The poster for the only solo concert that was given by Mikhail Alperin on April 18 in the Oval Hall of the Musicians Union was headed: "Story for solo piano."
It was an only concert because the Moscow Art Trio, created ten years ago by Alperin and including in it two other names in jazz- Arkadii Shilkloper and clarinetist/folklorist Sergei Starostin - is currently enjoying major success on its European tour, and hasn't performed in Moscow for seven years. Likewise, Alperin himself hasn't either. He has been living in Norway already for a long time and teaches at a conservatory in Oslo. Before the concert, he made the following statement: "I don't know what you call the music that I play. I just tell stories. Stories for solo piano. They can be sad stories, or happy, but they're still stories. I guess that's what I'll be doing for the rest of my life. It's just that the stories change with time."
That is exactly what Alperin's compositions present themselves as- stories. The musician shares his experiences, tells of certain incidents he might remember with sorrow while recalling their details, falls deep in thought, pauses, adds something, interrupts himself. And all this is created spontaneously, right before our eyes. These are not soundtracks to some hypothetical movies, the melodies are self-sufficient worlds- they include a conflict, plot development, detail, climax. It's surprising that often these pieces last no more than two or three minutes, and the pauses in them play just as important a role as the notes. The only thing that Alperin's new material seems comparable with would be Robert Fripp's ten-minute improvisations. And yet Alperin's compositions, even at their quietest, most contemplative, radiate a much more lively and perhaps even "southern" temperament than those of the British guitar philosopher. While Alperin was performing his older pieces, known from the album "The Blue Fiords," and from their numerous recordings by the Moscow Art Trio and by duets with Shilkloper, it became clear that despite all his uniqueness, Alperin presents himself as an exceptional pianist, in the traditional sense of the word. The complexity of the rhythm and the timing, the syncopes, all sounded as though it were just as easy to play as it was to listen to. Even when the piano, unable to resist the pressure, started edging backwards, it was only noticeable visually, and the sound was in no way affected. The concerted was closed with the ten-minute suit "Moldavian Wedding." The slow, winding blues with the sharp, precise accents had suddenly given way to a Jewish melody, which in its turn transformed into a southern dance. All this was brought to a close in such a way that one realizes: for Alperin, all this is his past, a past which is so pleasant to remember.
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