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Musical journey

The Pergamenschikow-Gililov recordings 1984-1994 -
reviewed by TESS CREBBIN

'... peak performances ...'

Janacek, Debussy, Strawinsky, Debussy, Ravel. © 2003 Aulos Musikado

Seven CDs in total are on review in this two-part series on the complete Pergamenschikow/Gililov CDs, at Orfeo and Aulos. Listening to them is a musical journey through some of the most productive years of the Russian master cellist and his celebrated piano partner and also an auditory documentation of their life-long friendship. Award-winning pianist Pavel Gililov and star-cellist Boris Pergamenschikow knew each other from childhood, when they were both studying at St Petersburg conservatory. Gililov was a talented boy from the provinces, earth-bound and nature loving. His no-nonsense approach to life was in stark contrast to Pergamenschikow's, a city-kid genius equally at home in the fields of music, literature and any other intellectual pursuits. Older by two years, Pergamenschikow was all brains, discipline and aesthetics, his nose usually buried in books or musical scores when he wasn't hanging out with his cello or his intellectual circle of friends. His favorite past-times were composing, Chinese poetry, and literature. Gililov, on the other hand, liked to roam the countryside and he even knew how to look for mushrooms there, something that Pergamenschikow didn't have a clue about. So, when their two universes met, it was a true enrichment for both of the young men.

For Gililov, Pergamenschikow became something of an older brother who taught him about the finer things in life and about the importance of personal integrity. Pergamenschikow, in turn, let Gililov drag him away from the elegant city streets, and into the Russian forests, where the refined and well-dressed city boy learned to look for an evening's meal of self-gathered mushrooms and to distinguish the sounds of nature. Not only that, but the happy-go-lucky Gililov also taught his older friend about letting loose and having fun with an evening out, sans books. Pergamenschikow, who stemmed from St Peterburg and had a lovely family there and a nice city apartment of his own, took the younger Gililov under his wings and helped the boy from the provinces to feel more at home in the big city. He took him home to meet his mother and introduced him to all his friends. When it came time for them both, having won various important competitions in their own categories, (Pergamenschikow winning the 1974 Tchaikovsky Competition, Gililov the 1972 National Piano Competition), to head westward, it was Pergamenschikow who chose their final destination.

'I wanted to go to the United States,' Gililov remembers, 'but Boris talked me into coming to Germany instead. He said that it was better, musically, because there were more opportunities for professional musicians in Germany.' In 1977, Pergamenschikow came to the West and got a teaching position straight away at the Cologne Music Academy. When Gililov followed, one year later, Pergamenschikow helped the younger man to establish himself in Germany and eventually he used his contacts to get him a teaching position at the same institution, which Gililov holds to this day.

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Copyright © 6 October 2004 Tess Crebbin, Germany


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