Gavrilov masterclass a huge success
The internationally acclaimed Russian pianist Andrei Gavrilov
battled through the snow recently to deliver a concert and
masterclass to a packed audience at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of
Music and Dance.
Gavrilov paid a rare visit to the UK as part of his first world
tour in over ten years, and honoured our students with a powerful
and memorable masterclass.
Trinity Laban's Sarah Lebrecht reports back on the day:
The morning begins with a recital of music by Prokofiev,
Gavrilov's specialty. The "new dimension" of which he speaks is
evident from the moment his fingers touch the keys.
His passion for music is palpable and captivating. Gavrilov
describes Prokofiev's Sonata No.8 in loving detail. It is
his best sonata, he tells us: "an all-embracing summary of the
philosophy of the last century…it is like watching the
20th Century through the brain of Prokofiev. It is also
a confession - the only piece in which this immensely private man,
afraid for his life and livelihood under the harsh Soviet regime,
opens his heart to us 100 per cent."
Gavrilov's performance is both technically perfect and
emotionally absorbing; at one with the music, he draws the
mesmerised audience in with him. When the piece ends after 40
glorious minutes, he springs from the piano stool with a flourish
that seems almost a continuation of the music itself.
The effect is rendered particularly dramatic by the intimate
venue. The Peacock Room at Trinity Laban seats just 70 people. Not
that Gavrilov stints as a result; one gets the impression that he
would perform with the same verve and vitality were he on stage at
the Albert Hall.
Following the recital, it is time for the masterclass, in which
four exceptional Trinity Laban piano students take to the stage in
turn for a coaching session from the maestro. If they are
feeling intimidated they don't let it affect their playing, which
is impressive and technically assured. But Gavrilov's concern is
entirely with the music, and he is uncompromising in his demands
that each player draw each and every nuance from their chosen
As before, his love of music shines through every word he
speaks, as well as every note he plays, and the depth of his
knowledge and understanding is unparalleled. "Never forget," he
tells up-and-coming pianist Christopher Guild, Richard Carne Junior
Fellow, "that Janáček was half amateur - he writes with the pure
blood of his heart". To Nafis Umerkulova, he emphasises the "cosmic
eroticism" latent in Scriabin's sonata. "There is nothing human in
this piece," he insists. "You need to imbue it with the coldness
and wildness of the stars".
Again and again he warns against slowing down at the end of
phrases, declaring that "rallentando nearly cost me a concert",
referring to his performance of Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto
No. 2 with the New York Philharmonic, during which they played
with so many gratuitous pauses that, in his jetlagged state, he
dozed off and almost fell off the piano stool!
Gavrilov is warm, cheerful and personable, and the sheer depth
of his musical knowledge and experience made both recital and
masterclass an intensely rewarding experience for all involved. As
one awed audience member commented, his playing was "so powerful -
I'm surprised the piano's still standing up there!"
Christopher spoke later of the inspiration that would stay with
him: "What I particularly enjoyed most was how Gavrilov could so
logically explain the way such metaphysical ideas are represented
in the music, what it all meant. I came away feeling I'd glimpsed
the core of the music in a way I was never previously able to."
Deniz Gelenbe, Head of Keyboard at Trinity Laban, was also
captivated: "I was overwhelmed by his magical interpretations and
insightful masterclass. He had such depth of understanding of the
intentions of the composers, and was able to transmit these
thoughts with such sincerity and directness. An unforgettable
experience - how lucky and privileged we were to host him!"
Gavrilov too was very positive, never failing to cry "bravo"
when a student interpreted the music and the emotion correctly. As
he said of the students afterwards: "They have the technique
already - they just need to keep reaching for the emotional heart
of the music they are playing".
- Piano Sonata No. 8 in Bb major, Op. 84 - Sergei
- Suggestion Diabolique - Sergei Prokofiev
Qiaojing Dai (MMus) - Variations on a Theme of Paganini
Op. 35 Book 2
Naufal Mukumi (BMus Year 4) Islamey Mily Balakirev
Nafis Umerkulova (ISP Advanced)
Piano Sonata No. 4 in F# Major
Christopher Guild (Richard Carne Junior Fellow)
In the Mists