Vyacheslav Gryaznov: Russian Transcriptions


The art of the piano transcription is alive and kicking – or, more accurately, alive and singing in the hands Vyacheslav Gryaznov, whose solo CD debut for Steinway & Sons showcases the 36 year-old pianist-composer’s considerable abilities in this genre. The Notturno from Borodin’s Second String Quartet loses nothing in translation via Gryaznov’s acute ear for timbre and registration, and actually gains something once the piano’s full range opens up. Conversely, Gryaznov overloads Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of the Flowers with fussy caesuras, tenutos and ritardandos that defuse the music’s soaring momentum.

He paints Rachmaninov’s ‘How fair this spot’ with angular brushstrokes and dark oils that radically contrast with Earl Wild’s shimmering treble-orientated pastels. Likewise, his treatment of the ubiquitous ‘Vocalise’ stands its linear ground throughout, eschewing the bubbly arpeggiation that Zoltán Kocsis tacks on to the final section. At first I suspected an extra pair of hands had joined in to help keep the Italian Polka’s swirling figurations and leaping octave melodies in clean perspective. Wishful thinking!

On the Dnieper may be Prokofiev’s least performed ballet. The six movements that Gryaznov presents benefit from his creative liberties and fleshing-out of textures with convincing inner voices, fresh changes of register and stronger dynamic profile. As such, the concluding Variation, Finale and Coda emerges as more of a virtuoso tour de force and exciting stage presentation than what transpires in Prokofiev’s original text.

Lastly, Gryaznov transforms Glinka’s Valse-fantaisie from an elegant, unprepossessing and sometimes rambling salon piece into a cannily crafted concert-hall showpiece, where the melodies soar to orchestral effect, yet the pianist retains top billing. That’s the nature of the genre, and Gryaznov understands this. Moreover, Gryaznov’s transcriptions are tailored to yet not limited by his pianistic strengths. Recommended.

Jed Distler

Original of the review

Superb Piano Recital – Best of the Season at Yale’s Sprague Hall

by Thomas Allen. March 2, 2017

Russian pianist Vyacheslav Gryaznov stole the season at Yale’s Sprague Hall with a phenomenal recital. While pursuing an Artist Diploma Degree at Yale School of Music, he also teaches as an assistant in the Piano Department of the Moscow Conservatory. Since this was technically a “student” Artist Diploma recital, tickets were (shockingly) free. But make no mistake, Gryaznov is a top-notch artist. 

He began the evening with Beethoven’s less-popular 12 Variations on a Russian Dance, WoO 71, which, while it wasn’t the highlight of the program, was made interesting through his finesse. Although it took a couple variations for Gryaznov to get into it, several of the middle variations were heartfelt and tender enough to renew my interest in the piece as a whole. There is a good deal of filler and routine passagework, but he led us through it with a subtle sense of rubato and grace that kept me mostly engaged.

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Original of the review

Volcanic and Intellectual: Recital by Vyacheslav Gryaznov

by Dr. Gary Lemco. November 13, 2016

In spite of his declaration that he would perform “just one more piece” in response to a wildly enthusiastic, standing ovation, Russian classical pianist and transcriber Vyacheslav Gryaznov added to the suavely virtuosic Polka Italien of Rachmaninoff yet a second encore, the same composer’s massive Etude-Tableau in E-flat Minor, Op. 39, No. 5. Gryaznov’s marathon recital at Le Petit Trianon Theatre, Saturday November 12 comprised the third recital of the current Steinway Society the Bay Area, here a brilliant display of intellect and digital prowess that embraced music by Beethoven, Debussy, Ravel, Prokofiev, and Rachmaninoff, including two transcriptions by Gryaznov of orchestral works that themselves rely on timbral and color nuances.
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The pianist Vyacheslav Gryaznov. Berlin Philharmonic

10/17/2016 By Igor Berov, Berlin

I am so glad to have met – quite unexpectedly – the wonderful pianist, Vyacheslav Gryaznov. I had heard about him beforehand. But at first, I had some hesitation about whether or not to attend his concert, because the program included Rachmaninoff’s Second Sonata and Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit, which are played by almost every other visiting barnstormer. Well, how often can we listen to the same pieces again and again?

But after looking at his YouTube videos and listening to him playing classics and especially his own genius transcriptions (during Tchaikovsky’s Overture Romeo and Juliet I started weeping very bitterly, just like Venia Erofeev from Moscow-Petushki), I realized I was dealing with an outstanding talent that could and should not be missed.

I am also grateful to my Facebook friends, two charming Katyas – Katya Dushek and Katya Mechetina — who strongly advised me to go to the concert. And all doubts disappeared completely when Alexander Rozenblat praised this pianist, saying that he liked his transcriptions very much; in other words, when one composer praises another, one MUST take notice. It just doesn’t happen! So, of course, I went to the concert.

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Five days with Mozart

Close-up: “Mozart Marathon”

Alexander Tsereteli (Musical Life #2, 2014)

In the five days of the marathon, coinciding, of course, with Mozart’s date of birth (January 27), a truly miraculous memorial was enacted: all his concertos for all instruments were performed.

Piano Concerto No. 14 in E-flat major, performed by Vyacheslav Gryaznov, was a revelation. We already knew a lot about this musician. He is a brilliant pianist and composer. The virtuosity and inventiveness of his transcriptions fascinate and enthrall. His piano performance during this marathon was bound to amaze. Anna Akhmatova wrote a wonderful poem: “Finally, you have said a word.” What happens in the world around us when loving words are spoken? It can only be revealed by a poetic word: “And suddenly the silence sang to you / and the twilight lit up by the radiant sun / and the world for that moment was transformed / and the taste of the wine changed in a strange way…” Let me assure the reader: the silence sang its song in the most natural of ways. The concerto that has been played and played again sounded completely new and fresh: slowly and eloquently, unhurried and with soulful tone. Composers’ readings are often characterized by generality, but in this case it was the beauty of detail that prevailed. An exceptional, almost forgotten [pianistic] culture in which all the rich textures are played out, and the hidden details are revealed in the succession of fingers and chords. And the focus is on all the tempi, whether slow or rapid.

The cadenza specifically written for this performance dazzled with its organic interweaving of the main themes of the piece, leaving you eager to hear it again and again. And once it had imparted all that was important, it somehow faded away, dissolving naturally and imperceptibly, without the pathos and agitation that tends to typify the transition to the orchestral coda. There can be no doubt that Vyacheslav Gryaznov is one of the great wonders of modern pianism.



Passage from Russia to America – Pianist, composer and transcriber Vyacheslav Gryaznov delights in musical storytelling

A version of this article was published on BlogCritics (Nov.31,2017)

Currently enrolled in the Artist Diploma program at Yale University, Slava, as he is called by his friends, speaks freely about the experiences that brought him to America from his native Russia.
Dissatisfied with the trend in Russian politics toward entangling career with ideology, Slava was keen to follow his fascination with the “land of the free,” and search for new opportunities. Many of his friends and former colleagues from the music world had made the move from Moscow to the US, but leaving one’s home is always a very personal passage. For Slava, it may not have been quite as dramatic a journey as the one of his compatriot and musical hero Sergei Rachmaninoff, who, fleeing political turmoil in his homeland was never to return, but one requires great personal impulse and initiative to make such a significant change nevertheless.
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Interview with Mr. Vyacheslav GRYAZNOV, 6st Prizewinner of the Piano Section at the 3rd SIMC

Interviewed and written by: MASAKI Hiromi (Music Journalist)

At the 3rd Sendai International Music Competition, Mr. Vyacheslav GRYAZNOV won the sixth prize in the Piano Section. During his stay in Japan to give piano lessons at KURASHIKI SAKUYO University, in July 2014 he visited Sendai, where he gave a concert and held an open class for local students learning music as well as participated in a study workshop for volunteer staff of the Sendai International Music Competition. Among the pieces he played in the workshop were Rachmaninov’s Morceaux de fantaisie Op. 3 and Italian Polka arranged by himself. Currently he is teaching at Moscow P.I. Tchaikovsky Conservatory and the other school, while giving various performances. He has a diverse approach to music, both as a player and as a teacher. We asked him about his current activities and competitions.

—People in Japan might remember you from the NHK BS program “Hi-Vision Classic Club” in 2004 where you played the piano, which was repeatedly broadcast. About seven years have passed since you participated in the Sendai International Music Competition. Please tell us about your current musical activities.

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Sakhalin’s big dream

Elena Stepanskaya, Sakhalin-info If you ask a resident of Sakhalin which famous countryman he knows, he will confidently say, “Igor Nikolaev!” But who else? He will shrug his shoulders and say: “But there is no one else!” Believe it or not, now there is. And he is called Vyacheslav Gryaznov. Just imagine a boy who lived in Lugovoye, went to the Cheburashka kindergarten, studied at Music School No.1, and who is now on tour in Japan, Italy, Denmark, Great Britain, Croatia, Sweden, Norway, Holland, Kuwait, Africa, the Baltic countries, and many Russian cities, performing both solo recitals and with symphony orchestras. Japanese television regularly broadcasts performances by Gryaznov recorded ??in the NHK television studio. And what do we know about this? You have to agree, the process of how an ordinary, fun-loving boy turns into a musician is interesting. What does it require?

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