Romantic Russian pianist Alexander Pashkov plays San Miguel
By Veronica Byrne and Bryan Townsend
Pro Musica presents multi-talented Russian-born pianist Alexander Pashkov, who will play two recitals, Saturday and Sunday, January 12 and 13, at 5pm at St. Paul’s Church, calle Cardo. Pashkov first played for Pro Musica two seasons ago and returns after his stunning recitals for us last season. Pashkov, 38, had a musical family; his father was a pianist and teacher and directed his early musical studies. He was accepted into the Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) Conservatory at 14, and took first prize in a prestigious piano competition in Moscow at 22. Pashkov went on to a teaching career at Art Liceum in St. Petersburg and won a Best Teacher award.
Pro Musica Concert Series
Pianist Alexander Pashkov
Sat & Sun, Jan 12 & 13, 5pm
St. Paul’s Church, calle Cardo 6
100, 200, 300 pesos
He has given numerous concert tours throughout Europe and his repertoire is vast, and now lives in Morelia, Michoacán, where he teaches history, theory and European philosophy of pianism at the prestigious Conservatory de Las Rosas, the oldest conservatory in the Americas. Pashkov is the author of a book on the performing analysis of Chopin’s etudes, a collection of essays on the ethics of performance and methods of learning a technically demanding repertoire, and is currently writing a book entitled, The Philosophy of Music.
The weekend’s two concerts are entirely different. On Saturday the program features works by great Austrian composers. These include Haydn’s Piano Sonata No. 52, widely considered to be his finest. Mozart is represented by his Fantasia in C minor, a piece encompassing glorious, wandering harmonies and nebulous galactic themes. Beethoven’s work will be an early piano sonata in C major. It is a virtuoso piece with spectacular passages, demanding an accomplished technique to play. In his day, Beethoven was the only pianist in Vienna capable of bringing it off. The program is completed by Schubert’s Adagio in G major, a lovely example of early romantic piano music. While the melody could easily have been inspired by Italian opera, the harmony has a touching chromatic color and progresses to a floating trance-like state. The program finishes with Johannes Brahms Three Intermezzi, dating from the autumnal period of his life, full of serenity and meditative moods.
Sunday’s program is devoted to the Russian Masters and Chopin. We start with Alexander Borodin’s Au couvent, the first movement of his Petite Suite for piano. The composer described it as “The Church’s vows foster thoughts only of God” and it captures a uniquely Russian mood of mysticism. We continue with Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C-sharp minor, one of his most famous compositions which represents a culmination of the Romantic idiom.
With Alexander Scriabin we move into the 20th century and hear his Piano Sonata No. 4. It is written in a post-Romantic style with the first movement expressive and calm and the second movement, celebratory and climatic.
The program ends with two sublime works by Chopin, starting with his Andante spianato in G major and the linked Grande polonaise brillante in E-flat major. The quiet rippling effects of the introductory section give way to a serene movement. This contrasts strikingly with the fanfare opening of the polonaise, which then moves into an ebullient dance form.
The final works are Chopin’s exquisite Études, which are the foundation of a new system of technical piano playing that was radical and revolutionary. They are some of the most challenging and evocative pieces of all the works in the piano repertoire. The music is ever popular with audiences, some to the extent that they have nicknames; such as the most popular of all, the Revolutionary Étude (Op. 10, No. 12).
Tickets for the Alexander Pashkov concerts at St. Paul’s Church, Saturday and Sunday, January 12 and 13, both at 5pm are 300, 200 and 100 pesos donation, and can be purchased at any of our ticket sales outlets: La Tienda La Biblioteca, Insurgentes 25; Solutions, Mesones 57; St. Paul’s Church, calle Cardo 6, Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm, and at the door half an hour before the concert begins.
The quality of the music, opera and dance we bring to San Miguel and our unique Rhythm, Rhyme & Reason program, teaching music in underprivileged schools in the campo costs increasing amounts of money to provide. The best way to help us fund our activities is to become a Patron Member. Patron membership costs as little US$100 per year, is US tax-deductible, and includes many benefits, such as complementary concert tickets and Meet the Artists suppers and cocktail parties. For information on all Pro Musica’s concerts and Patron Membership, visit our website: promusicasma.com.