1983 "A PLUS" TV Interview with Mstislav Rostropovich
This interview aired in 1983 on the British TV programme "A PLUS", a day before Dimitris Sgouros' London debut with the London Philharmonic Orchestra
Elaine Grand: When did you first hear Dimitris play?
Mstislav Rostropovich: At first it was my very dearest friends tell me about him. And tell me that something very, very special. And I invited him to Washington National Orchestra, and here I flew to New York and heard him play in rehearsal, first time I hear him just in rehearsal, but rehearsal without orchestra - only he play for me. 3rd Rachmaninov. And he would like to play 3rd Rachmaninov. He like very much this composition. I a little bit worried because that's a 12 year old playing Rachmaninov 3rd piano concerto [this was in 1982], that's really very something exceptional! I ask him maybe another concerto. "No, I would like 3rd Rachmaninov!" Yes, I accept, I accept. And in rehearsal he play for me and I considered - that's what my friend tell me - that's really a miracle.
Grand: A miracle?
Rostropovich: A miracle, yes, that's only one word, a miracle.
Grand: What do you mean when you say a miracle - technique, perhaps?
Rostropovich: No, you know, that's from God, everything's from God. You know, he have very big - 13 years old - very big hands... he have no difficulties.. that's also for 13 years old very rare. He have all possibility technical, but that's not all.. he is a musician, that's a miracle. In 13 years, he have enormously clever grasp, he play practically all piano repertoire with orchestra. He know music enormously. And I think that if you ask me, that he play piano, 13 years old... if he were 50 years old, or 70 years old, or even 90 years old... that's a great pianist.
Grand: But what about the matter of interpretation, which requires a kind of emotional wisdom? How can any young person have that?
Rostropovich: You know that some people created this feeling during the first 5, 6, 10 years... but he have no time to create his emotional [wisdom]... he already have this!
Grand: He was born with that?
Rostropovich: Born with it, yes, I think so...
Grand: You yourself were a prodigy, you started...
Rostropovich: No, no, no.. I am not a prodigy.. I begin playing piano 4 years old but that's because my family were musicians.. my father was cellist, my mother pianist.. that's why I am always in the music... and my father no push me absolutely.. and that's also very important for Dimitris, because Dimitris that's a real young boy... in another side, a great pianist, great musician, very serious.. but if he came away from piano.. he still boy... he likes my dog Puss [sp?], and during rehearsal in my suite, he always look what I see.. what happens with my dog.. and he likes to pick up and immediately jump to my dog, and plays with him... Well, that's miracle, you know...
Grand: But where can you draw the line between nourishing, encouraging this talent that you call a miracle, and pushing it too hard?
Rostropovich: No, you know I think that this kind of talent.. have inside this talent, a really very powerful jet.... and that jet, that motor if you like.. you know... that power inside.. and this power take it himself to the progress.. because such talent.. like a Mozart, you know.. who push Mozart? Nobody - Mozart is Mozart...
Grand: What about the very pressure of public performances?
Rostropovich: You know, that he understands the meaning of success.. He understands.. and that's not bad... because he play for public, he play for listener and of course a reaction from listener that's very important... for any artist.. and of course if I don't know what happens if he have some disappointment from critics, or not enough great success for public, I don't know what happens with him... but I know if he disappointed after bad critics, or after less success.. I'm sure that's only for small period... he recover immediately, yes...
Grand: Well, if you were in complete charge of Dimitris' career... he is just 13 now... over the next ten years... how would you - almost if he was an athlete - how would you pace him?
Rostropovich: You know I think that's.. for his future important.. to have around him good friends, good musicians... great musicians... now for him is important to make contact with such musicians like Rudolf Serkin, with such musicians as Yehudi Menuhin, Isaac Stern... that's in this level... if he have such friends in the music, then he immediately take all the best from each performers.. of each great musicians... but that's important.. but I know for example sometimes I developed my musical quality very quick.. and I have stopped... so far I don't understand this.. excuse my English, so bad... but I just stopped with my progress, with my development.. and who helped for me enormously this moment? Prokofiev, composer. Because I was his young friend.. and Prokofiev opened for me just another side of music, very human sides of music.. and that's enormously important for me... and I think maybe if Dimitris get in future some difficulties for his development.. I think he must have near to him great musicians. That's all..
Grand: Someone like you, Maestro..
Rostropovich: Well, I'm not sure about me.. I mention other names, much greater than I...
Grand: Thank you very much for joining us today.
Rostropovich: Thank you very much.
© 1983 Thames
Sgouros plays Khachaturian Toccata for Rostropovich
Sgouros with Rostropovich and Cecile Ousset at the Harrogate International Festival - "International Celebrity Concerts"
[click on photo to enlarge]
A fewwell-worn favourites from Dimitris Sgouros' record collection!
Dimitris Sgouros belongs to that select number of musicians who have successfully made the transition from child prodigy to mature artist. Poignancy, spontaneity, vitality, commanding virtuosity tempered with sensitivity, allied to an inspired and deeply probing musical intuition – these are the hallmarks of his alluring style. Sgouros himself insists on the highest attainable standards, acknowledging that his musicianship involves a never-ending process of learning and reappraisal. His unwavering pursuit of artistic integrity and excellence has earned him a special place in the pantheon of contemporary pianists.
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