We met with him briefly at the X International Festival of Classical Music InClassica in Dubai, but the schedule was so busy that we could not talk. But after returning from another tour, Maxim got in touch – from his home in Monaco, where he has mainly lived with his family for many years.
– What is the weather in Monaco? Are you resting after touring?
– Good. Yes, you need to find time to breathe out – this is a special art in our profession. The concerts have resumed. After the festival in Dubai, I have already played in Romania at the UNESCO festival, in Hamburg and Moscow. Now I am at home with my family in Monaco, and then I go on tour again. While there are several days off, I bought my daughters a Shiba Inu dog (a breed of hunting dogs bred on the Japanese island of Honshu. – M.M.). They called To-To. They are so happy.
– How old are the girls?
– 8 and 10 years old.
– Do children grow up in Monaco, speak several languages? Is Russian still their native language?
– We always speak Russian at home. But they are fluent in French and English. They go to an international school, where they have two languages. I hope they will master German over time. I would say that this is even necessary, since we have two citizenships: Israeli and German. At an early age, children learn languages faster.
– Do they make music?
– Lisa plays the piano, Polina plays the cello. We had two difficult years in terms of teaching, because due to the pandemic, teachers could not come and give lessons. One of our teachers is from Minsk, the second is from Stockholm. I had to study online, and this is a big challenge for children. It is difficult to deal with children in absentia. They like music and we don’t force them to learn. With me in childhood, on the contrary, it was different, but then it was so accepted. A child rarely has a desire to do it himself for many hours in a row.
– Would you like the girls to follow in your footsteps? Still, for a professional career, you need to devote many hours a day to studies, and the work invested does not always justify expectations. Many musicians remain in the shadows all their lives, only a few receive recognition.
– Girls do not study as much as I did in childhood. Before I went to first grade at the Central Music School (Central Music School at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory. – M.M.), I studied for 6-8 hours and then only for 3. When you study at school, it is already impossible to study all day long. It is not quantity that matters, but quality. The utility should be high. The girls study for 2-2.5 hours and they like it. We are not planning to create a dynasty of musicians. The choice is theirs. Once the eldest daughter, Liza, even reproached us for insisting that my wife and I insist on her learning to play the piano. In such cases, we always have an argument: you can make your choice, if you don’t want to, you won’t play. I am in favor of more musicians, but it should be a joy for the person himself who decided to devote himself to music.
This is a difficult profession because there are a lot of musicians and the music market is quite narrow. Only a few can make their way to the top. The rest should think about alternative professions.
– Your wife is an art critic. What are your preferences in the visual arts?
– We often talk about art. Olga educates me, she specializes in the art school of the early twentieth century – the Paris School. Her dissertation on Chaim Soutine, one of the brightest representatives of the Paris School. When we are together in large cities, we always go to museums. Olya writes very talentedly, combining two spheres: music and art. Sometimes he lectures, I always listen to her with great enthusiasm.
– Do you have a favorite artist?
– Thanks to Ola, I fell in love with the Paris School – Soutine, Modigliani and their contemporaries. The beginning of the twentieth century is a treasure trove of masterpieces. I love Chagall and Picasso very much.
– How do you feel about contemporary art?
– I am not an expert in this area, although I am always interested to see what contemporary artists are doing. I feel intuitively: I like something, something I don’t.
– Which contemporary composer do you like to play?
– Quite a lot of compositions were written for me, which I performed. These are the works of Rodion Shchedrin, who wrote the Concerto cantabile concert. 23 years ago I performed it with the Mstislav Rostropovich Symphony Orchestra. I have played this piece many times in Europe, Asia and America. I would also like to mention the Israeli composer Veniamin Yusupov, who emigrated from Russia. He wrote a very interesting Viola Tango Rock concert for me. In this concert I had to play the viola, then the electric violin of five strings, and then dance the tango. It should be explained that I improvised on the electric violin in the style of rock. For this, for six months he took lessons from my close friend, who, unfortunately, is no longer with us, Didier Lockwood. He was a great jazz violinist. And with a partner from Brazil, we learned a five-minute tango. The last part of the concert is exactly the dance, and I also studied this in Paris. An unforgettable period of my life, I was 30 years old. A year of change and experimentation. Then I moved away from the classics for a while. Hit rock, jazz, studied new styles. Learned new tools. It was very interesting. Recently, I performed the premiere of a concert by a Chinese composer who lives in Paris, Chen Qigang, and recorded his concerts.
– What do you listen to at home not from classical music?
– My home taste is predetermined by children – they listen to Billie Eilish. Although, of course, I do not share their musical preferences. I love quality music – it doesn’t matter if it’s classical, jazz, folklore or country. I divide music into good and not so good. But everything is taken from the classics, from the music of the Baroque, the origins from there, from Bach. Bach was the first jazz composer. Many modern pop singers like Sting and Elton John use the classics as their basis. And all pop music is based on classical forms. For example, eight bars. As Pyotr Tchaikovsky said: “The people compose music, we, composers, only arrange it.”
– What kind of music do you dislike: are there dead-end directions?
– I do not like music that is cut off from the source, which is artificially created. She may be fashionable for a while. There might be interesting special effects. But fashion is changing. Popular music changes, but classical music remains, it is the source. Mozart will always be Mozart. He will always be modern, like Shostakovich, if we talk about the twentieth century. And, of course, Beethoven is the most performed composer to date.
– What is artificial music? Is it possible that music written by artificial intelligence will be popular in the future? Such experiences already exist, but they are imperfect.
– Now a lot is created by robots. Artificial intelligence has advanced very far over the past 10 years and will continue to evolve. But the connection with the person should not be severed. AI should not control humans. There is a danger in this. Elon Musk founded his company as a counterweight to artificial intelligence. We are born to feel, rejoice, hope, sadness, experience. If we turn into cyborgs, then we will reach a dead end. It is difficult to draw a line here, but we felt it in the era of a pandemic. Zoom became popular. In the first months it was interesting to meet in video chat, but then my friends and I got tired of this format. I wanted to share feelings and emotions in real life. It is very important. Although Internet technology is an important communication aid, it is only a tool. There was a lack of human communication during the pandemic. Although there were pluses. During the quarantine, my family and I spent four months at a dacha near Vyborg. And this is the first time that I had the opportunity to get to know my family better and build something new after 10 years of marriage. Now dad is at home and sometimes he leaves. And before it was the other way around: dad is a “Flying Dutchman”, sometimes he comes.