Marianna Prjevalskaya, an international personality, with roots in Spain; mentored in her formative years by her Russian mother, is a conspicuously accomplished pianist. As she journeys from one competition to another, she’s racking up prizes in every venue imaginable.
But what’s most noteworthy are her profound gifts of communication: The pianist’s phrase-loving playing has drawn audiences far and wide into an emotionally intimate bond with the composer.
In Warsaw, Poland, for example, she rendered a uniquely soulful performance of Chopin’s C# minor Prelude, Op. 45.
Most recently Maestra Prjevalskaya traveled to Fairbanks, Alaska and New Orleans, Louisiana, documenting the beauty of respective cities in her companion photo journals while she amassed the fruits of her intensely focused musical labors through arduous competitions.
In New Orleans she landed the Gold that came with $15,000 and a prestigious recital in London’s Wigmore Hall.
In her preceding northern voyage to Alaska, (the tip of the iceberg) she bedazzled LIVE and INTERNET channeled e-audiences with her Haydn, Schumann and Debussy works, deepening her world-wide exposure.
Marianna’s competitive-framed victories and recital appearances are mind-boggling! Count Spain, Poland, France, Japan, Panama, amidst her jet-swinging tours de forces.
“She has won top prizes at upwards of 20 international piano competitions, among them, the 2013 World Piano Competition in Cincinnati, and 2013 European Piano Competition in Normandy,” as the list briskly grows!
With an impressive repertoire of Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Impressionistic, and 20th Century Russian masterworks, Marianna is a well-rounded musician in every sense, expressing joy in playing solo recitals, chamber music, and concertos with orchestra.
And while her musical portfolio is ample as is, she’s added a highly praised 2012 CD release on Naxos to her array of achievements.
Prjevalskaya dances in an out of recording studios and recital halls here and abroad in presto tempo, as she’s managed to earn Artist Diplomas and Degrees from London’s Royal College of Music, Yale and Peabody.
Possessing an abundance of stellar accomplishments, the supremely gifted pianist has nevertheless remained well-grounded and humble.
Not surprisingly, her boundless sharing permeated the following interview:
1) Marianna, I noticed that your mother, Tatiana Prjevalskaya, was your first teacher. What did she impart that has been of long-lasting value in your musical journey?
I think there are two very important aspects that I could point out: the first is the importance of developing musicality: it included careful, attentive listening and appreciating music. Intonation also played a very important role. The second aspect is natural touch and organic contact with the instrument. Correct use of the arm was always a priority during the learning period.
2) Starting at age six and beyond into your teen years, what studies, repertoire were you exposed to?
As all kids do, I started with etudes by Czerny. Then I moved on to Etudes by Chopin and Liszt. My repertoire obviously was based on Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, it also included works by Schubert, Chopin, Schumann, Debussy, Shostakovich, Prokofiev. In addition to my assigned repertoire, I enjoyed learning works that were much more demanding than I could cope with. Usually that happened whenever my mother would go to work. As soon as she would leave I would take out scores like Liszt’s B minor sonata, his Totentanz, or Brahms B flat major piano concerto. Learning works like these, and being just 14 years old inspired me tremendously and gave me the boosting aspiration to become a concert pianist. In this way I basically learned all Chopin piano works when I was a kid.
3) Was the singing tone, supple wrist, and relaxed physical fluency an early part of your training?
Yes, of course. The wrist for my mother was and still is the most important part of pianist’s apparatus. The beauty of the tone, flexibility of a motive or a musical phrase all depend on the correct use of the wrist. Relaxed physical fluency is directly related to successfully mediated technical difficulties.
4) Following studies with your mother, can you describe the influences of particular mentors in the various repertoire you so beautifully render?
When I turned 17, I went to London to study with Irina Zaritskaya. She was a true Chopinist. The way she taught his music and the way she talked about him was a real revelation for me. Those were the years when I adored Chopin´s music, and I truly believe she taught me the authentic Chopin. Unfortunately she died two years later. I often remember her and think I wish I could play for her now.
Alexander Toradze introduced me to Prokofiev. I learned several of the composer’s works with him, including the 7th sonata. He could spend hours and hours working on each note. I think it was truly amazing to learn from him. I will never forget his astonishing performance of Prokofiev´s 3rd piano concerto!
Boris Berman is wonderful teaching all the styles. I would probably pick his Schumann, Brahms and Debussy. My current teacher Boris Slutsky is a very refined musician, who inspired me the most working on Schubert, Mendelssohn and Rachmaninov. In addition to the Romantic repertoire, he dazzled me working on Haydn. His sense of style is impeccable, his ornamentation always galant and imaginative and phrase-shaping versatile. Whenever he demonstrates during the lesson, his playing is always the most spontaneous and genuine.
I am very grateful to all of them, because I would not be who I am without them.
5) Your Haydn interpretation is uniquely stunning for it tone, phrase-shaping, panoply of dynamics and shadings. Is this composer particularly dear to you? And what was the very first Haydn composition that you played? (I notice that you’ve recorded the composer’s Andante and Variations on your Naxos CD) How did you choose this particular selection among others programmed?
I don’t think I remember the first Haydn’s work I learned because that was too many years ago. I think when you’re a teenager you cannot fully appreciate Haydn’s music.
Understanding his wisdom, humor, simplicity of his expression comes much later. Yes, indeed, he is very dear to me among the Classical composers. I love his Andante and Variations in F minor and that was the only reason why I decided to record this work. My original idea was to record an entire Schumann CD, but then I thought it might be more interesting to record works of different styles.
6) What do you see in your future? Would you like to combine performing, teaching, and recording in equal increments?
Yes, that would be a great combination and a good balance. I love to perform. Being on stage accords a very special feeling that I always need to experience as my life would have no sense without the stage. But I also enjoy teaching very much. I think sharing knowledge and being helpful are joyous undertakings.
7) As an aside, I notice that you have a passion for photography. Your eyes are as sensitive as your ears in capturing flowers and natural landscapes.
Has your gallery of photos (posted at your website) been a side-by-side journey of artistic revelation? http://www.pbase.com/prjevalskaya
I have always enjoyed photography, I enjoy capturing beauty, special moments that I see all of a sudden. Life goes by so fast, and photography helps me to appreciate this world better. There are so many feelings you can experience looking at a picture, making it fascinating. Sometimes I just want to capture a beautiful landscape, but in particular, I look for a specific mood or message I want to transmit. I also do pencil drawing and paint with oil. Actually, I started drawing and painting much earlier than doing photography.
Marianna, Thank You for your many insightful and illuminating answers.