Russian pianist Alexander Pashkov plays two programs for Pro Musica

By Beverly Russell

The multi-talented, Russian-born pianist, Alexander Pashkov, will play two programs in Pro Musica’s condert series, (please note the earlier concert time for Sunday). He came to the attention of Pro Musica audiences in last year’s season, when he accompanied the virtuoso American violinist Timothy Fain. The two musicians had never met until an hour or so before their first pre-concert rehearsal. The symbiosis was magical and unforgettable—and prompted Pro Musica President Michael Pearl to invite Pashkov to give two solo recitals in 2012.

Music, Pro Musica Concert Series, Pianist Alexander Pashkov, Sat, Jan 21, 5pm & Sun, Jan 22, 4pm, St. Paul’s Church, Calle Cardo 6, 100/150/250,,

Pashkov, 37, is the son of pianist and teacher Alexander Vasilevich Pashkov, who directed his childhood musical studies. At the age of 14, the young Pashkov was accepted at the St. Petersburg Conservatory and at 22 took first prize in a prestigious piano competition in Moscow. Subsequently, he pursued a teaching career at the Art Liceum in St. Petersburg and won a Best Teacher award.

Since then, his career has rocketed forward with numerous concert tours throughout Europe. His repertoire demonstrates his emphasis on orchestral performance. He plays seven concertos by Mozart, four by Beethoven, including the Triple Concerto Op. 56, Rachmaninoff’s second and third, Chopin’s first and second, in addition to the well known works by Schumann, Ravel, Grieg and Tschaikovsky. But Pashkov is by no means a predictable soloist in the classical genre. He also plays jazz and has performed Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. Fortunately for us, he now lives in our own backyard, based at the Conservatory de Las Rosas in Morelia, one of the most prestigious musical colleges in Latin America, where he teaches history, theory and philosophy of pianism in Europe. He is also working on a book, The Philosophy of Music.

Instead of dividing his Pro Musica programs into two specific musical eras, Classical and Romantic, Pashkov has chosen to give us some of both at each concert. For those who like the Romantic composers, the second part of both concerts falls into this category. On Saturday, he will play three works by Chopin—Scherzo No l, Op. 20 in B minor, Nocturne Op 31, No. 1 in B major and Sonata No. 3. in B minor, Op 58. On Sunday we will hear three works by Schumann—Arabesque, Variations on Clara Wieck’s Theme, and the Piano Sonata No. 1, Op. 11. Pianist Clara Wieck and Schumann were unfortunate lovers, prevented from marrying by Wieck’s father. Until they eventually overcame his objections in 1840, when she was 21, (they had known each other since she was 15), they communicated through letters and music and the Variations were part of this exchange. They are contained in Schumann’s Grand Sonata No. 3 in F minor, but are often played separately.

The opening half of Saturday’s concert comprises five Scarlatti sonatas, the Bach-Busoni Chaconne and Haydn’s Sonata in C minor, No. 20. Despite being contemporaries born in the same year—Scarlatti 1685 to 1757 and Bach 1685 to 1750—these two composers had markedly different musical influences.

Domenico Scarlatti was Italian and spent most of his life in Portugal and Spain in service of the royal families. His piano compositions reflect Iberian folk music, flamenco and the guitar. Bach’s German heritage gives us memorable works for multiple performers, instruments and vocalists in the grand Baroque tradition. Pashkov is playing a piano transcription of the Charconne by Ferruccio Busoni, the last movement of Bach’s very familiar Partita No. 2 in D minor for solo violin, considered one of the most difficult pieces to play for that instrument and required in the repertoire for any violin competition.

Brahms wrote of this particular piece of music as having the deepest “world thoughts and powerful feelings.” He added that if he could have written it himself, he might has lost his mind. Aside from a piano version, the Charconne has been transcribed for other instruments including flute, bassoon, and organ. Andres Segovia even transcribed it for guitar and conductor Leopold Stokowski for full orchestra. It is a pinnacle piece for all performers.

The opening half of Sunday’s concert comprises Bach’s Partita No. 4 in D major, consisting of seven movements, and the Piano Sonata No. 31 in A-flat major by Haydn. Bach’s keyboard Partitas are considered some of the most technically demanding works and Pashkov’s programs on both days will indeed reflect his virtuosity in pianism.

Both concerts are at St. Paul’s church, Calle Cardo 6. Tickets are available at La Tienda in the Biblioteca, Insurgentes 25; La Conexión, Aldama 3; BajioGo, Jesus 11; at the church office, weekdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and at the door half an hour before the concert.

You can help Pro Musica continue to bring great artists like Alexander Pashkov to San Miguel by becoming a Patron Member, from as little as US$100 a year, which includes a range of benefit such as free tickets and suppers with the artists. Part of your donation also goes to fund Pro Musica’s Education Outreach Program, which provides weekly music lessons to over 60 children in disadvantaged areas of the campo around San Miguel. Details of all Pro Musica’s concerts and Patron Membership are on our web site, or contact us at

Beverly Russell,, is the author of several books on the arts. Her forthcoming book, Espacios, will be published shortly.

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