From Russia with Love

By Michael Pearl

Alexander Pashkov

Maestro Alexander Pashkov is a Russian with Mexican spirit. There is no question that Pashkov has a uniquely intense style of playing which sweeps up the audience in its all-encompassing, transcendental whirlwind and leaves it hovering in a space that makes you feel you are in the presence of the composer whose works Pashkov is playing. Alex Pashkov is a multi-talented, Russian-born pianist, who will play one concert only on Sunday, November 17, 4pm, at St. Paul’s Church, calle Cardo 6. He is well known in San Miguel de Allende for having accompanied virtuoso American violinist Timothy Fain for us a few years ago. His playing so impressed audiences that they demanded Pashkov return to give solo recitals. He did return last season and gave two scintillating solo recitals for Pro Musica, which were widely acclaimed.

Pro Musica Concert Series
Pianist Alexander Pashkov
Sun, Nov 17, 4pm
St. Paul’s Church
Cardo 6
100/200/300 pesos

Alex, now 40, grew up in a musical family; his father, Alexander Vasilevich Pashkov, was also a pianist and teacher, and directed Pashkov junior’s early musical studies. At the age of 14, Pashkov entered the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory in his native St. Petersburg, where his teachers were the famed Professor Matygulin and the composer Nesterov. In 1992, he won the nomination of Young Talent of Russia in the inaugural Ippolitov-Ivanov competition in Moscow, graduating the following year as the Conservatory’s outstanding pianist. In 1995, he went on to win the prestigious Gartow Stiftung in Hamburg, with an additional special award for his performance of Chopin.

Pashkov continued in a teaching career at the Art Liceum in St. Petersburg and won an award as Best Teacher. He is currently Professor of Piano at the Conservatory of Las Roses, Morelia’s outstanding music academy and the oldest conservatory in the Americas. Pashkov teaches the history and theory of music and European philosophy of pianism. He 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 working on a book entitled The Philosophy of Music.

Pashkov’s playing is a finely balanced amalgam of his rigorous Russian technical training combined with a spiritual connection to the music that can sometimes be seen in the trance-like expression of ecstasy on his face, conveying that he is one with the composer in another world. In my view, he is far and away the most brilliant pianist living in Mexico. Pashkov himself, actually the most modest of men, nevertheless says that he plays as well as the incomparable Horowitz. Wherever you place him in the canon of pianists, there is no doubt that his performances are technically brilliant and utterly compelling. It is for that reason Pro Musica has invited him back to continue his exploration of the classical romantic piano repertoire.

This concert features works by those classic romantic composers whose works continue to thrill audiences. It will be an evening full of romance, reflection and imagery. The musical energy is youthful, yet suggestive of all that matures into wisdom with enduring results. Schubert’s Grose Sonata’s three movements offer harmonic beauty within a framework of solemnity and playfulness. Contrasts abound and the complexity of this work will surely impress. Sadly, Schubert died before he could hear his composition performed in public—a poignant fact that makes this performance of this grand sonata—all the more special.

Mendelssohn’s Seven Characteristic Piece offers an eclectic treat of lyrical beauty, whimsy and nostalgia. This piece epitomizes a young man entering adulthood. Only 18 years old, Mendelssohn’s popular melodies that weave throughout the sentimental music surely attest to the composer’s reconciling the innocence of youth as it rushes inevitably towards the apprehensiveness of adulthood. Tempo, moods and keys swing back and forth in this wondrous work set the listener on his/her own personal journey of yearning and nostalgia.

Grieg’s Lyric Pieces vividly paint images of nature, loneliness and mystery. Fifteen titles make up this stirring collection. Each piece conveys a scene; a variety of moods fills the air as distinctive images seem to float through the music. The listener is transported to another time where life was simpler and love flourished in leaps and bounds. You will most likely recognize the famous Wedding Day at Troldhaugen—the final piece in this highly appealing work. Such is the happy note Grieg leaves with us.

Tickets for the concert, at 100/200/300 pesos donation each, are available at La Tienda in the Biblioteca, Insurgentes 25; Solutions, Mesones 57; La Conexión, Aldama 3; 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 Pro Musica brings to San Miguel, our unique Rhythm, Rhyme & Reason program, teaching music in underprivileged schools in the campo, and our work in the city’s orphanages, 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 as US$100 per year, is US tax deductible, and includes many benefits, such as complimentary concert tickets and Meet the Artists suppers and cocktail parties. For information on all of Pro Musica’s concerts for the 2013-2014 season and Patron Membership, please visit our website:


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