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Misha Alperin - "One can become music"

The classically trained pianist and composer Misha Alperin was born in Ukrania. After having spent a number of industrious years in Moscow, he finally found his new homeland in the Norwegian capital of Oslo. Here he works together with countless musicians from around the world. "Blue Fjord" is the title of the recently published solo-album of this creative, humorous artist.

Misha Alperin

But "Blue Fjord" also is a snapshot of the pianist's past: In fact the album is a re-release, as it was recorded in Russia during Alperin's pre-Norwegian phase and first published there more than ten years ago. This is the first time it is available outside Russia. Solo-piano however is only one facet of Alperin's music – in several projects, for example documented on his CD "Night" (ECM, 2002), he combines jazz, classical music and folk traditions from Russia, Moldavia, Bessarabia and more.

This interview was done per e-mail.

Carina: "Blue Fjord" – the title track was written long before you came to live in Norway. What were your moods, your feelings that stand behind the compositions?

Misha: First of all music is always connected to the personal imagination of beauty. I am growing, I am changing and my imagination of beauty is also changing. What was beautiful for me today is not necessarily beautiful tomorrow.

Now about the time when I wrote the music for this CD: In the beginning of the 90s, if I remember correctly, I was young, energetic and eager to find my own voice. I created a kind of private dream world, where I could express my own romanticism, melancholy and joy of life. Music was for me almost the only channel for the whole spectrum of feelings: my passion, my sorrow ... everything.

Carina: How important is it for a musician to come back to his roots, to integrate his heritage into the music – musically and concerning the own biography?

Misha: To be aware of your roots, your heritage, is important because your roots are your guide. I started to feel my roots late. Before that I was quite insecure. My mind was confused. I tried classical music, jazz, rock and I was not sure what was real my own. From the moment I started to touch folk music and integrate it into my own compositions I felt like I got a fundament. It made me more relaxed and I stopped to be afraid. It was like the universe gave me its hand.

Heritage is not only about the cultural traditions in your own country.
You have to be open to the whole world!

But heritage is not only about the cultural traditions in your own country. Of course it is important, when you are living in the Caucasus, to eat the real sheep cheese and listen to Georgian folk songs. And not only drive to McDonalds and the discotheque. But I am sure this is not enough. You have to be open to the whole world. Because all folk traditions belong to the same family.

Misha Alperin

Carina: For many years now you live in Norway. What's special about this country, about its nature, the people who live there?

Misha: Norway is a "country of poetry and pauses" for me. It has a lot of contrast and colors. It can be sunny and peaceful and the next moment turn to dark and mysterious. The nature of the north of course influences the character of the people living there.

As it also influences my character. I became less social, more introvert, more peaceful and accepting. But the southern part of me is still full of fire. This side is exploding when I am in love, when I am eating great food (which is not easy in Norway) and when I am playing music.

Carina: Your playing style – how would you put it in words? How much are technical aspects and special moods part of it?

Misha: I agree with people that say that my style is difficult to classify. Because it is a result of my love to the sound-world, without any stylistic borders. In the most creative moments it is as if I am a medium: My role is to help the music be born. Technique is not more than a tool. Without strong tools, such as technique for me, it will be very difficult to be 'a door'.

My role is to help the music be born.
Technique is not more than a tool!

But I´m never focusing on technique, maybe because I have quite good technique from the nature and I am not playing compositions of others. On the other hand if you want to get a better technique, you should not focus on technique but on pictures and associations. By this your technique can grow by itself.

Misha Alperin

Carina: Do you still play the accordion and the melodica, or are these in your eyes "lesser instruments" compared to the piano? And sometimes you also accompany your playing by singing...

Misha: It's impossible to compare the claviola and melodica to the piano. I am missing the breathing of the brass instrument when I'm playing the piano. I can compensate this by playing the melodica and claviola, even though these instruments are quite limited. But both are for me like my family. The can give colors that I am missing on the piano. Similar the singing: I divide all "my music" into songs and dances. Sometimes I am singing inside, sometimes outside. But I am never stopping to sing. I do agree with Arvo Pärt who said the voice is the only perfect instrument.

Carina: You once said that you try to show people a new approach to intellect and intuition. Are you still teaching in Oslo and is this part of your teaching concept for students as well?

Misha: Some years ago I got a card from my students before they left the conservatory. In those years I didn´t only teach piano, I taught improvisation for all music students, also the classical ones. This group of students spontaneously wrote down what they learned from me in those years. They wrote the following:

"Why we teach music
Not because we expect you to major in music
Not because we expect you to sing and play all your life
Not so that you can relax
Not so that you can have fun

But: so you will be human
You will recognize beauty, you will be sensitive
You will be close to an infinite beyond this world
You will have something to cling to
You will have more love, more compassion
More gentleness, more good
In short: more life
(and than you will sing & play, relax & have fun all your life)"

I never told them in those words. This is their own interpretation of my classes. I believe we are all unique. And only the heart is personal, not the mind. Mind is collective. Only the heart can help me find my path. It is not easy but it is possible.

If listeners as well trust to their hearts and are not so much occupied by biographies, critics, styles and knowledge, then their energy can be used to enjoy the rich world of sounds: One can become music.

Carina Prange

Current CD: Misha Alperin - "Blue Fjord" (Jaro Medien)

Jaro Medien im Internet: www.jaro.de

Fotos: Mit freundlicher Genehmigung von Jaro Medien.

© jazzdimensions2004
erschienen: 04.08.2004
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