We perform a hat trick for our readers today, as we premiere a track from Dmitry Evgrafov’s upcoming EP on FatCat/130701, ask the pianist a few questions and review his new music!
Russian pianist Dmitry Evgrafov was described as a “youngster” a half-decade ago, when Lying On Your Shoulder was released. A better word for him now is “accomplished”. Now on his fifth release, the artist demonstrates clear maturity and purpose. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the opening piece, which is played on a virtual church organ, exulting in timbres that in recent years have been underused in modern composition. One of two organ tracks, it opens new sonic doors for the ever-evolving artist.
The oldest track here is also the simplest, yet bears a sweet backstory. “Lovebirds” precedes all of Evgrafov’s released recordings, but was written and performed with his wife Vika in a single hour. As such, its simplicity is its strength. But “Ptichka” demonstrates the distance traveled in the last five years. This bold work begins with swift drama and ends in slow melancholy, a reflection of the film of the same name, for which it was written. One need not know the movie, the plot or even the fact that it is part of a score; the effect is the same. Leading the listener from joy to tears, “Ptichka” is a stunning example of the impact a well-designed short piece can have.
Throughout the EP’s brief running time, one hears hints of the title: The Quiet Observation. Although recorded at different times and for different purposes, these seven tracks seem to provide the score to a couple’s comfortable, languid talk, whether on a couch, in a garden or looking out across the ocean. There’s nothing dark here, just a lot of love, the pianist’s fingers playing first swiftly and then heavily on the closing track, his final, lighter note a soft punctuation: kindness, reconciliation, peace. Having cleared the table of stray tracks, the artist now turns his attention to a new album, due in 2017; we’re already looking forward to hearing it. (Richard Allen)
Premiere: Dmitry Evgrafov’s “The Painting”!
What is the backstory of “The Painting”?
The story behind it is very prosaic. I was invited to write some music for the opening of a new exception in the Moscow state picture gallery. The main theme of it was an attempt to have a new look at the stories behind some famous Russian paintings. What you hear on EP is a version of my endeavour in capturing the feeling of something uncovered, hidden and yet to be discovered, but not in an intimidating way. The interesting thing about this composition is that I used the real strings(which happens not very frequently in my music) that I took from a half-forgotten recording session from, I think, 2011, and when I did that the composition instantly started to sound properly balanced. I wish I could use more real strings in my music!
I love the story behind “Lovebirds.” What particular challenges do you encounter when trying to convey specific emotions and experiences through instrumental music?
I think that the most challenging part in translating a particular message or idea through instrumental music is to be as transparent as possible. More and more I start to come to the conclusion that emotions are really overrated: it’s a very shallow and coarse reaction. Emotions are strictly subjective, and do not give us a true meaning or evaluation of things, you can hardly call deep or balanced such reactions like craving, anger, sadness, or passion. In “Stalker” movie there is a good line: “What they call passion actually is not some emotional energy, but just the friction between their souls and the outside world”. Of course, in art it’s very hard to avoid emotions completely, in a way it’s the fabric from which the music is made, but it’s important to utilise this instrument in a way that will end in an objective and transparent experience that will work on a different, higher level, not just sentimental “melancholic notes” that too many instrumental composers try to feed their listeners.
If you could re-score any existing film (including modern films), which one would you choose?
You know, I would love to do almost any if I will be asked to! The reason for it is simple: I am really looking forward to find a chance to establish myself as a film composer. I had some experience in writing to video and I was invited as a composer for movies couple of times and it always felt really organic, constantly I had this very weird feeling when I subconsciously knew what is good and what’s not for this particular scene and how to achieve good results, which is very different from my process of making album works when I always feel that I know nothing. That said, no illusions should be made about how hard, stressful and time-consuming it is to work as a composer on “full scale” movies. In fact, most of the time you just try to compromise and sell your ideas to the director or producer and you are left with not much creativity or art at the end of all this. But to be specific, it would have been an honour to contribute to the latest Terrance Malick movies or the recent Inside game!
A Closer Listen thanks Dave Howell at Fatcat/130701 and Dmitry Evgrafov for the debut and interview. The Quiet Observation will be released on 14 October and can be pre-ordered below!