27 Jan 2017

Six questions with Andrey Gugnin

1. Last night you performed in the Japanese city of Hiroshima – what's your impression of contemporary Hiroshima?
Yesterday while walking in the city of Hiroshima I passed by a building with a historical entrance arch, part of the previous old building and the only one in the whole city to survive the tragic event in 1945.There is a memorial plate attached next to it with a photo of the city right after the nuclear explosion showing it completely burned down with a single lonely building standing. The view on the picture deeply shocked me and reminded me of how fragile our world is, how easy it is to destroy and wipe out from the surface of the earth. The strength of the spirit and character of the Japanese people is also obvious. They managed to rebuild the entire city from the ground, to endure the tragedy and to move on to make their country one of the leading nations in many spheres of life.

2. Do you have any rituals or techniques you use to calm the nerves and focus before a competition or performance?
You need to acknowledge exactly what you are going to be focused on and what you would like to express while being on stage. You have certain creative artistic tasks to reveal the meaning of the pieces you are to perform (or at least what you think the meaning and substance is). As a result there is no room left for the false nervousness - only positive excitement, anticipation and inspiration.

3. What was the atmosphere like backstage at the Sydney International Piano Competition last year?
The atmosphere was amazingly friendly, which is quite rare for competitions in general. In fact, everything was so well managed to reduce, as much as possible, the amount of pressure you experience in being compared to other pianists – to your colleagues, to your friends...

4. Did winning the Competition result in any surprising new opportunities?
I had a wonderful impression of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra at the competition and I'm happy to continue our collaboration. There will be an extensive tour throughout the whole continent, which I'm much looking forward to. But speaking of a real surprise, there is a chance to travel to Antarctica to play at the Australian station, which would be the most exciting adventure I've ever had!

5. Tell us about the piano you have at home...
I have two grand pianos and one upright. All of them are pretty old, but I'm very much attached to them, as each has its own unique character. The very first instrument I started to play on is the upright, which my parents inherited from my grandfather. Now the main one I'm using for my everyday practice is a Grotrian-Steinweg grand piano from the 1930s, which I treat with gratitude and respect.

6. What can we expect from your interpretation of Mozart's Piano Concerto K414?
I'll try to bring my very personal vision of the masterpiece, to expose its incredible ability to be in harmony and concordant with our time. In other words to make it very much "alive" and "modern" as I strongly believe Mozart's music always will be.