Michigan State University professor of Cello Suren Bagratuni performs and teaches master classes all over the world.
He also records frequently with producer Sergei Kvitko at Lansing’s Blue Griffin recording studio.
Bagratuni’s latest CD with pianist Jen-Ru Sun, a doctoral graduate from MSU’s College of Music, features selections from Schubert and Schumann.
Bagratuni’s new CD can be found on popular online music sites and at bluegriffin-dot-com.
Producer Sergei Kvitko describes first hearing Suren Bagratuni play as “love at first note”.
Bagratuni confesses, though, that he doesn’t like performing for a microphone. Kvitko says they’ve found a comfort zone in the studio together.
“The way you connect with the audience is very important,” Kvitko says, “but unfortunately, it doesn’t record very well in the digital format, so that’s where I come in. Besides being all the right notes at the right time, it’s also a fabulous performance that conveys the performers’ ideas and thoughts in music. So, that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Bagratuni expresses pleasure with the results of his projects with Kvitko.
“To this point,” Bagratuni states, “I have never met anybody who is as fast and as professional as him. And, plus, (the) advantage of having great ears, musician’s ears, always works for us. So, it’s been great.”
SCOTT POHL: For this project, why Schubert and Schumann?
SUREN BAGRATUNI: Oh, it’s because those are cornerstones of romantic repertoire, and the Schubert Sonata is the most scary piece to play. It’s one of the most beautiful pieces in our repertoire, but I guarantee you probably 99.9% of cellists who play it, they are scared, and I belong to that group.
POHL: What’s scary about it for you?
BAGRATUNI: Oh, you can see through that music, and any little, slight incorrect intonation or phrasing which is not sounding natural, that already could bother a lot. So, it has to be very natural, very clean and clear and very pristine.
POHL: All right, now we’re also going to talk a little bit about the Schumann Fantasy Pieces, Opus 73. What appealed to you about this?
BAGRATUNI: Schumann, generally, as a composer, is one of my favorites. During two and a half or three minutes of music, you can hear feelings from sorrow to happiness to nostalgic feelings, to everything, you can hear in that music! And I find it pretty challenging, but then, it’s a tremendous joy performing these pieces. You just have to be in the right mood, I think.
POHL: So what mood do you have to be in to play this to your satisfaction?
BAGRATUNI: Oh, boy. It’s a dreamy music. He’s so unsatisfied with himself. His harmonies change. His mood changes. He goes from really very warm episodes to a very nervous, unsettled mood, and it constantly changes. And that change could happen on one particular note! That quick. And to find that in his music is quite challenging.