Cristina Ortiz at the Chopin Society The Joy of Music
A party atmosphere at the Chopin Society for the recital by Cristina Ortiz at Westminster Hall.
She has appeared there many times for Lady Rose Cholmondeley and the loyal members of her Chopin Society.
In fact it was a concert amongst friends at the unusual time of five o’clock.
I fear that the usual after concert tea and cakes were put to one side after such an exhilarating concert and I did notice many bottles being uncorked as I rushed of to Kew for Jazz on the Faz with Jonny Liebeck.
The infectious “joie de vivre” transmitted from the first to the last note had created a special atmosphere that as Lady Rose pointed out is quite unique for a concert hall in London.The piano too had been especially prepared for the occasion by Ulrich Gerhardt the indisputed expert from Steinways.
But it was the passionate warmth that Cristina Ortiz had brought to a rather chilly hall (Lady Rose also apologised for the lack of heating) that ignited the atmosphere with sumptuous sounds and passionate participation.
Miss Ortiz had brought the Brazilian sun to shine on us on a rather wintery english sunday!
Born in Bahia, Brazil, Cristina Ortiz began her studies in her home country before moving to France to study with Magda Tagliaferro. Soon after finishing her studies in Paris, at the age of 19 she won the first prize of the third edition of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 1969 She continued her training with Rudolf Serkin in Philadelphia at the Curtis Institute and later moved to London.A household name in the 70’s together with Vladimir Ashkenazy,Zubin Mehta and Andre Previn But even though she has been resident in Europe for many years, it is the passion, spontaneity and allure so characteristic to her Brazilian cultural heritage, which is central to her music making.
As a true Ambassador, she has started to perform classical music in the various Embassies of Brazil around the world, closely relating to the exclusive audiences by informally announcing what she chooses to play: be it Chopin or Lorenzo Fernandez; Schubert or Fructuoso Vianna; Brahms or Nepomuceno; Debussy or Villa-Lobos: all chosen composers, equally treasured by her.
It was infact the radiant beauty of three intermezzi by Brahms that truly showed her great artistry.
The sheer beauty of sound in the B flat minor op 117 n.2 with such subtle colouring and magical sense of balance The two intermezzi op 118 were played with a simplicity where Cristina Ortiz’s generous heart only added to the warmth of one of Brahms’ most intimate utterings in the A major Intermezzo op 118 n.2.
It was the same generous warmth that she had brought to one of Schubert’s most sublime outpourings in the Impromptu in G flat op 90.n.3.A great song that was allowed to float into the hall on a wave of sumptuous sounds helped by the richness of her left hand that gave great depth to the sounds and allowed infinite gradations of colour in the melodic line.
It was the same beauty that she had brought to the Chopin study op 25 n.1 that was offered by request as one of five encores demanded by an insistent public.
The Preludes of York Bowen were new to me and the six offered from the 24 op 102 showed a Romantic style very reminiscent of Rachmaninov.They ranged from the virtuosity of the first,the cantabile of the second .the great romantic sweep of the third in E flat with a typically Rachmaninovian ending.The scintillating jeux perlé of the E minor Scherzando all played with great command and driving energy.
It was Rudolf Serkin and later Murray Perahia who had rediscovered Mendelssohn and brought a classical approach to music that can often sound rather facile .
The Mendelssohn Variations Serieuses op 54 was full of beautifully things as in the Chopin Barcarolle and First Ballade that followed.
They suffered though from a rather too fluctuating tempo and romantic approach where her enormously warm temperament was allowed too much freedom at the expense of simplicity and the great architectural line.
The sublime Barcarolle was rather too passionate and tempestuous as Chopin’s artistocratic simplicity and poise were allowed too much latin passion.Such fluctuations of tempo that disturbed the magical line that Chopin creates in one of his greatest works.
The opening of the first Ballade was extremely beautifully played but later as the passion rose we lost sight of the great musical line and sweep .
But this was the generosity of spirit that had given such warmth and only added to the initimate atmosphere of the concert today.
Music making amongst friends.
After her beautiful performances of Debussy Arabesque n.1 and a justly passionate L’Isle joyeuse, visibly moved and exhausted she turned to her friends to ask them what they would like to hear next!
A sumptuous Maiden and the Nightingale by Granados was followed by two Brazilian pieces by Villa Lobos.
By great request she even had the energy for two Chopin studies op 25 n.7 and 1 played with great simplicty and controlled passion.
This was the unique atmosphere that Cristina Ortiz had been able to create amongst the usually rather sedate Chopin Society audience who were happy to shout out requests for their favourite works.
I was sorry to have to leave as I imagine the fun carried on for quite some time after the last notes had died away.