Magazine „Mundo Músicos“ talked with Kateryna Shapran

February 8, 2023 | Mundo Músicos | Eutherpe Foundation | Spain

We interviewed Katerina Shapran, a pianist with a distinguished professional career. We talked about music and the concert she will be performing on February 11th, along with her husband and great musician Balazh Fazecas, as part of the concert series organized by the Eutherpe Foundation.

What does music mean to you?

From a practical standpoint, it is my profession and path, in which I strive for success. On a personal level, it’s the place where I feel free and safe from everyday problems and struggles. It brings me joy and happiness in moments when life does not.

How did you become interested in music?

My grandmother was a piano teacher. From my earliest childhood, I was surrounded by music. I started attending music school at a very young age, and I remember the excitement every time I was there.

What would you say is the secret to being a great musician or performer?

I would say two important things: 1: The ability to invest your time and energy into details and knowing how to build your repertoire for the season. 2: Always imagine music as an art, not as a craft. Not to work on stage but to enjoy every sound you are producing.

What can you tell us about the recital you will be giving as part of the concert series organized by the Eutherpe Foundation?

First of all, I would like to mention Margarita Morais, her team, and their incredible work and support not only from Spain but from all over the world. She is a great example of how every educational institution should act. I am very happy to have had the opportunity to meet her. We performed there last year, and I have very warm and joyful memories.

On February 11th, along with my husband, we are preparing a great program for two pianos:

  1. Ma mère l’Oye (English: Mother Goose) is a suite by the French composer Maurice Ravel. The piece was originally written as a five-movement piano duet in 1910. In 1911, Ravel orchestrated the work.
  • Pavane de la Belle au bois dormant: Lentement (Pavane of Sleeping Beauty)
  • Petit Poucet: Très modéré (Little Tom Thumb)
  • Laideronnette, impératrice des pagodes: Mouvt de marche (Laideronnette, Empress of the Pagodas)
  • Les entretiens de la belle et de la bête: Mouvt de valse très modéré (Conversations of Beauty and the Beast)
  • Le jardin féerique: Lent et grave (The Fairy Garden)

Sleeping Beauty and Little Tom Thumb are based on Charles Perrault’s tales, while Little Ugly Girl, Empress of the Pagodas is inspired by a tale (The Green Serpent) by Perrault’s „rival,“ Madame d’Aulnoy. Beauty and the Beast is based on Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont’s version. The origin of The Fairy Garden is not entirely known, although the ballet version interprets it as Sleeping Beauty being awakened in the garden by her prince.

1. Saint-Saëns‘ „Variations on a Theme of Beethoven,“ Op. 35, is a duet composed for two pianos, four hands. The theme is taken from Beethoven’s Sonata in E-flat, Op. 31, No. 3. It is from the Trio section of the Minuet and Trio movement. The piece is lively and technically demanding, requiring precision with the rapid alternation of chords between the two pianos. Throughout the piece, the two pianos alternate between playing and waiting, in a manner reminiscent of „cat and mouse.“ This results in an exciting piece to watch being performed.

2 Franz Liszt’s „Pathtique Concerto for Two Pianos“ means a lot to me. Firstly, with this piece, Franz Liszt was symbolizing war, how ruinous it is, and in the end, good triumphs. It was also a very personal piece for me because my grandmother gave it to me when I was just 10 years old. In the notes, it was written: „I hope someday you have someone to perform it with.“ Now she listens to us playing from heaven, and I am very grateful that my husband is also a pianist.

How has the war in your country influenced your musical life?

It has been crucial. At first, I couldn’t play the instrument. When you know your entire country is under bombs, you don’t feel like practicing Beethoven for 4 hours. But there are also good things. I finally had the opportunity to play a lot of Ukrainian music, and people were really interested in it. I hope that someday our music will be as popular as classical elites. We also did many charity concerts, and I realized how powerful music can be at such times.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to follow in your footsteps and become who you are today?

Every „foot“ is different, as are the „steps“ and the „path.“ And that’s beautiful. But as advice, I might say: when you feel like giving up, that’s the right time to recover and fight to the end. This is the moment of your success. I didn’t realize it many times, but my husband always supported me, and now I’m grateful that I didn’t give up on many things.