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Alexei Syumak: “Beautifully drawn musical scores and sound beautiful!»

Composers are rapidly getting younger. And use unusual tools, strokes and harmonies. I was personally convinced of this by the review of young talents at the Winter International Art Festival in Sochi. “I’m looking for a new Schnittke,”as the festival’s founding father, violist and conductor Yuri Bashmet has often said.

Bashmet is a great friend of the composer Alexander Tchaikovsky, head of the composition Department at the Moscow Conservatory. Yuri Abramovich has a thirst to search for and play new things in his blood: for half a century, music for him was written by modern composers all over the world, from Schnittke onwards, and many, now classical, works are strongly associated only with the basmet viola. There were just not many works for solo viola.
Every year, the Sochi festival hosts performances of at least a few new compositions — this time, several world premieres were also vividly presented. One of them, for example, belongs to the pen of a member of the jury of the competition — 44-year-old Swiss-Italian Oscar Bianchi. In his “Piece for Guitar” on the red “Strata” masterfully played the German Niko KUKE, and conducted by Bashmet himself. Amazing piece: like a mix of djordja Ligeti and Steve Vai! Noise that turns into harmony. Very curious.One of the most fashionable Moscow composers, Alexey Syumak, winner of the prestigious theater award “Golden mask”, worked in the jury of the competition at all stages, starting from the selection of scores. And this is what he said stereo.ru about new trends in the composer’s craft and his personal rapid rise to the modern musical and theatrical Olympus.
— Do you have this perception: a beautiful score means good music?— On the one hand, my perception is “spoiled” by a very long reading of notes. I learned them in early childhood, and I remember at a certain point it was easier for me to understand the notes than the usual Russian text. The notes are like family to me — I take the score and immediately hear it, note mistakes in voice recognition, and so on. Nothing special: everyone can learn, I’m sure — it’s just a matter of personal experience.So, I was surprised to find out that the external beauty of scores, aesthetics-and there are also very beautiful ones, like paintings and calligraphy! – so, paradoxically, they sound good! It’s connected somehow. I see the external beauty — and immediately hear the acoustic one. It is very, very rare for a score to look good — especially in the case of modern graphic scores-but it turns out that there is a lot of everything, but everything is secondary…

— How did you get into music at the age of six — and reach the Golden mask award by the age of forty?
— I studied music from the age of five. Or even earlier: in our family, it is customary to study at a music school and finish it well. I don’t know what this is about… But from the age of five, my mother taught me piano, and it all started even earlier. Music played all the time in the house: my grandmother sang, my grandfather, though he had no muses. he was educated, had a very beautiful baritone voice, and knew a great many arias by heart. He still knows them! Then the teacher started coming, and she found that I had absolute hearing. When I was six years old, I remember this day! — my mother and grandmother took me to a music school. I was accepted to the first class on the violin.In the fifth grade, I wanted to try some other instrument. I asked my grandmother to sign me up for clarinet, and I graduated from high school both as a violinist and as a clarinetist.
— And then you faced a painful choice… – No: I liked the clarinet so much that I decided to enter the Gnessin school as a clarinetist. And then I became interested in studying music — not only as a performer, but to try myself in a different quality… I became more interested in communicating with music theorists. I went to classes with them. In short, in the end I finished gnesinka also as a theorist.I came to the Conservatory, where I was preparing as a clarinetist, and two months before I entered it, I decided that I would enter two directions: wind and composition. And you will not believe it, but it was in this year that it was announced that the second education can only be paid.This is where the agony of choice began! I began to wonder: well, just like God on the soul will put… Dropped out-composer’s. Many people were shocked: Sokolov, the head of the brass Department, and Zhenya Petrov studied with me a lot, but I just didn’t come to the exam. “Are you crazy, why do you need this???”,- everyone shouted. Ah fate I have such a, that do about it. But I didn’t change my composing business any more.
— You, of course, training on the violin and clarinet helped to compose.— Yes, I know firsthand how to play by and large on any stringed instrument. Yes, and on the wind. And this is a large part of the Symphony orchestra.
— Here in the Philistine consciousness, the composer’s education — as well as modern serious music-is something incomprehensible. It is believed that here is a melodic gift, like rock musicians, and nothing more is needed for a beautiful melody.— Yes, great rock musicians are completely different: I heard the song — and remembered it for life!

— So what do they learn besides technical stuff?— Technologies. There is a subject of instrumentology — the flute can play from such a note to such a note, this key is convenient, and this one is not, French horns are recorded this way, and sound differently. This is how you go through the entire Symphony orchestra. Then they teach you a strict style of polyphony, as in the XV–XVI centuries. From the very basics — how to write a strict style melody correctly, what is the reason for this type of movement.In the Baroque era, there were no professional musicians — the notes had to be understood by everyone at once. So, if you make a leap of a third up, then you must go down for a second. Otherwise, the singer will not draw out the notes. And it is necessary that the musical text should be clear to everyone, and that it should be quickly learned and performed — in fact, it could be sung from a sheet.A modern composer must be proficient in various instruments and have a deep understanding of their technology. This is dictated by modern composing techniques. You know very well that back in the 50s they invented a technique that is not based on the development of thematic material, on the contrary — thematic material serves as a technology for the development of sound. To understand how it can develop and live, you need to understand the tool.The composer must be a very good musician himself — perhaps he must know a little more about the instrument for which he writes than the performer himself. It is known that Witold Lutoslawski invented a new cello neck-allegedly in order to make it easier for him to play. Natalia Gutman, who played this piece, later admitted that she had to reinvent the technique.We are still working on sonoristics, but we haven’t completely exhausted it. Many things can’t be written down with notes. Note Sol — where and how to get it on the violin? In different positions on the fretboard, what flageolet, to hold the bow along the string or across, sul ponticello, sul tasto… to Come up with new expressive means is the task of a modern composer.Many of my friends and fellow composers don’t just know how to play different instruments, they buy them and even create new ones. All this gives a field for the invention of new music.

— You know, my favorite theme: Baroque is rock and roll yesterday and today. Like the same self-taught guys with guitars… Only baracnicka were believers, and rokenrols atheists or Satanists.
— Well, Yes, two sides of the same coin, exactly (laughs). To gain freedom, you need to know what to give up. The strict style anticipated the era of the High Renaissance, Handel and Bach, who clearly knew the strict style professionally and understood what to start from and what to give up.
— You write not only for Russian performers and theater, but also for Europeans. We don’t have a huge demand for the latest scores in our country yet, do we?- Writing for foreign groups is a salvation for a modern Russian composer. We are still the inheritors of a closed culture that has existed for more than 70 years. We’re still working it out. We are just discovering something that was invented in Europe half a century ago. Their avant-garde is already a classic. The concerts combine works of the XX century with plays of the XVII-XVIII centuries, Mahler with Luciano Berio, and so on.Our audience is still very sharply divided into those who go only to the classics and to fans of modern music. They don’t mix very well in one concert. Everything is from scratch. Theodore Currentzis and Volodya Yurovsky, however, make such programs where they explain how to listen to it at all.
— And foreign musicians, I hope, are not blinded?- Electronics, electric instruments with an orchestra-already quite normal. I use them myself. It’s just that in Russian music there are immediately analogies with Schnittke’s compositions, with “Doctor Faust”. Now Fausto Romitelli has also become a problem. In Europe for a very long time this is all used and searched for at the level of even related arts… for Example, I wrote for the Dutch ensemble De Ereprijs — wind composition plus bass and guitar. This composition provokes you to go to rock, but if you resist the temptation, you get something interesting!

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