An interview with pianist Roman Salyutov

August 9, 2018 by Ron Jontof-Hutter
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Ron Jontof-Hutter meets Russian-German Pianist Roman Salyutov who will perform in  recital on Sunday at the South Melbourne  Town Hall.

Roman Salyutov and Ron Jontof-Hutter

RJH: welcome to Melbourne Roman! Tell us about how you came from St Petersburg to Germany.

RS: Well, I was born in 1984. Musical culture was a major part of my upbringing. My parents took me to the Kirov and of course the Mariinsky Theatre. I started my piano studies at age six. I went to the special Music Lyceum from where I graduated. My parents encouraged me and decided to move to Germany in 2004 which offered wonderful opportunities to advance my career. I graduated at the Conservatorium in St Petersburg and then obtained my Master’s in Cologne.

RJH: And your PhD? On Cesar Franck?

RS: Yes- I did that in Germany too.

RJH: Interesting. Franck was an outsider, ethnically German from Belgium, but working in a French milieu and following his own path, rather than the expected traditional  French route through opera  like Massenet, Bizet, Gounod, Meyerbeer… who opposed  him…and of course the hostility of Saint-Saens is well-known. Do you identify as a Russian outsider in Germany with Franck the outsider in France?

RS: Not really. I was fascinated by his harmonies and counterpoint…

RJH: Franck utilised elements of the “new German school…Wagner and Liszt…but also Brahms…into his compositions…what do you find in Franck?

RS: There are many latent layers of semantics which fascinate me in his music… so complex with many unique combinations of various schools including post romantic aspects, even baroque… you have to decode it. His language is complex.

RJH: He has been unfairly neglected…have you followed composers like D’Indy and Chausson who were influenced by him? It’s a pity that his d minor symphony is basically his only piece that’s really played..

RS: I have conducted that symphony and would like to perform his works in the same Cathedral in France where Franck played the organ. That is my dream!

RJH: Do you focus on the European classical/romantic  repertoire?

RS: I play also Russian music…Rachmaninov, Baroque and also Samuel Barber, Shostakovich…of course Beethoven and Romantic composers… Brahms Liszt, Chopin…

RJH: Schoenberg OP 11 and 13?

RS: Not yet…I am familiar with them.

RJH: Tell us about your Yachad Chamber Orchestra.

RS: It is a new ensemble…Yachad means “together”… Israel is 70 years old this year and we wish to promote an orchestra of working together with Israeli colleagues and develop our friendship…Germany and Israel working together. We want to promote German-Israeli artistic exchange… visiting each others countries.  We are also playing in Poland next year, Germany and Israel of course…… and hopefully we can come to Australia one day too!

RJH: What kind of works will you be playing?

RS: We are going to play our standard repertoire but also the works of German Jews murdered in the Holocaust.

RJH: Do you see yourself as a pianist or conductor in the future?

RS: Both…

RJH: Conducting Mozart from the piano?

RS: Yes, also Beethoven – the C Minor, Bach D Minor [concertos]… and also the Brahms…number 1

RJH: Brahms from the piano? That’s quite courageous! What cadenzas do you play in the Mozart concertos?

RS: I play the Beethoven and Clara Schumann cadenzas.. but have also composed my own in the C Major Concerto.

RJH: What is your opinion of utilising contemporary styles in Mozart?  Playing a modern idiom cadenza in an 18th century piece?

RS: If it’s in good taste… not always so…but I heard Richter play Mozart 22, with cadenzas by Benjamin Britten… absolutely beautiful…bringing classical music into the 20thcentury.

RJH: What about your program for Sunday?

RS: Mainly Romantic composers, but Beethoven and Mozart too…also Ravel’s La valse…depicting the end of the era of the Viennese Waltz that came to a crash during the First World war…

RJH: Yes, that is very interesting…it goes with his Le Tombeau de Couperin…in memory of Ravel’s friends that died during that horrific war… ending 100 years ago

I presume you will also play an encore?

RS: Yes…

RJH: Well-why not play the encore first…and if they like it, then play the program!

RS: (laughs) Yes… I could do that!

Roman , thank you for an interesting chat and we hope to see you here again …I  have no doubt Sunday will be a wonderful concert.

RS: Thank you and yes… I would love to visit again in the future…Melbourne is a lovely city.


Russian-German pianist Roman Salyutov will play a recital Sunday  12 August, South Melbourne Town Hall, 204 Bank St., South Melbourne. The concert starts at 4 pm

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