On Saturday, December 15th, 2012 at 7 pm, The Arthur Rubinstein International Music Foundation will present their Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall recital, in honor of the greatest Golden Age pianists – Arthur Rubinstein.

Pianist Roman Rabinovich is one of the two pianists chosen to perform at the event, the other being Anna Fedorova.  Each musician possesses special qualities within their craft, and together they will certainly present a memorial worthy of the great master pianist, Arthur Rubinstein.

The evening will also feature a short documentary film about Rubinstein’s historical concert in San Francisco in 1945, and an exhibition of portraits and photographs of Rubinstein, partially from his daughter Eva’s personal collection. The foundation’s music festival in Poland was started 2008 in Lodz, Rubinstein’s birthplace.

Rabinovich, who, as a winner of the 2008 Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Competition (not related to the aforementioned hosting organization)has performed widely in Israel, but also in Europe and the US to much critical acclaim, was given the opportunity to choose a program he is especially fond of. He enthusiastically shared with me that Prokofiev’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ (three pieces), and the Ravel/Rabinovich ‘Daphnis and Chloe,’ as well as Stravinsky’s ‘Petrushka’ that will follow his programmed Haydn Sonata in A-flat major, Hob.XVI/46, have captured his mind’s eye for quite some time now.

“Petrushka and Ballerina”

drawing by Roman Rabinovich

A recording of these ballet-related piano arrangements will be released on the Orchid Classic label in the spring of 2013. Rabinovich’s fascination with these pieces and recording them grew out of his admiration for this era and its unique artistic flavor: Paris in the early 20th century, saturated with vibrant artistic cross-fertilization, and radiating with a charismatically charged scent of creativity.

“The more I learned about this era, the more I wanted to create a personal homage to it,” says Rabinovich.

All three composers have worked closely with the Ballet Russes, albeit at slightly different times: ‘Daphnis and Chloe’ was written in 1910, ‘Petrushka’ in 1911, and ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in 1935. For all their aesthetic differences, Rabinovich sees their strong common thread: “They were inspired by the energy and charm of one man, a force of nature – Sergei Diaghilev! They belong to the era of the Ballets Russes,who had a profound influence on the artistic trends of the next few generations, fusing avant-garde music, dance, and style in a fresh and innovative way.” It was Rabinovich’s particular interest in the Russian artist Leon Bakst, famously remembered for his stage designs for many of Diaghilev’s productions that also brought him to other stars of Diaghilev, including Nijinsky, Pavlova, and Picasso, as well as Stravinsky, Ravel, and Prokofiev.

While not formally trained as an artist, Rabinovich clearly possesses artistic talent, as his many drawings, both in print and digitally drawn on his iPad, indicate. He started painting and drawing at age ten, and as he confesses: “I must have missed a whole lot of information during classes, doodling intensively while listening; it is a compulsion that I take seriously- it’s not a mere hobby of mine.”

To the question of if one art informs the other, he says: “There are many parallels with music, the obvious connections like colors, balance and structure, its symmetry, lows and highs, the transparencies of textures…. certainly correspond to the musical understanding. It somehow helps me to make sense of the other medium by giving it a different point of reference; music is a fleeting thing, ephemeral; art is permanent. You can come back to the paper, you can hold onto art. I never quite understood how with music, I prepare a piece I play and then, the next day, I have to start over, it’s never there forever in the same way.”

“However,” as he explains, “the nature of the piano is such that it can produce such a wide dynamic range of colors and effects, making it possible to play even such music meant to show the luscious and colorful timbres of a full orchestration, like in the ballet-arrangements and bring them to life, in a self-sufficient piano version.”

For Ravel’s ‘Daphnis,’ Rabinovich found out about the original reduction of the ballet for rehearsal purposes, which became the starting point for his own arrangement based on Ravel’s.

“Daphnis” drawing by Roman Rabinovich

The young Prokofiev had written three ballets for the Ballets Russes in the 1920s, whose performances of ‘Petrushka’ and ‘Daphnis’he had seen on his first trips to Paris and London. His ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ composed in 1935 after his final return to Russia, was produced by the Kirov Theatre in 1940 presents a new, more abstract direction.


“Romeo and Juliet” drawing by Roman Rabinovich

To arc the connection to the program, Rabinovich mentions these interesting facts: firstly, that Prokofiev and Stravinsky played a four-hand version of ‘Petrushka’ in Rome together, and secondly that Stravinsky personally arranged the ‘Three Movements’ from ‘Petrushka’ for Arthur Rubinstein’s own performance.

Cross-references between art-forms, as well as the direct interaction between artists always create interesting symbioses during cultural climaxes. In the spirit of such interrelated impulses of creativity, Rabinovich shares three drawings he composed for this particular program of ballet arrangements.



“Wanting to express and to communicate is instilled into all artistic creation, wanting to capture that essence, is an artist’s as well as a performer’s goal.” Says Rabinovich, who recently got also fascinated in yet another musical direction, when trying out the conductor’s baton: “It opened up a lot of doors in my playing and thinking about music. It is definitely I want to explore further: Seeing the big picture and connecting it through different inputs is fascinating. As pianists, we are used to create sound, suddenly I have to be able to transfer my understanding of sound, this energy to other people, just through gestures and body language – it’s still a surreal experience.”  By Ilona Oltuski – GetClassical


For more information about Roman Rabinovich and to view his artwork please visit his website: www.romanrabinovich.net.

By Ilona Oltuski

Ilona Oltuski was born in Berlin (Germany), the city her family returned to after her grandmother’s escape to Palestine. Through her parents – the father from Krakow in Poland, the mother from Berlin – Ilona experienced cultural diversity early on in life. Growing up Jewish in post-war Berlin and Frankfurt would add to this. Although deeply connected to German culture, Ilona was always acutely aware of the differences between herself and her environment. Perhaps it was the search for her very own identity, which led her to study art history and complete her doctorate on the Bezalel Art Movement, a part of her investigation into the existence of an explicitly Jewish art. Besides art history, Ilona studied piano at the Hoch’sche Conservatory - the Frankfurt music school founded by Clara Schumann. After moving to New York with her husband, she continued to study her favorite instrument and met and befriended many pianists - from amateurs to professional performers. A passionate amateur herself, Ilona decided to combine her love for the piano and the world of music with her interest in writing and the sharing of ideas, resulting in her first articles on http://blogcritics.org. Next was her German blog, ‘Wohltemperiert aus New York’, which she continues to write for Naxos Deutschland (http://blog.naxos.de); see the ‘Naxos America’ link for Ilona’s English blogs). Her English-language blog, http://getclassical.blogspot.com, can be found on Facebook’s blog network; it recently migrated into the collection of blogs on her own website, http://getclassical.org/ She also still maintains her ‘Piano Salon’ group on Facebook, connecting pianists and their friends. Forever interested in an exchange of information and ideas, Ilona hopes that her very own website will provide a wide platform for a conversation among readers, performers and music lovers. “Reinventing my creative side by writing about my diverse encounters in the world of music, about inspiration and artistic expression, and the very human side of these endeavors, reaching right under my skin - that’s my shtick”, she says. Ilona lives in New York City with her family.

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