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Monday, September 05, 2016 10:00am

Q&A with Alexei Volodin

Alexei Volodin High Res 1 - credit Marco Borggreve - thumbnail.jpg

Acclaimed Russian pianist Alexei Volodin makes his debut with the ASO in September, and chats with us about his take on Brahms’s grand and powerful Second Piano Concerto and who he’d love to meet in a bar…

Can you tell us a little more about Brahms’s Piano Concerto No 2? 
I love and admire its complexity. It’s a piece written in a greatest possible structure, as if it was portraying human life itself. It’s full of moments of both grandeur and intimacy at the same time. I love playing it because I feel myself participating in creating a big symphonic building – an unbelievable feeling of belonging to something greater than you.

Photo credit: Alexei Volodin by Marco Borggreve


What’s it like to take on one of the most challenging works in the repertoire? How do you prepare physically and mentally? 
It’s not an easy task and one has to be prepared to undertake it, musically and technically before you start learning it.  One definitely needs a lot of experience and self-confidence otherwise you won't be able to tackle it. But what I find truly helps is my love for this music. If you are in love with the piece you are playing, then nothing is too difficult.

You’ve performed Brahms’s Piano Concerto No 1. With 22 years between this and his Second, what do you think the later concerto says about Brahms at the height of his compositional power?
Both concertos are incredible and I won't give any preference to either of them. I feel that the Second is more "Olympic", more all-round and not as ultra- romantic" as the First Concerto, yet it feels more symphonic, more sophisticated, perhaps even more masterfully written.

Photo credit: Alexei Volodin by Marco Borggreve


Who do you feel is the most underrated composer? 

What is your most memorable musical experience as an audience member?
There are too many. Pianists, conductors, chamber music...the concert performance of Shostakovich's Katerina Izmailova conducted by Rostropovich. There are so many more experiences – I always try to go to concerts.

Photo credit: Alexei Volodin by Marco Borggreve


Best three places in the world to visit? 
Australia, Mexico, Italy.

Photo credit: Alexei Volodin by Marco Borggreve


Who are three musicians you would most like to meet in a bar?
Definitely Rachmaninov, Chopin and Mahler (not sure they would go to a bar with me though...!).

Photo credit: Alexei Volodin by Marco Borggreve


Alexei Volodin’s repertoire ranges from Beethoven to Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov to Scriabin, Brahms to Medtner.
In recent seasons he has made debuts at the BBC Proms with the London Symphony Orchestra, with the Bournemouth, Swedish Radio, and Danish Radio symphony orchestras, and with the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI, Sinfonia Varsovia, and the Orchestre National de Belgique. Recent concerts have included recitals in the Orkney Islands, Istanbul, the Gulbenkian Foundation in Portugal, in Paris at the Philharmonie, in Beirut (piano music inspired by Shakespeare), and at the Liszt Academy Budapest. Orchestral appearances have included the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra (playing Rachmaninov’s Third Concerto), an all-Gershwin program with the Orquestra Simfónica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya, and concerts in Spain with the Munich Chamber Orchestra. He recently performed Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No.2 with the BBC Symphony Orchestra on tour in Kirkwell in the Orkneys.
Volodin has a long-standing relationship with The Mariinsky Orchestra and Theatre and has been their Artist-In-Residence. His disc of solo Rachmaninov works was released in 2013. He has also recorded a solo CD of Schumann, Ravel and Scriabin, and his earlier Chopin disc won a Choc de Classica and was awarded five stars by Diapason.
A regular artist at festivals around the world, Volodin has performed at the Bad Kissingen Summer Festival, La Roque d’Anthéron, the Festival La Folle Journée, the White Nights Festival in St Petersburg and at the Moscow Easter Festival.
Born in 1977 in Leningrad, Alexei Volodin studied at Moscow’s Gnessin Academy and later with Eliso Virsaladze at the Moscow Conservatoire. In 2001 he continued his studies at the International Piano Academy Lake Como and gained international recognition following his victory at the International Géza Anda Competition in Zurich in 2003. Alexei Volodin is an exclusive Steinway and Sons’ artist.

This article was posted by Michelle Robins, Publications & Communications Coordinator, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.

Romantic Concerto
Fri 09 Sep 8pm
Sat 10 Sep 6.30pm




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