Classical Music News. ru.  04.05.2016. (link)

«I will not feel defeated if I do not join the ranks of top 5 winners»

The contestant of the I International competition for young pianists Grand Piano Competition Alexander Malofeev has told why the victory is not his number one goal, revealed how he decides on the pieces to perform and explained why music is a universal language.

Interpreter (I): Alexander, do you pick the pieces for the competition repertoire personally or do you consult your teacher?
Alexander Malofeev (AM): In fact, it is quite a significant issue and my teacher Elena Berezkina usually comes to my assistance. While choosing we should mind the time limit and the other competition rules. Another point is that the current repertoire affects my following professional growth. I mean the pieces we decide on for a certain competition become a part of my programme during the whole next season. In this regard, competitions are my driving force.
Not that long ago I learnt the wonderful sonata No. 2 by Rachmaninoff and it will be soon presented to the audience. Other pieces such as Mephisto Waltz I have been performing for long. Actually, they lose a bit in this fresh eye inspiration because of it.

I: Do you perform your favourite pieces only? Don`t you and your teacher develop the special strategy and pick over pieces which can let you win?
AM: My favourite piece is always the one I am working on at this very moment. Now it is Rachmaninoff`s sonata.
I and my teacher have no victorious strategy as the competition is just a stage in my personal development. My priority today is to perform the glorious music to the judges and an audience and be personally satisfied with the quality of my performance.

I: Isn’t the victory your priority?
AM: Well, winning is great (smiling). But my opponents this year are really well-prepared and highly experienced, so, in my opinion, all of them deserve prizes, magnificent stages and best producers. Victory is a relative term in this case. I guess it will be hard to the judges to specify favourites.
Generally speaking, I will not feel defeated if I do not join the ranks of top 5 winners. Out of this top I will be still in the company of the outstanding musicians.

I: How do you manage to bring something new into the compositions which are already written and everything is strictly defined there?
AM: The music, the pieces which were written by the composer are the basis and nothing can be changed here. But it is obvious that music is not only about paper sheets with notes. You should feel the composition, perceive it not just as a text but as a some grand design of the author. Then music becomes more personal.

I: You know that among the judges of Grand Piano Competition there are many foreign maestros. Do you think their perception of music and the grading system should differ from the Russian one?
AM: I am convinced that music is a universal language. If I perform well, the judges and public feel it. I would like music to be the way to talk to my audience.

I: Were you acquainted with the contestants before the competition?
AM: Sure! I am familiarly acquainted with some of them, we had common concerts.

I: Don`t you feel that the relations between you all are rather strained? I mean, you are competing with each other.
AM: Actually, I haven`t mentioned real tension. Our relations are quite friendly, because, as Denis Matsuev says, the festival itself is in the first place. Victory is not our number one goal, we are here to enjoy the music and let the audience enjoy it.

I: You have achieved a lot at your young age. I know you participated in a large number of competitions in Russia and abroad. Do you travel much?
AM: Exactly. I often travel, but it disturbs my studies and regular rehearsals. So my frequent trips are not as cool as it may seem.

I: Do you think it is just a necessity? Don`t you take any pleasure?
AM: I certainly take great pleasure when I perform on the stage. At that moment I am taken up with music and forget all the hardships I have to get through to be there.

I: Do you have a couple of days for sightseeing?
AM: It depends. I can be too busy with preparations and rehearsals if concerts have not been planned in advance. Other times our schedule includes some days off and we can go sightseeing as it was organized at Denis Matsuev’s festival “Stars on Baikal”.

I: Do you often suffer from a luck of spare time?
AM: Frankly speaking, if I had spare time, I would also spend it on music practice.

I: You act pretty confident on the stage. Is it your experience that affects your confidence?
AM: In a sense. Artistic experience brings confidence, but I cannot completely get rid of nervousness. Anyway, I believe it is natural, it helps me pull myself together. Another thing is stage fright, it might be rather tricky.

I: What moment is the most important one in your performance?
AM: I am nervous right before my going out onto the stage. But it passes off and during the performance I only focus on the playing.

I: Doesn`t the audience draw your attention away? Are you stay concentrated on music?
AM: They are people I am playing for. I always want my audience to get fresh and bright impressions from my performance.

I: Tell a bit about your mother. Do you feel her support now?
AM: It goes without saying. My mother and my teacher support me greatly during the competitions. As for any other person, it is essential for me to feel love of my nearest and dearest.

I: How did you get into music?
AM: My mother took me to the music school, and I realized that I loved it. I was carried along by all these sounds.

I: Did your mother expect it?
AM: At first it was my hobby. As far as I know my mother did not want me to be a pianist. However, she accepted the situation, when it turned to be something more serious than an extracurricular activity. Now she is a kind of my personal manager and I highly appreciate what she is doing for me.

I: Have you ever thought that your life could have had another turn?
AM: Honestly speaking, I cannot imagine my life without music. It means too much for me now.

Interviewed Jan Abu-Zeid.