13, 10 October 2007 Yerevan, Armenia.
The international festival of performance art HIGH FEST.
Avant-garde Folk Music Club.
Impossible – is possible.
The duo IN-TEMPORALIS (Polina Fradkina and Yoel Gonzalez) – is a combination of classic and all the variety of ancient and modern rhythms. You can say that they “bend the space and time” adding a pinch of Africa in Spain, a bit of Cuba in Russia etc. They do it so seamlessly that when you listen to classic performance you have the feeling that some part that gives certain acerbity and brightness is missing.
How did you meet?
P: How did we meet? By chance… I think it was fate. Three years ago I would never think that my life will turn this way. Of course there were some favorable conditions: I was looking for a timpanist (drummer) and someone gave me Yoels phone number. He was releasing a disc in the same firm as me. He was known in my circles of friends and I too was not unknown in his circles of friends but until a certain moment we didn’t even hear about each other.
Polina, you grew out in a family of musicians, devoted to the classic music, how did they relate to your work?
P: Yes my mum and dad are musicologists, authors of books about music, but they are very ingenious, they are nor bookworms. They conceive each our new piece with much interest. As soon as we have something new dad comes “play, I am listening”. Mum sits down and as to a music critic we say: start criticizing when we finish not wile we play!
Y: Critics got to criticize. They both sit there each waiting for something their own. The father wants real masculine emotions, while the mother is more objective. We try hard to make everything harmonious, although sometimes one of them will not be satisfied.
P: At heart my parents are almost teenagers. They do not like this academism, and they always say: “More, More! Play it in such way that this people who fear to make even one step against the rules will hear and understand you.” In fact they are very proud of me; they even have this keen interest: can you go even further from the text? Invent even more of your own?
Y: It is grate that they, people of a different generation, different classical stiff education understand us.
Was it hard for you to play in this style with your academic education?
P: It was and it still is. In the beginning when we were practicing I thought: “No, you can’t do this, it is going to far…” I exceed from the framework little by little, I begin to think: “And why not?” And fearfully looking around (if someone of the colleges is listening) I try to play like Yoel says. At first I just liked how he beautifully taps on these interesting instruments, but now that I know from what it is made of, the rhythm pattern it consists in, I understand more and more how difficult and elegant it is. In this music I find for myself a sea of interest a lot more exiting than the constant repeat of identical reading of classic. But even now I sometimes become brutalized. Yoel tells me: “What is so difficult? Play it as I say!” It is hard for me to overcome all canons that I been taught in the music school. It is as if I see a rainbow with 20 colors, but I know that it is supposed to be only 7.
Y: This music opens up a world with endless horizons. We just have to stop being lazy and work hard.
P: And the idea of unity of people and times is very good especially now when everyone becomes disconnected. In fact everything can be combined, can be in harmony like Ying and Yang.
Ying and Yang… Indeed how do you manage to combine the incompatible, what is your secret?
Y: We have very similar temperaments, we both are very emotional, have the same perspective on the world. My ex-wife told me something on this subject: “Our daughter resembles you so much, that I can find differences in your exterior only by undressing her…” It’s a coarse comparison of course, but it the same with us. Though we are different individuals that lived different lives in our own way we are very similar and the difference between us can be seen only by “detailed examination in negligee” I sometimes think that it was predestined. Our accidental meeting that didn’t forebode anything like this and here we are with so many works. It’s not simple: go to Africa and than come back to Montekki and Kappuleti, but we can do it this represents our kinship in professionalism.
P: I think the professionalism is playing not that big role in this. I played with a lot of professional musicians but there was no feel of company like with Yoel. It was there right from the first time. You know like the red and the white clown, when they find each other it is very rare. We have a similar situation.
Y: Indeed often you have a grate staff but it is not a company. We had a lot of hardships. We are both individualists but we always “negotiate with each other” and we always find an agreement. The reason for our success is our professionalism and that we love what we do.
How did you get the idea to form such an original duo?
P: We just tried; we played one piece than another… Then suddenly Beethoven’s 17-th sonata… It was so unexpected, I can see hoe you can combine Bach everyone tries to do something with him but Beethoven… his music does not go with Latin America! No, this definitely was destiny, too many coincidences me and Yoel even have daughters of the same age! Today we were visiting your exhibition it was marvelous Yoel couldn’t get me away. I was buying jewels and was overpowered with such egoism that I bought everything only for myself and completely forgot about the children. We then had to run buy something for them just before the concert. I think they will like all this interesting silver things. While we travel my daughter rests from me because all our rehearsals take place at my place. When I ask her if she wants to go to our concert she says: “NOOOO!! Thank you I here enough at home!” We to ere not that hurry to get home like usually we like Armenia very much. I feel so comfortable here just like home in a dressing gown and slippers.
Y: When we arrived here we thought that we will finally have time to rest and sleep. No luck there. It is as though the time runs away you dread to miss or not to try something out. Of course we get tired but it’s a nice kind of tiredness. We would like to come again and perform in the small Philharmonic hall. We already played in Philharmonic halls and it was grate our music is suitable for walls of a club as well as of a Philharmonic hall.
What did you like most in Armenia except the exhibition?
P: Mountains. Mountains and people we met here.
Y: I didn’t. I have to disagree with her in something because we are a combination of opposites!
P: That exactly how we usually fight, on principle just not to be too much alike.
Y: Honestly, of course I agree with her I liked everything Armenia is a special country, Armenians are a unique nation.
How the formation of the duo did change your lives?
P: This southern person rushed in to my life…
Y: …always screamed without reason…
P: …started to teach me to meet the hardships with a challenge like a true toreador. When circumstances do not suit me I just turn my back on them. Yoel makes me face the problems again. I don’t know it’s just more interesting to live because an interesting person has appeared and an interesting job.
Y: Yes an interesting job that demands a mad amount of work. The word “mad” describes it all: the hardships we faced and the state we’re in while we solve it. And the results of all that madness are our concerts.
With what criterion do you choose the music you interpret?
P: Right now we think what to take from the “new” pieces. We are afraid to take Bach, he was interpreted in rock and pop in such ways that we dread to vulgarize him even more. Our main objective is not to ruin the piece, but give it a second wind. It’s hard to follow that border. The choice is made unconsciously: we try it works or not. As example we tried to play Montague and Capulet right after we met but it didn’t work. And suddenly we had the idea of that African theme in the middle. We search and search… Yoel does not sleep at night solving problems that arise, the ones that I turn my back on. And than our fantasies intersect and the problem will solve in the air.
How would you “entitle” your music?
P: …witch means beyond time, but I would add “beyond space”. The common music of Earth.
Do you have a dream?
Y: We love our work and dream that we can continue to do it. Life is such a thing you never know what is to come.
P: We do not dream we just work…
Y:… yes, yes! We just go, believe, think, do, suffer, and quarrel. And this is all we need to live…
We decided that the picture will not be complete without the opinion of a professional musician “from the outside”. We invited the teacher from Erevan’s national conservatory, the pianist Asmik Ter-Antonian who shared her impressions after the concert.
“I came to this concert with firm belief that I will not like it. When the music started I was stunned and in a second I was thinking “forget what you will teach to the students tomorrow. Forget and relax”. When the last bit of academic stepped back I realized that everything that was played on stage is to my liking and even consonant with what happened inside me.
I was amazed by the cut-in of the rhythm in “Montague and Capulet”. It’s very difficult (at least for a pianist). I worked with saxophonists and for me with my academic education was very hard to catch there jazz rhythm. Of course later everything got right, but for the first few days I felt like a had no talent at all. And it was just jazz! I can imagine how hard it is for Polina Fradkina to match these mad African rhythms. Besides the hardships that the musicians overcame I was amazed how well the classic is combined with these crazy beats. I did not imagine that it was possible. And I will not lie when I say that such feel of company is not something you meet every day. It fells like there hearts are beating in the same rhythm. They are so different, they play such different music but they fit gut together. I have very bright impressions from the concert, I want to go roll up my sleeves and work, search something new in old pieces.”
To say that this concert was amazing - is to say nothing. The classic was not changed unrecognizably it is more like bright touches were added. In Mussorgsky’s “Old Castle” you suddenly could hear the ticking of an old wooden clock; in De Folio’s “The fire dance” we heard a whisper of a woman sometimes insinuating and sometimes furious. And in the piece of Yoel “Nostalgia” you could hear the steps of past: light, stealthy but hasty and inexorable. Probably this kind of steps will sound in the concert halls when I will listen to the performance of pieces interpreted by “In-Temporalis” and I think that no one except me will hear these steps.