Andre Gallo and Gala Chistiakova with the Manchester Camerata

Up Close:The Next Generation Andre Gallo and Gala Chistiakova in Carnival Mood
Greeted on the way to the train by this publicity for Manchester.
Could not be more spot on.
Sharpish indeed as the pianists from Keyboard Charitable Trust have been experiencing over the past few years in an enlightened collaboration with the Manchester Camera– Britains most exciting chamber orchestra.
The brain child of Geoffrey Shindler who wanted the young musicians from the Keyboard Trust to experience making music with “his” orchestra in his beloved Manchester.
And what an vibrant place Manchester is with exciting new venues opening all over the city to share music with audiences that until now had not known what they were missing.
In fact bringing them “Up Close”
It was only fitting that Alexander Ullman, a star shining brightly thanks also to the KCT , should open the series in the award winning Whitworth Art Gallery.
He was followed by other stars :
Emanuel Rimoldi in “Home” a community arts centre where once stood a leather factory.
A very teasing title for Valentine day of “Camerata in Love” with Ilya Kondratiev.
Mark Viner performed unknown works by Alkan in the Anthony Burgess Foundation that was once a rubber factory
Vitaly Pisarenko brought Beethoven and Bartok to a Hungarian Fest in Albert Square where once stood the famous Freemasons Hall in the heart of the city.
And now an Aquatic Carnival in the magnificent new Stoller Hall that is part of Chethams School of Music just opposite the Cathedral.
Two stars shining brightly here too.
André Gallo from the south of Italy where he astonished audiences at the age of nine in S.Carlo Opera House in Naples performing the 24 Chopin Studies .
Lazar Berman took him under his wing and had a lasting concern for him in the Piano Academy in Imola where after his death Franco Scala took over his musical education .

Andre Gallo                              Gala Chistiakova                 Vitaly Pisarenko
Now at 29 he is astonishing audiences with his supremely natural musical gifts.
No less remarkable Gala Chistiakova performing both the Chopin Concertos in Moscow when only 12.
Now established in Grossetto where she has a music festival with her husband Diego Benocci that is bringing remarkable young talents from specialist schools in Russia including the renowned Gnessin School to Italy in an exchange programme that allows hundreds of children to feast on the culture that is Italy, “The Museum of the World” ,to use Rostpropovich’s own words.
Gala is also mother to fourteen month old Leonardo,of whom Vitaly Pisarenko is the godfather.
She had taken time off to perform in this remarkable series but had to get a very early flight back to her family the next day.
Vitaly had come up especially from London after a month long concert tour of South Africa.

Carnival of the Animals the final work on the programme with the complete ensemble
A real party atmosphere was created with ten members of the Camerata together with the two pianists enjoying every minute of the work that Saint Saens had momentarily put aside his third symphony for .
He had such fun writing this Aquatic Carnival for Shrove Tuesday in 1886 but did not allow it to be published in his lifetime as he thought it would detract from his image as a “serious composer”!
The second performance in the same year was in the presence of Franz Liszt at the house of Pauline Viardot.
It was in fact published only after the composers death in December 1921 except for the beautiful Swan for cello that Saint Saens allowed to be published in 1887.

The video especially created by a special programme for children, called Carnage of the Animals
It certainly gives every player a chance to shine and in the hands of the Camerata it also gave the chance to autistic children to create a video especially for the rousing final.
Bringing music to the people and people to the music indeed.
Up Close indeed giving children with difficulties a chance to participate and express themselves artistically.
Each of the artists was allowed to shine in their own particular way as explained in the very amusing introduction by Janet Fulton,our amazing and unexpected percussionist.

                                       Janet Fulton with Andre Gallo
What fun everyone had .
Not only the performers but also the audience that were captivated by the menagerie that was paraded before them.
From the Lions roaring,the Hens and Roosters crowing even the Tortoises dancing the Can Can.
But what virtuosity from these superb players only a few days from returning from an exhausting five concert tour of China.
The elephant of Daniel Storer on the double bass .
The beautiful playing of Amina Cunningham creating a magical aquarium on her incredible flute.

                                          The magic flute of Amina Cunningham
Of course the characters with long ears were so hilariously depicted by the violin director Adi Brett with Katie Stillman.
Daniel Bayley’s cuckoo in the depth of the woods with his C and A flat call on the clarinet .Our two virtuosi pianists fooling around with scales and exercises .
Janet Fulton’s Fossils evoking images of skeletons playing card games on her xylophone

                            Janet Fulton introducing their Carnival
One could not forget the magical swan of Hannah Roberts with the etherial accompaniment from Andre and Gala.
Leading to the finale in which everyone could make their own inimitable comment
.Ending with the “Hee Haws” of the donkeys as if to say the donkey has the last laugh
The concert had begun with just two pianos .
Two wonderful Steinway “D” ‘s .
One at home and the other on loan from the Halle’s Bridgewater Hall ,yet another wonderful venue that this extraordinary city can proudly boast.

Andre Gallo and Gala Chistiakova in Mozart Sonata K448 that opened the concert
As Geoffrey Shindler proudly exclaimed a sublime Mozart played with such finesse and purity of sound .
Perfect ensemble from our two pianists,who truly played as one.
The beauty of sound in the slow movement where time seemed to stand still.
The last movement bubbling over with that innocent charm that is so much part of Mozart’s genius.
The opening Allegro con spirito that grew in spirito as they warmed to the sheer joy of playing this masterpiece to such an attentive audience.
The sense of balance and give and take between the two pianists was infact remarkable
They played as one .No greater compliment is possible.
A rarity too was included in the programme.
That of Schumann’s Andante and Variations in B flat in the original version WoO10 for two pianos,two cellos and horn.
Written in 1843 but on Mendelssohn’s suggestion he published it as op 46 for just two pianos.Omitting two variations as well as the introduction and interlude.

Emma Wigley,the magician behind the scenes with the Camerata
Brahms ,on the other hand recognised the value of the original and premiered it with Clara Schumann in 1868.
Playing of great delicacy but also of great virtuosity from our two pianists with the cello of Hannah Roberts together with that of Chris Murray from the Heath Quartet and with the horn of Naomi Atherton adding that sheen to the most romantic of works
After a tiring tour of China what better way to celebrate than the opening of a celebratory bottle or two by Bob Riley the manager of the Camerata and James Thomas head of artistic development and programming.

              Bob Riley letting his hair down with his orchestra
I am sure that there are many more surprises in store for these young musicians with the Manchester Camerata – “the supreme experimental orchestra “.

                                Gala Chistiakova with James Thomas

     A celebratory “selfie” of the “gang” from the Keyboard Trust  after such an                                                            exhilarating evening

                                     Andre Gallo in rehearsal

               Gala Chistiakova enjoying every minute of the rehearsal

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