Vadim Serebryany
In the oppressive government of 1950s Soviet Union, Dmitri Shostakovich had to be careful what kind of music he wrote, said pianist Vadim Serebryany. He said the artistic style of the culture, socialist realism, was bombastic and cheerful, usually expressed with simple rhythms and harmonies. “By this time, he had fallen out of favor with the the Soviet regime,” said Serebryany of Shostakovich. He said diverting too far from the Soviet aesthetic would draw attention to the composer and could result in his death. Except during wartime, expressing dark and brooding sounds or ideas was dangerous, and could only safely be done in the context of studying history. “It’s less likely to arouse suspicion,” said Serebryany.
Vadim Serebryany

On Thursday, Serebryany will play Shostakovich’s “Prelude and Fugue in D minor, Op. 87, No. 24.” The piece is part of a 24-piece collection. It puts whatever musical risks the composer might have taken in the context of an homage to Johann Sebastian Bach’s “The Well-Tempered Klavier,” also a collection of 24 preludes and fugues. Serebryany added that Shostakovich’s collection nods to Frédéric Chopin’s “24 Preludes.”

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Sonata in C-minor, K. 457” is one of only two that the composer wrote in a minor key. Serebryany said it is often paired with Mozart’s “Fantasy in C-minor, K. 475” which was originally published along with the sonata. He will perform both. Serebryany said the rarity of minor keys in Mozart’s music is probably related to the character of Viennese Classicism. More specifically, said Serebryany, Mozart often wrote in the galant style, known for its simplicty, elegance, and grace. It was a reaction to the serious, complex music of the Baroque Period, which ended around the mid 1700s. Mozart’s C-minor sonata is in some ways a departure from mainstream galant, said Serebryany. He said that even its middle movement, though in the related key of E-flat major, uses more complex and perhaps darker sounds. “It’s venturing off into expressivity, into eroticism, that kind of more emotionally vulnerable, more unstable place,” said Serebryany. He said these ideas were always under the surface for Mozart.

Claude Debussy’s “L’Isle joyeuse,” was inspired by a painting by the Baroque artist Jean-Antoine Watteau. Serebryany will play the piece Thursday, and described the painting, “The Embarkation for Cythera,” as a group of people preparing to board a ship to an island of delight. Serebryany said Debussy uses his signature collection of whole-tone and pentatonic sounds that give many of his pieces a static or pensive feel, presenting a scene or something abstract. But this one is different. “It’s a very ecstatic kind of piece,” said Serebryany, adding that it has a visceral energy to it, ending explosively in a huge climax.
Serebryany’s biography lists performances in Europe, South America, Australia and North America. In 2008, he completed his eighth consecutive recital tour of Japan. His group, Trio+, with violinst Yosuke Kawasaki and cellist Wolfram Koessel, has performed to critical acclaim throughout North America and Japan. In 2007, he and Mr. Kawasaki made their recital debut at Carnegie Hall.
An Honours graduate with Distinction from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, Mr. Serebryany went on to complete his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at New York City’s Juilliard School. The final leg of his formal education took him to Yale University, where he completed his studies in the Doctor of Musical Arts program. Since 2008 Mr. Serebryany has been an Associate Professor of Music at Huntingdon College in Montgomery.

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