I have known Piotr Lachert for 3 years, and he was one of the biggest influences on my understanding of music and piano playing. In fact, he was the first to introduce me into the world of new music. I met him in Facebook, I think he commented on my „Clara Schumann Nocturne“ video. Curious to hear what the opinion of the composer about my playing was, I was very eager to start the virtual conversation. In the next 3 years our communication got richer and deeper. I was lucky to get his tips about how to play one or another piece, he introduced me to several composers – his colleagues, we talked about philosophy, art and music. He was very caring and honest. His motto in life was to give back the support that he received in Paris as a young man to other musicians
He inspired me to start recording the unknown music by living composers. It was a totally new world for me and he would contribute with the music sheet, recordings and always his guidance and feedback. What a luck to have a mentor. The Kalinka composition was born out of our conversations. Piotr was looking for a music piece to integrate many aspects: my Russian roots, the famous Russian song, his original musical language, the polyvalence of the stylistic means and the variability and diversity, the quality I particularly treasure and cultivate. The sonata nr. 31 „Kalinka“ is the last large scale work for piano with the theme in the form of a song and 6 variations. I am honored to have his dedication and am impatient to share the recording with you.
Below are my favourite quotes of Pietr from our virtual conversations.
“You know Ann, you’ve got a lot, a lot. First of all on the human level. You are a source of creative energy. Awake, or transmit this energy to people, your neighbours. Those, who are in a position to understand and appreciate it. This is a rare gift.”
“So, play the piano, it is an act “against nature” (just like every intellectual act).
The body protest, because does not want to expend the energy unnecessarily. natural state of man is laziness. To save energy you need to live organically. You (me) spend your energy to eat, to sleep in the heat, and looking for a partner. Play piano means putting the grey cells to work = expending energy. The body protest – we are tired, bored. To play fast – the body protest – we have muscle pain, we are not right away to be quick enough on the keyboard. Learning to play which key, with which finger, at what time and how to do it – that this is totally unnecessary work for our body.
“But if you want to do it- it means that you’re motivated, it means that you have a talent, provided that you have something to communicate for yourself and for others.
Unfortunately it is something abnormal, that to play you have to serve the works of Mr.Mr. Bach, Chopin or Lachert. You should invent your own music. But as our civilization has imposed us to play historical pieces – you have to learn the “existing” opus.
The more things you have to communicate, to get out of yourself, the faster is the process of learning, of assimilating these pieces, which are not yours.
In the duration of this process “learning” you see the amount (and quality?) the final speech, the message you want to share – otherwise your talent, your personality. Horowitz is exceptions – this gentleman was a clown with a phenomenal pianistic talent. He was the circus on the stage. Nothing more (sorry, but I think so).
It is not any accident of chance, that the greatest interpreters are also quicker to learn new repertoire. It is not any accident of chance, that the greatest interpreters have a huge repertoire.
“It needs to do some ‘order in your knowledge of music history. In telegraphic style. We pianists, are born from harpsichord. It from clavichord (about year 1500). The clavichord followed vocal music. The first music! Adam and Ewa played the Steinway? No, singing and making probably body percussion.
Vocal music is always linear, homophonic and based on respiration. This homophony was later developed to become the polyphony (Orlando di Lasso, Palestrina) and then …. automatically transported on the clavichord and harpsichord. Here’s our first absurd for piano. How to “sing” 3, 4 voices with ten finger on the keyboard “mechanical”, instead to singing it with 3, 4 human voices, elastic, flexible, different from each other?
Parallel (from +/- XII) we quickly developed tonal music, invented by the Greeks, especially by Pythagoras.
The first clavichord players / harpsichordist – composers / performers – there was still no difference between them: everyone was all – were using the easiest scales: C, a, G, e F, d- and stop. By JS Bach (the tempered tuning) begins prudently use all scales. But always between the polyphonic music conception. Only Suites and Partitas begin to be homophonic – but played much more slowly in comparison with how we are doing it today (on piano!).
Today, you can play the Scale and Studies, also by Liszt and Rachmaninov as God, 200 km per hour, and this doesn’t do you any good to play well the Bach Fugues! His Inventions to three voices, Johan Sebastian called “Studies for teaching of polyphony.”
+/- From Bach’s Sons, and later by Clementi, Czerny, Haydn, Mozart begins the golden age for tonal music.
We have Ann to understand well. If you want to recite a Chinese poem, you have to learn the Chinese language. Otherwise reciting like a parrot or as 90% of student pianists of all conservatives in the world.
If you want to play well Beethoven, you know his linguistic material. Then – all composers of the nineteenth (initiated by +/- 1750) used fragments of scales and arpeggios. Therefore, you as a pianist of the nineteenth need to know well, and automate ALL of the scales and arpeggios. If I asked you to play the sequence of sounds: c, e, g, c, e, g, c, e, g, c, to three octaves, you can do it right away, quickly and well. Because you were formed in such a way, and you already has this automatism.
If I asked you to play fast and well the sequence of sounds: c, f, b, es, as, des, ges, h, f, you would have a few problems…. Not on the level quickly, because this path is not difficult. But intellectually, because you haven’t been taught, so you haven’t automated in your memory, a sequence of the quarta perfetta. Before finding the next sound, you should think to find it. So your long piano studies do not you serve for such case!
The second piano mistake was to bring “automatically” the gymnastic technique from harpsichord, on piano. (Czerny, Clementi, Cramer etc). On harpsichord it was played practically only with the ability of the fingers. The piano offers much more!
We needed more than a century, to understand it. Even today the poor young pupils begin the piano with Bayer, Liebrecht, Siebelt etc.
Tonal music ends +/- 1880. So, from +/- 130 years it has found its place in museums. Beautiful as it was, but in museums. It is loved above all the grey heads, bald heads – of the older audience
The tonal music has become a preferred communication platform for pop music. Why? Because it is very simple and very sociable for the low cultural level of the people. (The pop musicians today use Mozart’s melodic and harmonic solutions. With amplification, lights, smog bombes etc). This young people and the people not so young are coming out of the families to without the culture traditions, who admire Goschalk, Karel Gott and Michele Hunziker.
Today, you can play the Scale and Studies, also by Liszt and Rachmaninov as God, 200 km per hour, and this does not do you any good to play good music from Prokofiev onwards.
Believe me, played well, the first serial music (years 1950-1965) it is fantastically beautiful! If played by the Japanese – much intelligent as we – or by some great American pianist. Young pianist.
To you to decide if you want to stay in the culture of your ancestors bis, bis, bis, bis grandparents – where the competition is astronomic, where it will be in difficult to find a place under the sun and stay on the scene, or – you have to open your aesthetic horizons. So – studying scales and arpeggios, by Czerny & Co, I think, in your case, IT WOULD BE A HUGE LOSS OF TIME. Only on the Italian market, that I know well, there are more as 40,000 professional pianists. How many of them can economically live with their ten fingers?
Enough for today. I hope you will remain in the memory something of this letter.
“Now we are talking only about organizational aspect of the trade “classical pianist today.” Whether you play piano well or very well have a value necessary, but secondary. I am now very cynical. The studies in the Conservatories (Europe) and University (US) are archaic and prepare very little to real life, following graduation.”
“Composers are like big children. You must know their mentality and their desires. Their vanity and desire to be known and acknowledged.”