RE-TALES
Stereophile|October 2020
RE-TALES
George Vatchnadze’s newest gig
JULIE MULLINS

Access to musical information isn’t guaranteed, whether it’s limited by the resolution of a recording, your audio system, or an oppressive political regime. George Vatchnadze, concert pianist and dealer in high-end audio equipment, has experience with all three.

Vatchnadze’s main early influence was his father, at their home in Georgia—the Eurasian country, not the US state—which was then part of the Soviet Union. “My father was a huge music lover, and very knowledgeable, and I grew up with records,” he told me in an interview by Skype. “In the Soviet Union, it was very difficult to get musical information because of the Iron Curtain. So, my father would chase American records on the black market.1 … Each record would cost 40 Soviet rubles, whereas the average salary of a Soviet citizen was 120 rubles. It was incredibly hard and expensive, so very few people were doing it. So, I grew up around records that nobody else there had. This is where it all started for me.”

Vatchnadze recalls his father taking him to see Aida. “That changed my life,” he told me. “I might have been 6 or 7, but I sat through all of it quietly and was absolutely mesmerized, especially when I saw the trumpets on the stage in the second act. I was just blown away.”

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October 2020