Playing beautifully

Pianist Boris Berezovsky tops the A-list of international musicians participating in the Eilat Chamber Music Festival.

(photo credit: JURI BOGOMAZ)
This year the Eilat Chamber Music Festival takes place January 22-25. The festival, now in its 15th iteration, celebrates – together with the world of classical music – the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth.
The festival’s numerous concerts will feature pieces by the great German composer, from sonatas to trios to the Triple Concerto for piano, violin and cello.
As in each year, the program is variegated including pieces by Haydn, Schubert, Chopin, Prokofiev, Debussy, as well as the monumental Requiem by Mozart and English songs from the 17th century. The festival will also include a concert dedicated to songs of Georges Brassens and an authentic flamenco dance evening, to name just a few.
The artists roster includes musicians from the the international A-list, among them British conductor Paul McCreesh, the National Forum of Music Choir from Wrocław, Poland, together with its artistic director Agnieszka Żelazna, up and coming piano stars Karina Ter-Gazarian and Eva Gevorgyan from Russia, the young and captivating Busch Trio from England, French violinist David Grimal with his Les Dissonances ensemble, the legendary early music researcher and performer Philippe Pierlot with his Ricercar Consort, Javier Latorre and his Flamenco company and Germany-based Israelis Alon Sariel (mandolin) and Ishay Shaer (piano) among others.
Heading this list of amazing artists is Russian pianist Boris Berezovsky, arguably one of the leading musicians of his generation.
In a phone interview from his Moscow home, Berezovsky, praised for his incredibly rich sound – which is quite rare these days – as well as for his virtuosity, confides that sometimes he is even rebuked for playing too beautifully. “I grew up on recordings of the old masters, and this tradition of playing with beautiful touché or what is called in French Jeu Perle (pearl playing) is very close to me.
True, since (the prominent Russian pianist) Sviatoslav Richter had burst on to the stage with his intellectual black-and-white playing, the world divided in two. Many pianists claim that beautiful sound is nowadays less important than a conceptual rendition of pieces. But I, among others, still can’t imagine playing “not beautifully,” of course with the exception of pieces in which this approach is obviously not needed.”
Speaking about his music preferences, Berezovsky confides that he has always been “more attracted to Romantic and Russian repertoire. For me, as a performer expressing the entire gamut of emotions – which are a reflection of human existence – goes beyond everything.”
He admires German music, with Schumann being closest to his heart, followed by Schubert and only then the traditional German triad Bach-Beethoven-Mozart – not especially in this order. Above all these are ultimate emotionality of Russian composers and harmonic delights of French music which are the center of his music world. “Scriabin, Ravel, and Debussy – I adore them, they just drive me mad,” he says with a smile.
In Eilat, Berezovsky will participate in three programs. Two of them feature Beethoven’s pieces. “Although Beethoven is not among my favorite composers, his sense of rhythm and his wild energy are hypnotizing.
In a different program he will perform chamber pieces by Ravel, Prokofiev and Schumann. “I’ve been playing a lot of chamber music. Schumann’s piano quintet is very popular and for a good reason, with many emotional outbursts, which are characteristic of the composer and remind me of solar flares. Ravel’s sonata is an absolute master piece. He was a perfectionist and I can’t find a single piece by him which is not just genius.”
In addition to his concert activities, Berezovsky teaches at the Moscow Gnessin Music School and is “... happy about it. It has a positive effect upon me, too. When you are demanding to your students, you become less forgiving to yourself as well. Since I play a lot of concerts, they occasionally get a bit dusty; but when I look at my students, I recollect my early years and this ardor of searching for new achievements and it urges me to refresh my current renditions. Till lately, I used to teach at the Gnessin Academy, but I enjoy teaching younger kids more – they are highly motivated and yearn for music dexterity rather than looking for concert opportunities.”
The pianist also manages the International Boris Berezovsky Festival Summer Evenings in Yelabuga. “Yelabuga is an old Russian city, now a part of Tatarstan. The latter is a rich republic and they can afford financing this very unusual open-air event, which offers free visiting of concert programs. There’s nothing formal about it – but from 10 to 15 thousand people just come and enjoy music and nature.”
After years spent in the West, Berezovsky has occasionally returned to his native Moscow. “Nowadays, this is one of the most beautiful cities around, the restaurants are great and the culture life is so rich and intense, that every night you miss many fantastic concerts and theater shows!” he laughs.
For the detailed program and reservations visit the festival site