Complete Lomazov/Rackers Interviews

HERE ARE THE COMPLETE TRANSCRIPTS of my recent conversation with married concert pianists Marina Lomazov and Joseph Rackers:

You’ve been described by one newspaper as a “diva of the piano.” What does a title like that mean to you?

Marina Lomazov: It is a very flattering description of course, and I’m grateful to the person who felt that way about my playing. But I certainly don’t think of myself in those terms. I think of myself mostly as a “servant of the piano.”

Passion and emotion are two characteristics many people ascribe to outstanding pianists. How does one summon up those qualities in their own recitals, and what techniques do you use to control and exploit such powerful attributes, once accessed?

Marina Lomazov: I think passion is something one just feels — whether it’s dance, or painting or music. Some feel it more intensely and have a way to project that intensity onto others. One also has to be physically trained to play an instrument, dance or paint, so that passion or those emotions one feels so intensely can be expressed with utmost abandon and freedom. For us, playing a successful recital means not thinking about technical or physical aspects of playing at all, which means we can concentrate completely on conveying the emotions we feel about a piece of music.

You have won acclaim and awards at many major piano competitions. Are those events as unimaginably stressful as we in the public are often led to believe? Do you actually enjoy taking part in such contests, or is it a necessary evil of your chosen profession?

Marina Lomazov: Actually, I never felt very stressed by those events. Mostly I felt exhilarated. I understand that not everyone feels that way towards competitions. But for me, there was always the joy of just performing for other people, plus an extra way to challenge and motivate myself.

At the renowned Eastman School of Music, you received an Artist’s Certificate – an honor the institution had not bestowed upon a pianist for nearly two decades. Tell me a bit about what makes that certificate so coveted and hard to obtain, and what it was in particular about your skill or talent which led to you receiving such an honor.

Marina Lomazov: Mostly, just luck and a lot of hard work. I was also inspired by my wonderful teachers Barry Snyder, my undergrad teacher at Eastman, who was the last recipient of the award prior to me and Natalya Antonova, my doctoral studies mentor and teacher.

You immigrated to the USA in 1990. What led you to move to this country, and what sort of impact has living here had on both your art and your career?

Marina Lomazov: My parents made a decision to immigrate. I think it was the best decision we’ve ever made as a family. America really gave us a new wonderful life and opportunities we would never dream of in Russia.

You’ll be performing in Savannah with your husband, pianist Joseph Rackers. I have noticed that one often finds married couples who are both professional classical musicians — seemingly more often than one finds married couples who both work in other genres of music. Is that the case? If so, why do you think that is?

Marina Lomazov: Young people meet in college and musicians usually don’t venture far outside their music world. They just don’t have the opportunity, as they practice all the time. Also, musicians share great love of music and understand each other’s need to practice for hours on end.

What are the inherent challenges in playing “four-handed” piano recitals?

Marina Lomazov: We have to adjust our sounds to blend in, to get a unified sound at the keyboard so one couldn’t tell it’s two different people playing. Also, physically sharing a space so close to each other presents challenges in coordinating our movements. One can’t simply move freely, or they can bump into the other person and distract them.

How would you describe the musical interaction between you and your husband? Does domestic friction ever get in the way of the two of you turning in stellar joint performances?

Marina Lomazov: We wouldn’t know — we never fight (smiles) We don’t always feel the same way about certain musical images or phrase turns, but we discuss it like we would in any other ensemble situation and work on developing common interpretation.

Do you prefer to play solo, or with additional musicians? Why or why not?

Marina Lomazov: Each medium provides its own pitfalls and rewards. Playing solo gives you the ultimate freedom to express yourself without constrains. It’s also a lonely medium. You are by yourself for long periods of time practicing, and when you perform you bear full responsibility for the outcome. It’s a high stress environment. Playing with other people allows you to share in the excitement of music making and it provides an opportunity to learn from other musicians and get inspired by someone else’s ideas.

Complete Lomazov/Rackers Interviews
Marina Lomazov & Joseph Rackers

What are the inherent challenges in playing “four-handed” piano recitals?

Joseph Rackers: The biggest challenge is trying to achieve a uniform concept of sound and articulation with your duo partner. The goal is to make a blended sound that almost sounds like one pianist rather than two.

How would you describe the musical interaction between you and your wife? Does domestic friction ever get in the way of the two of you turning in stellar joint performances?

Joseph Rackers: We have many similarities in our approach to learning and performing music, and so our musical interaction is natural and supportive.

Do you prefer to play solo, or with additional musicians? Why or why not?

Joseph Rackers: I enjoy performing both as a soloist and as a collaborative pianist. Both are very rewarding, but they are also very different. As a soloist, you express an individual conception of the work you are performing and as a collaborative pianist, you are engaged in a musical dialogue with your collaborative partner.

I’m told the featured piece in this concert will be Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring.” Have you played this piece before, and what sort of initial impression did it made on you?

Joseph Rackers: We learned the Rite of Spring in 2006 and have performed it many times since then. It is one of our favorite works for duo piano and it is a staple of the repertoire.

What are some of the most notable challenges that Stravinsky’s composition makes on the pianist?

Joseph Rackers: It requires lots of endurance, both physically and mentally, and it is a very technically demanding work.

How often do you rehearse by yourself at the keyboard?

Joseph Rackers: Every day, for as many hours as possible.

The Savannah Concert Association presents: Marina Lomazov & Joseph Rackers

When: Sat., 8 pm

Where: Lucas Theatre

Cost: $12.50 - $35 @


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