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'Performing with others is an essential part of the artist's repertoire. 'Yes, I was lucky enough to play with Casals. My wife Natalia Zertsalova, Casals and I played trios together -- a great schooling for me, and an unforgettable event. Playing with Menuhin was also an honour and happiness. I was lucky to appear with great conductors like Klemperer, Karajan, Reiner, Solti, Giulini, and so on -- until now, I am happy to learn from each of my great colleagues.'

How about other artists on the circuit? 'I've known Gidon Kremer for years, and Raphael Oleg I've admired since he won the Moscow Competition. He and I are now jury members. I am always busy playing and teaching. Now, in general it is the very talented Chinese, Japanese and Korean players, like the Korean-born Canadian Julietta Krank who won the Indianapolis Competition. There are many!'

'I established a festival in Estonia, dedicated to my father's name, and one with my name on in Iserion in Germany. But I am not arranging them myself.

'Instead, I do several concerts in Austria at Krems near Vienna, where I play many programmes. Then there is chamber music with colleagues, and with my family -- my wife and son. We recorded the Brahms Piano Quintet in F minor with the wonderful cellist Michael Notas from München, and several Trios like Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov. Notas feels Russian music in a wonderful way.'

Real performing skills have never ceased to amaze and impress me, but do instrumentalists outside Russia generally have the right feelings for the interpretation of Russian music? 'No, not always. My father was never in that position, because then he would say the English cannot play French music, and vice versa! The great talents are above the borders between countries -- they feel the style and national specification of another country's music.'

'I'm always trying -- I don't know how much I succeed -- when I play Beethoven and Brahms in Germany, or Ravel and Saint-Saëns in France. I hope they are accepted. When I played the Elgar Concerto in London it went well, because I really love this music. Of course, with a first performance it is another story -- there is no tradition. On the other hand, where music possesses tradition, it is very difficult to avoid it. There are recordings of the Elgar with the fifteen-year-old Menuhin, Heifetz and Sammons that are all fantastic, but they're completely different! You know, my father played Elgar's Concerto only once in a 1946 cycle of five programmes which included Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Brahms and Tchaikovsky. And during the few months that summer he learnt the Elgar, Sibelius and Walton concerti. The performances were all marvellous, and he had a letter from Walton praising his interpretation!'

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Copyright © 9 February 2003 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK


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