From Russia with Love: Maria Raspopova in Conversation

From Russia with Love: Maria Raspopova in Conversation

Throughout the year Maria Raspopova largely plays chamber music with Omega Ensemble. As well as being their resident pianist she is also the Co-Artistic Director which, besides playing music, involves planning repertoire, concerts, administration and a number of other related duties.  While she loves playing chamber music she also loves appearing as a solo pianist and on 30 August you can witness her in full flight as she performs works by JS Bach and Prokofiev in a lunch time concert. 


Samuel Cottell (SC): You’re performing the complete set of Prokofiev’s Visions Fugitives in your upcoming solo recital. When did you first discover Prokofiev and what draws you to his music?

Maria Raspooova (MR): I discovered Visions Fugitives when I was very young, around the age of 12 or 13. Prokofiev has always held a place in my playing life for several reasons. Firstly, because he was revered in Russia and he was my piano teacher's favourite composer so I was exposed to his music quite a lot.

I always felt connected to his music in a way that I haven’t with other music. I can’t really explain why but I think it has something to do with the purity and the clarity of his writing, especially for the piano. His music, in many ways, is like Mozart. It is simple, pure and profoundly beautiful.

I’m doing the entire set of Visions Fugitives which contains 20 short works. Each work is quite short, and each is very unique with their own character. As a whole these little vignettes represent Prokofiev fully as a composer and I am really excited to present these works to you.

SC: Prokofiev named his these works Mimolyotnosti from this line in Konstantin Balmont’s poem: "In every fleeting vision I see worlds, Filled with the fickle play of rainbows". How would you translate this title and what does it mean?

MR: Mimo roughly means passing through, or flying over [Maria waves her arm and and says ‘Woosh’]. Lyotnosti is also very complex so there are a few meanings. One means to fly and the other means eternity. So it’s quite difficult to translate to English.  But, In these pieces you have the feeling of eternity as well as the passing of time, which he represents a flicker, largely because of the short duration of the works and what they capture in their short, fleeting moments.

SC: Bach, for many pianists, is like the holy-grail of piano music. What is it about Bach’s music that is so appealing for a pianist. What do you love about Bach’s Partita in C Minor and why is it so special to you?

MR: I just realised that this program is about my childhood. As a child you can play Bach, and this is why Bach is so fundamental to many musicians.

This Partita is set in the key of C minor, and to me C minor is the most beautiful colour in this world. I played with bits and pieces of this Partita throughout my childhood but I learned this seriously when I was 17 and it has a very special meaning for me as I learned this fully in my first year of living in Australia which was about 19 years ago.

I also realised that this work has a very special meaning to me as I play the opening of the Partita just about every day. Either before practise, or during, or when I’m soundchecking before a concert. I’ve been carrying this tune with me for a very long time, subconsciously, and so it is a huge part of my psyche. I just love this collection of Bach’s music.

Here's Maria playing the section of Bach's Partita in C Minor she plays everyday. You can hear the whole work in her lunch time concert. Escape the daily grind and immerse yourself in some of the most wonderful music ever written as Maria Raspopva explores the music of Bach and Prokofiev.