Van Cliburn

Cliburn confidential: Meet Alexey Chernov



8 of 30

A series of conversations with the Cliburn competitors

Alexey Chernov

(Pronounced Ah-LEX-ay CHAIR-nov)

Nationality: Russian

Born: Moscow

Lives: Moscow

Age: 30

Early Cliburn memories: Chernov began playing the piano around age 5. "One of my most pleasant memories was when I was 10 and I was seated near a window in my room, listening through my headphones," he says. "I was listening to Rachmaninoff's second concerto 10 times in a row, or maybe more. Van Cliburn is playing the piano, with Kondrashin as the conductor. It's a recording that gave me such a real musical happiness."

Favorite composer to play: "Myself, because I know exactly what the author wants."

But if he could meet any composer, living or dead, he would ... "With some of my favorite composers -- honestly, I have a lot of them from different eras -- I would want to show them my compositions and ask for advice on how to develop as a composer."

Pianists he admires most: "Rachmaninoff, as a pianist," he says. "Also Horowitz, again as a pianist."

When not practicing piano, he enjoys: "Composing music, listening to music, and just thinking about music," he says. Currently on his iPod is Richard Strauss' Metamorphosen. "Firstly I am composer," he says. "And I compose not only for piano. Most of my interests revolve around music. I also like to play chess, watch good movies and taste delicious food. Besides, I have three children and I enjoy spending time with them."

Favorite book: "Always the one I am reading at that particular moment."

What he loves most about living in Russia: "The unpredictability," he says. "And the big contrast between the seasons."

The first really Texan thing he plans on doing upon arriving in Fort Worth: "All I know is that it will be something very cool."

Celebrity he would most like to meet: "I don't normally have such dreams, although it would be fun to meet up with Leonard Nimoy -- Mr. Spock from Star Trek."

What is distinctively Russian about his approach to classical piano? "Everything," he says. "Because I am Russian! But, finally, I will let the public be the full judge of that."

On his Cliburn hopes and dreams: "I was a fan of Van Cliburn himself, as I have seen the old footage of the Tchaikovsky competition when he competed in Moscow. ... He has inspired so many young people to reach high to achieve their goals," he says in his application. "It is in this spirit of stretching myself to achieve my highest level of artistry that I am entering the Van Cliburn. Also, your competition is most prestigious in the world. I am 30. And I played a lot of competitions and won 12 first prizes. And I want to make the 14th Cliburn competition the climax of the 'competition part' of my life."

-- Andrew Marton,

Special to the Star-Telegram