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These ideals, shared by the teachers and artists who lived, worked and created the atmosphere of the St Petersburg Conservatory, manifested themselves in techniques and methods, but above all, outlook. Music was conceived not as a mere tournament, or entertainment, nor as expression of the performer, or even recreation of the composer's notational intention (though music could be any of those things as well), but as a profound search for the perfect sound; the perfect realization of the composers' highest ideal through the medium of the piano.

This may seem vague and vaguely suspect, but the St Petersburg tradition also insured that it did not devolve into idle fancy by grounding itself on severe standards of technique and professionalism. Technique was not a goal, but an absolute necessity for the attainment of the ideal.

Vladislav Kovalsky
Vladislav Kovalsky

Without question, Vladislav Kovalsky is one of the most compelling representatives of this tradition in America today. A pianist of thorough training, he studied in St Petersburg in the late 1960s with Nathan Perelman. He is an artist of deep insight and his repertoire extends from the Baroque to the Modern. What he brings to piano playing is a deep seriousness and almost philosophic reverence for the sound of the piano.

Listen -- example 1 -- Scriabin: Poem Op 32 No 1

(Live performance. Musical Mosaic 15, 23 November 2003, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Engineered by Harold Harrison and Gordon Rumson. Used with permission. Steinway and Sons Piano courtesy of Irene Besse Keyboards Ltd.)

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Copyright © 25 March 2004 Gordon Rumson, Calgary, Canada


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