While neither of my parents played any instrument (apart from my father's claim he could play "Chopsticks" on the piano), both enjoyed almost exclusively classical music. The absence of musical instruments was balanced by plenty of recordings, not only of the standard repertoire, but also of lesser-known works. Even though only six or seven years old, I also had my little collection of records and I remember that some of my first ones were of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas: The Mikado, The Pirates of Penzance and HMS Pinafore (the latter a 1949 stereo LP), and that I listened to them many times. I also attendend concerts regularly, usually of orchestral music, where I became acquainted with Grieg, Vivaldi and even such luminaries as Bottesini.
Encouraged by an older brother who was learning the guitar and by the presence in the house of the first flautist of the local symphony orchestra, I began playing the treble (alto) recorder, taking lessons for some years. My repertoire included Loeillet, Telemann, Marcello and Handel.
After some years and following the acquisition of a piano by an even older brother, I switched from the recorder to the piano. For over five years I took lessons from a graduate of the Paris Conservatoire and my repertoire included Bach's Inventions and Sinfonias, his Toccatas and The Well-Tempered Clavier, Beethoven's Sonatas opp 27/2 (complete) and 31/3, Mozart's sonatas Kk 330, 332, 333 and 545, Grieg's Lyric Pieces and Elegiac Melodies, Schubert's Impromptus op 90, Gershwin's Preludes and song arrangements (The Man I Love, Lady be Good, etc), Shostakovich's Fantastic Dances and Granados's Spanish Dances.
After graduating I left home and travelled extensively, living in Florence, Paris, Stuttgart, Bristol and London. Pianos were available now and then, notably in Bristol and in Paris, where I had access to a parlour grand. In Florence I rented a Baldwin, similar to the one I had sold before travelling; mostly, however, life was pianoless.
In 2007 I married, rented another piano and started playing again in earnest.
In 2010, after hearing for the first time the works of Bortkiewicz on Piano Society, I decided it was time to learn new music and have since become acquainted with the works of Galuppi, Field, Aleksandr Tcherepnin, Glinka, Mateo Albéniz, Rautavaara, Chernov and, of course, Bortkiewicz.
When not practising I work as a consultant for language, art, landscape and music schools.
My Russian wife and I have a small daughter, who will someday be either a ballerina or an opera singer; or maybe even both, who knows?
I thank you for listening and hope you have enjoyed my playing. To improve even further, I need a better instrument. Your donation will be invested in a quality grand piano for me and my little daughter, who goes to sleep every evening while I play.
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