Drive every single thought except the music out of your head
Listen to yourself, and to others. Music is not just notes and not just silences, it is a whole, and the whole is where the meaning lies.
Practising is like breathing, I feel very strange if I don’t do it.
Most technical challenges can be overcome by practice and relaxation. I sometimes think the biggest challenge of all is getting one’s instrument on to an aeroplane without breaking the bank or assaulting the ground staff, or both.
When making a recording, play every note as if to an invisible audience. The recording is not the end of the line. It is a snapshot; tomorrow you will play some things differently.
You always find in the greatest masterpieces of Russian music, and in performances by the greatest Russian interpreters, a sense of the vast expanse and grandeur of the Russian land and also, if you will permit me, the depth of the Russian soul.
When making your debut performance, drive every single thought except the music out of your head. And be sure to go to the loo before going on stage!
One day in Rostropovich’s class I was playing Brahms’s E minor sonata. He stopped me and said: ‘Rukha,’ (short for starukha, his nickname for me meaning ‘old woman’ – I was 19) ‘you haven’t shed enough tears in your life.’ He was right. Now I understand that the essence of music can only be tapped and expressed by someone who knows life as a whole, with all its joys and sorrows.
Photo: Richard Moran