“Real music – is something timeless and genderless”. Talked Dmitriy Zilikin. "Rosbalt" →

What is the right ratio of algebra and harmony in music, why women shouldn’t fight with their nature, what do sheet music stores and gold mines have in common, and why pianists remind of cyborgs – narrated by Polina Osetinskaya.

Pianist Polina Osetinskaya names herself “moscovite of St. Petersburg” She regularly performs in St. Petersburg, she has her audience here, her friends, apartment. Nowadays Osetinskaya is mature artist, with outstanding pianistic skills, brave and original musical mind, delicate taste. You can make sure of it recently – she will have recital at the 8th of December at state philarmonic hall of St. Petersburg. In the interview for rosbalt in the context of “Petersburg avante-garde” Polina talled What is the right ratio of algebra and harmony in music, why women shouldn’t fight with their nature, what do sheet music stores and gold mines have in common, and why pianists remind of cyborgs.

– Recently you said, that your own recording even a year old seems old for you and only your last concerts should be reviewed. What happened? Who is this “New Osetinskaya”?

– At first, changes that took place in my private life not long time ago have influenced my playing, my self-sentiment, my musical self-cognition. Well, if to consider that life goes on by steps, so another step is done now. And this helps me to end being person… person who is looking for understanding and approval. I don’t want to receive marks. I, if it’s OK to say that, want to give them myself. Including me.

I used to be up to somewhere’s opinion, well now I managed to get rid of this. And I think it is certain and important factor of growth. I let myself think that man’s cheif critic is himself. And he understand’s the best way what and how should be. Other’s view causes disturbs only. The only thing that is important is that your inner pitchfork should be tuned correctly. If you don’t betray yourself – it’s tuned well. If you go another way it can begin to sing flat.

– It is clear how to test your work at professional side, if to say rude, all notes should be right. But what is artistic criterium? You listen to recording and feel satisfaction in the grade as much as your result coincides with intentions? Or you feel it somehow right at the performance?

– I do listen my own recordings regularly, I learn on them. Two or three years ago I even bough a professional audio recorder for this purpose, and now I carry it with me on every concert to learn on my own mistakes and correct something for the next evening.

– Technical mistakes?

– All mistakes. Rhythmical, cantilena, conceptual, musical. It is about profession and what is above it. This, if to say truly makes profession not senseless, blesses it. As all Holy Fathers say – goal of our life is to win the Holy Spirit. So the goal of profession is to win some bless. Because everybody play notes, and mostly correctly, loud and clean. The question is – what is behind the notes? I want it to be very much. The only possibility to to rich this is trying to develop yourself and your personality daily, hourly.

– Year ago you played not only technically difficult Prokofiev’s Sonata #7 but also technically easy “Four seasons” by Tchaikovsky, though this axiomatical piece sounded new. From where comes the thing that we call depth of performance?

– From experience. From a man’s life experience. Rarely the depth is given from birth. Someone used to tell: talent is not a quantity of years you have lived but the depth of feeling that is in genetic code. I am not sure that it is possible to analyze rationally, but undoubtedly your life influences some level of depth. In my youth years I used to think that suffering makes you grow artistically and give this depth. That’s why I used to suffer strenuously. But then another period started when I don’t want so suffer anymore and wanted to be happy. I went the road shown by my heart for some time. Another thing is that no state can go on forever. Neither sufferings nor happiness can last forever and be your permanent satellites. So the alternation of these states gives us what we call life experience.

– Ten years ago in the interview with me you said: "I think that art is not woman’s portion, we are made this way, we have another nature. Women who rich such success as men do are not 100% women ". Has marriage and birth of children changed your point if view? For example recently in London you recorded a disc of lullaby pieces.

– Fact that art is not woman’s part – that’s true. Woman is family, home, children. That’s all on her, who else? All my famous man colleges, who managed to do tour career, they do play from 60 to 200 concert a year. It means that they are at home for 1-2 days a month. If to go on from herewhat woman will agree not to see her children for decades? Life of the musician on tour is very heavy physical load: endless road, flights, hotels. domestic discomfort, permanent stress. That’s why my friends – brilliant pianists have family in one place, kids are on woman and they are on tour. And someone doesn’t have a child, they are not ready, doesn’t see motivation…

– That’s domestic part of question. But if to talk about art – do you still mind that woman-artist is not completely woman?

– I came to terms with my nature, found absolute agreement. I am of course is not completely woman. And surely I am not a man. I am something moderate.(Laughing). Other hand is that the level of my inquiry is a bit higher then usual woman have… But, what do usual woman dreams about? About Comfort, about her honey being next to her etc. But I haven’t dreamed about a man. A man has never been my first goal, I feel good without him cause everything goes to music. If now, when I am in the status of lonely woman feel anguish without man, that’s only I need to attach a painting to the wall or carry a suitcase. That’s not normal for usual woman, as I think, right?

– You have a habit of doing everything yourself since your childhood…

– Yes. So I can easily live without man. But not without music. Nevertheless I want to say many things with music. To say permanently and to big audience.

– In your youth you were mad about audience paying attention not only at your playing but at your appearance also. You even said that you are ready to wound your face…

– What a silliness! That’s youth maximalism.

– But many pianists play with their face (as actors say). Can you identify where it is unbreakable burst of feelings and where it is an attempt to impress the audience?

– I do prefer listening to pianist, who has no mimics at all. Unfortunately I started to notice that my own mimics became much more moveable and expressive – with the minus sign: I don’t like. I do sometimes watch my recordings – it distracts and irritates. I would like to erase it, not mimic at all while playing. But how to do this? Maybe prick all the face with botox?(Laughing). And so on: I do mock my college for all my life cause he is murmuring, sometimes twice loud as piano and when we play four-hands I pull him up. And recently I noticed that I started to sing. I join myself singing because of overfilling emotions… On other hand… thank god I will arrange with every mimics, if it matches the sense I need to express. If I can’t control it without harming music… screw it! Excuse my french.

– A friend of mine – musical critic – was telling how on the concert of Vera Gornostaeva’s students “Osetinskaya outdone all men” Do you know the feel of competition in profession?

– Yes. Sure.

– Is it fruitfully?

– It stimulates. When you realize that you want to play like this, this and that and don’t want to as this does – you know criterium, landmarks that you should mind…

– All pronouns are masculine.

– I mean “this pianist”. Of any gender. “pianiste” – is so pejoratively. Like “poetess” or “Musicianess”. They do exist but I’d like to be a musician.

By the way, there was one critic on that concert for Vera Vasilievna, who wrote about me : “This was rare artistic revelation, which people are waiting for, about which are dreaming and this is for they are currently going to a concerts. So he agreed with your friend about “outdone all men”, but he made an accent on how “The play was very feminine, because Polina walked her route and didn’t want to demonstrate masculine, but this feminine was piercing both brain and heart” He wrote this article and died, but texted me parting words: not to fight with my women’s nature. But I wasn’t in time to ask him what did he meant particularly.

– What is the difference between “feminine” and “masculine” play?

– I am not an expert, I cant answer this question. I think that if to talk about negative side, this will be narcissism, over-emotion and lack of vertical.

– Sheet music vertical? But it exists only in orchestral scores.

– Vertical like elevation, the feel of sky and ground. It is often given to men – the ability for objectification of music. When you listen you hear something new about world, about good and evil. When you hear not a person but a music – like something timeless and out-gender. For example, the play of my friend Anton Batagov became for someone a revelation. They felt that they do hear music as it is for the first time.

– Your programs are always conceptual-built. Who is the receiver of this intellectual message?

– It’s not possible to create clear concept from the beginning till the end. Often you are made to make an arrangement, when you are not driven by some rational plan, but want to arrange a program for a certain situation: for a hall, season or personal conditions. I don’t stay with sward at the entrance of the concert hall and scream: “You want hear just Beethoven or Shubert sonatas”. This happens. Besides, I alternate conceptual ideas with more “wide” ideas.

– Who is the consumer of conceptual ideas?

– Audience, which I wanted to lead all my life long. Audience that feels boring to listen the same things, who are interested in a kind of intellectual trips. There is some new modern music in all my new programs: Pelezis, Vasks, Pyart, Mompu – authors which are not usual to audience. After such concerts I receive a lot of letters “Wow, such a great music, why haven’t we heard about it?” For me the joy to be a pioneer is very important, I wan’t exchange it for anything.

Of course I have an excitement of a real hunter. When I get go sheet music store abroad, I do watch through hundreds of volumes with the hope to find something that will take me. And I go out of it like a gold miner, who managed to find some gold or diamonds. My cheeks go red, hands shake, my pressure goes up, I go away with handling these treasures…

This spring I came from States, with many such treasures, there are plenty of them now, enough not for a program, but for a circle. Other thing is that you can’t wear a diamond without frame.

– Is there authors which popularizing is your honor?

– I think that I acquainted petersburg’s audience with the music of George Pelezis. At least, I was first to perform it at Mariinsky theatre. And we need to say that Pelezis noticed my efforts for popularizing his music – on his benefice in Moscow, where I also played, he gave me scores of his new huge piano concerto, dedicated to me. Also I would say about Desyatnikov’s music. As we know, all his new pieces are played by Aleksey Goribol, but for big audience many pieces are known from me.

– Pieces of Desyatnikov are half of your new album. Tell me about him.

– New disc partly consists of my program “Italomania-XX”, which I recorded in 2010. There were pieces of Ottorino Respigi, Francis Poulenc, Gustav Mahler and Nino Rota. I adore this program, otherwise not music is the same value; it sounded well on the stage but not on the CD. That’s why I decided not to record it all but to make together Desyatnikov and Rota, who both worked much with cinema. At first the thing that unites theese composers is that their music can live without movie., which they are composed for. They are similar in style, intonation, that’s why I decided to do a kind of mirror portrait of Italian and Russian.

– You have an idea of “your’s” and “not your’s” conductor. What are the values of “your’s” conductor?

– Thoroughness, responsibility and I would say artistic uncompromisingness. On a rehearsal he can’t leave the stage until he has got the ideal result. It’s always bad to go to compromising: when you are made to cooperate with people who are not agree with your drive to perfection.

– Some years ago you played recital in Big Philharmonic hall, forgot scores and paused. That time you said: “At most I would like to go to my room and bring sheet music”. From where does this prejudice comes that it’s better to play by hearth?

– There are many different situations. When you have 5-6 programs – if you are not a cyborg, unlikely you will be able to play them by hearth. If you want to play as many music as possible without lack of quality – play by scores.

– Svyatoslav Richter thought the same.

– I do agree with this Richter’s opinion, also, I would like to be like him. I can promise that I will never play without scores again, but if to say truly, I don’t see the difference for audience. Although, do thy pay for us to play by heart or to play the best as we can? But there are some concert when you are ought to play be heart. If you play one recital hundred times, you will feel yourself more freely without being bounded by scores. It’s a special art to play by scores: step back for a second – and you will miss the line.

– What is the right rate of algebra and harmony?

– I can’t say, I don’t know… Recently I recorded one author – he is outstanding mathematic, started to compose recently, couple years ago, after he read some music theory books. He is very adequate person, carefully listening to professional’s opinion, he did some cuttings. That’s paradox, but being a mathematician, he calculated amount of bars wrong. There were many not needed things and it harmed music. That’s a difference between graphomaniac and professional, that he knows where to cut off. If he would compose it mathematically – it will be totally different.

That’s an example of the fact that not always music is mathematic: if mathematician prefers to listen his hearth when composing…

Talked Dmitriy Zilikin, source –

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