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Artistic vision

Classical pianist who explores new approaches to making classical music more accessible to audiences

 

New OLD freedom for classical music in the digitalized world

 

I always wondered, listening to historical recordings, why are they so interesting and moving? Why do they sound so different from the similar content of today?

It remained an uncertainty for me, until I came across a brief comment Vladimir Horowitz made during a recording of Mozart concerto No. 23 at the very end of his life:

“I understand this music not in classical way, but completely free.”

Horowitz's statement, although it sounds a bit abstract, brought the long awaited revelation. We, his followers, are ‘too classical’ in our understanding of music. A wealth of academic knowledge and regulations was generated during the second half of the XX century around classical music. A web of extremely detailed rules and constraints on what is acceptable in classical music, and what is not, dominates anyone who strives to be a  professional.

Horowitz refuses to be 'classical' in this way. He brings forward other driving forces of the performance. His “Absolute freedom” is spontaneity, intuition, personal way of expression, and other deeply subjective, uncertain and risky things which can’t be 'squeezed' into the framework of predefined regulations.

I think this approach was the main secret of the masters from long-ago. They were ‘too free’, from our point of view. This was the exact reason why they managed to sound so delightful, unpredictable, and moving.

My idea is that this fact deals not only with the past. It deals with the very nature of our art, and therefore it might be a valuable aid for the artists in the digitalized world.

We are aware that the interest to our genre is decreasing, especially in the younger generation.  The concert attendance is going down, and the lively debates on the future of classical music have sprouted everywhere.

We live in the age of fast evolving technology and flood of information.  Myriads of new technologically based attractions keep appearing to compete for public’s attention, time, and money.  The listener's tastes have also changed. People’s attention became distracted and superficial, shifting from one thing to another in the race to consume as much as possible. This robs the listener of the accurate perception of classical music.

Despite these changes, we cannot afford to deem classical music unimportant in the digital age.

This music is a set of the unique sound discoveries made over the centuries, deeply rooted in human cultural experience.  It surpasses the matter of entertainment and subjective bias. Classical music is an integral part of the European cultural DNA, and the tool that makes people and communities more humane, friendly, and productive in many ways.

I believe to save the day, is to come back to the ‘non-classical’ artistic freedom of expression in the spirit of the masters of the past. To reduce some of the excessive academic ‘correctness’ that makes classical music stiff and irrelevant to the modern audience. Like in the good old days, musicians should have the right to be artistically free, sincere, and risky without the fear of being ‘wrong’ or ‘mistaken’.

This would make them ‘less classical’ in a modern sense, but ‘more classical’ in substance, in the sense of tradition and the invaluable legacy preserved in historical recordings.