music audiences will have the chance to discover cellist Dragan Đorđević and pianist Vladimir Milošević from Serbia. 19 April will see a performance by French pianist Eric Ferrand-N’Kaoua.
In line with tradition, the festival will be presenting students from a particular school – this time from the Alexander Toradze Piano Studio (Nikita Abrosimov, Ignasi Cambra, Sangwon Kim, Edisher Savitski and Vakhtang Kodanashvili), who will perform two concerts (20 April at 12:00 and 19:00).
Alexander Toradze speaking about his studio and its students: “In 1991, after being appointed Martin endowed professor of piano at Indiana University South Bend (USA), I began to invite talented young musicians from Russia, Georgia and other countries to my studio. That’s how the Toradze Studio emerged. Studio performances, known in the Soviet era and even prior to that as “class concerts” were (and possibly still are) a fine tradition at numerous conservatoires and music schools. The Studio’s first performance took place in 1994 at New York’s Steinway Hall. In 1995 Valery Gergiev invited musicians from the Studio to the Stars of the White Nights festival in St Petersburg where we performed almost every work for piano composed by Stravinsky and Prokofiev. This year the Studio’s musicians have been invited to participate in the Contemporary Piano Faces festival. For me – as a teacher – it is impossible to describe these talented pianists and marvellous people in just one word. I can say that they are all very gifted, each very different, but all equally dedicated to music. The one thing that they all share is their passion for music. Each of them, however, has a different notion of what passion is – in music as well as in life.”
The festival will be focussing in particular on Romantic music – works by Schubert, Schumann, Chopin, Brahms, Liszt and Rachmaninoff.