What better way to start a beautiful spring day in London than with solo Bach played on the cello by Antonio Meneses .
A day that will finish with Gergiev and the LSO in Trafalgar Square.
What an amazing place London is!
Pletnev confided with me that playing at the Wigmore Hall was like playing “unter ze water”.However controversial that may seem to the discerning audience that flock to this hall in particular,Pletnev is a great musician and there is an element of truth too.
We were made wonderfully aware today of what a wonderful acoustic infact it has for string instruments.
From the first note played with the real “peso ” of a master the hall was filled with beautiful,rich almost orchestral sounds from Antonio Meneses refined palette.
More the school of Fournier than that of the naked emotions of Casals but the universal message of peace and love imbued in the second suite by Bach was transmitted with the same intensity to an attentive Sunday morning audience.
Yes, for us musicians I suppose this was very much the same as the Sunday morning mass.
Tortelier once asked me if I understood what “peso” meant and indeed today it was made abundantly clear by the stream of clear resonant notes that poured out of Meneses magnificent instrument and filled every corner of this remarkable hall.
Last time I heard him play was at the Brazilian Embassy in Rome with that other remarkable musician Maria Joao Pires in a memorable account of the first Sonata by Brahms .
So it was interesting to hear the cello solo this time in a programme starting and ending with Bach.
The other works were four caprices by Piatti ,a composer I well remember from my early struggles with the ‘cello.The early studies of Piatti are standard fare for beginners but these Caprices were certainly not for the likes of us.Caprices full of the same type of virtuosity as those of Paganini for the violin.Played with all the flair but also colouring and virtuosity that these pieces require to bring them to life.
Ending with a Suite by Gaspar Cassado with all the spanish rhythms and acrobatics that one would expect from a virtuoso who died only in 1966.
I well remember his Japanese widow, a very fine pianist living in Florence in the late sixties and hearing about her leggendary cellist husband.
By great demand ,even if the coffee and Sherry were all ready waiting for this enthusiastic audience ,an encore of Bach was the order of the day to complete this feast of music with the Sarabande from the fourth suite .
And so off to Trafalgar Square with Gergiev and Tchaikowsky obviously a different kettle of fish from our Sunday morning awakening with Bach but I am sure just as arousing in its way.