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Marc Bouchkov, a breathtaking musicality

Jacqueline Vanasse

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Published: June 19, 2014 at 4:12 PM [UTC]

When Marc Bouchkov plays his violin, he doesn’t only serve us a prepared version of a piece, but tells us a story with it in the heat of the moment. His stage presence, his attitude is quite different from that of others. He shows unwavering convictions and a very strong personality. I heard Marc Bouchkov for the first time during the Queen Elisabeth Competition in 2012. While listening to him, I never asked myself if he would go on to the next round or not, or if he was going to hit a wrong note – did it matter? I was just carried away by his breathtaking musicality.

Marc Bouchkov

Marc Bouchkov was born in France and has split his time between Belgium and France ever since. He has had no other violin mentors but his grandfather and his current teacher, Boris Garlitsky. Of Boris Garlitsky, he says that he is an accomplished idealist. “For him there is nothing above the music, above the quality of interpretation”, says the young man. “He never compares me to others. If he compares, it will be with myself, with what I was back a week or a year ago.” Moreover, although he has already participated in several competitions, Marc said he didn’t like to compare himself to others. You must be able to forget everything around you – favoritism, structures – and be honest with yourself. Mr. Garlitsky believes that you must play the best you can and if you still don’t get anything out of it then it means it’s still not good enough. “Thinking like that gave me a shock at first but in the end it’s very true and it makes you grow and develop like nothing else in the world," Marc said. “You must go for it! You have to be convinced - not necessarily of what you’re worth but at least of what you want.”

Once you get out of school, you must find a structure for yourself and start having ideas. And it’s when you start to realize things by yourself, when you begin to realize that you are responsible that things get complicated. Sometimes this gives you a feeling of freedom, of infinite possibility, but it can also be terribly frightening of not having someone to show you the way anymore. “Music is art, right? It requires training but otherwise it’s art, your art. A violin teacher is a guide. When you don’t know where you are going, where you want to go, it’s difficult to go anywhere and to get help.” What inspires Marc today is to play for and with the people he loves and admires. Recently he was signed by a very good management company in Berlin that motivates him a lot because it surrounds him with great musicians “and when you don’t go to school anymore this is how you can learn: from others.”

Marc learned the violin in the great tradition of the Russian School. The Russian School is based on technical excellence and quality: quality of sound, of intonation, of the bow stroke, of the accuracy of interpretation. At some point, the young man felt trapped by what he calls “the violinist syndrome," that is to say “somehow virtuoso, pedantic, always repeating difficult passages and showing off to everyone.” He didn’t want that image, he doesn’t want to play the violin for the violin but to play music to be part of something. Marc used to work on a piece for a month, two months, three months, until everything was very solid. If there was a note a little suspicious, he would rework the passage 30 times slowly. “It was my style of work but it had nothing to do with a thorough study of the work, with the will to interpret, to touch”, he comments. He said at the Queen Elisabeth competition “you must know what will please, what will shock, what will surprise.” Perfection is not the art. When art becomes a science, it’s not so alive anymore. The young violinist says to have suffered from the huge gap there sometimes is between technical practicality and genuine expression. It seems sometimes that to really express something you have to find the breaking limit, to be on tiptoe, very vulnerable. The more you let go and give, the more you are vulnerable. Of course you can’t give all the time either, not all music was written to be vulnerable. It’s the lifetime job for the musician to find the golden limit between mastery of the instrument and the abstraction of this mastery: to forget that one has this mastery and bring out the emotions, to find the ideal technique for a specific purpose.

“How amazing is this music world in which we evolve!” Marc exclaims. Music makes life even more intense: it makes you more vulnerable, more emotional. Feelings are induced in everything you do. According to him, because it brings out your feelings, music and art make you more sensitive to life and make you enjoy it more. The young violinist sometimes sees perfection as a dead thing, something that keeps one from evolving, which prevents true feelings, true art. “I think expressiveness is one of the magic of our art. For me what is inexpressive today does not make sense," he concludes.

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Posted on June 19, 2014 at 5:42 PM
Thanks for this inspiring blog!

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