Olga is not only a superb pianist- her CD shows off her deep soulful & expressive playing with a highly refined ear for counterpoint, layers and structure- but her concert transcription of the Vitali Chaconne for solo piano is an absolute masterpiece, and she has also done a PhD on polyphony in Rachmaninov’s music… I absolutely had to interview her!
I’m afraid my enthusiasm for details about bells and the structure of the Rachmaninov 2nd Sonata made the beginning of this episode perhaps a little self indulgent! But from 8 minutes in, you can learn about how Rachmaninov was influenced by Russian folk music (and I guarantee this will be new information for you!), and we spend quite a while chatting about the importance of learning to really listen when developing as a pianist- particularly with counterpoint and polyphony.
Anybody who’s serious about becoming a better pianist will pick up many important tips from the Russian School of Piano Playing which Olga explains passionately and clearly.
All audio clips are from Olga’s CD ‘Chaconnes & Songs’
- Olga’s CD and a theme of bells? [2:10]
- Similarities between chaconne structure and Rachmaninov’s 2nd Sonata (and other works by Rachmaninov) [4:25]
- Influences of Russian polyphonic folk music on Rachmaninov [8:10]
- Olga’s background and career as pianist, teacher/lecturer, and her PhD
- Developing listening skills for polyphony [15:30]
- The importance of listening/hearing for all aspects of piano technique and communication [21:10]
- Physical technique to create a deep, rich sound [28:00]
- Practising and teaching listening/hearing skills [31:40]
- Violin repertoire [42:40]
Violin pieces transcribed for piano, and the art of transcription
- About Olga’s transcriptions [53:50]
- How to perform to a red light- recording! [1:04:25]
- How to memorise lots of music quickly and efficiently [1:11:45]
- More on violin repertoire- the importance of listening to other instruments to develop as a pianist [1:18:35]
Olga’s website: https://www.olgageorgievskaya.com/
Olga’s CD on YouTube: https://youtu.be/-25snI7MH6M
Olga’s CD on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/2FLsApNvQVIvJnabXBQrRf?si=d8aV0O97RdC0dK1_xmdb3w
Buy Olga’s CD on Amazon! https://www.amazon.com/Chaconnes-Songs-Olga-Georgievskaya/dp/B00P9FC3ME
(UK link here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Chaconnes-Songs-Olga-Georgievskaya/dp/B00P9FC3ME)
A website where you can listen to Russian polyphonic folk music: mp3mn.com/?song=ромода
but on my computer at least, this link doesn’t work- you have to use a Russian proxy server… a link that works for now is: http://china.stanislaw.ru/ – and then download the tracks (using a translating plugin for your browser! Sorry this is so complicated! Olga assures me this is a legal website, and not illegal downloading)
An article about Le Mystère Des Voix Bulgares- the Bulgarian folk choir I referred to (and yes, they do sound quite similar!): https://thevinylfactory.com/features/mystere-des-voix-bulgares-4ad-story/
One great version of the Bach Chaconne (but this can cause big arguments over which is best, or even adequate!): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QqA3qQMKueA
The Vitali Chaconne played by Heifetz (essential listening!): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvtibhCdepQ
The Vitali Chaconne played by Sarah Chang (I’m so sorry, I really did know this, I don’t know why I said Vanessa Mae- in my defense, they were both very famous at around the same time!)- gorgeous full-blooded Romantic playing- with an orchestration by Respighi: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOxVK0-dQ1E
Some information about the Vitali Chaconne: http://www.sheilascorner.com/vitali.html
Rachmaninov plays his own (partial) transcription of Bach’s third Partita for unaccompanied violin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbTqEYrolQk
You can buy Olga’s transcriptions here (don’t just go by the titles at the top of the page, you need to click on the images further down to see what’s in them): https://www.olgageorgievskaya.com/transcriptions
The Youth and the Maiden by Dargomyzhsky, sung by Dmitri Hvorostovsky: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTLP2nXkREQ
One of the Rachmaninov song transcriptions by Earl Wild (these are hard to find online played by the master himself): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KpO3-yZM3I
As I said in the podcast, the whole album by Earl Wild is one of my top 10 desert island discs- I urge every pianist who loves Rachmaninov to have a copy of this: https://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/earl-wild-plays-rachmaninov-song-transcriptions
A Volodos transcription of a Rachmaninov song- this is like sorcery to me… when I learnt to play this I just felt like something otherworldly & literally magical was coming from my fingers! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0OS8-ezNCks
For me, the definitive performance of the Sibelius Violin Concerto by Heifetz- this recording has given me such bliss through my life: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPGPlHsI7Es
I’m really sorry about the sound quality from my phone- I had no idea it was so noisy- I think it was the sound of my phone rubbing against my face… I won’t make that mistake again!
It might sound like I’m being a bit rude to Olga and not saying ‘hi’ back right at the beginning- but we’d already been chatting and saying hello before starting the podcast so I was a bit thrown!
I didn’t realise that the lag from the UK to Moscow meant that I had to shut up and wait for Olga to listen to my question before she could answer- so I kept talking sometimes when waiting for a reply… sorry!