Pashkov at the piano with classical favorites
By Michael Pearl
The extraordinary piano playing of multi-talented, Russian-born pianist Alexander Pashkov will be on display at two Pro Musica concerts on Saturday, February 15, at 5pm and Sunday, February 16, at 4pm, at St. Paul’s Church, calle Cardo 6. Note the earlier Sunday starting time. Pashkov has given several scintillating recitals for Pro Musica in recent seasons, which have been widely acclaimed, and his playing is being compared to that of Vladimir Horowitz.Pro Musica Concert Series Alexander Pashkov, piano Sat, Feb 15, 5pm Sun, Feb 16, 4pm St. Paul’s Church Calle Cardo 6 100/200/300 pesos
Perhaps this is because Pashkov’s playing is a finely balanced amalgam of his rigorous Russian academic training in St. Petersburg, combined with a spiritual connection to the music that can be seen in a trancelike expression of ecstasy on his face as he plays. There is no doubt that his performances are technically brilliant and utterly compelling, with an intensity of playing which sweeps up the audience in its all-encompassing, transcendental whirlwind and leaves it suspended in a space where one feels in the presence of the composer himself.
Pashkov, 40, grew up in a musical family; his father, Alexander Vasilevich Pashkov, was a pianist and teacher, and guided 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 student. In 1995 he went on to win the prestigious Gartow Stiftung in Hamburg, with an additional special award for his performance of Chopin.
On Saturday, Pashkov will perform an outstanding program of epic piano works, including several favorite Mozart pieces; the Adagio in B minor, his Rondo KV 511, Fantasia KV 396 and Rondo 485. The Adagio is a passionate, soul-searching exploration of haunting emotions, whilst the two Rondos are lyrical and totally delicious. Fun, lightness and lyrical melodies characterize them, with one more elegiac, and the other with spicy segments whose key changes add a mysterious depth. Mozart gave his soul free reign in the Fantasia. It is as if he purposely wanted to buck all prior compositional concepts held by the public about his music. Spontaneous aspects of seemingly incongruous elements offer a musical language that is both strange and riveting.
We will also hear Beethoven’s Variations and Fugue on the Eroica theme, and his Sonata No. 31, both works of great compositional brilliance, for which pianist virtuosity is needed to display them at their finest. These pieces collectively include variations, a potpourri of moods and rhythms, and in the case of the three-movement Sonata, almost three separate pieces in their own right.
On Sunday, Pashkov plays Chopin and Debussy, which will caress the air as the music offers a stunning mosaic of shifting harmonies and romantic stirrings. Four timeless works by Chopin, Poland’s most enduring composer, offer virtuosic applications of heavenly expressiveness. Starting with the Prelude, an international piano competition mainstay, this exquisite work culminates in an unforgettable, ecstatic finale. Three Chopin Waltzes follow—Op. 34 No. 1, Op. 69, No. 1, and Op. 64, No. 2. Vitality and crispness define Opus 34; sentiment spills lushly into the Opus 69, and the Opus 64 sports a Mazurka of varying tempo in a minor key.
Also on the program is Chopin’s reflective and playful Scherzo No. 4 and his brilliant Variations in B-flat major Op. 12, rich in dance-like rhythms, as well as the Rondo with intro, Op. 16. The program concludes with Debussy’s 12 Preludes, a sublime canon of work of inimitable beauty with a magical collage of stunning sound images. Each vignette is expressed by its title; such as “Serenade,” “Italian Hills,” “Puck” and “Delphi”; and no doubt Pashkov’s long, thin fingers will dance over the piano keys as he invokes the magic that Debussy created to weave a divine spell.
Tickets for the concerts, Saturday, 5pm and Sunday, 4pm, at 100, 200 and 300 pesos donation each, are available at St. Paul’s Church, calle Cardo 6, Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm; as well as at La Tienda in La Biblioteca, Insurgentes 25; Solutions, Mesones 57; La Conexión, Aldama 3; daily until 2pm on Saturday, and at the door half an hour before the concert begins.
The quality of the music and opera 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 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: promusicasma.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.