Accordions Worldwide Celebrity Interview of Alexander Skliarov
Celebrity Interviews

Alexander Skliarov - Concert Artist

Interviewers: Li Yan Sheng & Wang Yan
Translator: Li Yun
Beijing - Volonish, March 2002

Q. Many people are very interested in knowing how you make your performance so striking. Please first talk a little about your past experience of learning bayan.
A. I began to learn music when I was a kid. As a five years old boy, I borrowed a two rows reed accordion. I began to learn how to play this instrument. In my family, my parents played accordion very well, so it was very normal, that after a short time of study, I learnt how to play this instrument.

When I was seven, my parents bought a bayan for me. It was a very ordinary bayan. The quality of bayan at that time is not comparable with that of today.

When I was eight years old, I entered music elementary school. That period of time was very pleasant. Very quickly, I began to study works. During the time of studying, my extraordinary hearing and superb faculty of memory became apparent. Later, I went Moscow, and studied in Gnesin, music specialized during middle school. Then I continued my study in Gnesin Conservatory to improve and meliorate my technique and ability of performance.

As for how I make my performance striking, I believe it is because of several reasons. First, I always had outstanding teachers. Second, the bayan has a very important position of in my heart. I can't imagine my life without the bayan. Besides these and all of others that God gave me, I also need a lot of practice in every day.

Q. Personally, I think your performance style is unique even in Russian school, how about your point of view?
A. I don't think my style is unique, or I created any style, although many people think so.
How do I think about my performance?
Music or bayan is a way for me to express my ideas and feelings. I only use them to try to express my internal consciousness and experience. Except for compositions that have some traditional styles that must be followed, I perform compositions in different styles based on my feel and understanding.

Q. According to my acquaintance, in the music circle in Volonish, there are two persons who are world famous. One is you, and the other is Mr. Timoshenko. As a composer, Mr. Timoshenko wrote many pieces for bayan. Please talk some about him.
A. The friendship between Mr. Timoshenko and myself is creationary. After he passed away, I realized what I lost, which may be the most important part in my musical life.

You know, Mr. Timoshenko composed a lot of music for me. He not only asked suggestions from me, but also played these pieces by himself. For me, that was such a happiness and joy. No one can understand better than me, that in this or that piece, what Mr. Timoshenko wanted to express.

No wonder, there is an view nowadays that when play music of Timoshenko, no one plays it better than Skliarov.

Q. You have come to China two times. Please talk about your trip of China.
A. Besides teaching, in Russia and other countries, I do a lot of tours. By chance, I was invited to China. Before the first trip, I had heard a lot of things about China. But after I came to China, I realized that I know too little. I was amazed by Chinese culture, history, custom and so on. China is a surprising country which impressed me the best, although I had been to Japan and Korea many times.

My friends in music circles kidded with me, "Sasha, if you have another chance to go to China. Don't go again." They are wrong.

This year, I went to China for the second time. I enjoy surprise and joy once more. If people there still invite me, and people there still want to listen to my live concert, I will very happily go back to China.

Q. What do you think about the playing of Chinese students? We are ask you cordially for your opinion.
A. I was surprised and delighted by students who play bayan or accordion in your country. I never had this feeling before. The basic practice that the students in your country gain in childhood is admirable compared to many other countries.

The level of your teachers and performers is developing at an amazing speed, which is unimaginable. All bayanists who have come to China share this same opinion. I believe and look forward, that in a short time, bayanists will come forth from your country who will enjoy becoming world famous.

Q. I chatted with Mika, (Varyanan) and he told me that he esteems you much. He said you are and epoch-making artist. Is there any difference between young artists and artists of your generation?
A. We ought to say that bayan is a young instrument, with young teaching method and teachers.

Teachers and performers always feel that they get into a process of explosion and trial. Today's young talented artists have big advantage, since they have listened to performances or records of artists such as Semionov, Lips, Skliarov and Vastelielav or of artists of elder generation such as Sphamilinov and Casakov.

Admittedly, they learn from the errors we made, and that gives them the chance to avoid those mistakes.

But that does not mean, that this is the time for musician who are in their 50's or 60's to end their music career. This is true and proved by the audiences. I believe that artists of my generation feel very happy that they can contribute to the phylogeny of bayan. To be honest, I still have not seen young bayanists whose actual strength / quality can compare with artists of the elder generations. It is sad.

But I believe, in the future, young artists will conquer their audience in their own way. We will be proud of the achievements.

Q. In your abundant repertoire, you seem like love Mozart in particular. Can you tell us why?
A. My most favor composers are Mozart and Rachmaninov. I like to play music of other composers too. But the precondition is that I like the music.

This is also the principle that I choose the program. I don't know either, why I choose so many pieces of Mozart in my repertoire. I can only say, again and again, just love, love, and love…!!!

But, to play Mozart with bayan is a very serious and tough assignment, but of course a very interesting one too. Although many critics assert that pieces of Mozart and some other composers are written for piano and are not suggested to be played by bayan, that is their opinion.

Q. You have released many CDs (including the one published in China). Can you introduce them a little?
A. My CDs were recorded from my concerts or in the studios. Especially those recorded in studios, are what I don't like.

For me, giving ten concerts is easier than recording a small piece.

The feeling is different. Well, that is life. Every player has to leave some records. For me, I don't like most of my records. Actually, of all my published CDs, the latest one, which was recorded in France and published in China, is the most successful.

Q. Which do you prefer to give - live concerts or to make recordings?
A. For me, this is a question that is unnecessary to ask. Giving live concerts is my life - fully!

Without audience, I am a dead man. But apparently, this is a very hard job, which I must devote a lot to. I am very pleased that I still hold what I can perform and can tell to my audience.

Q. I know that you think much of every concert you gave, and always examine the short comings. Is that why you can keep in high level over so many years?
A. After every concert, if the time allows, in order to work better in the future, I think carefully of everything that happened in the past minutes, and make summary.

Does the success of the concert rely on this?

I think, this is something that every player should do. Honestly, I am not satisfied with most of my concerts. If I heard one concert performer say"I played very well in today's concert." I assume, in a short time, this concert performer will have problems, and as the time goes by, he will lag behind.

Q. How do you release the nervousness before the concerts?
A. The question of nervousness before a concert is special.

For me, of course, like many others, I have nervousness too, but not much. I call it creationary nervousness. I am not nervous and worried because of technique.

During the performance, it is normal to play some wrong notes by mistake. Until now, I have even played some pieces that include some wrong notes. That is not important.

But what is important? I am worried and nervous from the point of compositions and composers. I need to express their ideas accurately, then I won't be embarrassed because I express their ideas wrongly. I think that this is the most important.

So I need to devote myself totally into the performance. This is the way that I know how to release the nervousness before the concerts.

Q. In your performance, it seems like has some French style. What do you think?
A. I like France very much, and always visit there. In my repertoire, there are many pieces composed by French composers. But if someone listened to my playing and felt that it has French style, I think it is not correct. I am Russian, a Russian musician.

To say it correctly, the style that shows in my performance comes from my personal character. I am a free, love-hearted and happy person. I love life, and return everything of myself to it and to the music.

Q. What is your future plan? You won't retire very quickly right?
A. Everyone has his own creationary plan for his next steps. Many people ask me about my concert program, or plans for future concert tours.

I won't give the information away about where and when before things start, because I am a very superstitious person. But I can say that I am anxious to wait for the August of 2002.

As long as I can, or God gives me strength and Chinese organizers don't change their mind, I will go to China again.
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