Artist Interview: Ignat Solzhenitsyn, piano

By jwoods on February 13, 2012

For our next artist interview, pianist Ignat Solzhenitsyn was gracious enough to sit down and answer a few questions about his upcoming performance with the Brentano Quartet on Sunday, February 19th at the Perelman Theater.

Ignat Solzhenitsyn

Ignat Solzhenitsyn

Juliet Woods:  What is it like for you to perform with the Brentano Quartet? How is playing with a chamber ensemble different for you?

Ignat Solzhenitsyn:  In the case of the Brentanos, I have known them since before they became a quartet, i.e. for more than twenty years now!  So working with them just feels second-nature; we hardly need to discuss anything. In other situations, when joining a quartet one does not know, there is indeed more of an adjustment, since the dynamic is actually more similar to a one-on-one meeting than to a chamber music meeting (say, at a summer festival), where all might be new to each other.

JW:  Ginastera's Piano Quintet is a piece that not all of our audience members will be familiar with. What are the challenges of this piece? What is it like to perform it?

IS:  The rarely-heard Ginastera Quintet is a thrilling piece of avant-garde expressionism.  Although its tonal language is at times astringent, its rhythmic energy and structural cohesiveness make for compelling listening.  For us performers, it is most unusual, in a chamber work, to find a cadenza - and not one, but three of them!  So the four traditional movements - weighty opening, witty scherzo, wistful slow movement, rollicking finale - are interspersed with cadenzas for viola and cello, then the two violins, and finally solo piano.  All these push our instruments, and our techniques, to the very limit, while never losing sight of a grander musical purpose.  And the brief, demonic finale is as hair-raising a finish as one could ever wish for!

Ignat Solzhenitsyn, piano and the Brentano Quartet appear on Sunday, February 19th at 3 pm at the Perelman Theater. For tickets and information, visit the concert page or call the PCMS Box Office at 215-569-8080.