Smirnov took me by surprise. I had bought that record a while ago when I did some research about the Moldavian-Austrian violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaya, but hadn’t listened to it actually. So, on a frosty, foggy winter morning, I selected that record while driving to the office. It usually takes me half an hour or so and when I had left the valley and cleared the fog the sun was just about to rise over the horizon. I admired the spectacular colors of the sky and at the same time I heard the first bars of Smirnov’s Elegy for Cello Solo, op. 97a. At first I didn’t quite understand what was happening, but somehow I had to leave the main road, stop the car and watch and listen. And get out and shoot that picture.
Imagine this: A young, eager student, firmly set to become a pianist-composer, with his talent at the piano confirmed at early age, is being refused for a post-graduate piano class because of “insufficient maturity”. Several months later, having finally been admitted, he starts to compose his first symphony, his graduation task. He finishes it ten months later and his work causes ripples in the music scene at home and abroad.
No offense meant, but I can’t stand it when you people treat my favorite Russian composers on Twitter like a space rocket where only the first stage carries a payload and the second stage can be discarded after lift-off. “Tchaik6” or “Rach2” – I will have none of that. Today it will be Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Opus 18 full stop. I had the immense pleasure to hear it performed yesterday at the Philharmonie de Luxembourg under the Czech conductor Juraj Valcuha and the Russian pianist Mikhail Pletnev for the solo part. A delightful evening! Continue reading!