15 June 2012
Classical music touring is like touring in a rock band "but more interesting", says the winner of the latest Michael Hill Violin Competition, who is returning to Queenstown.
Russian violinist and viola player Sergey Malov, speaking before his performance in Napier recently, said some rock bands played huge stadiums and the public had no access to them. Playing smaller venues, leading master classes and staying with families meant he was able to meet people face to face, "something much more human", he said.
"Like touring rock'n'roll, there's many instruments and interviews every day."
Asked if he had encountered classical music groupies, Malov said: "Not many and not so naughty, but you can see they are fans and this is very nice and amusing; doesn't bother at all."
The Berlin-based violinist unites with New Zealand pianist Michael Houstoun for a concert at the Queenstown Memorial Hall on Sunday, June 24.
Malov last year won the International Mozart Competition in Salzburg before heading to New Zealand to score a hat trick, winning the 2011 Michael Hill top prize, the competition's Audience Prize and the inaugural Julian Paul Anderson Award for best chamber music player.
His Michael Hill prize included a cheque for $40,000, a recording with Atoll, the Chamber Music New Zealand Tour, a performance with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and the special encore in Queenstown.
"It was a great year, with playing and learning lots of new repertoire, enjoying travelling around mostly Europe a couple of times and Japan. It's such a pleasure to be back [in New Zealand] again," Malov said.
"I was playing three new concertos a month in three different countries and I won the Mozart competition last year.
"I tried to play Mozart concerto by giving some riff to the orchestra and then improvise on top of that. It was quite an interesting thing for me really doing something spontaneous on stage with an orchestra."
Malov said it could be difficult touring with people who did not know each other and represented different musical schools and even different generations, but the pairing with Houstoun was ideal.
"Michael has been really great to me, really reacting on all my proposals and being a very ensemble player. I'm looking forward very much to have more experience with this wonderful musician."
Their programme for Queenstown would include Schubert's Arpeggione Sonata in D minor arranged for viola and piano, followed by Brahms' Violin Sonata 1 in G, Schumann's First Sonata in A Minor and Paganini's La Campanella.
"That's my big dream and wish, to make it really accessible for a large audience.
They are just wonderful pieces, all the time harmonic, very melodic and it needs some courage from the young generation to overcome their fear it will be boring.
"It's a kind of effort if you want to enjoy classical music - you have to think. And of course now with a generation of short YouTube clips and everything served to you in a very digestible light format, it's getting more and more problematic for classical music-making because it needs some extra participation from the public."
Another skill Malov said he learned in Europe and was looking forward to practising in Queenstown was alpine skiing.
"It was in the European winter that I somehow learned how to stand on skis. I think I know how to fall and to brake quite well."
The Michael Hill Violin Competition presents rising violinist star and 2011 competition winner Sergey Malov with renowned pianist Michael Houstoun at the Queenstown Memorial Hall on Sunday, June 24, from 5pm.
The Queenstown Times has a pair of tickets to give away to the first reader who emails us the correct answer to this question: Sergey Malov was born in which country?
Tickets range in price from $10 to $39 and are available through Ticketek. Proceeds from the concert will support the memorial hall upgrade.