Classical: Stellar performers

Two award-winning musicians take part in the Tel Aviv Museum concert series.

January 19, 2017 17:24
4 minute read.
Alena Baeva

Alena Baeva. (photo credit: V. SHIROKOV)

Two acclaimed international artists will perform in the Tel Aviv Museum of Art concert series, as well as in Kibbutz Na’an.

Russian violinist Alena Baeva and Ukrainian-born pianist Vadym Kholodenko, together with Israeli musicians, will perform a varied program in three concerts.

Baeva, 31, dubbed one of the brightest violin stars of her generation, was born in Alma Ata, Kazakhstan, where she started playing piano at age five. Following the success of the child prodigy, the family moved to Moscow, where Baeva studied with professor Grach of the Moscow State Conservatory. At age 16, she won the prestigious Wieniawski violin competition. For many musicians that would have been a life-changing event, but Baeva sees it differently.

“Granted, music competitions can accelerate your career, but that wasn’t what changed me as a musician,” she says in a phone interview from her home in Luxembourg. “I participated in music contests since my childhood, seeing it as a preparation for a new concert program, which I played, among other places, in competitions. But the true change started 17, when I went to Israel to participate in the Keshet Eilon International Master Course for Violinists. From my early days, I have had no problem playing fast and neat. However, it was at Keshet where I was told for the first time: ‘Put your violin aside, read the score and just think. Think where the musical phrase is going, think of the interaction between the instruments.’ I realized that it was necessary to listen to more good music, to read more books. I’ve come to realize that all forms of art are similar in a way.

Today, when I’m working on a new piece and I come across, say, a painting that triggers the same emotions as the music, I feel so excited and happy!” For her, it was a mind-expanding experience.

“I met great teachers at Keshet. For example, Shlomo Mintz shared his knowledge with me, encouraging me to think on my own. Ida Haendel emanated energy and ultimate faith in the importance of music, in the honesty of the performer,” she recounts.

She continues, “Competitions give the winner many concert opportunities, but they also create an image of a musician that is not necessarily authentic and foster expectations that do not always suit you. I see my path in music as a series of leaps between points, in which you learn something new, with new horizons opening up in front of you.”

Baeva derives great pleasure from learning new pieces.

“Recently, I learned and performed Schumann’s concerto – my heart was beating and I could hardly sleep,” she says.

But playing familiar pieces is no less important.

“We played the Tchaikovsky concerto with the State Academic Symphony Orchestra of the Russian Federation under Vladimir Jurowski, who looked for a fresh rendition, not leaving a single stone unturned. The rehearsal lasted three hours, and when someone in the brass section sighed desperately, the conductor said, ‘If not we, who would do it?’ And I think that is correct. Because if you are satisfied with every phrase you play, there is a good chance that thousands of listeners will feel something in their hearts. That is what we play music for,” she says.

In another part of Europe, in a phone interview from Spain, Vadym Kholodenko, recounts, “My mother is an amateur pianist. Since we had a piano in our Kiev apartment, she decided to send me to music school, just to make sure there would be something else in my life besides kicking a ball in the yard with my friends. But after my second lesson there was no need to make me practice – I loved it!” At age 13, he won the Vladimir Horowitz piano competition. As a prize winner, together with a few other musicians, he debuted in the US, performing in New York, Boston and Washington. In the same period, he also performed in Israel. At 18 he moved to Moscow, where he studied with Vera Gornostaeva at the Moscow State Conservatory.

Winning the Van Cliburn Competition boosted his career. Even now that he has moved to Europe, he says, “Some 60% of my music activity takes place in the US, which is a separate music world.

There are excellent American musicians, almost unknown in Europe, and vice versa. But I can’t say that the audience in the US differs from that in Europe – I enjoy communicating with both.”

Kholodenko enjoys playing solo with orchestras and recitals, with special attention to chamber music: “That is where you learn to listen to your fellow musicians and to cooperate with them,” he explains.

The concert programs are as follows: Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No. 3 Op. 12; Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No.7 Op. 30 No. 2; Schumann’s Piano Quintet Op. 44 in E Flat Major. Performed by violinists Alena Baeva and Semion Gavrikov; violist Tali Kravitz Parag; and cellist Zvi Plesser.

Tel Aviv Museum of Art on January 31 at 8:30. Tel: (03) 607- 7070; Kibbutz Na’an, on February 1 at 8 p.m. Tel: 052-223-2556 Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy in E flat Major Op. 46; Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.1 Op. 23. Performed by the Israel Camerata Jerusalem Orchestra conducted by Noam Zur. Soloists: pianist Vadym Kholodenko; violinist Alena Baeva.

Tel Aviv Museum of Art on February 4 at 8:30 p.m.

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