The ‘Emperor’ makes the rounds

Renowned pianist Alexei Volodin plays Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto with the Rishon LeZion Symphony.

Pianist Alexei Volodin (photo credit: PR)
Pianist Alexei Volodin
(photo credit: PR)
Between February 25 and March 1, the Rishon LeZion Symphony under the baton of maestro Daniel Oren will perform the Caesar program in Tel Aviv, Rishon Lezion and Rehovot.
The concert owes its name to its central piece, Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto, the “Emperor,” which will be performed by renowned Russian-born Madridbased pianist Alexei Volodin. The program also features Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony.
Born in St. Petersburg in 1977, Volodin began taking piano lessons at age nine, a year later moving to Moscow, where he studied with Irina Chaklina and later with Tatiana Zelikman at the Gnessin Music School. In 1994 he enrolled at the Moscow Conservatoire, and at the end of his studies there in 2001 in the master class of Prof. Eliso Virsaladze. In 2001/2002 he rounded off his studies at the Theo Lieven International Piano Foundation in Como. After winning first prize at the 9th Concours Géza Anda in Zurich in 2003, he launched an impressive international career, appearing with leading orchestras and performing recitals throughout the world.
Repertoire-wise, the 37-year-old Volodin sees himself as a universal pianist, “performing music from Baroque to Schnittke. I play solo with orchestras, as well as in recitals. I love chamber music, but it is not always easy to find partners. Of late, I mostly perform with the Borodin State Quartet and appear with them worldwide,” he says.
Volodin stresses that for him as a performing musician, the most important thing “is to bring a piece of music to life under my hands and to reach listeners’ hearts, to touch and to thrill them. Not to ruin the music, above all.”
The pianist says that his teachers “are people to whom I owe everything. Beyond professional skills of piano playing – which one cannot acquire alone – they taught me to love music; they unfolded this endless magical world in front of me. A bad teacher can easily kill the love of music forever just by routine and boredom. I haven’t played for my teachers for a long time now, but I often wonder what they would say of this or that performance of mine.”
Volodin gives up to 80 concerts a season. Although he travels a lot, his home base is in Madrid.
“Not only because my wife is from there but also because as someone who was born and raised in the gray and misty city of Petersburg, I especially appreciate the ever shining sun of Spain!” he says.
Does he think that music life during has changed in essence over the last century? “I didn’t perform 50 or 100 years ago, but I think that the attitude of sincere and devoted musicians toward music-making was the same as it is now. What has changed is the rhythm of life.
Traveling by airplane, you can give a concert in a different city every day,” he notes.
Volodin counts Rachmaninov, Horowitz, Glenn Gould, Alfred Cortot, Emil Gilels, as well as Arkady Volodos, Michail Pletnev and Nikolai Lugansky among his favorite pianists and sees them as his teachers. He admits that he and his colleagues are strongly influenced by conductors of the past, such as Wilhelm Furtwangler and Bruno Walter.
“They were titans, and from them one can learn a lot,” he says.
His career was obviously boosted by his victory at Géza Anda in 2003. Today, one can hear voices that minimize the importance of music competitions in general, but Volodin does not agree.
“I believe that on the whole, competitions are a good and useful thing. After all, where else do young musicians get a chance to showcase their skills? The competitions are also a model of one’s future career – a musician has to prove himself time and again,” he says.
The concerts take place on February 25 at 8 p.m. at TAPAC; February 26 and 28 at 8:30 p.m. at Heichal Hatarbut in Rishon Lezion; and March 1 at 20:30 at Heichal Hatarbut in Rehovot.