“The world of music is beautiful and inexhaustible ... The journey there is endless and magical!” — being the artistic credo of Vladimir Titov — a composer, pianist, enthusiastic musician, equally partaking of academic and jazz, folk and pop music, successfully performing his own compositions, as well as classical music and jazz improvisations.
Vladimir Titov began his “journey” into the fancy music labyrinths in Novokuibyshevsk town of Samara region (Russia), where he was destined to be born on January, 3, 1984. At the age of 6 he was admitted to music school into a piano class. The young musician’s rapidly developing talent both for performing and composing drew attention of all teachers, and since 1995 Titov became a constant participant and winner of youth composition and piano competitions.
Music making and performing, bright, sometimes contradictory images and moods of the creative process, inexhaustible opportunities of the musical art as a “medium” into the world of human feelings — all this enchanted the young musician so deeply that his further life seemed predestined for the glorious engagement with Her Majesty the MUSIC. In 2003 Vladimir Titov graduated from Samara Music College with major in piano performance (class of Honored Cultural Worker of Russia G.M. Ryazanova). The period of study in the Music College was very intense due to Vladimir’s active participation in regional and national music competitions as a composer, arranger and pianist, gradually and tangentially becoming the laureate.
In 2004 Vladimir Titov continued his professional education in Samara State Academy of Culture and Arts in class of piano faculty Professor, Dr. D.Dyatlov, and after in Nizhny-Novgorod M.Glinka State Conservatory with the head of the piano department, Honored Artist and Professor E.Alexeyeva.
Since 2003 many of Vladimir Titov’s compositions and piano, vocal and chamber music arrangements have been performed at competitions and festivals of various levels (regional, national and international) by young musicians, as well as by experienced performers. All compositions and arrangements that had been performed at competitions, were awarded special “The Best Composition” and “The Best Arrangement” Diplomas, while many musicians having performed pieces and arrangements by V.Titov received the laureate prizes.
As early as in his youth years, Vladimir deeply comprehended that music is a special language addressing towards the finest human feelings and the best sides of the soul. In mature years the composer would affirm his respect for music with the following statement:
“Music that is created by composers, regardless of its style, should resonate with a human soul, it should fill one with joy, happiness, it ought to satisfy all various emotional demands. Then people would gain deep, genuine interest and love for music”.
Further artistic path of the musician is connected with Moscow, where, since 2010, Vladimir Titov successfully performs as a composer and pianist, works as a teacher and accompanist at Moscow music schools and at the Gnesins Music College. The Moscow period in the musician’s life proved to be bright and productive: academic and jazz music concert performances, winning several competitions and festivals as a composer and pianist, among which are the IV regional Youth Jazz Festival “Playing Jazz with Garanyan” (2011), Moscow State Festival “The Best City on the Earth” (2014), Moscow Open Festival-Competition “Tutti-Jazz” (2015), International Competition “The World of Creativity” (2015), IX International Competition “Composer” within the creative project “ADMIRALTY STAR” (2017) etc.
At present many of Vladimir Titov’s piano pieces are included into a study and performing repertoire in music studying institutions (music schools, colleges, conservatoires) around the world.
His piano piece “Fatin” op.7 was included into the “Fortepiano pieces of Samara Composers” volume, which was publish in October, 2005 (initiator and editor being piano professor of Samara State Institution of Culture and Honored Member of Samara Division of the Composer’s Union V.Semyonov).
All information presented above is only a small stroke in a biographical portrait of the musician, where one can see contours, separate dashes, details. Biography simply tracks graphical lines of events and facts, embracing the external side of life, but... Color, rhythm, sound, dynamics, density, tints, and, finally, the content of the composer’s life — all this stays behind the scene until his inner world opens up its gates and the music begins.
If dear Reader has not yet run away to his/her pressing issues, has not rushed to the kitchen to fry bacon, has not fallen down tiredly into bed, let us try to draw away the secret veil of Vladimir Titov’s musical laboratory.
In an effort to comprehend the composer’s inner world, his music tastes, esthetic values, one usually faces a curtain set of questions. It is, firstly, the composer’s relation to the music of different époques and various musical styles; secondly, it is evaluation of innovation and traditionalism, avant-garde and conservatism in his composing language. However, let us not spare time on questions. Let us listen to the thoughts and ideas of Vladimir Titov — the musician being sincerely, inspiringly and affectionately in love with CREATION, MUSIC and LIFE.
Now, as well as during the years of my studies, the music of Skryabin, Rakhmaninov, Ravel, Debussy, Prokofiev, Vagif and Aziza Mustafa Zadeh appeals to me most... Because this is the MUSIC!
I feel deep respect to contemporary composer’s creative search and experiments in terms of musical language innovation, but often, in chase of stylistic devices novelty, in pursuit of creative concept audacity, seeking for special originality, one overlooks the main mission of music as remarkably deep language of the soul.
More and more often professional musicians and mere music lovers speak on spiritual “starvation” growth, sense of deficit for music which would be directed into the depth of human feelings. Time is fast-flowing, incessantly moving forward, densifying and even condensing, but the interrelated sublime beauty of human feelings and glorious beauty of nature are always present. Then why should we erase it from our life, music and creativity? No one can destroy what is conceived by the Creator in the field of beauty. This is ETERNAL.
Paradoxically, but most often academic music, which expresses the BEAUTY, is the music of the past époques. Contemporary piano literature is very scarce, while contemporary piano literature which would express the beauty is even scantier. Frequently contemporary music pieces are beautiful only on the score, while it may sound like chaos and create ugly images to one’s ear, although composers do not necessarily strive for such a result.
How do I compose? First, there appears an idea or feeling, mood or image. I’m listening into these vibrations. Then I’m drawing out these sensations into material world. At first, the image is blurred. Gradually it becomes clearer and sharper. The composition process is permanent and often comes simultaneously with other things. Sometimes the composition reveals itself differently from what it was originally intended to be, as if it lives its own life. When the music is already born and put down on the score, I keep on listening into it so that to comprehend its deepest essence. Only after the piece is finished, there comes the title of the work. It is like giving name to a newly born child. It is not easy to find the right words which would reflect the musical image. All my pieces have a descriptive title: this way I emphasize the individuality of each composition’s “face”.
The expressive language and musical style of Vladimir Titov is a unique combination of romantic imagery, sophisticated and colorful sound palette of impressionism and spicy impulsive vibrations of jazz. Possessing efficient academic education, he is well at balancing between such various esthetic and stylistic models, synthesizing them into his own sound substance. Herein the Vladimir Titov’s music certainly possesses its own graceful and unique individuality.
Musical images, reflected in compositions’ titles, reveal the unique inner concept of the musician’s creativity. On the one hand, some titles refer to quite realistic images, feelings, moods (e.g. “Pretty Woman”, “Your Glance”, “Rush”, “Come Back...”, “Game Of Sparkling Rain”, “Poteshki” (Maslenitsa Festival), “Beloved”, “Jazz-Tonic”). On the other, the composer is strongly enchanted and appealed by transcendental issues (e.g.“Beautiful Extraterrestrial Girl”), mythological motives connected with various ethnic and folklore traditions (e.g. “Shaman”, “Mermaid”, “Barabashka”, “Lonely Jinn”, “Shishiga”, “Eros”, “Oceanid”).
The first encounter with Vladimir Titov’s compositions suggests that the composer’s work is rooted in emotional and imagery nature of the musical language, exposing various, often contrastive, conflicting or complimentary modes in his music. The piece “Your Glance” op.2, obviously inspired by the piano “pearl” of the great impressionist C. Debussy “The Girl With The Flaxen Hair” in its intonations, represents the mode of yearning. On the contrary, the piece “Rush” from the same opus expresses action. The miniature “Come Back...” from op.3, like a movie screen shot of lonely and gloomy mode, is succeeded by a sketch “Game Of Sparkling Rain” op.3, bursting with joy, delight and happiness.
However, a deeper and a more precise look into Titov’s music would discover a new edge of creative process — that is constant experimentation with different space sound parameters gratifying a true pleasure to the composer.
For example, in Two Fantasies opus 1 — On The Black Keys “Shaman” and On The White Keys “Pretty Woman”, the composer experiments deliberately restricting himself to using the keys of the one color. Thus, there comes a peculiar esthetic intrigue: together with grotesque “shamanic” rhythm and low register hypnotic ostinato formula, the black keys of the piano create a dark mysticism, while white keys give the voice to a brightly sparkling beauty and youth.
According to composer’s comments, Etude-graffiti “Jazz-Tonic” op.6 is “a musical cocktail of invigorating jazz rhythm and spicy jazz harmony, bright colors and sharp graffiti lines with an infusion of technical challenge presupposed in its title — etude”. The final musical cocktail is definitely worth the highest appraisal due to its expressive, bright and convincing “taste” in terms of sound and rhythmical discoveries.
The Oriental Fantasy “Fatin” op.7 is another exclusive “cocktail” or daring experiment of the composer, as the piece is written in jazz-mugam style (Fatin is an arabian female name which means “amazing, tempting, enchanting”).
To a bigger extent the idea of experiment with various musical language parameters reveals itself in an eight-piece Suite “Through the Looking Glass”. Firstly, the composition is based on the axial symmetry principle (A-flat or D being its axis). Thus, the left and right hand parts are “mirrored” both in piano score and on the keyboard. Apart from “mirrored” effects, the composer sets the musical mode experiments in some other pieces of the Suite, creating a very specific sound coloring for different images. In a piece “Lonely Jinn” the composer uses doubly augmented mode (oriental flavor), in a piece “Eros” he works with “Skryabin mode” known for its peculiar expression, while the piece “Shishiga” sounds in diminished mode with utter dissonant texture depicting both dismally mystic and funny image of a bog creature Kikimora.
However, the most unusual feature of the “Through the Looking Glass” Suite is its multi-level symbolism revealed in a system of symbolic meaning and senses. Thus, number 8 (the opus number and a quantity of pieces in it), possessing its own symmetry, is a graphical figure for infinity comprising the two worlds — material and spiritual. The title “Through the Looking Glass” symbolizes transcendental world, the entrance to which in many cultures has always been considered the mirror, like an edge between reality and unreality. Four male and four female images alternate, symbolically revealing the dualism of the world.
The first piece of the Suite, “Narcissus”, represents a white flower which symbolizes death as a means of transmission into another world. After, there comes a succession of musical sketches, depicting the author’s “journey” in an unreal world — “Mermaid”, “Barabashka”, “Beautiful Extraterrestrial Girl’, “Lonely Jinn”, “Shishiga”, “Eros”, “Oceanid”. Images chosen by the composer for musical embodiment correspond to various categories of human moral values — here there is good and evil, fear and love, obscureness and hope.
In the “Through the Looking Glass” Suite the composer uses mythological symbolism of various traditions — Slavic, Ancient Greek, Arabian, as well as expresses his interest for extraterrestrial civilizations as an unfathomable extension (“another” or unreal world, in a sense).
All pieces of the “Through the Looking Glass” Suite possess aphoristic nature — concise, laconic structures precisely and deeply depict the author’s imagery concept. In each miniature the composer exercises texture and mode organization inventiveness, finds original intonation solutions, amazing freedom and rhythm, exhibits brightness, brilliance of accord verticals, demonstrates generosity of fortepiano registers capacity. The author’s attitude to pauses in Suite “Through the Looking Glass” is worthy of special attention: not only do pauses add harmony and natural flow to musical breath, but also become semantic emphasis zones.
Reality and mythology, romantic delicacy and jazz spice, expression of feelings and rational composer’s experiments — these are not contradictions or conflicts, but a kaleidoscope of opportunities and discoveries, all carried in the music of composer Vladimir Titov.
Original text: Alla Vinogradova-Cherniayeva, Ph.D,
composer, member of the Composers’ Union of Russia,
professor at Theory and History of Music Faculty
at Samara State Institution of Culture.