International contests laureate, Associate Professor of the State Conservatory of Uzbekistan, pianist Sayora Gafurova is now in the prime of her powers as artist and performer.
Sayora belongs to the dynasty of famed Uzbek musicians. Her great grandfather was known in Kokand as a gifted singer; her grandmother was a wonderful vocalist; and her mother Ofelia Yusupova, a renowned performing pianist, pedagogue and merited artist of Uzbekistan and Karakalpakstan, for many years had been the head of the State Conservatory of Uzbekistan.
Since childhood Sayora was surrounded by the atmosphere of art and creative activities. Receptive and artistic girl with remarkable musical skills was very quick to grasp every piece of knowledge and stored an extensive repertoire in her memory: pieces by Bach, Vienna classics, romantic composers, modern Uzbek and foreign composers. Solid foundation of musical knowledge built during her childhood ensured Sayora’s excellent progress in school, and she became laureate of the National contest among students of secondary vocational schools. During her time as a Conservatory student, her participation in several international contests confirmed her right for the big stage. Having been selected to participate in the largest contest in Leeds (England) and having advanced her skills at international contests in Oxford, she was invited to give solo and ensemble concerts with British musicians. The Uzbek pianist was applauded to the echo in Turkey, Germany, Italy, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.
Apart from giving solo concerts, Gafurova also performs as soloist with symphony orchestra led by renowned Uzbek and foreign conductors such as Z. Khaknazarov, K. Usmanov, G. Tulyaganov, E. Azimov, A. Ergashev, Julius Karr Bertoldi (Germany), Gaetano Colloiani (Italy), G. Conneway (UK), and others.
Constant craving for knowledge determines the most significant manifestations of the pianist’s creative personality. Gafurova turns her attention to things that are in some way or another consonant with hew own artistic and aesthetic aspirations; selection process is governed by the pressing needs and relevance of a particular kind of music. The major product of this self-perfection is her wide-ranging interests that largely determine the orientation of her repertoire.
The limits of the small article do not permit covering the pianist’s entire repertoire, therefore the author would only say that Sayora is a very fine and insightful interpreter of Bach’s music. Her performance of the opuses created by the great German classic is a lesson in meaningful contemporary understanding of Bach’s dramatic compositions and a revelation of new aspects in communicating artistic ideas and images. Extraordinary beautiful sound of grand piano, immaculate sense of measure and artistic tact – these are the qualities that characterize the performance of Bach’s music by this pianist. Gafurova demonstrated her great mastery during a festival titled “Tribute to Johann Sebastian Bach” held in Tashkent in 2000, having performed his Concerts for one, two, and three pianos with orchestra.
A remarkable event in the musical life of Uzbekistan in 2006-2007 was the performance of all six Bach’s Concerts for piano and orchestra together with Turkiston Orchestra led by E. Azimov; two of the concerts were performed in Tashkent for the first time. Needless to say that the audience could not wait to hear the concert, knowing that no one in the country ever dared to perform such a heroic artistic act! Playing Bach’s concerts turned out to be a true revelation. The music sounded with a completely different and unusual expressivity bringing a different sensation and flavour of the classicism era, so unlike the textbook notion about coldish and ceremonial 18th century. All six concerts of J. S. Bach recorded on a compact disc immediately became a rarity.
Gafurova’s rendition of Bethoven’s music is one of the most remarkable happening in the history of performing his music in Uzbekistan (and not only). This is confirmed by Sayora’s participation in Prometheus Festival dedicated to the composer’s anniversary, where the pianist revealed some new aspects of her performer’s personality. Some major Bethoven’s works such as Concert No.3 for piano and orchestra (conductor K. Usmanov), Triple concert for violin, cello and piano (M. Khudoiberganov, Ulugbek Imamov, conductor Z. Khaknazarov), and Sonata No.7 for violin and piano were brilliantly performed.
The pianist’s interpretation of another classic, Mozart, is quite interesting, and she plays his pieces almost in every concert season. In October 2006, at a closing evening of Mozart festival Gafurova performed Concerts No.20 and No.24 together with the Turkiston Orchestra, having shown still another aspect of her talent. Her interpretation of Mozart’s music was notable for its remarkable sublimity, intertwined lyricism and tragedy, and the revelation of a deep underlying psychological theme, which demonstrated the pianist’s insightful cognition of the author’s ideas behind his opuses. For herself and her audience Gafurova discovered her own Mozart, the most contemporary Mozart that offered rich sensations and poly-semantic imagery. As usual, her dependable aide in her performer’s interpretation was her keen artistic taste and intellect through which the search for new approaches and new expressive means for revealing the musical content turns out to be very convincing. The pianist likes playing Chopin, Bramms and Rakhmaninov. The artist leaves indelible emotional impression when she plays music by Chopin.
…This brings to memory a festival titled “A Garland for Chopin” dedicated to the composer’s anniversary. Eight evenings of Chopin’s piano music! The hall of the State Conservatory does not have the capacity to accommodate all the eager. Here again Gafurova delights her audience! She plays the most complex Sonata No.3 and the famous Fantasy, and during a chamber music evening she accompanies a singer during the first part, and then plays a rarely performed Trio for piano, violin and cello.
Finally, at the closing evening she delivers the Concert for piano and orchestra! In this year’s concert season Gafurova also took part in Chopin Nights (to mark the composer’s 200th anniversary), performing his Concert No.1 and the Great Polonaise. The audience was conquered by the sincerity, passion, grace and virtuosity of her performance.
In my frequently assigned duty of chairing the Sate Attestation Committee for graduating students I had a chance to observe Gafurova in action as pedagogue, along with other pedagogues of the State Conservatory. What appeals to me is that Gafurova’s students play imaginatively, with style and in a very thoughtful manner, trying, to the best of their natural ability, to reveal the essence and content of the pieces they perform. There is no doubt that profound knowledge of the art of piano playing ensures Gafurova’s success as pedagogue. She herself presents a role model of how art should be regarded and what should be the purpose of one’s work and efforts.
Sayora Gafurova is member of the jury for Kelajak Ovozi contest organized by the “Forum for Uzbekistan Culture and Art” Foundation, and chairs children’s contest San’at Gunchalari of the Republican “Soglom Avlod Uchun” Foundation.
The pianist gives a lot of attention to the promotion of piano compositions created by composers of Uzbekistan. She plays them herself and includes them in the repertoire of her students, produces performance renditions for these pieces and, analyzing them in her academic and methodological works, issues recommendations for the students of secondary vocational schools and schools of higher education.
Sayora Gafurova deserves to represent the country’s musical art as she asserts its creative principles; she aspires for continuous mastering of her skill and making a worthy contribution to the development of musical art in Uzbekistan.