The Russian pianist and composer Anton Batagov is one of the musicians who prefer to communicate with their listeners not only behind the instrument but also in front of it. He is not afraid to take a microphone and address his audience. He writes his own programme notes, makes his public a part of his world, confides his thoughts with it, shares life lessons and experiences.
After twelve years of studio work, the former prize-winner of the 1986 International Tchaikovsky Competition and the artistic director of the Alternativa Contemporary Music Festival (1989-1996) plays what he really wants to play. His programmes are conceptual, with no occasional compositions or just public favourites. The recital at the 3rd Eurasia Festival encouraged to discover the sounds of the invisible worlds behind the music notes. TheTwelve Preludes from theDebussy’s first book gave Batagov a possibility to play with a full range of intriguing images: landscapes, sounds, fragrances, colours and memories. Colourful, technically and dynamically impeccable, breathing and well-articulated, the Preludes held no secrets for the pianist. Within a few minutes he managed to create a trustful atmoshere in the concert hall and had the full attention of all his listeners. Until the telephone rang. Every festival concert the public was asked to swith off all mobile phones, but every evening there were two or three listeners who stayed deaf to this request. This time a mobile phone rang during theInterrupted Serenade. The title of this Debussy’s prelude was perhaps never interpreted so literally.
While introducing his piano cycle Invisible lands, Anton Batagov invited everybody to listen unprejudiced and open-minded. With his post-minimalist suite he didn’t intend to discover a new reality, but just to hear the existing ones. Therefore he needed noticeably fewer notes than Debussy. Based on the bells and their dynamic range variety, Invisible lands painted four fascinating sound landscapes where every tone was vivid and three-dimensional, eager to form a new harmony or a rhythmic pattern. Distant reverberation, growing radiant and swinging bells waves, deep, peaceful and finally overwhelming chimes, all these bells invited and promised of lands and sounds yet to be discoverd. The sudden stillness was deafening and let all further possibilities open. One had to determine whether the calls of invisible lands reached him.