Chopin? I keep on discovering him…

Thursday, 16 December 2010
“There is no single interpretation of his music,” says Yulianna Avdeeva, the winner of the 16th Chopin Competition.
Anna S. Dębowska: How do you understand the idea of playing Chopin in line with the style?
Yulianna Avdeeva: There are certain rules connected to his music, rhythm, tempo rubato, and sound. It is what we call the style. Yet what Chopin calls for from the performer is love, and a personal attitude. There is no single interpretation of his music, and the margin given to liberty is vast. I am fascinated in the genesis of his works. He was a consummate improviser, and many of his works originated from recordings of his earlier improvisations. Enduring in them is the spirit of freedom and inspiration. Mazurkas are always an unfinished story, there is always a sense of doubt suspended at their end—the idea becomes suspended. Chopin requires an unbelievable readiness, an open mind to allow for the summoning of the elusive, poetic character so typical of him at a concert. This is, quite naturally, even more difficult to achieve at a competition.
Are you planning to focus your career on Chopin?
This is what everyone expects from me now, do they not? Yet, I would like to find time for other composers too. Chopin is a crucial part of my repertoire. I have played piano since I was five, and Chopin nearly from that day. My acquaintance with him was gradual; it began with the short forms, and then came the ballads and scherzos, which I first played for myself and only later at recitals. It is music that does not allow boredom, and I continue to discover it. I want to learn the Sonata in B-flat major, and more mazurkas. This is still all ahead of me. The competition helped me to understand Chopin better; during the Warsaw competition I lived solely on his music for nearly a month. This was not your first visit to Warsaw.
Do you feel ties with Poland?
My mother studied at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, and to this day she speaks fluent Polish. Thanks to her, I became acquainted with the great Polish pianist, Halina Czerny-Stefańska (winner of the Chopin Competition in 1949—editor’s note) when she was a member of the jury of the Tchaikovsky Competition. My mother was studying under Professor Ludwik Stefański and played for Halina Czerny-Stefańska. Poland was my first foreign visit, when I was just eight. And in 2002, I won the 5th Artur Rubinstein in Memoriam Competition in Bydgoszcz. It was then that I got to know Rafał Blechacz, who came in second. Today, we are both winners of the Chopin Competition. Amazing!
Beethoven Magazine No. 10
The entire interview was first published in the Gazeta Wyborcza national daily, October 23th—24th, 2010.

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