Daniel Lebhardt is an Emperor for the night at the Barbican with the RPO under Christopher Warren Green.A superb performance of great clarity and precision with a crystal clear sound that even in the quietest of passages reached the furthest corners of this vast hall. Aristocratic nobility as befits a true Emperor with all the dynamic rhythmic drive of a dashing young virtuoso.
Cheered to the rafters (where I was seated in ‘paradiso’ or ‘Gods’ faites vos jeux) he was asked by the orchestra themselves to play some more. The Beethoven Bagatelle op 126 n.3 was of searing beauty with great waves of sound just interrupting this mellifluous landscape depicted by this superb musician.He knew how to interpret Beethoven’s final pedal points and created an atmosphere that entranced even this festive audience. Minutes of aching silence,such were we bewitched,before the deluge of cheers and even cat calls just demonstrating what magic atmosphere a real artist can create. This was a Raymond Gubbay event bringing music to the masses who in fact were far more attentive than the usual Barbican ‘sophisticated’audience that more often than not clap between movements. Hats off to Raymond Gubbay for offering such an opportunity to young musicians at the start of their career.
As a curtain opener to the much vaunted Beethoven’s ninth it did In fact steal the show from a Choral Symphony that seemed to lack a clear architectural line and consequently the burning rhythmic tension that is only released in the final triumphantly joyous bars.
As Jessica Duchen so astutely comments Marios Papadopoulos’s book is about a remarkable adventure in music that is still evolving and ever growing:
‘This forthright memoir casts rare and valuable perspective on what it really takes to create a life in music’ Jessica Duchen.
It tells the story of a young pianist in Cyprus playing at the age of 7 to Gina Bachauer who immediately spotted his talent and brought him to London to study with Ilona Kabos.I remember a young olive skinned boy named Marios carrying Madame Kabos’s enormous handbag for her in Dartington.She was quite a formidable lady and when I played the Schumann Fantasie to her she told me that I feel it well.It was so beautiful ……….disgustingly beautiful …….darlink,it was disgusting and you would play it better if you were a better pianist! ( it upset a lot of people including John Amis who gave me another weeks scholarship to study with André Tchaikowsky ,who became a great friend).It was tyrannical teaching of the old school that we have experienced a few years ago from the late Dmitri Bashkirov at the RCM.But Madame Kabos had a pair of superb ears and a sense of style that was extraordinary and you either adored her or hated her,there was no half way mark.Gina Bachauer also found sponsors for his studies and even promoted his New York debut recital.After his fifth Queen Elisabeth recital in London in 1984 though he realised that :’Music is my life support …….it has brought me great happiness ,but also considerable distress…….I felt I had reached high levels of achievement but at other times I knew I had failed miserably’ and he explains that ‘the life of a globe -trotting international concert artist was not for me and I longed for a platform of my own where I could share my musical ideas ‘ and one might add ideals.
It is this journey that is described as he is bewitched by the magic world of Oxford where he can envisage his utopia on the distant horizon.It is this voyage with its inevitable ups and downs that is told with the same precision and order which he himself says he must have around him in order to survive.None of this could have been done without the team effort of his family.As Marios himself says:’Anthi worked as a full-time volunteer for 10 years …….over the years she has grown to be highly respected and admired by everyone.Her judicious handling of the finances has saved the orchestra from collapse …….’At the 90th birthday celebrations for the veteran violinist and teacher Vahan Bedelian in 1985 :’I played a Beethoven sonata with Manoug Parikian….a young woman arrived to turn pages for me .Her name was Anthi Anastassiades!With her arrival ,my existence changed immediately ……. she devoted herself to bettering our lives and to furthering my career .Anthi was to become the pillar of my life and a beacon of light in the years ahead’.
It is a story of passion,courage and humility as they searched for people that could sponsor their voyage to find the utopia that has been keeping them going with great sacrifices but also with great artistic satisfaction.Enriching the lives of all around them by creating not only an important symphony orchestra – the only permanent orchestra of Oxford University but also a series of events both educational and social that have enriched the musical world of Oxford and beyond.Some of the most revered musicians of our time have been involved and many return year after year to enjoy this warm intimate atmosphere of music making .
Jessica Duchen’s word of ‘forthright’ is exactly the spirit that Marios has adopted in his journey and in his description.What is missing are the human elements,the anecdotes,the many fascinating and moving details that have encircled and enriched this remarkable journey.As Marios says he is a man of action,precision and dedication and it is exactly this,without any frills,that he has tried to convey in his description of all that he has achieved in Oxford.
I too have been associated with Oxford for many years since I was a trustee of Rosalyn Tureck’s Bach Research Institute.Rosalyn was a great personality who lived in Oxford and would walk around the ancient city in her cloak and top hat.She took part in the first of the Oxford Philharmonic festivals and had a festival of her own too and I cannot believe that Marios does not have some personal memories of such an extraordinary encounter.I would often stay in Ewelme,the nearby village of my old piano teacher Vlado Perlemuter with his companion Joan Booth.I would come to the Summer Piano Festival which gives opportunities to young musicians to gain knowledge and experience playing in the masterclasses of artists of the calibre of Rosalyn Tureck,Menahem Pressler,Andras Schiff,Peter Frankl,John Lill,Stephen Kovacevich,Dame Fanny Waterman and many more besides.I would often come to Oxford during the year to hear the orchestra in the magnificent surroundings of the Sheldonian.
I remember very well coming to hear Maria João Pires play the Mozart Double concerto with Julian Brocal ,an aspiring young pianist who she was helping forge a career.I had heard Julian in a competition in Monza and he had asked me what advice could I give him to pursue a career in music.Shortly after he met Madame Pires who took him under her wing and he is now flying high on his own.I thanked Madam Pires after the concert for all she was doing to help young musicians.’But it is what they do for me and it is I who should thank them!’Another lady pianist also associated with Marios and the Oxford Philharmonic -Martha Argerich has the same simplicity and humility.Qualities that Marios too has in abundance even though he is too modest to mention all the young musicians that he has helped on his upward journey.
I once mentioned to Marios that there was a young Russian pianist who would love to come to his Summer Piano Festival but was in need of funding.Marios not only gave him a full scholarship to study but became a mentor of his for several years just as Gina Bachauer had been to him in his youth.
I mentioned that summer to Dame Fanny Waterman that she might like to meet the next winner of hero competition in Leeds.’Come with me’ she said as she ushered the young Russian pianist into a room with a piano.’Play me something classical’.He did and although she had many things to tell him he did go on to win a top prize in her next competition.
I was present too at the rehearsal of an all Mozart programme in the Sheldonian.Mozart Requiem and his last piano concerto with the ninety year old veteran Menahem Pressler as soloist.The orchestral musicians had come down for the final rehearsal from London and obviously just thought they would run through the concerto and then have a break in the pub before the main rehearsal of the Requiem.Well they had not counted on the perfectionism of Pressler who wanted to rehearse every bar and phrase with the loving care that his genius requires.Pressler was extremely upset at this rather cavalier attitude and Marios found himself torn between trying to avoid a revolution with the orchestral players or a walk out of the soloist.
Luckily we were able to calm Pressler and make him realise the historic importance of his playing in such a hallowed hall and to reassure him that the orchestra was full of the finest players who unfortunately had only a certain number of hours to rehearse! The concert was a wonderful success and not only the orchestra and Pressler were united in their praise for each other but also Dame Fanny Waterman gave her nod …or should I say many nods …..of consent.
It was only in Oxford chez Marios that one could get to know so intimately these renowned figures of the music world.I said to Pressler that ‘ you have so much in common with Dame Fanny in that you are the only two people I know that concentrate so fully on every single note that they listen to’.Pressler of course realised that but complained that when he was on the jury of Dame Fanny’s competition in Leeds,she insisted he sat next to her.Fanny never has ‘fifty winks’ in the afternoon,like many of the jury members during the very long and sometimes boring afternoon rounds of the competition.’Sitting next to Dame Fanny I have to stay 100% awake too!’affectionately moaned Pressler.
It is just these sort of anecdotes or personal recollections that are missing from an otherwise wondrous tale of a true giant bestriding the hallowed city of Oxford and way beyond in the name of music.
The final three chapters are dedicated to the ‘Thoughts on music ‘ from a thinking musician.There are some practical ideas and solutions that have been matured over a life time of music making at a very high level.Architectural Design – Motion in Music and Tonal Body are some in depth thoughts and solutions to musical problems.There is an added afterthought too of ‘Beat patterns and their application’ describing where the conductor’s beat lies!
Descriptions follow of the Oxford Philharmonic’s Outreach Work for Local Schools and Young People by David Haenlein and their Outreach Programme in Hospitals by Tony Robb and it just goes to show the scope that this remarkable activity has in the community it serves.Marios had the idea of a filmed concert streamed on YouTube which was made in December 2020 to thank the scientists for their Herculean efforts in producing a vaccine against COVID 19.A concert that included a work specially written for the occasion by John Rutter .Together with Sir Bryn Terfel it was initially intended as a thank you gesture for the scientists to view,but it attracted the attention of the national media and was watched by over 160,000 people worldwide.
Last but not least is the Coda in which Marios describes his aspirations for the orchestra and its work.He and his team have created the foundation stone of a monument that should continue it’s exemplary work long into the distance for future generations.
From the seven year old pianist being discovered by Gina Bachauer in Cyprus to the creation of the Oxford Philharmonic it has been a long and glorious journey indeed.
Sidney Harrison often used to talk about two of his prize students -Norma Fisher and his mature Canadian student Malcolm Troup at the Guildhall,just after the war. He boasted that Malcolm had married a Chilean princess which did not surprise him in the slightest,as he had quite a unique character.
His daughter Wendela confirmed that today in her moving eulogy,where she described him on his last journey,with a wink,asking for a glass of champagne.
Champagne was offered to all those present in the vestry after the service today,as a loving gesture from his family. Malcolm undoubtedly enjoying every moment of it too. I took refuge in the nearby Coach and Horses to write a few heartfelt words about a friend while Champagne was being offered to his friends in the vestry! What a life! It was many years later that Sidney boasted about another student of his,who graduating with him at the RAM ,went on to build and run a theatre/concert hall in Rome with his famous Italian wife Ileana Ghione.She had been his pupil in Siena -he rarely returned to England for almost 30 years.
It was in the 80’s that Ileana and I were invited to the Troups house in Gloucester Road for a private recital for EPTA of the renowned Italian pianist Marcella Crudeli. At last I got to meet Malcolm Troup and his adorable wife Carmen. Malcolm and I became colleagues and I would often see him at the annual recitals of our mutual friend Alberto Portugheis. I remember one memorable occasion where Malcolm sat,unshakable,like the perfect gentleman he was ,during an unforgettable performance of the Liszt Sonata with nine fingers -the tenth had a trigger in it ! His lovely wife died and he somehow never forgave himself that they had been on a holiday just before,which he thought had tired her unnecessarily.
My wife died too -on stage – and Malcolm and I became friends. Today I said goodbye to a friend with the celestial sounds of the Fauré Requiem in the sumptuous surrounds of Farm Street Church in Mayfair. It had been a haven for him and his wife for their many years together and at last,this Christmas,they are united there again.
Sep 09, 2021
A care home in Newbury has captured the moment a resident heard his favourite piano piece, after introducing them to music therapy.
The emotional video was taken as the team at Care UK’s Winchcombe Place, on Maple Crescent, played his own rendition of Messiaen’s Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jesus to resident and former professional pianist, composer and Head of Music Department at City, University of London, Malcolm Troup.
The regular session now forms part of the home’s efforts to encourage residents to reminisce while enjoying old hobbies. Music therapy, which Malcolm championed throughout his life as Governor of the Music Therapy Charity for 30 years, is especially powerful for residents like him, whose life has revolved around an instrument for many years, and can trigger happy memories while giving residents an alternative way to communicate their thoughts and feelings.
The home has also hosted a number of music-themed events this year, including a World Piano Day celebration and World Music Day event.
Malcolm said: “I was delighted to hear my recording again.”
Kerry Thompson, Home Manager at Winchcombe Place, said: “We always go above and beyond to support residents, encouraging them to continue enjoying old hobbies where possible and helping them to do so.
“Malcolm has lived an incredibly rich life – he’s travelled across the world, and his list of achievements, whether academic or musical, is nothing short of extraordinary. A large part of his life has revolved around playing piano, so it’s no surprise music therapy has proven so beneficial for him.
“It was heartwarming to witness Malcolm’s reaction to his favourite piece being played, and you could see from the look on his face just how much it meant to him. We’re looking forward to continuing implementing music therapy at the home and supporting Malcolm to enjoy the thing he loves most – the piano.”
Born in 1930 in Toronto, Canada, Malcolm’s interest in piano started when he very young. A talented pianist, he began composing his own songs aged nine, quickly earning a scholarship at the Royal Conservatory in Toronto, then making his debut as a professional pianist in Germany eight years later, having studied with some of the country’s most famous musicians.
Throughout his critically-acclaimed career, Malcolm received a number of distinctions, including a Commonwealth Medal in 1955 as well as an International Music Award. Praised for his technical skills, he also travelled across the world to play, in locations including South America, Eastern Europe, Middle-East and Europe.
A scholar, Malcolm was also the Director of Music of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama between 1970 and 1975, and remains an Emeritus Professor at City, University of London, where he created a BSc Honours Degree Course in Music. He also chaired many high-profile music societies, including the Beethoven Piano Society of Europe, the European Piano Teachers’ Association and the International Ernest Bloch Society.
The pianist, academic and teacher Malcolm Troup was born in Toronto on 22 February 1930. He studied with Alberto Guerrero and later with Walter Gieseking. He has performed all over the world and recorded for RCA Victor and Continuum. His performance of Messiaen‘s Vingt Regards was judged ‘notably perceptive … with splendid panache’ by The Financial Times.
Troup has been Director of Music at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and was awarded his own chair at City University. He holds the Commonwealth Medal, an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the Memorial University of Newfoundland and the 1998 Liszt Medal from the AmericanLiszt Society. He was Master of the Worshipful Company of Musicians in 1999 and is a former chairman of the Beethoven Piano Society of Europe.
Malcolm Troup, music educator, concert pianist. Recipient Commonwealth medal Harriet Cohen International Awards, 1955, Liszt medal American Liszt Society, 1998.
He was born on February 22, 1930 in Toronto, Canada. Son of William John and Wendela Mary (Seymour-Conway) Troup.
Associate degree, Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto, 1948. Fellow, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London, 1952. Professor (honorary), University Chile, 1966.
Doctor of Philosophy in Music, University York, England, 1968. Doctor of Laws (honorary), Memorial University Newfoundland, 1985. Doctor of Music (honorary), City University, London, 1995.
Concert pianist, worldwide, 1954-1970. Director music Guildhall School of Music & Drama, 1970-1975. Professor music City University, London, 1975-1995, head department, 1975-1993, emeritus professor music, since 1995.
Governor Music Therapy Charity Trust, since 1979. Juror Chopin Competition of Australia, 1988, 1st Dvorak International Piano competition Czech Republic, Rome, 1997, 1st EPTA International Piano competitions Zagreb, 1998, Reykjavik, 2000, Young Musicians of Year, Canadian Broadcasting Company National Talent Competition, Eckhard-Grammate Piano Competition, Canada Council International Jury. Vice president World Piano Competition, London.
Leader international delegation of piano teachers Citizen Ambassador Program People to People, People’s Republic of China, 1995. Board management London International String Quartet Competition. President Oxford International Piano Festival, since 1999.
Member executive committee Anglo-Chilean Society, London, since 1990. Freeman City of London, since 1971. Trustee Jewish Music Institute, since 1991.
Fellow Royal Society Arts. Member Royal Society Musicians, Worshipful Company of Musicians (liveryman, member court assistants since 1973, master 1999), European Piano Teachers Association (chairman since 1978), Beethoven Piano Society Europe (chairman since 1991).
Married Carmen Lamarca Subercaseaux, February 24, 1962. 1 child, Wendela Colomba Troup Lumley.Father:William John Troup
Saint-Saëns specified in his will that his Carnival should be published posthumously. Following his death in December 1921 it was published by Durand in Paris in April 1922; the first public performance was given on 25 February 1922 in Paris It was rapturously received. Le Figaro reported:We cannot describe the cries of admiring joy let loose by an enthusiastic public. In the immense oeuvre of Camille Saint-Saëns, The Carnival of the Animals is certainly one of his magnificent masterpieces. From the first note to the last it is an uninterrupted outpouring of a spirit of the highest and noblest comedy. In every bar, at every point, there are unexpected and irresistible finds. Themes, whimsical ideas, instrumentation compete with buffoonery, grace and science. … When he likes to joke, the master never forgets that he is the master.
But I was not prepared for the even more regal splendour of another age of the National Liberal Club for two of the star pianists from the Keyboard Trust stable:Tyler Hay and Cristian Sandrin.They too had kindly invited me to hear them play this amusing Zoological Fantasy.
The National Liberal Club (NLC) is a London a private members club was established by Gladstone in 1882 to provide club facilities for Liberal Party campaigners among the newly enlarged electorate following the Third Reform Act in 1884, and was envisioned as a more accessible version of a traditional London club.
The club’s Italianate building on the Embankment is the second-largest club-house built in London. (It was the largest ever at the time, but was superseded by the later Royal Automobile Club building completed in 1911.) Designed by Alfred Waterhouse it was completed in 1887.Its facilities include a dining room, a bar, function rooms, a billiards room, a music room with a splendid Steinway ‘D’ concert grand,a library and an outdoor riverside terrace.
The club’s foundation stone on the modern clubhouse was laid by Gladstone on 9 November 1884, when he declared “Speaking generally, I should say there could not be a less interesting occasion than the laying of the foundation-stone of a Club in London. For, after all, what are the Clubs of London? I am afraid little else than temples of luxury and ease. This, however, is a club of a very different character”, and envisioned the club as a popular institution for the mass electorate.However, another of the club’s founders, G.W.E.Russell, noted “We certainly never foresaw the palatial pile of terra-cotta and glazed tiles which now bears that name. Our modest object was to provide a central meeting-place for Metropolitan and provincial Liberals, where all the comforts of life should be attainable at what are called ‘popular prices'”, but added “at the least, we meant our Club to be a place of “ease” to the Radical toiler. But Gladstone insisted that it was to be a workshop dedicated to strenuous labour.”
Waterhouse’s design blended French, Gothic and Italianate elements, with heavy use of Victorian Leeds Burmantofts Pottery tilework manufactured by Wilcox and Co.And in the music room – concert hall -‘The David Lloyd George Room’- the Victorian tiles were very much part of the decor as was a vast oven of another age at the back.A fascinating venue for a concert dedicated to the centenary of the death of Camille Saint-Saens .
I was sorry to miss the ‘Danse bacchanale’,from Samson et Dalila and even more so the Second Piano concerto which I remember from the aristocratic performances of Artur Rubinstein just the other side of the Thames in the Royal Festival Hall .But I was glad to be able to hear two world premières both presumably with some connection to Saint Saens.
Simon Proctor’s beautifully mellifluous ‘Baacharolle’ it was easy to see the connection.
But Philip Dutton’s Méduses even though conducted brilliantly by the composer was less obvious.It is sometimes a good thing to play a contemporary work twice – if short- as the first time there can be a general shock wave but with the second comes real understanding .
Rubinstein realised that,when he gave the Spanish premiere of Ravel’s Valses Nobles which was greeted in true Latin manner by hisses and boos.Not deterred the great pianist played the entire work again as an encore!No one was sure if the silence that greeted it was shock or true understanding !
But hats off to the conductor and master of ceremonies for including two contemporary composers in a concert d’epoque. The droll sense of humour with which Ben Westlake introduced the works was every bit as characterful and amusing as his expert conducting of these 14 animal episodes that make up this amazing zoological collection.
An ensemble of brilliant young musicians – two superb pianists at a magnificent Steinway encapsulated – or do I mean encaptured in a hall that must have been similar to where it was first performed in 1922.One could almost envisage the ghost of Saint-Saens looking on ,bemused,that this little ‘ divertissement’could have overshadowed all his more ‘serious’ compositions.The same fate as William Walton’s Facade where the cabaret appeal,however intellectually stimulating,is far more far reaching that the greatest of his Symphonic or Operatic output!There is the story too of Busoni’s wife being introduced as Mrs Bach-Busoni as her husbands vaste original output was overshadowed by his more accessible transcriptions of Bach!
I. Introduction and Royal March of the LionThe introduction begins with the pianists playing a bold tremolo, under which the strings enter with a stately theme. The pianists play a pair of glissandi going in opposite directions to conclude the first part of the movement.Introducing a march theme that they carry through most of the rest of the introduction.
II. Hens and Roosters Strings without cello and double bass, two pianists , with clarinet: this movement is centered around a pecking theme played by the pianists and strings, which is quite reminiscent of chickens pecking at grain. The clarinet plays a small solo above the strings. The piano plays a very fast theme based on the crowing of a rooster’s Cock-a-Doodle-Doo.
III. Hémiones (animaux véloces) (Wild Donkeys Swift Animals) Two pianists the animals depicted here are quite obviously running, an image induced by the constant, feverishly fast up-and-down motion of both pianos playing figures in octaves. These are dziggetai, donkeys that come from Tibet and are known for their great speed.
IV. Tortoises Strings and piano: a satirical movement which opens with a piano playing a pulsing triplet figure in the higher register. The strings play a slow rendition of the famous “Can-can from Offenbach’s comic opera Orpheus in the Underworld.
V. The Elephant Double bass and piano: this section is marked Allegro pomposo, the great caricature for an elephant. The piano plays a waltz-like triplet figure while the bass hums the melody beneath it. Like “Tortues,” this is also a musical joke—the thematic material is taken from the Scherzo from Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream and Berlioz’s “Dance of the Sylphs” from The Damnatiin of Faust .The two themes were both originally written for high, lighter-toned instruments (flute and various other woodwinds, and violin, accordingly); the joke is that Saint-Saëns moves this to the lowest and heaviest-sounding instrument in the orchestra, the double bass.
VI. Kangaroos Two pianists:the main figure here is a pattern of “hopping” chords (made up of triads in various positions) preceded by grace notes in the right hand. When the chords ascend, they quickly get faster and louder, and when the chords descend, they quickly get slower and softer.
Part of the original manuscript score of “Aquarium”. The top staff was written for the (glass) “Harmonica”. Violins, viola, cello , two pianists flute, and glass harmonica.The melody is played by the flute, backed by the strings, and glass harmonica on top of tumultuous, glissando-like runs and arpeggios in pianos. The first piano plays a descending ten-on-one, and eight-on-one ostinato, in the style of the second of Chopin’s Studies , while the second plays a six-on-one. These figures, plus the occasional glissando from the glass harmonica towards the end and are evocative of a peaceful, dimly lit aquarium.
VIII. Characters with Long Ears Two violins: this is the shortest of all the movements. The violins alternate playing high, loud notes and low, buzzing ones (in the manner of a donkey’s braying “hee-haw”). Music critics have speculated that the movement is meant to compare music critics to braying donkeys.
IX. The Cuckoo in the Depths of the WoodsmTwo pianists and clarinet: the pianos play large, soft chords while the clarinet plays a single two-note ostinato; a C and an A♭, mimicking the call of a cuckoo bird. Saint-Saëns states in the original score that the clarinetist should be offstage
X. Aviary Strings, pianos and flute: the high strings take on a background role, providing a buzz in the background that is reminiscent of the background noise of a jungle. The cellos and basses play a pickup cadence to lead into most of the measures. The flute takes the part of the bird, with a trilling tune that spans much of its range. The pianos provide occasional pings and trills of other birds in the background. The movement ends very quietly after a long ascending chromatic scale from the flute.
XI. Pianists Strings and two pianists this humorous movement (satirizing pianists as animals) is a glimpse of what few audiences ever get to see: the pianists practicing their finger exercises and scales. The scales of C, D♭, D and E♭ are covered. Each one starts with a trill on the first and second note, then proceeds in scales with a few changes in the rhythm. Transitions between keys are accomplished with a blasting chord from all the instruments between scales.
Title page to “Fossils” in the manuscript including drawing by the composer
XII. Fossils Strings, two pianists , clarinet, and xylophone: here, Saint-Saëns mimics his own composition, the Danse macabre, which makes heavy use of the xylophone to evoke the image of skeletons dancing, the bones clacking together to the beat. The musical themes from Danse macabre are also quoted; the xylophone and the violin play much of the melody, alternating with the piano and clarinet. Allusions to “Ah! vous dirai-je, Maman” (better known as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star), the French nursery rhymes “Au clair de la lune”and “J’ai du bon tabac” (the second piano plays the same melody upside down [inversion]), the popular anthem “Partant pour La Syrie” as well as the aria “Una voce poco fa” from Rossini’s The Barber of Seville can also be heard. The musical joke in this movement, according to Leonard Bernstein the musical pieces quoted are the fossils of Saint-Saëns’s time. The movement ends with the xylophone theme first played by the xylophone and strings, but is soon taken over by almost all the instruments.
XIII. The Swan Two pianists and cello: a slowly moving cello melody (which evokes the swan elegantly gliding over the water) is played over rippling sixteenths in one piano and rolled chords in the other.
XIV. Finale Full ensemble: the finale opens on the same trills in the pianos as in the introduction,Many of the previous movements are quoted here from the introduction, the lion, the donkeys, hens, and kangaroos. The work ends with a series of six “Hee Haws” from the donkeys, as if to say that the donkey has the last laugh, before the final strong group of C major chords.
HFUK Represents The State Hermitage Museum in the United Kingdom, facilitating cultural exchange and supporting a range of Hermitage activities including exhibitions and loans, acquisitions and a curatorial exchange programme. In addition, the Foundation is responsible for the management of the Hermitage’s international endowment fund, and for a major publishing programme translating the Hermitage collection’s catalogues into English. Alongside these activities, the Foundation runs a busy Friends organisation that is closely linked to the museum in St Petersburg and which organises regular events in both the UK and Russia. Projects undertaken by The Hermitage Foundation UK include ‘Hermitage 20/21’. Initially launched in 2007, the project’s goal is to collect, exhibit and study contemporary art, as well as to build the museum’s contemporary art collection; the programme has since resulted in exhibibitions by artists including Anthony Gormley, Zaha Hadid, Henry Moore, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Anselm Kiefer and Tony Cragg.
The Foundation’s publishing programme has produced valuable English translations of many of the museum’s collections including those of Flemish paintings of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, British painting, British engraved gems and Persian painting; current volumes in development include French paintings from the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries and Iranian bronzes of the 14th to the 18th centuries. Recent projects in the UK include the exhibition of Francesco Melzi’s (1493–1570) recently restored masterpiece Flora at the National Gallery as the centrepiece of their focus exhibition Francesco Melzi and the Leonardeschi (2019); and ‘The Empress and the Gardener’, an exhibition at Hampton Court Palace in 2016 which showed 70 drawings of the Palace’s gardens by Capability Brown’s draughtsman, John Spyers, recently discovered in the Hermitage Museum having been acquired by Catherine the Great in the 18th century. The Foundation also supported ‘Houghton Revisited. The Walpole Masterpieces From Catherine the Great’s Hermitage’ in 2013.
It was such a surprise to receive two invitations to hear concerts by friends both on the same day and almost the same time.I was delighted to be able to listen to Yulia Chaplina first but had no idea that it would be in such a sumptuous setting.It must be in just a setting that the young Chopin had his overwhelming success in the salons of the aristocracy in Paris.Yulia appearing in an evening gown from a couturier collection played to a select group of guests celebrating the work of the Hermitage Foundation UK .A short speech by the chairman James Dawnay immediately made one aware of the valuable work that they are doing in forging cultural exchanges between our two great nations.
A short recital which included the fourth Ballade op 52 by Chopin – one of the pinnacles of the romantic repertoire together with the Schumann Fantasie and Liszt Sonata in B minor.It is a very difficult work to hold together as one.The theme and variations are episodic and full of such ravishing beauty that one is tempted to dwell on detail instead of seeing the whole architectural shape of which the details are but the bricks of the temple.The opening was played with such delicacy and fluidity that it created the magic on which the theme was allowed to float.Utmost delicacy and sensitivity are required but also the same simplicity that Mozart requires that can be too easy for children or two difficult for adults.Yulia found just the right amount of freedom without anticipating the transformation that will eventually bring us to the passionate climax.There was sumptuous beauty in the first variation where the subtle counterpoints were like streams of sound gradually building to the first real climax.Streams of silver lined notes take us to the second main subject that was played in a very simple chorale like way as the music was gradually transformed into a polish dance.The return of the introduction as Cortot says was ‘avec un sentiment de regret’ and the way she played the gently magical embellished cadenza created the absolute calm before the storm.The simplicity of the theme was gradually transformed into a whirlwind of passionate sounds where Yulia’s transcendental technical command allowed her to plunge passionately into Chopin’s great romantic effusions .The five gentle chords just calmed the red hot fires before the final ecstatic outburst of exuberance and emotion was allowed to spill over with overwhelming effect.The final great chords bringing this masterpiece to a triumphant ending .
This short recital ended with the delicious ‘Pas de deux ‘ from Pletnev’s magnificent transcription of Tchaikowsky’s ‘Nutcracker Suite’.A sumptuous outpouring of ravishing sounds building up to an overwhelming climax of transcendental difficulty and emotional impact that in Yulia’s hands was a true tour de force.If I had not been so entranced I would have worried about the well being of her delicate lace evening gown in such an orgy of seduction.A performance to cherish and one in which Russian culture was seen to shine brightly in the name of the Hermitage Foundation.
Yulia is a Steinway artist based in London. She initially studied in Russia with classical pianist Naum Shtarkman before moving to Berlin in 2006 to study with Klaus Hellwig at the University of Arts in Berlin. She holds a Master of Music (MMus) degree from the Royal College of Music in London, where she studied with Dmitri Alexeev. She has performed in some of the world’s most famous concert halls, including Wigmore Hall, Berlin’s Philharmonie, and the Grand Halls of the Moscow Conservatory among others.She has released a number of recordings, and writes for multiple publications in her spare time.
Described by International Piano Magazine as ‘quintessentially Russian’ and ‘with technical fluency and rich tonal shading reminiscent of the great Communist era artists such as Emil Gilels’ and held by Paul Badura-Skoda in ‘highest regard as a concert pianist’, Yulia is the winner of 7 international piano competitions. Since winning the First Prize & the Gold Medal in the prestigious Tchaikovsky International Competition for Young Musicians, she has performed regularly as a soloist in many of the world’s finest venues, including the Wigmore Hall and the Southbank Centre in London, Berlin’s Philharmonie, the Grand Halls of the Moscow Conservatoire and the St. Petersburg Philharmonia, Bunka Kaikan Hall in Tokyo and many other concert halls.Yulia’s solo CD of Russian Music, recorded by Champs Hill Records, was described by the American Record Guide as “….an outstanding disc and one I’ll return to often”, adding that “Russian born and trained Yulia Chaplina brings to her playing more than a lifetime of acquaintance with this music.”Yulia holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Arts (Berlin), Masters in Music & Fellowship from the RCM (London). Yulia received music coaching from Mstislav Rostropovitch, Andras Schiff, Mitsuko Uchida, Paul Badura-Skoda, David Waterman, Steven Isserlis, Thomas Adès and Liliya Zilberstein.
Yulia is a passionate piano teacher herself and has given many recitals, masterclasses, lectures and webinars in international music festivals and for students of the Royal College of Music, Royal Academy of Music, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Trinity Laban Conservatoire, Tokyo College of Music, Tokyo University of Arts, Yehudi Menuhin Music School and many other students in specialist music schools and junior departments of conservatoires in Russia, UK, Japan, China, Spain, Italy and the Czech Republic.
Mikhail Pletnev (born 1957 in Archangelsk) is one of the outstanding pianists of his generation and a conductor in great demand. He received the gold medal in the 1978 International Tchaikovsky Competition and has subsequently made numerous recordings of music including Scarlatti, C. P. E. Bach, Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Scriabin, Prokofiev and Shchedrin. In 1990 he founded the Russian National Orchestra, serving as its chief conductor until 1999.As an arranger for piano he has transcribed—in addition to the Nutcracker Suite recorded here—suites from The Sleeping Beauty and from Prokofiev’s ballet Cinderella. His transcription of seven movements from The Nutcracker (published 1978) represents a personal choice rather than adherence to the sequence familiar from Tchaikovsky’s orchestral suite. In Pletnev’s piano version the Overture from the orchestral suite is omitted, the remaining movements being March, Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, Tarantella (Variation 1, which follows the Pas de deux), Intermezzo (No 8 from Scene II of the ballet, with its wonderfully spacious and dignified melody), Trepak (Russian Dance, with Pletnev’s brilliant additions), Tea (Chinese Dance) and the rapturous Pas de deux (Andante maestoso) with its overwhelming climax. Only movements 1, 2, 5 and 6 are from the orchestral suite. Pletnev’s magnificent arrangement, while vividly orchestral in effect, enhances the virtuoso pianist’s repertoire in the tradition of all the greatest transcriptions.
Amazingly Alberto Portugheis will be celebrating his 81st birthday on New Year’s day and he still has the time to dedicate himself to so many worthwhile causes with a passion and dedication that as I have said before is of another age.
Having heard, since early childhood, stories of the horrors of war, he became a committed anti-war campaigner, persistently writing and speaking against militarism. His vision is set out in his book, Dear Ahed: The Game of War and a Path to Peace The book is dedicated to his late father, Simon Portugheis, who fueled his son’s disapproval of war and militarism and inspired his quest for a way to achieve lasting worldwide peace.
Alberto was born in La Plata, but now lives in London. He has three children, Susana, Clara, David. His son, David Portugheis, is a composer and photographer.Both Portugheis’ parents came from Jewish families.His mother, Catalina, was born in Argentina of Romanian and Russian descent, from her mother and father, respectively. Her family was originally German, but emigrated from Eastern Europe during World War I. Several of Alberto Portugheis’ family members perished in the two World Wars.His father, Simon Portugheis, was a Romanian of Portuguese origin, hence the family name. His side of the family, all living siblings included, had arrived in Argentina from Romania just before World War II. Historically, ancestors on his father’s side of the family had lived in Holland and Portugal.Through marriages, Alberto Portugheis has Polish, Lithuanian, Israeli, Brazilian and American relatives.Thus, he grew up in a family that was a mix of various nationalities and origins.While preparing for life as an assiduous musician, he first studied in Buenos Aires with Vincenzo Scaramuzza who also taught his lifelong friend Martha Argerich ; in Geneva with Madeleine Lipatti,Louis Hiltbrand and Youra Guller.After winning first prize at the Geneva Concours de Virtuosité in June 1964, he embarked upon an international career, visiting nearly 50 countries, performing in solo and chamber music concerts as well as being a soloist with many international orchestras, including the Royal Philharmonic, London Symphony, London Mozart Players, English Chamber, Suisse Romande, Lausanne Chamber, Paris and Israel Sinfoniettas, Filarmónica de Buenos Aires, Nacional de Argentina, and Sofia Philharmonic, among others.
His Masterclasses attract a wealth of talent from many countries in the world.One of his many students writes :”Cultured and compassionate, the Maestro is a gentle soul, always with a smile, an unassuming human being—Like Jesus washing the desert-worn feet of his disciples, it is rather moving to witness Maestro Portugheis sitting next to his piano students as a page-turner… turning the pages of their musical scores with a profound paternal affection”.Alberto shares a passion for food with the great Italian composer Gioacchino Rossini. He told Johnny Black of CD Classics that his world travels as a concert pianist “was the most valuable experience” that he could have had to fuel an interest in good food.For many years, this multi-faceted man practised his passion for cooking, becoming not only the Head-Chef of various restaurants, but also presenting international gastronomic festivals.He became frustrated at working in other people’s kitchens so together with his colleague, friend and compatriot, Martha Argerich, he opened a successful restaurant in London, known as “Rhapsody”. The restaurant run together with Martha’s brother attracted a clientele of famous musicians and was Shura Cherkassky’s favourite haunt for many years .https://www.facebook.com/notes/christopher-axworthy/happy-birthday-martha-and-alberto-a-page-turners-view-of-a-remarkable-occasion-/10154252098337309/
It was exactly this lifetime experience that he brought to the birthday celebration for Beethoven’s 251st celebrations in the imposing church of St John’s in Lansdowne Crescent.With friends Orpheus Leander,violin and George Cooke,cello they performed three of Beethoven’s most famous chamber works for violin and cello.
Ending with an encore of the Scherzo from the Archduke Trio op 97.We were thus treated to a lifetime’s journey from Beethoven’s youthful op 5 cello sonata and the Violin Sonatas op 24 ‘Spring’.Followed after a brief interval with his maturity in the ‘Kreutzer’ Sonata op.47 to the Archduke Trio op 97 written just sixteen years before his death.
Playing of great clarity where the piano played such a major part with its remarkable rhythmic energy and penetrating cantabile of great authority and beauty.As Alberto pointed out it was not only his playing but thanks to the magical intervention of the piano technician Nigel Polmear who had turned a respectable piano into a Prince for the night or should I say knight …….in shining armour that is for sure.Alberto ,though,was the true anchor with his lifetime experience of playing chamber music and his quiet authority with which he allowed Beethoven’s voice to be heard so authentically.His two younger colleagues brought all their youthful vigour and considerable technical mastery to an evening where these masterworks were brought so vividly to life.
The opening of the Sonata for piano and violin op 24 starts with a serene theme that launches the three leisurely variations of the Adagio molto espressivo.It begins with a sustained note and a graceful turn, over a gently rippling accompaniment. It’s a suitably expansive opening to Beethoven’s first violin sonata in four movements The nickname ‘Frühlings-Sonate’ wasn’t Beethoven’s (the only note he added to the manuscript was a comment in red pencil that ‘The copyist who put triplets and septuplets here is an ass’). But F major had a long history as the key of the countryside , even before Beethoven’s own Pastoral symphony of 1808.The scherzo plays a cheerful game of catch-up between piano and violin, with a whirling trio section . And the finale sweeps into its amiable flowing episodes with, just before the very end, the briefest and most unaffected possible prayer of thanksgiving. ‘The original fiery and bold spirit of this composer … is now becoming increasingly serene’, wrote an approving (if over-optimistic) Leipzig critic.
The Sonata op 47 written in 1803 for piano and violin is notable for its technical difficulty, unusual length and emotional scope. It is commonly known as the Kreitzer Sonata after the violinist Rodolphe Kreutzer ,to whom it was ultimately dedicated, but who thoroughly disliked the piece and refused to play it.
In the composer’s 1803 sketchbook, the work was titled “Sonata per il Pianoforte ed uno violino obligato in uno stile molto concertante come d’un concerto”After its successful premiere in 1803, the work was published in 1805 as Beethoven’s Op. 47, with its re-dedication to Rudolphe Kreutzer, which gave the composition its nickname. Kreutzer never performed the work, considering it “outrageously unintelligible”. He did not particularly care for any of Beethoven’s music, and they only ever met once, briefly.
The second of the two Sonata of Op 5 was the subject of an amusing incident in the spring of 1799. Domenico Dragonetti, as legend has it the greatest double bass player in history, was passing through Vienna on his way from Venice to London. He soon met Beethoven, as an English friend, Samuel Appleby, recalled:Beethoven had been told that his new friend could execute violoncello music upon his huge instrument, and one morning, when Dragonetti called at his room, he expressed his desire to hear a sonata. The doublebass was sent for, and the Sonata, No 2 of Op 5, was selected. Beethoven played his part, with his eyes immovably fixed upon his companion, and, in the finale, where the arpeggios occur, was so delighted and excited that at the close he sprang up and threw his arms around both player and instrument.
The Trio in B flat op 97 was completed in 1811 and was dedicated to Archduke Rudolph of Austria – hence the title .Rudolf was an amateur pianist and a patron, friend, and composition student of Beethoven. Beethoven dedicated a total of fourteen compositions to the Archduke, who dedicated one of his own to Beethoven in return.It was written late in Beethoven’s so-called “middle period”. He began composing it in the summer of 1810 and completed it in March 1811.
The first public performance was given by Beethoven himself at the Viennese hotel Zum römischen Kaiser on 11 April 1814. Beethoven’s deafness compromised his ability as a performer, and after a repeat performance a few weeks later, Beethoven never appeared again in public as a pianist.The violinist and composer Louis Spohr witnessed a rehearsal of the work, and wrote: “On account of his deafness there was scarcely anything left of the virtuosity of the artist which had formerly been so greatly admired. In forte passages the poor deaf man pounded on the keys until the strings jangled, and in piano he played so softly that whole groups of notes were omitted, so that the music was unintelligible unless one could look into the pianoforte part. I was deeply saddened at so hard a fate.”The pianist and composer Ignaz Mischeles attended the first performance, and wrote about the work: “In the case of how many compositions is the word ‘new’ misapplied! But never in Beethoven’s, and least of all in this, which again is full of originality. His playing, aside from its intellectual element, satisfied me less, being wanting in clarity and precision; but I observed many traces of the grand style of playing which I had long recognized in his compositions.”
What better way to celebrate Christmas as Omicron the evil off spring of COVID 19 shows its fangs .Snow White has nothing on this as France slams the door in our face with unexpected Christmas cheer!But it is Canan Maxton and her faithful friend Jessie Harrington who remind us that music is the food of love …………..and it is this very spirit that pervades all they do to help young musicians spread the word with their enormous talent that music must and will overcome all.It was this selfless generosity that was underlined by all the superb players that took part in the concert in St James’s Lancaster Gate.
A heartfelt tribute to Jessie Harrington ,who shares her birthday with Beethoven,from Nicolò Foron and his Talent Unlimited Ensemble with a special encore of “Happy Birthday to you”.In A major as Jessie knowledgeably informed us!This was just the icing on a cake so lovingly prepared by Canan Maxton.A sumptuous feast of music in this beautiful church in the centre of London that gave us the chance to hear new works by two young composers both present together with a violin concerto by Mozart and a Symphony by Haydn.
The concert had opened with a world premier of the Piano Concerto for piano and strings by Elif Karlidag a beautiful young composer,conductor and pianist.
She received her early training in Bucharest but finished her Master’s degree at the Izmir Conservatoire under Istemihan Taviloglu.She has since worked with Michael Nyman and it was very much this influence that was felt in her very atmospheric piano concerto.Played by Danilo Mascetti who I had heard recently in the Chopin Competition in Warsaw and was much impressed by the clarity and musicianship of his performances.It was just this clarity and sensitive artistry that was apparent in this concerto obviously greatly influenced by the slow movement of Ravel’s G major concerto.It was full of atmosphere with jewel like sounds from the piano that just floated on the sweeping waves of sound from the string orchestra.An encore dedicated with loving thanks to Canan Maxton was offered by Danilo in the form of a Cimarosa sonata .It was played with a refined musical line shining brightly over a delicate non legato accompaniment and showed off his quite considerable artistry.
What could be a better contrast ( something old something new as Semprini would say ) than an exhilarating performance of Mozart’s D major violin concerto K.218 with the youthful brother and sister team of Mira and Nicolò Foron.
It was obvious from the first sumptuous notes of Mira’s violin entry that this was a great musical personality.It does not surprise me to read that she has been mentored by Ann Sofìe Mutter and is now studying with Julia Fischer.In fact the way she moves and lives the music is the rare gift that had overwhelmed me recently with Julia Fischer and Pappano in Rome .Mira too with her brother (I assume from their flaming red hair that they are related) created the same living and breathing animal that inhabited the genial Mozart concerto with their infectious rhythmic drive and ravishing sense of phrasing and searing intensity.A very fine performance much appreciated by this slightly Omicron depleted audience!
Emre Sener’s piece for piano violin and chamber orchestra saw Danilo joined by another superb violinist Mira Marton.Emre is a Turkish born composer now studying at the Royal Academy with Rubén’s Askenar and his composition was much more jagged than Elif’s mellifluous concerto.It was a fascinating juxtaposition of mysterious sounds with much use of the instruments just brushing delicately the strings including the pianist.Chopin asks con legno in his F minor concerto but here Emre asks senza legno but almost glissare sopra.Sudden stillness too created the atmosphere that the startling rhythmic question and answer between piano,violin and orchestra immediately broke the spell in a wake up dialogue of rhythmic intensity.
Ernst’s Grand Caprice on Schubert’s Der Erlkonig op 26 was played as an encore in a hair raising transcription for solo violin that showed the superb technical wizardry of this beautiful young violinist.
Some extraordinarily exhilarating playing from the soloists with such precision and dedication that was seconded by the scrupulous attention of drawing all together in a unified whole by Nicolò Foron.I read that the conductor is principal assistant to Boulez’s extraordinary Ensemble Intercontemporain and that just goes to explain the extreme clarity and precision that Nicolò was able to obtain from his dedicated players.
An encore from Mira Marton with a performance of searing beauty of Massenet’s Thais played in a magical duo performance with Danilo where both artists reached sublime heights of ravishing beauty with their superb natural musicianship and artistry.
Last but certainly not least was a simmering performance of Haydn’s Symphony n.88 in G Hob.I/88 which was written by Haydn for the Esterhaza orchestra under the benevolent Prince Nikolaus Esterhazy. It is notably the first of his symphonies written after the completion of the six Paris symphonies in 1786.It was completed in 1787, just like his 89th symphony and is one of his best-known works, even though it is not one of the Paris or London symphonies and does not have a descriptive nickname.There was burning energy from the very first notes and the Largo was played with a great sweep to the melodic line with a surprisingly sumptuous orchestration that Nicolò conducted with great architectural shape.There was an infectious dance rhythm to the minuet with the syncopated trio a great contrast.The bucolic spirit of pure opera buffo finale was an exhilarating way to end this Christmas feast from Talent Unlimited
A remarkable performance of Beethoven’s last two,sonatas, by Cristian Sandrin for their directness ,simplicity and great architectural understanding. From the first notes of op 110 there was an outpouring of continuous energy that lasted until the final chords of op 111. Of course with op 110 it was a mellifluous outpouring of such poignancy that like Chopin’s late Barcarolle there is a continuous stream of song from the first to the last note. Even the fugue in op 110 was played with such pastoral calm as was the fourth variation of the Adagio of op 111 both gradually leading to the ‘star’ (as Scriabin would have put it)or the natural culmination of a lifetime condensed into music. A simplicity where slight blemishes had no importance such was the great tidal wave that engulfed us.
It was only the third time the Cristian had played the trilogy in public – and even here today it was only two thirds of the journey as time did not permit him to include op 109. He has the simplicity that I remember from Jacob Lateiner or Eduardo Del Pueyo – not world famous names but well remembered for their masterly musicianship. It was Lechetitsky who gave Artur Schnabel the greatest compliment of his life when he accused him of being a musician not a pianist. Schnabel used to boast that the difference between his programmes and those of his colleagues was that his were boring from beginning to end! Cristian has just come through performing the Goldberg Variations a journey that took almost a year – and it was not the rock concert of Lang Lang but rock solid like Andras Schiff or Angela Hewitt and the start of a lifetimes’ journey : https://www.facebook.com/601611479/posts/10159508229546480/.
Cristian is now being mentored by Dame Imogen Cooper in London and William Grant Naboré in Rome as he is turning his attention to Beethoven and I am sure before long also to Schubert.As Andras Schiff says he leaves the virtuoso repertoire to others as there is not enough time in one life to discover and ponder over the deep meaning in the masterpieces of Bach,Beethoven,Mozart and Schubert.Leaving others to juggle with the thousands of notes that often say much less.A great lesson of humility and musical integrity at the service of the composer.
Cristian having been asked with only two days notice to substitute an indisposed colleague and also having played the evening before in the centenary celebrations of Saint- Saens at the National Liberal Club.Enjoying every minute with Tyler Hay and the Kettner Philharmonic of the scintillating effervescence of Carnaval of the Animals .Well it is Christmas after all!
But what a beautiful venue it was today in this intimate chapel in Hampstead a true temple dedicated to art and the perfect framework for the Beethoven’s trilogy and a corner stone for our civilisation. The fact that Beethoven could not hear these sounds except in his own inner ear but was still able to write them down and share them with posterity is truly miraculous. Today we witnessed a miracle .
‘Moderato cantabile,molto espressivo’ Beethoven writes at the opening of his op 110 penultimate sonata.The problem is always how expressive should one be without changing the serious structure of the piece?Cristian struck just the right note of sentiment without sentimentality a beautiful robust but delicate cantabile that permeated this most mellifluous of all Beethoven’s Sonatas.The legg(i)ermente arpeggios played with a clarity and delicate precision as they led to the beautifully simple second subject.The transition of E flat to D flat was played with a magical sense of timing and delicacy as it led to the development with its swirling left hand figurations which Cristian played with scrupulous attention to Beethoven’s very precise indications.No ritardando at the end as this was not a full stop but just a continuation of all that had come before. A rock solid Allegro molto of great rhythmic energy.The bass notes being the anchor on which hung the treacherous passage work of the trio which dissolved so naturally into the return of the Allegro molto and the magical final chord that was allowed to vibrate.The delicate left hand arpeggiando bathed in pedal all so remarkably notated by a composer who was totally deaf !The opening chords of the Adagio were very lovingly placed and were of sublime beauty as this great improvisation unfolded with magical sounds.Notes made to vibrate (bebung of the fortepiano) and the gentle pulsating chords in the left hand on which the Arioso dolente in a seemingly free way (as Schnabel indicates ‘sempre liberamente’)but always with the great architectural line of bel canto so clearly shaped .Even the fugue entered almost unnoticed on this wave of deep contemplation.Usually a rude interruption but in Cristian’s sensitive hands a mere continuation of this outpouring of song (very similar to the great choral works of that other genius J.S.Bach).’Perdendo le forze ,dolente’ Beethoven implores and it was just this that appeared on the cloud of a simple but truly magical modulation.The pulsating left hand chords seeming even more like the beating of Beethoven’s own heart at last at peace with the world.The repeated chords too ,before the apparition of the fugue in inversion,were played with great reverence within the sound world that Cristian had held us spell bound and not the more usual out of place dramatic outburst.The gradual build up of the delicate inverted fugue was played with simple beauty where Beethoven’s scrupulous indications and written in accelerandi were recreated with Beethovens passion and vigour shining like a beacon of exultation and hope .
‘Maestoso’ Beethoven mark’s in his last Sonata op 111.It was the weight of Cristians left hand that immediately created the imposing declaration.Played with very taught rhythms that led to the agonised groans of sforzando piano that herald the menacing tremolando and explosion finally on C.But ‘C’ only ‘forte’because the statement of the theme is marked ‘fortissimo’ so often overlooked by lesser interpreters.As Perlemuter ( who had studied with Schnabel too) told me,it must be like water boiling over at 100 degrees.And so it was in Cristian’s hands but played with a very precise rhythmic pulse and clarity that allowed the improvised interruptions to become an integral part of this startling call to arms!The development too with just a sudden quite ‘G’ played with such orchestral precision and the long thematic notes allowed to shine out with such unforced clarity.There was true animal excitement too in the absolute precision of the left hand chords as the recapitulation and coda were played with simple authority .The final chord had started with the coda just dissolving in sound without any misplaced rallentando.The Arietta:Adagio was played ‘molto semplice and cantabile’ with the sound of a string quartet where every strand had a meaning of great poignancy in this outpouring of aching beauty coming from Beethoven’s very soul.The tempo changes, written in by Beethoven himself and it is for the real interpreter to maintain this pulse from the beauty of the opening to the sublime ending.A celestial vision on a cloud of trills that the composer miraculously could envisage and comunicate via the printed page.There were moments here where Cristian’s youthful passion will mature into a deeper more profound reflection and never allow his own involvement to change the rock solid pulse.It was Barbirolli praising the sometimes over expressive Jaqueline Du Pré saying quite simply :’If you don’t play with passion when you are young,what do you pare off in maturity?I love it!’ And so do I!
‘Admission :one shilling’What emotions -what artistry-what a story! At ninety three Dame Patricia Routledge held us in the palm of her hand as she recounted the remarkable story of Myra Hess a woman of great integrity,simplicity,humility and resilience. With her enchanting nightingale Piers Lane the audience was entranced and moved to tears.
It was also fascinating to hear Dame Myra in a short film playing part of Mozart’s G major Concerto and to see a very youthful David Martin and Frederick Grinke in military uniform leading the chamber orchestra in the National Gallery.
And to know that one of the millions of soldiers whistling ‘Jesu Joy’ in between cigarette’s,before going to the front,when told it was Bach simply replied but that’s Myra Hess.
Times of great solidarity to overcome evil and unite with humility and sense of solidarity,pride and bravery in the name of unity. Strangely to think these days ,where quantity takes precedence over quality, of maintaining the principles that are the foundation of any civilisation. Nice to be reminded of the words humility and integrity that seem to have disappeared from our vocabulary these days.
Some extraordinary playing from Michelangelo Carbonara and Giulia Soscia for the series directed by Prof Franco Ricci at the Tuscia University in Viterbo.
Prof Ricci has written many important books which includes the only biography of Francesco Siciliani ( renowned artistic director in Florence,Milan and Rome who launched Callas in her unsurpassed bel canto roles ). He also wrote a biography of the little known composer Vittorio Rieti and has many of his original compositions. One of which today was the world premiere of the reduction for four hands by Giulia Soscia of the original two piano version written for Gold and Fitzdale :Second Avenues Waltzes.
A duo that plays as one as was evident from their performances of Stravinsky ,Rieti and Respighi. A clarity and rhythmic precision that gave such architectural shape to Stravinsky’s original version of the Rite of Spring.From the subtle beauty of the opening to the insinuating harmonies and rhythms that takes us to the great baccanale that caused such a scandal at its first performance in Paris under Pierre Monteux.The Rite of Spring is a ballet and orchestral concert work written for the 1913 Paris season of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes company; the original choreography was by Nijinsky.When first performed at the Théatre des Champs-Elysées In Paris on 29 May 1913 the music and choreography caused a sensation’ Stravinsky’s score contains many novel features for its time, including experiments in tonality,metre,rhythm,stress and dissonance and is regarded as among the first modernist works.The music influenced many of the 20th-century’s leading composers and is one of the most recorded works in the classical repertoire.
There was Parisian elegance in the waltzes by Rieti a world evidently much influenced by Poulenc and Satie but also with a very original voice of pungent rhythms and contrasts.
b. 1898 – d. 1994
Vittorio Rieti was a Jewish-Italian composer. Born in Alexandria, Egypt, he moved to Milan to study economics. He subsequently studied in Rome under Respighi and Casella, and lived there until 1940.In 1925, he temporarily moved to Paris and composed music for George Balanchine’s ballet for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, Barabau. He met his wife in Alexandria, Egypt and emigrated to the United States in 1940, becoming a naturalized American citizen on the 1st of June 1944. He taught at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore (1948–49), Chicago Musical College (1950–54), Queens College, New York (1958–60), and New York College of Music (1960–64). He died in New York on 19 February 1994.His music is tonal and neo-classical with a melodic and elegant style.
Respighi’s Pines of Rome was played with great washes of sound and sumptuous contrasts before the menacing build up to the enormous final outburst.It is a symphonic poem in four movements for orchestra completed in 1924 by Ottorino Respighi and transcribed by him for four hands.The piece, which depicts pine trees of Villa Borghese;Near a catacomb;Gianicolo;Appian Way at different times of the day, is the second of Respighi’s trilogy of tone poems based on the Eternal city, along with Fountains of Rome (1917) and Roman Festivals (1928).It premiered on 14 December 1924 at the Augusteo Theatre in Rome with Bernardino Molinari conducting the Augusteo Orchestra (S.Cecilia).Children are playing by the pine trees in the Villa Borghese Gardens , dancing the Italian equivalent of the nursery rhyme “Ring a Ring o’Roses”and “mimicking marching soldiers and battles; twittering and shrieking like swallows”.The children suddenly disappear and shadows of pine trees that overhang the entrance of a Roman catacomb dominates.It is a majestic dirge, conjuring up the picture of a solitary chapel in the deserted countryside with a few pine trees silhouetted against the sky. The third is a nocturne set on the Gianicolo .The full moon shines on the pines that grow on the hill of the temple of Janus, the double-faced god of doors and gates and of the new year. Respighi took the opportunity to have the sound of a nightingale recorded and requested in the score that it be played at the movement’s ending, the first such instance in music. The nightingale was recorded in the yard of the McKim Building of the American Academy in Rome.In the final movement Respighi recalls the past glories of the Roman Empire in a representation of dawn on the great military road the Appian Way.In the misty dawn, as a triumphant legion advances along the road in the brilliance of the newly-rising sun. Respighi wanted the ground to tremble under the footsteps of his army
Remarkable performances that brought these three works vividly to life with perfect balance,transcendental control and technical brilliance.
“Michelangelo is a very special talent, I haven’t encountered such a talent in a very longtime… meeting such a talent is not only a great pleasure, it is much more: it gives faith to the future in music” FOU TS’ONG
Michelangelo Carbonara was born in 1979 in Salerno (Italy), starting musical studies when he was five. He owes his piano formation to Sergio Perticaroli, William Grant Naboré and Fou Ts’ong. At seventeen, he graduated with top grades from the Conservatory of Santa Cecilia in Rome under the guidance of Fausto Di Cesare. In 1999 he achieved his Piano Specialization Degree with top grades at the Academy of Santa Cecilia, earning the Grant for the Best Graduate of the Year in the class of Sergio Perticaroli. Michelangelo furthered his studies at the Salzburg Mozarteum in Austria and the Académie Musicale de Villecroze (with Dominique Merlet) in France. In 2001 he was admitted to the famous International Piano Foundation “Theo Lieven” and the International Piano Academy Lake-Como (headed by the legendary Martha Argerich), to follow the master classes of Fou Ts’ong, Leon Fleisher, Graham Johnson, Dmitri Bashkirov, Alicia De Larrocha, Peter Frankl, Claude Frank, William Grant Naboré, Andreas Staier and many other luminaries. He has won numerous national and international piano competitions (around 20 prizes). At 18 he made his international debut with orchestra in Austria, where he played the Third and the First Beethoven Concertos in the same programme. In 2003 he debuted in China, also giving a master class at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. His repertory is extremely broad and covers the entire Schubert Sonatas and almost all the piano works by Schubert, Weber, Brahms, Schumann, a lot of Beethoven’s, Clementi’s, Mozart’s Haydn’s Sonatas and dozens of Scarlatti’s. Particular attention is also given to Polish composers (amongst which Chopin, Szymanowski, Lutoslawski, Paderewski). For 2006 he is preparing Mozart’s complete piano Concertos. In the next months there will be releasing three compact disc of his piano playing by Tactus, Papageno and Geva labels. Other activities include composition and conducting.
Simplicity is the final achievement.” FRÉDÉRIC CHOPIN
Giuliana Soscia, pianista, compositore, arrangiatore e direttore d’orchestra, menzionata accanto ai grandi nomi del jazz internazionale, nasce a Latina e si diploma nel 1988 con il massimo dei voti presso il Conservatorio “Santa Cecilia” di Roma. Intraprende subito un’intensa attività concertistica come solista e in gruppi da camera, vince i primi concorsi pianistici e consegue il Tirocinio in Pianoforte con Anna Maria Martinelli presso il Conservatorio O. Respighi di Latina, si perfeziona in interpretazione barocca con la clavicembalista A.M.Pernafelli e in pianoforte con il pianista, compositore Sergio Cafaro, dal quale attinge e matura l’idea di completare il percorso con l’arte dell’improvvisazione e del jazz, inclusa la composizione. Intraprende lo studio della fisarmonica e della composizione jazz e consegue il Diploma Accademico di II Livello in Composizione Jazz con il massimo dei voti e la lode presso il conservatorio “D.Cimarosa” di Avellino, che la porteranno a dedicarsi esclusivamente al jazz e ad affermarsi tra i jazzisti più riconosciuti dalla critica in Italia e all’Estero.Il 1 settembre 2017 abbandona per sempre la fisarmonica per tornare a dedicarsi esclusivamente al pianoforte e alla composizione. Svolge un’intensa attività concertistica, dal 1986 ad oggi. Si esibisce quindi nei più importanti Festival jazz e Teatri al mondo, comprese Televisioni e Radio nazionali, con i suoi progetti e come solista in importanti orchestre jazz, con un’intensa attività concertistica e consensi di pubblico e critica: Teatro San Carlo di Napoli , Teatro dell’Opera di Hanoi (VIETNAM), Teatro dell’Opera di Ankara (TURCHIA), Experimental Theatre dell’NCPA Mumbai (INDIA), GD Birla Sabhaggar Kolkata (INDIA), Civil Services Officer’s Institute New Delhi (INDIA), Qeen’s Hall di Edinburgh (UK), RSAMD di Glasgow (UK), Mac Robert Art Centre di Stirling (UK), il Byre Theatre di St. Andrews (UK), Sesc Campinas Saõ Paulo (BRASILE), Sesc Ipiranga Saõ Paulo (BRASILE), Teatro Pirandello di Lima (PERU’), ICPNA Lima Jazz Festival (PERU’), The India Council for Cultural Relations” di Kolkata (INDIA),“India Habitat Centre, Stein Auditorium” di New Delhi (INDIA) , Festival “16th East West Music & Dance Encounters from Feb 4 – 18, 2018” a Bangalore (INDIA), IIC di Marsiglia (FRANCIA), IIC di Addis Abeba (ETIOPIA), Auditorium Parco della Musica di Roma, Sala Accademica del Conservatorio “Santa Cecilia” di Roma, Sala Verdi del Conservatorio G.Verdi di milano, Teatro Menotti di Spoleto 65° Coupe Mondial Accordeon, Roccella Jazz Festival, Casa del Jazz di Roma, Teatro Verdi di Trieste, Dean Benedetti Jazz Festival con la Fondazione Festival Pucciniano, , EJE European Jazz Festival di Cagliari, Lucca Jazz Donna, 54° Festival Pontino di Musica FONDAZIONE CAMPUS INTERNAZIONALE dI Musica, “ Il Jazz Italiano per l’Aquila” , Teatro Lirico G.Verdi di Trieste, “Musica sulle bocche International Jazz Festival” e tanti altri.