INTERVIEW WITH VICTOR PAUKSTELIS
New York Piano Group | November 2016
Having been characterized as an intellectual interpreter of music and an expressive artist, Victor has been described as having 'a natural, impeccable sense of rhythm, and a finely delineated dynamic range'. (New York Concert Review)
Born in Vilnius, Lithuania, Victor is a graduate of the National M. K. Ciurlionis School of Art and Balys Dvarionas Music School. He has obtained a Bachelor's, Master's and a Licentiate of Arts degree from the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theater, and has studied at Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris. He has studied and improved his skills with Jean Marc Luisada, Tatjana Radovič and Nora Ray. Victor's CD discography includes: 'Bach Liszt Debussy Victor Paukstelis' (2013) and 'BachLyadov Scriabin Piano Music’ (2014).
Victor's tours include a concert in esteemed music halls such as the Berlin Philharmoniker last year and in Wiener Musikverein. He made his Carnegie Hall debut last year and returns to Carnegie Hall this season performing works by Handel, Beethoven, Arvo Pärt and Chopin.
"This journey has to be memorable to me and to the listeners as well."
Last year you made your Carnegie Hall debut. What was the experience like for you? Do you get nervous before a recital?
It was a great experience. I liked performing in Carnegie Hall very much. The Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall is wonderful. The organization and the logistics are on the highest level. Naturally, there is some tension before each concert. However, it can even be useful. Such a tension, when correctly channeled, can be turned into a positive and strong energy which in turn affects the audience.
Can you tell us about your current recital program?
This program has been prepared for the years 2016-2017. The architecture, the structure of the concert is very important for me. I tend to combine opuses in such a way that they complement and enrich each other.
I can combine pieces of different composers from different times. In some way I have a Horowitz kind of attitude on a recital layout. He didn't doubt playing big and small pieces from different ages. This particular program includes compositions from the baroque, classical, romantic eras as well as compositions from the 20th and the 21st centuries. It is almost the whole spectrum of the classical music. There are miniatures and large pieces. The opuses have contrasting qualities, every one of them has a definite and an individual load of energy.
Your solo recital program this year includes works by Arvo Pärt, a living Estonian composer. How were you introduced to his works? What led you to playing his works?
Arvo Pärt is one of my favorite contemporary composers. I appreciate his piano works and his vocal and orchestral works even more. He perfectly combines the complex and spiritual state of mind with clarity and transparency of his musical language in his creations. His minimalist approach is not mechanical, it is spiritual and meaningful. I am also a painter, and I like to listen to his music while painting. Arvo Pärt reflects beautifully our northern melancholic character, its sadness and reverie which are so typical to Eastern Europe.
Were there any challenges that you faced as a pianist? If yes, how did you overcome those challenges?
Everyday spent at the piano is a challenge and an ordeal. Each time, I have to seek and try to find a way to overcome difficult pieces, to search for the original interpretation which is mine only. Performing at concert requires extraordinary concentration, because I have to convey the energy of the piece to the audience, take the listeners into the world of the creation. This journey has to be memorable to me and to the listeners as well.
What does art mean to you? What significance does art have in today’s world?
It is difficult to talk about art in general. I think that the contemporary piano art is somewhat standardized. The majority of stars nowadays have brilliant technique, however they are boring. One cannot compare them to the pianists of the 20th century, when almost all stars of classical music were outstanding personalities and had a very individual style, like Gould, Horowitz or, earlier, Edwin Fischer.
However, I have to say, that there are still pianists with personality, like Jean Marc Luisada or Ivo Pogorelich. Regretfully, they are somewhat pushed to the margins, as they do not have the possibilities to play in the best places as the new artificially produced stars have, and this is why the listeners have less opportunities to listen to them.
Who are some people who have influenced you in your development as an artist?
The role of the teacher is very significant in my life. I would not be who I am today without the people who influenced me and showed me an example. I feel a real pleasure in keeping company with those who are more experienced or those who are more intelligent than me. I feel loaded and not so lonely in this world after such contacts.
Besides, it is possible to have contact through art. After contemplating a painting of Rembrandt or David Hockney, I feel as if I have communicated with them and received positive energy from their wonderful works. The same is with the 'Goldberg Variations' played by Glenn Gould or baroque music performed by Gérard Lesne. They enriches me and give me hope and meaning.
Victor Paukstelis performs on Wednesday, November 30, 2016 at Carnegie Hall. For tickets, click here. Learn more about Victor Paukstelis at www.victorpaukstelis.com.