Pianist Roman Rabinovich’s creative homage to artistic expression
(Self-Portrait of the artist)
On Saturday, December 15th, 2012 at 7 pm, The Arthur Rubinstein International Music Foundation will present their Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall recital, in honor of the greatest Golden Age pianists – Arthur Rubinstein.
Pianist Roman Rabinovich is one of the two pianists chosen to perform at the event, the other being Anna Fedorova. Each musician possesses special qualities within their craft, and together they will certainly present a memorial worthy of the great master pianist, Arthur Rubinstein.
The evening will also feature a short documentary film about Rubinstein’s historical concert in San Francisco in 1945, and an exhibition of portraits and photographs of Rubinstein, partially from his daughter Eva’s personal collection. The foundation’s music festival in Poland was started 2008 in Lodz, Rubinstein’s birthplace.
Rabinovich, who, as a winner of the 2008 Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Competition (not related to the aforementioned hosting organization) has performed widely in Israel, but also in Europe and the US to much critical acclaim, was given the opportunity to choose a program he is especially fond of. He enthusiastically shared with me that Prokofiev’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ (three pieces), and the Ravel/Rabinovich ‘Daphnis and Chloe,’ as well as Stravinsky’s ‘Petrushka’ that will follow his programmed Haydn Sonata in A-flat major, Hob.XVI/46, have captured his mind’s eye for quite some time now.
drawing by Roman Rabinovich
A recording of these ballet-related piano arrangements will be released on the Orchid Classic label in the spring of 2013. Rabinovich’s fascination with these pieces and recording them grew out of his admiration for this era and its unique artistic flavor: Paris in the early 20th century, saturated with vibrant artistic cross-fertilization, and radiating with a charismatically charged scent of creativity.
“The more I learned about this era, the more I wanted to create a personal homage to it,” says Rabinovich.
All three composers have worked closely with the Ballet Russes, albeit at slightly different times: ‘Daphnis and Chloe’ was written in 1910, ‘Petrushka’ in 1911, and ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in 1935. For all their aesthetic differences, Rabinovich sees their strong common thread: “They were inspired by the energy and charm of one man, a force of nature – Sergei Diaghilev! They belong to the era of the Ballets Russes, who had a profound influence on the artistic trends of the next few generations, fusing avant-garde music, dance, and style in a fresh and innovative way.” It was Rabinovich’s particular interest in the Russian artist Leon Bakst, famously remembered for his stage designs for many of Diaghilev’s productions that also brought him to other stars of Diaghilev, including Nijinsky, Pavlova, and Picasso, as well as Stravinsky, Ravel, and Prokofiev.
While not formally trained as an artist, Rabinovich clearly possesses artistic talent, as his many drawings, both in print and digitally drawn on his iPad, indicate. He started painting and drawing at age ten, and as he confesses: “I must have missed a whole lot of information during classes, doodling intensively while listening; it is a compulsion that I take seriously- it’s not a mere hobby of mine.”
To the question of if one art informs the other, he says: “There are many parallels with music, the obvious connections like colors, balance and structure, its symmetry, lows and highs, the transparencies of textures…. certainly correspond to the musical understanding. It somehow helps me to make sense of the other medium by giving it a different point of reference; music is a fleeting thing, ephemeral; art is permanent. You can come back to the paper, you can hold onto art. I never quite understood how with music, I prepare a piece I play and then, the next day, I have to start over, it’s never there forever in the same way.”
“However,” as he explains, “the nature of the piano is such that it can produce such a wide dynamic range of colors and effects, making it possible to play even such music meant to show the luscious and colorful timbres of a full orchestration, like in the ballet-arrangements and bring them to life, in a self-sufficient piano version.”
For Ravel’s ‘Daphnis,’ Rabinovich found out about the original reduction of the ballet for rehearsal purposes, which became the starting point for his own arrangement based on Ravel’s.
The young Prokofiev had written three ballets for the Ballets Russes in the 1920s, whose performances of ‘Petrushka’ and ‘Daphnis’ he had seen on his first trips to Paris and London. His ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ composed in 1935 after his final return to Russia, was produced by the Kirov Theatre in 1940 presents a new, more abstract direction.
To arc the connection to the program, Rabinovich mentions these interesting facts: firstly, that Prokofiev and Stravinsky played a four-hand version of ‘Petrushka’ in Rome together, and secondly that Stravinsky personally arranged the ‘Three Movements’ from ‘Petrushka’ for Arthur Rubinstein’s own performance.
Cross-references between art-forms, as well as the direct interaction between artists always create interesting symbioses during cultural climaxes. In the spirit of such interrelated impulses of creativity, Rabinovich shares three drawings he composed for this particular program of ballet arrangements.
“Wanting to express and to communicate is instilled into all artistic creation, wanting to capture that essence, is an artist’s as well as a performer’s goal.” Says Rabinovich, who recently got also fascinated in yet another musical direction, when trying out the conductor’s baton, taking lessons for two summers with violinist and conductor Joseph Swensen at the newly founded festival U-Hac in Vermont (www.u-hac.com) : “It opened up a lot of doors in my playing and thinking about music. It is definitely I want to explore further: Seeing the big picture and connecting it through different inputs is fascinating. As pianists, we are used to create sound, suddenly I have to be able to transfer my understanding of sound, this energy to other people, just through gestures and body language – it’s still a surreal experience.”
For more information about Roman Rabinovich and to view his artwork please visit his website: www.romanrabinovich.net.