St Petersburg, Concert Hall

Daniil Trifonov and Sergei Babayan


X Mariinsky International Piano Festival
In memory of Vera Gornostaeva

PERFORMERS:
Sergei Babayan (piano)
Daniil Trifonov (piano)


PROGRAMME:
Robert Schumann
Andante and Variations in B Flat Major for Two Pianos, Op. 46

Franz Schubert
Fantasie in F Minor for Four Hands, Op. 103

Johannes Brahms
Hungarian Dances

Sergei Rachmaninoff
Suite No 1 for Two Pianos, Op. 5
Suite No 2 for Two Pianos, Op. 17

 

In memory of Vera Gornostayeva

Artist, teach your pupil so that in the future
there is someone to learn from...

Yevgeny Vinokurov

Somehow it happened that in common use the first word of this epigraph was changed for another, giving the aphorism a broader meaning: “Teacher, teach your pupil...” Vera Vasilievna Gornostayeva (Vera meaning “Faith” in Russian) was an outstanding artist, but first and foremost she was a great teacher and a mentor to several generations of pianists. She began to appear on the concert stage regularly when she already had pupils of her own who had won prizes. To put it another way, literally in the spirit of the epigraph, the atmosphere of her lessons with talented pupils gave her confidence for her own artistic claims.
“I more than love music. I live in it, it feeds me every imaginable way. And so I want to be able to teach a pupil somehow,” Vera Vasilievna said in one interview marking her birthday. By happy coincidence she was born on 1 October – the International Day of Music. And even after reaching the age of eighty-five, directing the faculty of special piano at the Moscow Conservatoire, she personally taught students and led a full artistic life. Here in one person was a teacher of a plethora of famous students, a pianist worthy of admiration and a talented and vivid writer – she wrote books, reviews and essays about the art of performance. Any of these hypostases will reveal that her name has never been forgotten.
“Vera is a unique treasure born from the hands of the great maestro Heinrich Neuhaus. She was a first-class performer and professor. Her mind, proud and undamaged despite all the sudden and sharp twists of Russian history, was strong as steel and at the same time flexible...” (from the foreword by pianist Hiroko Nakamura for the Japanese edition of Gornostayeva’s book Two Hours after the Concert, 2001). In France a special piece of research called The Gornostayeva Method was published.
Not limiting herself to lessons at the conservatoire, Gornostayeva organised concerts with her students and conducted master-classes throughout the country. In the 1980s she hosted a series of TV programmes called The Open Piano. Ogonyok magazine awarded her a prize for the best publicistic articles on music education and educating the audience. In her late years, the pianist headed the Moscow Union of Musicians.
Major conservatoires and music academies throughout the world offered Vera Gornostayeva professorships. But her entire life, even during the country’s most difficult periods, was dedicated to serving her own alma mater. “Change to another conservatoire? Just think that when I’m walking along the corridor and I know that here Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff and Scriabin all walked... What conservatoire could replace all that?” Gornostayeva exclaimed. Though the pianist did give master-classes across the globe. Her lessons were a particular success in Japan and were broadcast by a major broadcasting company. A book was also published to help audiences prepare for the series of broadcasts.
Vera Gornostayeva’s acclaimed pupils let their own children study in her capable hands. Musicians often lovingly refer to their favourite teachers as “mums” and “dads”. Vera Gornostayeva had thousands of musical children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. It is for them to continue the creative and educational dynasty, passing on “Vera’s baton” from generation to generation.
Iosif Raiskin

About the Concert

In the summer of 1893 Sergei Rachmaninoff, inspired by the success of his recently premiered opera Aleko at the Bolshoi Theatre, went on to compose works one after another. The composer’s imagination was taken by the unforgettable summer months of 1890 which he spent with the Skalon sisters on an estate at Ivanovka in the Tambovsky District. His unrequited love for Vera, the younger sister, flows throughout Rachmaninoff’s correspondence with many hints and words left unsaid. The words of these unspoken emotions come to the surface in his music, the most striking instance being in the First Piano Suite for Two pianos. The first two parts of the suite – the Barcarolle (the epigraph from an article by Lermontov) and La Nuit... L’Amour... (the epigraph from an article by Byron) make us remember the famed languor of Wagner’s operas. The young composer expressed his tense and lyrical emotions in a manner at one with beautiful scenes of nature, inventively imitating the splashing of waves or a nightingale singing.
In the two other sections of the suite, before us we see an earlier impression of Rachmaninoff: “One of the most dear childhood memories I have is of the four notes that rang out from the chiming of the great bells of the St Sofia Cathedral in Novgorod.” The third section, Les Larmes (the epigraph from Tyutchev’s Human Tears), is based on a motif from the four “silver” bell notes that Rachmaninoff had associated with the thought of tears since his childhood. This motif develops with such tense instability that it seems to continue the psychological line of the second section. In the finale (Pâques, with an epigraph from verse by Khomyakov) there is the church chant Christ Is Risen and one can hear large and small bells ringing out, though the music sounds more elementally stimulated than triumphant.

Written at the same time as the Second Piano Concerto (1900–1901), Suite No 2 has much in common with it. The similarities of the musical images in these works even gave Vera Bryantseva the impetus to state that “Suite No 2 for Two Pianos may be called a series of études for the Second Concerto.” Unlike the programmatic First Suite, in the Second Suite Rachmaninoff gave the sections only very generalised titles: Introduction, Waltz, Romance and Tarantella. The languid lyricism of the Romance and the middle section of the Waltz are reminiscent in the details of the ravishing music of the slow section of the concerto. The quick sections of the Suite (the Introduction, outer parts of the Waltz and the Tarantella) are as if woven from the same sound threads as the finale of the concerto where Rachmaninoff became definitively convinced in his ideas of eternity and the enchanting beauty of the surrounding world.
Marina Iovleva

Age category 6+

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