‘Deep musical background’
I come from a family with a deep musical background. My father is a violinist and my mother is a pianist, who taught me for the first eleven years. My parents never considered to ask me if I wanted to become a musician or if I had other interests. It was just assumed with no doubt that I will be a musician too. The only question that was raised was about instrument preference. For some reason I preferred the piano, probably because my older cousin was (and still is) a very accomplished pianist and I felt I wanted to become a pianist as well. I started my piano lessons at the age of six, and as a kid, I enjoyed them. I played concerts and made my first debut with a symphony orchestra at the age of nine, but I would probably say that my conscious realization of the fact that I want to devote my entire life to music and to the piano came several years later after I moved to Spain with my family in 1992. It was there where my interest in music started to seriously grow. I became so absorbed with it that there was no return. And I am very grateful for that, I cannot see my life without music.
Recent work ….
My most recent work included several important performances: a solo recital at the Shriver Concert Hall Series in Baltimore, a solo recital at Carnegie’s Weill Hall in New York past February and a performance of Schumann piano concerto with Louisiana Philharmonic at the end of this month. Right after performing in Louisiana, I will return to Baltimore to give another recital at the Music in the Great Hall concert series.
I have an important project coming up too. I will be recording both sets of variations by Rachmaninoff – on a theme by Corelli Op.42 and on a theme by Chopin Op.22 – for Fanfare Cincinnati label. It is a really exciting project for me, as I have been willing to record a CD entirely devoted to Rachmaninoff long time ago. There are not too many recordings of Rachmaninoff’s works out there. Both of these compositions are outstanding, twenty years separate them, and I think it’s fascinating to experience how composer’s harmonic language and sense of form evolved, but at the same time other traits remained intact. Variations on a theme by Chopin are very rarely performed. It is a gem of a piece that is unfortunately neglected and remains under the shadows of his other famous piano works such as the second sonata for example.
I also have another project in mind, hopefully I will be able to make it to life in the near future: I would like to record two books of Préludes by Debussy, this should be a 2CD set. This is in terms of recording projects.
As far as future performances: I will be returning to New Orleans to play with Louisiana Philharmonic, I also have several concert tours in Colorado and Germany this summer, and I will be also performing in London’s Wigmore Hall, I am waiting for the date to be confirmed.
Marianna Prjevalskaya – Photo credit: Chi Xu.
The most difficult thing you have overcome as a pianist?
This is not an easy question. In fact there are certain things that I prefer to keep private. However, out of those I can share, I would probably say that I learned how to remain who I am no matter what others think of me or expect from me. And that was not easy! I am very vulnerable, so it was hard, sometimes it’s a struggle, but I manage.
To bring you an example: this applies to competition experiences as well. It is hard to go to compete without ever thinking how well other contestants will play and whether the impression you will leave on a jury will be positive or negative. I guess it is natural these type of thoughts might cross your mind, but they are very distracting! They push you away from who you are and they close the door to express yourself in an authentic way. You start loosing your confidence and it becomes very obvious from the outside. To remain intact of influences (and I don’t only mean during competitions, but even in a daily life) and the surroundings is hard, but possible.
Which other living concert pianists influence you and why?
I could name several, but there is only one name that really stands out for me: Grigory Sokolov.
I don’t like to use the word genius, but this is the only case I would use it. His performances are transcendental experiences. He is a performer who speaks from his truest self.
I attended one of his recitals in London’s Wigmore Hall while I was a student at the Royal College of Music in London. For the first two minutes I was not sure if I loved it or I hated it, but on the third minute I noticed tears in my eyes. The first half of the concert was entirely dedicated to Rameau and the second half included works by Schubert and Schumann. Then six encores followed. It was beyond any description! I went backstage to talk to him, as I wanted to express my gratitude and to congratulate him, but as soon as I approached him I broke into heavy tears and could not say a word for a while. He just touched my soul so deeply that I understood his performance made a very powerful impact on me, no one else made it at such a large scale. Years have passed, but he remains for me, probably, the only one. His artistry is the type that resonates with me most, each note has a meaning, each silence has a meaning, each note has its beginning and its end! This is what matters most! There is no single superficial note and there is no note or phrase that lacks feeling or emotion. His musicianship is so powerful that he hypnotizes you, he takes control over you, and that is extremely hard to find nowadays. He is not trying to impress you with anything, he is just authentic.
Advice to young pianists …
My advice would be: never give up, be who you are no matter what, keep growing as a person, that will help you to grow as a musician, be authentic and inspiring. Life will respond to you.
Don’t think 10 hours of daily practice will change you as a musician. Sometimes life experiences are responsible for that biggest change. And I don’t only mean happy experiences, but those unhappy as well.
Hopes for the future …
I want to keep performing as much as I can, I want to engage as much audiences as possible. I also enjoy teaching, and hope I can be helpful sharing my experiences and knowledge with young students.
Photo taken during recital in Carnegie’s Weill Hall by Jeffrey Holmes.