Glorious and Victorious Long may they reign over us ….Di Donato/Pappano -Argerich/Barenboim

Glorious and Victorious – Long may they reign over us -Di Donato/Pappano Argerich/Barenboim at the Proms…….
Two unforgettable Proms on Sunday morning with Pappano and Di Donato and Monday evening with Barenboim and Argerich ……………what a marvel ……….
And the true return of a legend in Salzburg just two days later.
What energy and enthusiasm from Pappano and the American Youth Orchestra.
A truly sublime Joyce Di Donato in Berlioz that had the intelligence of a Schwarzkopf with the sumptuous creamy voice of gold of a Jessy Norman or a Janet Baker .A Strauss Symphony normally so preposterous in its outsized container but on this occasion with a breadth and vision that was nothing short of miraculous .
All this with the “joie de vivre”of making music that only the passion of youth can provide.
Barenboim and Argerich sounded a little less energetic………on Monday ….
On Wednesday it was quite a different thing…….great artists are not machines thank God ………
Try the piano player at Steinways …….any artist you want can play in your living room…….the only thing is it is always the same ………….that could never be with a true artist as was proven this week ……….

standing ovation on Wednesday in Salzburg
As Martha quipped to her friends “ not bad for an 80 year old.” Barenboim too as they were kids together in Argentina .
Especially when you know that they have both just flown in from Buenos Aires.
Martha the day before the concert and Barenboim later and was slightly jet lagged.
He had just played three Beethoven recitals(nine sonatas) plus conducted six major works with the orchestra and given two public seminars at his festival in Argentina.
And these two “youngsters” are already in Salzburg for tonight’s repeat concert on their tour to celebrate 20 years of the miracle that is the West- Eastern Divan Orchestra of Edward Said and Daniel Barenboim.
What wonders they are.
Above all for their generosity in trying to make the world a better and more understanding place to live in peace together.

Martha and Daniel in Salzburg
Hats off indeed.
What a privilege to have been present
It is no coincidence that when Pappano presented himself at an audition for Barenboim with a singer for the part of Brunhilde,Barenboim famously quipped:”You keep the singer and I will take the pianist.”
Pappano became his live in assistent …………..and the rest is history…..
still very much in the making!
Benjamin Beckman
Occidentalis (European Premiere)
Hector Berlioz
Les nuits d’été, Op 7
Richard Strauss
An Alpine Symphony
Joyce DiDonato (mezzo-soprano)
Brass of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain
The National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America
Sir Antonio Pappano (conductor)
Celebrated American mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato was reunited with regular collaborator Sir Antonio Pappano to mark the 150th anniversary of Berlioz’s death with a performance of the composer’s sumptuous orchestral song-cycle Les nuits d’été – a musical journey from springtime love to cruellest loss.
The National Youth Orchestra of the USA undertook a journey of quite a different kind in Strauss’s monumental An Alpine Symphony, whose vast orchestral forces and massive soundscapes conjure up the craggy drama of the Bavarian Alps.

Benjamin Beckman congratulated by Sir Antonio Pappano
The concert opened with a new work, by Benjamin Beckman, one of the NYO-USA’s two Apprentice Composers.

Martha Argerich with Daniel Barenboim
Franz Schubert
Symphony No. 8 in B minor, ‘Unfinished’
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor
Witold Lutosławski
Concerto for Orchestra
Martha Argerich (piano)
West–Eastern Divan Orchestra
Daniel Barenboim (conductor)

Daniel Barenboim and the West- Eastern Divan Orchestra
Daniel Barenboim and his West–Eastern Divan Orchestra return to the Proms with a programme of emotion and sensation.
Legendary Argentine pianist Martha Argerich was the soloist in Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 – an outpouring of Romantic intensity sustained from the arresting opening chords right through to the thrilling finale.
Polish folk dances pulse through Lutosławski’s vibrant Concerto for Orchestra, with its echoes of Stravinsky and Bartok. Its bracing rhythmic energy and reticent beauty offer the perfect foil to the melodic richness of Tchaikovsky’s concerto……….

Friends from their childhood in Buenos Aires (author unknown)

Return of a legend ………no two legends! .

Martha Argerich in Salzburg
Having just returned home to the sweltering heat of Rome I found the same Prom concert that I had heard on Monday relayed live from Salzburg.

The audience in Salzburg on their feet to applaud such a great performance
There was magic in the air …the magic that had somehow eluded these two legendary artists on Monday.
Little did the wonderfully generous Prom audience know that Barenboim had literally just come from his festival at Teatro Colon in Argentina where he had given three Beethoven recitals,conducted six major works with the West- Eastern Divan Orchestra and given two public seminars.
He was jet lagged and the great expectations for their Prom concert was not totally convincing.
Were we expecting too much?
Well we got the answer on Wednesday!

An encore “Per L’Amitié” indeed en famille with Michael Barenboim turning pages
Now having flown together from London to Salzburg for three concerts ,the Barenboim Festival in Buenos Aires only a memory, they were in the mood to make music together.
Not only Martha with Barenboim but the orchestra too.
This is the stuff that legends are made of.

Martha’s quite extraordinary hands
Not since Rubinstein have we witnessed the magic that can be produced in works that we have known for a lifetime.
This Tchaikowsky concerto was sublime.
Not a word that one would readily use for this old warhorse.
I have known this work since I was a schoolboy totally won over by Liberace and then the 1812 Tchaikowsky nights at the Albert Hall.

Martha and Daniel’s hands linked in a friendship of a lifetime
I have heard all the great pianist play this much loved concerto.
From Rubinstein,Horowitz,Gilels,Richter,Van Cliburn,Arrau,Byron Janis through John Lill,Peter Katin,Pletnev,Virsaladze,Alexeev ,Shura Cherkassky,Jerome Rose and many many others.
But I have never heard the sounds that I heard today from Salzburg.
Phenomenal virtuosity which as Martha herself says is “not bad for an 80 year old!”
But there was much much more.
A very subtle sense of balance and colour that illuminated passages that I have never even suspected could be so laiden with gold.
Very slight delays ,a sudden pianissimo,a sublime sense of cantabile of the Golden age of piano playing.
Such superb clarity and precision in the middle section of the second and third movements played almost without pedal.
Every note played with a precision and just weight.
………….The final octaves of course were played with enormous elan but then it was she that held the orchestra back with such pointed phrasing in the great climax that the final race to the end became absolutely hair raising.

Some inspired playing from the orchestra too
It had this high society audience on their feet clamouring for more …………..
What could be more sublime than a totally inspired Daniel at the helm with Martha steering the way in the Schubert A major Rondo ” Per l’Amitié”.
And what greater friendship could be shared with this vast audience.
Daniel’s son turning pages and visibly moved by the subtle play between these two old friends.
All visible on Medici ………………not to be missed.

Magic in the air in Salzburg

Society audience visibly moved in Salzburg


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