For the love of music

Internationally acclaimed pianist Boris Giltburg among distinguished performers at Classicameri Festival in Eilat

December 19, 2018 18:14
3 minute read.
For the love of music

RUSSIAN BORN, Israeli raised pianist Boris Giltburg.. (photo credit: SASHA GUSOV)


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Classicameri, an annual music festival organized by the Isrotel Hotel Chain in cooperation with leading Israeli and international musicians, will take place January 2-5 at the Royal Beach Hotel in Eilat. The Ra’anana Symphonette Orchestra’s internationally acclaimed Israeli musicians – including conductor Omer Meir Wellber; soprano Hila Baggio; pianist Boris Giltburg; violinist Nitai Zori and his cellist brother, Hillel Zori; soprano Yael Levita; and violinist Sergei Krylov from Italy – are among the festival’s guests.

Russian-born, Israeli-raised pianist Boris Giltburg, who nowadays enjoys a globe-trotting career, will appear in two programs. On January 3, he will perform Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1, accompanied by the Ra’anana Symphonette under music director Meir Wellber. The next day he will play chamber music with Itai and Hillel Zori.

Phone interviews with Giltburg, 34, usually take place after 9 p.m. His is an intense life, full of musical (but not only musical) ideas, which he works relentlessly to bring to realization. Speaking by phone from his Israeli home, he says he had just returned from a month-long international tour, which included 14 concerts. He speaks of his concert activities, of recordings, arrangements and more. His voice is quiet and his Russian is rich and precise (not a small feat considering he was brought up in Israel from early childhood). And when it comes to music, his intonations are full of respect, if not humility.
Giltburg records with the Naxos label and sounds happy with their cooperation.

“While so called ‘major’ recording companies, such as Decca, Deutsche Grammophon and others that sell a large number of albums are less risky in their choice of repertoire, the smaller labels feel rather free in this regard. In my case, the choice of repertoire is an ongoing dialogue between me and the Naxos management,” reveals Giltburg. “To perform or record a piece, I need to be in love with this music,” he confides. “I doubt that anything good would can come out of recording a work that you are indifferent to. This is very much like relationships between people: Some become your intimate friends while others stay acquaintances.”

GILTBURG RECORDED Dvorak’s String Quintet No. 2 together with the Czech Pavel Haas Quartet. His two latest albums have been named among “Best Chamber Recordings of 2018,” while his recording of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 was awarded with the Opus Klassik – the major German award for the best recordings of the 20th and 21st centuries.

In recent years, Giltburg has been preoccupied with piano arrangements of music by Shostakovitch.

“His personality captivates me – that of a musician and human being. I read and re-read his correspondence with his close friends and colleagues. Granted, he has left for us pianists a few wonderful pieces to perform, such as two gorgeous piano concerti, 24 preludes, and fugues for piano and more. But I felt that in his piano pieces he never achieved such power and intensity as in his quartets, and I really wanted to perform them on the piano,” he says.

“One would probably say that this is audacity, if not a sheer impudence. But for me, piano arrangements are just another glance at his quartets.”

Speaking of the Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 3, which he has arranged, Giltburg says, “When it comes to fast, aggressive, attacking sounds – which there is plenty of in this quartet – it sounds good on the piano. The problems emerge in the slow and long phrases, produced by slow and long movements of the bow over the strings. After a few failed efforts to imitate this effect on the piano, I just tried to make the music sound sincere and natural, as if it was initially composed for piano.

 “The Third Quartet is an important event in my music life during the latest months,” he concludes.

Boris Giltburg is obviously a multi-faceted and multi-talented personality. Photography and poetry translations are among his hobbies.

“I am still passionate about photography, but I have rather put aside translations to the times when the desire to write poetry comes back naturally. After all, arrangements are just another form of translating, right?”

Giltburg has never abandoned writing about music. It started with his English blog and has lately developed into articles in which he shares his thoughts about music in English, German and Hebrew, publishing them in prestigious international outlets, such as The Guardian, Gramophone Magazine and on the Israeli Opus music portal.

When he comes to Eilat early next month, he is sure to be received with much appreciation.

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