Pianist Mira Yevtich in Interview Print E-mail
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Written by Colin Clarke   
Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Pianist Mira Yevtich in Interview

This interview comes about in response to a disc of music by the Australian composer Grant Foster (see review below). Mira Yevtich appears as soloist in the Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra , part of the Pearl of Dubai Suite. This Fantasy is actually the fourth movement and balances the exquisite Romance for Cello and Orchestra: Nicholas and Alexandra, which also includes a solo instrument. Although the Fantasy for piano and orchestra: Anastasia is the fourth movement of the Suite, Yevtich also plays it as a stand-alone piece.

I point out that the piano’s first entrance in the Fantasy seems heavily influenced by Rachmaninoff, to my ears. And then, later, there are shadows of Prokofiev, yet it all amounts to a cogent sound-picture. Yevtich, however, hears “no sign of Rachmaninoff or Prokofiev. Grant Foster’s music is music in itself as it is romantic music. It could be from the period before Tchaikovsky. You have to understand that in the 19th century there was a veritable bouquet of romantic composers in Europe and in Russia. However, there was nothing in the U.K., U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South America, Africa, and Japan. I am looking at Grant Foster as a composer who was not copying composers. He was naturally born to make romantic music in a country where there was no baroque music like Handel. Australia began to develop much later: it got romantic composers like Miriam Hyde at the beginning of the 20th century, and Grant Foster. Grant Foster for Australia is like the time before Tchaikovsky in Russia.”

What, then, are the challenges she faces? “The challenge is to bring to the music world, as a pianist performer, not just the usual way of atonal modern music but something which these countries and continents deserve to have. I do not just perform the music of Peter Sculthorpe, Carl Vine, Nigel Butterley, Richard Meale, and Ann Carr-Boyd but that part of romantic music that each country had before.”

Yevtich changes role to that of accompanist for The Ballad of Reading Gaol . The setting is more desolate than the Suite by some way, and her playing seems to reflect this. There’s an almost Schubertian shape to the vocal lines and their seeming ease of inspiration, yet the angst in some of the writing goes beyond anything, harmonically, Schubert wrote. I ask Yevtich to comment, and whether chamber music and accompanying forms a big part of her life? “I do not agree that there are just pianist performers: every pianist must know how to play chamber music and vocal music. In my repertoire, I have many works for violin and piano. When I got my diploma of a bachelor’s of music from the Central School of Music and my Ph.D. from Moscow State Conservatory, one studied chamber music for four years as a separate subject, including working with singers. Foster is a composer who produces a lot of beautiful melodies. All melodies, in general, today can send you to Schumann, Schubert, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, and Rachmaninoff songs. But I would not say Foster’s work reminds me of other composers. Grant was extremely inspired by Oscar Wilde’s poem, which is very tragic and of course, so equally is the music.”

A working relationship with Foster is clearly important to Yevtich. “He has a very beautiful soul, and he is a very good human being. Our relationship is continuously developing. Sometimes I ask him to write some music for a special occasion. But the choice of Oscar Wilde’s poem, in the work on our disc, was his alone. For me, also, I have to have a very special singer who can inspire me. Tenor Andrew Goodwin, the soloist in the present recording, is that kind of singer.” Yevtich’s relationship with Foster runs deep: “We were joint organizers of the South Highlands International Piano Competition until 2011. Now, we are starting a new International Piano Competition under the patronage of Valery Gergiev. What is most important for me now is to have founded and organized the International Piano Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia, called ‘Contemporary Piano Faces’ at the Mariinsky Concert Hall. The idea is to bring musicians who are surpassing technical considerations and creating a direct connection between the composer and themselves.”

I am obviously curious, also to know something about Yevtich herself, and her history. “I was born in Belgrade, Serbia. In the late 1960s a very famous professor visited Belgrade, Evgeny Timakin. After many years working with talented young children, he chose two pianists: Ivo Pogorelich and myself. He suggested that the City of Belgrade grant us a scholarship. Then, I graduated from the Central School of Music in Moscow (in Timakin’s class) and the Tchaikovsky State Conservatory, Moscow, under S. Neuhaus. Later, a big influence on me was definitely Boris Berlin, with whom I was granted a second doctorate at the Gnessin Academy.” And other artistic influences? “Great artists who are no longer with us like Glenn Gould, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, Claudio Arrau, Emil Gilels, Toscanini, Pablo Casals, Furtwängler, and Bernstein to name a few. I am happy to be living today with great artists like Gergiev, Bashmet, V. Afanasiev, Piers Lane, and Nicolas Angelich”. I suggest that this is a remarkably international list. “Yes, thanks to my very highly educated parents, I consider myself international, living in Australia, Russia, and in Europe.” Yevtich’s recording activities, likewise, spread their wings far and wide: She has recorded with labels such as Quartz (London), Col Legno (Germany), Bel Air (Monte Carlo), amongst others.

Yevtich’s approach to music is that of ongoing study. “The life as an artist is constant work and development, and I am open to learn every day something new about the piano. Currently, I study with the fantastic Professor Marina Wolf from St Petersburg.”

FOSTER The Pearl of Dubai Suite. 1,2,4,5,6,7 The Ballad of Reading Gaol 1,3 1 Mira Yevtich (pn); 2 Sergey Roldugin (vc); 3 Andrew Goodwin (ten); 4 Zaurbek Gugkaev, cond; 5 Novaya Rossia SO; 6 Hermitage SO; 7 Belorussia SO QUARTZ 2091 (67:22)

FOSTER Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra: Anastasia. The Ballad of Reading Gaol

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 23 January 2013 )
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