I’m excited for the first album release story for March! Novellas is a rich medley of life stories through music expressing the range of human emotion. Here to tell the story is none other than the mastermind behind the album, award-winning pianist, Yana Reznik.
But first, a little backstory.
I first had the pleasure and privilege of hearing this world-renowned pianist play at my longtime friend-in-music Ronna Binn‘s Classical Encounters concert back in 2010. Yana performed outstanding duets with fellow world-class pianist, Dr. Rufus Choi. Their memorable concert was played on Ronna’s two outstanding Hamburg Steinways.
After the performance, guests mingled over a delicious buffet. I managed to introduce myself to Yana and found her to be warm and genuine. We even groused about city council matters. I was so glad to make her acquaintance.
She accepted my FB friendship and I’ve had to pleasure of enjoying her posts and conversations ever since.
While perusing FB the other day, I was excited to stumble across a post announcing Yana’s recently released album of piano solos. Yesss! I wanted to learn more about it so I wrote to her privately, asking if she would like to share the story with my readers. I’m ecstatic that she accepted my invitation. I hope you enjoy.
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LRW: Your FB post announced this album is “a medley of life stories through music expressing the range of human emotion.” That caught my attention. Why these composers and why now?
YR: The “Novellas” is a compilation of some of my favorite pieces that I have performed throughout my career.
LRW: I’ve seen the score. Quite a challenging piece for someone that young! Chopin is also one of my favorite composers of all time.
YR: Frederic Chopin’s Prelude was a piece that my mother used to play herself when she was experiencing sadness and I could always feel her mood through the piece.
LRW: I love that photo. Beautiful music spirits! I’m embarrassed not to be familiar with “Dumka”. I obviously live in a cave…What’s the story on this piece?
YR: Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky‘s “Dumka” is a combination of Russian Orthodox celebration of Easter and the turmoil that a soul goes through in times of struggle, which ends up unfortunately in a suicide by a gunshot!
LRW: Wow! Okay, Dumka is now added to my “must listen” list and will share with my students. Thank you! Lot’s of emotional highs and lows in this album, for sure.
YR: Yes, every piece is a Novella that tells a story of our experience, our joys and tribulations. I believe that I’m at a point of my life where I fully understand the tremendous ups and downs that our life throws at us and through this music I tell the stories of all the people throughout the world.
LRW: And told in your own voice, too. How did you come up with the album title, Novellas? Did it evolve from conversations with mentors, family or friends?
YR: Because of the story telling aspect, I knew that the title had to include a literary meaning. The pieces are all under 10 minutes therefore making it little Novellas and not Novels.
LRW: Perfect title! As a graphic artist and art teacher, I’m intrigued with the cover art. I read that Gabmaster Photography and Paula Silva Artistry Co. provided their artistry and vision for the album art. How did you find them? Had you collaborated with them before?
YR: I came across Paula’s body painting art a while back and was intrigued with her mastery. She painted Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” on a body!!! I immediately had a vision of turning myself into a piano, to capture my feeling of interconnectedness while I perform in the flow. Being one with the instrument and the music is one of the most incredible rewards for all the hours of work that goes behind it.
Gabby, the photographer was a friend of mine who recently dedicated himself to photography after being a professional in a non artistic field. His vision and passion for art was captivating, with color schemes that were bright and vivid against black backgrounds, a combination that always attracted me personally. What I love most about working with talented artists is how our ideas come together in an often surprising outcome yet producing a commonly planned original vision.
LRW: Fascinating! I look forward to researching more about Paula Silva. Great collaborations for a great album. I believe this is your fifth solo piano album. Did you self-produce or did you go through a record label? How did you decide?
YR: This is my 3rd album :). The first one, “Debut Album” I produced myself from start to finish. I used every connection I could to do it in an affordable way. I learned so much from discovering how to do every part of the production. I pulled a lot of favors from friends, found artists who were willing to work for a portfolio for themselves. I fundraised from my concerts to print the CDs through CDBaby and sold so many copies that I actually made a very reasonable profit from it.
LRW: As an entrepreneuress myself, I’m very impressed. Well done! What about the second project?
YR: Second album was produced and sponsored by Roland Corporation and it was a very unique process that other artists haven’t done before. I had a V-Piano Grand at home and I recorded my pieces in full takes by pressing a button on the piano. I sent the files to the recording engineer at Roland and then together, in the studio, we manually edited the album. None of it was recorded acoustically!
LRW: Very state-of-the-art! I love the technology behind this. Go, Roland! May I ask did you do something similar with Novellas?
YR: No, my “Novellas” album was a very special project. I was approached by Steve Robinson, at that time a director of WFMT radio station in Chicago.
He had an idea of producing the album to be used exclusively for their pledge drive sponsors. The album did very well, being played and purchased for an entire week on the radio. After some time has passed after the initial release, I was able to get the ownership of the album. At that time I was offered to work with the label but after a thoughtful consideration decided that a self production was the way to go. Again :).
The labels are fantastic if you want to apply for a Grammy Nomination, but my goal with this album was to get out my favorite music to as many listeners as possible without worrying about how much income I will make from it. I realized I wanted to own my music and do as I please with it.
LRW: Interesting point about the connection between labels and Grammys. Knowing you self-produced this gem makes it a true treasure from the heart. So, will this album be part of a larger series, or a standalone project?
YR: I don’t think I will do a trilogy of Novellas. I actually want to produce an album that has a very specific theme and will be unique programing in a sense of unity, not a compilation album.
LRW: Good to know. It will be helpful to piano teachers who want to introduce their students to eclectic pieces they might not have heard of otherwise. I’m going to be sharing with my students. With concert halls closed, would you happen to be planning a live stream event of some of these remarkable works? Maybe a YouTube video or a series?
YR: During Covid, I have had a lot of personal and professional shifts in my life and many realizations of the changes that need to take place not only in my career but also in the music industry as well. I think that it is a very much needed time for artists to sit back, refocus, reinvent and come out with unique ideas on the other end. I have moved on from the works on my album for now and plan on reinventing my entire career moving forward. No streams planned but something big will happen very soon. Stay tuned 🙂
LRW: Good to know. I will! Once concert halls open again, do you plan to perform these works live? If so, how may my students, readers and I be kept informed? Is there a mailing list we may subscribe to?
YR: I will definitely be performing, probably none of these works except Tico Tico as it seems to be the favorite for the audiences. One of the passions that I have revisited during Covid has been writing stories and experiences of my Musical Journey, which I keep in a vlog on my YouTube channel. I share very intimate and personal experiences of being an artist. You may also subscribe to my newsletter via my website www.yanareznik.com and be updated on the latest developments.
LRW: Thank you for the intel. I’ll be checking your vlog and signing up for our newsletter accordingly. I understand you opted to produce an all-digital album rather than actual CD since many have given up on the format and have no way of listening to them. Where may my readers purchase your Novellas album? Will it be available on music streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple iTunes, etc.?
YR: Yes, I made sure that it is available on every streaming site possible.
Bandcamp (which actually benefits musicians financially more than streaming sites)
Whatever you are use for streaming, you’ll probably find it there. And of course, all the sharing, following and subscriptions help artists tremendously. I thank you so much for this interview and hope you enjoy my album.
LRW: Links duly noted. Good to know about Bandcamp! I hope my readers will consider adding your Novellas to their classical music collection. It was a pleasure and a privilege to interview you. Best wishes!
Want to learn more about or chat with this amazing and warm world-class pianist? Click the links below.
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Contact: 917-370-2461 cell
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