Cremona the city of dreams – a global network where dreams become reality

Around the world in only three days ….only with Cremona Musica

What can I say …….lost for words ……..Let’s leave it to the Bard …..only a true poet can describe this experience.

180 events in only three days but that is not all because Cremona becomes a link with an exchange of ideas and encounters that will reverberate around the globe long after it has made all these introductions possible .An introduction to the dance indeed ………choosing one’s partners to suit one’s style and taste with a global network that surely must be unique.

First on my dancing calendar was in the Yamaha Piano Festival with the avantguard pianist Giusy Caruso.Dressed a bit like spider woman the extraordinary sounds she made were turned into designs onto a big screen She is a concert artist and scholar in the academic field, is one of the pioneers of artistic research in Italy.Living in Belgium, she is a professor at the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp, affiliated with the Institute for psychoacoustics and electronic music (IPEM) of the University of Ghent and the Laboratoire de Musicologie (LaM) of the University of Brussels. Presenting “MethaPhase: Contrapuntal dialogue between a pianist and her avatar in the metaverse”, a musical performance in which technology has a decisive impact on the performer and the public.The metaverse can also be an interesting research area for an artistic project; indeed, during her PhD at the Royal Conservatory and University (IPEM) of Ghent, she frequently worked with digital technology to scientifically study the movement of the pianist during a musical performance.It is a system in which infrared cameras track the piano gesture to provide data to a software, which will transform them into an avatar-performer. She had already used motion capture for her research.The use of the performance in a sort of metaphase, an English-speaking term that indicates cellular splitting: thanks to motion capture was , in fact, doubled in her avatar” and the performance was augmented in digital reality.

Roberto Prosseda introducing Giusy Caruso

The Disklavier is a hybrid piano with a MIDI system, which allows you to record the performance of the pianist, including the dynamics and the movement of the fingers on the keys: the piano gesture is, therefore, observable and audible in all its bodily expressiveness.This mechanism was used during the initial phase of the concert: in fact, the Disklavier will play, independently, a piece pre-recorded: the first chords of the first movement of the Memento Mori collection, by the Belgian composer Wim Henderickx (1962); then,she entered the scene with a suit and markers, essential for the motion capture system to identify my movements, creating her avatar. In this way, she was projected into virtual reality and interacted with the piano’s string-board, while the piano continued to play the MIDI.

In the second part of the performance,she played in dialogue the avatar, detected by the motion capture system, the piece Piano Phase for two pianos by Steve Reich (1936).

Passing by the Grand Opening Ceremony of Cremona Musica with the Mayor and many illustrious participants from the ICE -Agency on my way to the first piano recital in the Fazioli Piano Festival

A fine performance of Chopin’s 24 Preludes that Fou Ts’ong (Roberto Prosseda’s mentor) described as 24 problems .These are hurdles that the artist has to face to unlock the secrets hidden in these perfect gems that should become an architectural whole of ravishing beauty and emotional meaning.Federico played them fearlessly with great artistry and understanding.As he matures he will find the way to link them more as a whole on an emotional wave from the improvised opening to the magisterial final prelude.But this was a very fine performance of unerring authority of one of Chopin’s greatest but most elusive works.It was in the Scarlatti sonata that he played as an encore that he found the ravishing colours that had eluded him in Chopin.There was such delicate ornamentation ending in ‘grande bellezza’
To sit down at midday and break immediately into the Chopin Preludes is no mean feat and I am sure we will be hearing much more of this very talented young artist in the near future.
Just 23 and befriended and helped for many years by Fazioli,the selfless friend to all pianists
Federico Gad Crema greeted affectionately by Luca Fazioli who with his father has been following the start of this young Milanese pianist’s career.He plays already in some of the most prestigious concert halls in the world from La Scala to Carnegie Hall

The chase was now on to catch up with the meeting of Cameron Carpenter and to hear his thoughts on the Goldberg Variations that he was to perform in the evening in Teatro Ponchielli.He was presented by Massimo Fargnoli the president of the Accademia Musicale Napolitana and defender of the great Neapolitan keyboard school amply displayed in his temporary temple of the Sala Guarneri.

A unique occasion that one could only expect to experience at Cremona Musica.Cameron Carpenter playing the Landowska Pleyel harpsichord as Massimo Fargnoli looks on in astonishment.

As luck would have it this encounter was linked immediately to the presentation of the Wanda Landowska Pleyel harpsichord.A rare and precious instrument that was love at first sight for the astonishing Cameron Carpenter .His joy at the discovery of this unique instrument inspired him to give a extraordinary demonstration of his art.We have all been brought up with the historic Landowska performance of the Goldberg on this very instrument ……and it was the genial Fargnoli who as always can surprise and astonish us with his unending knowledge and experience of music.

Jed Distler,Cameron Carpenter and Massimo Fargnoli being introduced by Roberto Prosseda

Some very interesting questions from the distinguished critic and pianist Jed Distler allowed us to appreciate the dedicated musicianship and passion of this artist.After 30 years dedicated to performance he now felt the rules and regulations ,like traffic lights and fines,could be ignored or at least not dominate the freedom of his life .He did not know the instrument he was to play in the concert but if it was a powerful instrument he would be able to use fully the acoustic of the theatre .If not it would be a chamber performance just as Bach would experiment with the mighty organs and church acoustics.Music is and must be a living thing.

Jed asked him who were the musicians who had influenced him the most.Surprisingly it was the pianists of the Golden Era – Lhevine,Godowsky,Rosenthal but above all Percy Grainger – the freethinker.I think it was Jed who very spiritedly added that he was one of the few organists then who plays like a dead pianist!But Carpenter had a harrowing story to tell of the instrument that he had been perfecting and that was evolving as he toured the world with it when COVID struck.The financing from all the tours dried up overnight and consequently the whole project collapsed .The extraordinary ten year projected organ was destroyed for lack of finances.Carpenter had to restart his career which he said was not easy after having been extremely critical of the standard concert organs.His playing of the Landowska harpsichord left no doubt of the stature of this extraordinarily free thinking artist.We were to appreciate even more fully from his authoritative performance of the Goldberg variations .Played with utmost simplicity,unlike the preludes and fugues that preceded it.The Goldberg’s were played straight without any ornamentation or even repeats with only a single innocent voice.It spoke so much more eloquently than the Preludes and Fugues where Carpenter was still experimenting and trying to discover the secrets hidden in the instrument.He allowed Goldberg to stand on its own and it was here that we awoke and were once again under the spell of Bach’s universal genius.Carpenter had become the direct medium between us and the composer of Kothen

Luna Costantini

Only a passing glance was possible of the Yamaha Piano Festival.But it was enough to appreciate the sensitivity and colours that Luna Costantini could conjure out of this new Yamaha CFX concert grand.A top prize winner at the Imola Academy she played 6 Mazurkas op 3 by Scriabin with great sense of style and a very sensitive balance that added such colours to her refined musical palette.I was sorry to miss her Moments musicaux op 16 by Rachmaninov in order to appreciate the Florestan side of her artistry having appreciated her exquisite Eusebius.

Giovanni Iannantuoni of Yamaha Music Europe he too is the friend of all aspiring young artists.He is pictured here with Shunta Morimoto and Andrea Bacchetti who I would try to catch up with on day 2!
The magic whistler must be here but wish I knew where.What a lesson for us all!
On my way to another concert I was drawn by the most beautiful sounds in the courtyard between the two halls.One of the most beautiful sounds imaginable was coming from this remarkable whistling artist.I turned to Jed Distler and his wife who were having a lunchtime sandwich in the sun and begged them to listen.This was without doubt the most beautiful sound that I had heard up until now and only equalled by the extraordinary Chelsea Guo who was to perform miracles in the Fazioli Piano Festival the next day singing and playing the piano at the same time!

Now the race was on to hear Aleksandar Swigut in the Fazioli Piano Festival.I had heard her recently in the final of the Grieg International Competition where she was a top prize winner with a very deeply felt performance of Chopin’s E minor concerto.It had been framed in the final on either side by the Grieg Concerto which only made one more aware of how much the slow movement is inspired by Chopin’s concertos.

She chose to open with one of Chopin’s last works and finished with one of his first and in between his large scale masterpiece that is the B flat Sonata Sonata op 35.She also included Liszt’s Liebestraum n.3 strangely neglected these days and also included Liszt’s ravishing transcription of Schubert’s Gretchen am Spinnrade ( a work that we were to hear in this same hall when Chelsea Guo also sang Goethe’s words from Faust).Many consider the Barcarolle Chopin’s most perfect work .It is an outpouring of song of sublime poetical inspiration.I remember Janina Fialkowska playing it in a commemoration for my wife and coming off the platform she whispered in my ear :’That was Ileana’…….there could not have been a more moving tribute to one of Italy’s most loved dramatic actresses.Aleksandra played it with sumptuous tone from the very first bass C sharp.So often a call to arms instead of the magic opening of a box of jewels which Aleksandra opened to perfection.If later she allowed her emotion to show above rather than in the notes what could one say when it is obvious that she loves it so deeply.The simplicity or distilling emotion into the very core of the notes will come like Rubinstein with living and loving the work for a lifetime.

Liebestraum was played with aristocratic poise and poetic style.Gretchen too showed her kaleidoscopic sense of colour and a technical prowess that allowed her to caress the notes even in the moments of most fervent passion.The B flat minor Sonata was played as a true musician – one with a heart that beats intensely.It was,though,the Trio of the Funeral March that took our breath away for it’s timeless beauty (especially as we had just heard the brass band play it in marching time as the guardsmen accompanied their Queen on her final journey through the streets of London).There were truly wondrous colours in the last movement as we could almost feel the wind blowing over the graves.And after all that puffing and blowing what aristocratic poise she gave to the final great chords of rich vibrancy.It was the radiance and ‘joie de vivre’ of Chopin’s variations op 2 that left us breathless and mesmerised.The work that Schumann was to describe on Chopin’s first appearance in the Paris Salons with ‘Hats off a genius’.Here was the radiance and style of jeux perlé thrown of with an ease and elegance by Aleksandra.A show piece like Liszt or Moscheles but already with the aristocratic refined taste of the genius of Chopin.

A beautiful recital by a pianist of such humility and grace off stage but a colossus of great authority at the keyboard.Like many great actors and artists she looses her true self in the part that she is playing.Goethe’s words were as expressive from her fingers as they were from the greatest of lieder singers of Schubert’s sublime masterpiece.

The day had begun with the lift doors of the Hotel Impero opening like the beautiful historic curtain of Cremona’s historic Teatro Ponchielli .They revealed a day full of magical surprises
The day had closed seated in the reality that is the Teatro Ponchielli enveloped by the genius of Johann Sebastian Bach from the hands of a master organist.

And so to bed perchance to dream …………until day 2 ……..that opened with the Pianolink International Amateurs Competition …………

The final stage of the Pianolink Competition held this year in Teatro Ponchielli

The PianoLink Music Association, in collaboration with Bösendorfer Europe, Yamaha Music Europe branch Italy and CremonaMusica International Exhibitions and Festival, announces the third 2022 edition of the PianoLink International Amateurs Competition, dedicated to all amateur pianists and piano enthusiasts. Artistic Direction Andrea Vizzini and Roberto Prosseda.

During the final, which will take place in Cremona as part of Cremona Musica, the 10 finalists will perform live in front of the international jury composed of:

Olga Kern (U.S.A.), president
Vovka Ashkenazy (Russia)
Anna Kravtchenko (Ukraina)
Enrica Ciccarelli (Italy)
Jed Distler (U.S.A.)

Escorting Shunta Morimoto to the Cremonafiere.He met a Japanese agent on the shuttle bus which led to interesting discussions over a much needed cappuccino

I was busy escorting the 17 year old Shunta to a live radio interview on Cremona radio with the saxophonist Ruben Marzà who had also interviewed me last year

I was heading again to the Yamaha Piano Festival to hear Inna Faliks in ‘Reimagine Ravel’ .Intrigued by the title,having studied myself with Vlado Perlemuter who had been coached by the composer himself for first performances in the ’20’s.It was indeed a fascinating story she had to tell of trying to build bridges past and present looking to the future.

Inna Faliks with Giovanni Iannantuoni

Reimagine: Beethoven & Ravel — 9 World Premieres finds Inna breaking new ground, paying a respectful homage to source material by Beethoven and Ravel. The album was released by Navona records last June .Featuring nine contemporary composers, including Richard Danielpour, Paola Prestini, Billy Childs, and Timo Andres, who were commissioned to craft responses to Ludwig van Beethoven’s Bagatelles, op. 126 (incidentally, the master’s favorite) as well as Maurice Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit. The results are exhilarating, not least owing to Faliks’ stunningly precise and sensitive pianistic interpretation: the Ukrainian-born American pianist ties together Classical, Romantic and modern pieces with disarming nonchalance and rock-solid technical skill.Defying the challenge of uniting three centuries of musical styles and social commentary, as well as producing an album during a global pandemic with the help of Yamaha’s Disklavier technology, Reimagine proudly raises a monument not only to the genius of Beethoven and Ravel, but also to the perseverance and verve of some of today’s most exciting and important composers.

A fascinating project that saw Paola Prestini inspired by the fluidity of Ondine, the water nymph.This was followed by Timo Andres inspired by Ravel’s depiction of the gallows with a minimal piece of Philip Glass proportions incorporating a quote from Billy Holiday’s ‘Strange fruit’ with Afro Americans hanging from the branches of a Becket type tree.Billy Childs’ an Afro American jazz pianist and composer inspired by Scarbo by a black man being chased by the police.Some very fine fully committed playing from Inna Faliks and knowing the background made it a truly fascinating mirror on this very well know suite by Ravel.

Inna in discussion with Valentina Lo Surdo the indefatigable presenter together with Roberto Prosseda of all the musical events

It was though her stunning performance of the full original suite that won the day.A ravishing performance of Ondine and a fascinating one of Le Gibet in which her pointed bass notes gave a fluidity and luminosity to the bleak repeated bell.Scarbo too was a revelation for the clarity of detail especially in the left hand figurations and of course her scintillating fearless playing of a piece that Ravel wrote specifically to outdo Islamey for transcendental difficulty.

A radio interview with Ruben of course was a must

I had by now overstayed my time – how could one leave such a fascinating performer?I should have been with Andrea Bacchetti in the Sala Guarnieri for a homage to Luciano Berio entitled ‘Six encores’.Luckily I had heard this genial pianist inspired by Carpenter’s performance the night before,playing through the Goldberg on the piano.Shunta sat mesmerised as this remarkable musician gave a wonderful improvised performance as a warm up for his talk on Berio.

Andrea Bacchetti inspired by the Goldberg Variations.

Back now to the Fazioli Piano Festival for one of the most extraordinary recitals that I have heard for a long time.A true revelation of a pianist / singer who listens to herself with enviable musicality and artistry.

There was a crystalline clarity from the very first notes of the Mozart Sonata in C K.279. A natural flowing tempo and a ravishing sound in the Andante and a scintillating final Allegro where the music spoke with such character and style.Then the surprise as she was to sing two of the Frauenliebe und Leben by Schumann accompanying herself on the piano.What a ravishing voice and how the piano and voice became one long beautiful line.What power in her voice too – a miracle of how she could use her diaphragm seated as she was at the piano.The true revelation was to come with one of the most sensitive and beautiful accounts of Chopin’s 24 Preludes that I have ever heard.She played only the last 12 and I long to hear her play the complete set .The fluidity of the sound and the kaleidoscopic colours were worthy of the Matthay school that was based on the infinite gradations of tone in every single note.At the end I had to go up to her and exclaim how much she obviously loved the piano.The 21st Prelude I had never heard with such magical sounds – she was surprised because she said that was her favourite prelude.The 20th too,how she had built up the sound from the bass with the majestic C minor chords disappearing layer by layer into the infinite.The three final ‘D’ s played not like the usual sledgehammer but like the reverberation of the single note just allowed to vibrate without being bashed out ever more triumphantly.

This is no gimmick but great artistry

What intelligence too as she sang Verdi’s ‘Perduta ho la pace’ from his six Romances that is the same setting of Goethe’s Faust as in Gretchen am Spinnrade.She too played the Liszt transcription of Gretchen like Aleksandra Swigut except she sang the actual song with the Liszt accompaniment.What a marvel it was !An encore of the famous aria from La Boheme brought the house down with a voice of such ravishing beauty and power,looking us in the eye as she accompanied herself on the piano.I am lost for words to describe what marvels we had witnessed.

Chelsea Guo with Luca Fazioli

I was able to catch on the very end of the Cremona Musica Award ceremony (performance winds) to the renowned clarinettist David Krakauer

“Only a select few artists have the ability to convey their message to the back row, to galvanize an audience with a visceral power that connects on a universal level. David Krakauer is such an artist.”

Widely considered one of the greatest clarinetists on the planet with his own unique sound and approach, he has been praised internationally as a key innovator in modern klezmer as well as a major voice in classical music. In addition, his work has been recognized by major jazz publications around the world. He received a Grammy nomination as soloist with the conductorless chamber orchestra “A Far Cry“, received the Diapason D’Or in France for The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind (Osvaldo Golijov and the Kronos Quartet/Nonesuch) and the album of the year award in the jazz category for the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik for The Twelve Tribes (Label Bleu).

Boris Berman with Valentin Silvestrov having played some of his remarkable music .Boris was one of the first to record the piano music of Silvestrov many years ago with a two CD set

Running by now to the presentation of the new CD by Boris Berman of music by Valentin Silvestro

Boris Berman on December 1st at the Baryshnikov Arts Centre will share a one-night-only concert of music by prominent Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov, whose music he has championed since the 1960s. This program presents a panorama of the evolution of Silvestrov’s musical style, from the underground Soviet modernism of the post-Stalin USSR to his later works characterized by quiet and intense simplicity.
Programme Triad (1961-1966)
Sonata No. 2 (1975)
Kitsch Music (1977)
Five Pieces op. 306 (2021) (U.S. Premiere)
Three Pieces, March 2022, Berlin (U.S. Premiere)

Boris Berman regularly performs in more than fifty countries on six continents. His highly acclaimed performances have included appearances with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Gewandhaus Orchestra, The Philharmonia (London), the Toronto Symphony, Israel Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Houston Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, and the Royal Scottish Orchestra. 

Berman in performance with Roberto Prosseda following the complicated score

A frequent performer on major recital series, he has also appeared in many important festivals. Born in Moscow, he studied at Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory with the distinguished pianist Lev Oborin. In 1973, he left a flourishing career in the Soviet Union to immigrate to Israel where he quickly established himself as one of the most sought-after keyboard performers. Presently, he resides in New Haven, CT. A teacher of international stature, Boris Berman heads the Piano Department of Yale School of Music and conducts master classes throughout the world. He has been named a Honorary Professor of Shanghai Conservatory, of the Danish Royal Conservatory in Copenhagen, and of China Conservatory in Beijing. He is frequently invited to join juries of various international competitions. A Grammy nominee, Mr. Berman has recorded all solo piano works by Prokofiev and Schnittke, complete sonatas by Scriabin, works by Mozart, Weber, Schumann, Brahms, Franck, Shostakovich, Debussy, Stravinsky, Berio, Cage, and Joplin. Most recently French label Le Palais des Degustateurs released Boris Berman’s recording of Brahms’s Klavierstücke and Brahms’s chamber music CD with Ettore Causa and Clive Greensmith.

In 2000, the prestigious Yale University Press published Professor Berman’s Notes from the Pianist’s Bench. In this book, he explores issues of piano technique and music interpretation.

A gift after one of his many recitals for us in Rome at Teatro Ghione

The book has been translated into several languages. In November, 2017 Yale University Press has published the newly revised version of the book electronically enhanced with audio and video components. In 2008, Yale University Press has published Boris Berman’s Prokofiev’s Piano Sonatas: A Guide for the Listener and the Performer. Boris Berman has also been an editor of the new critical edition of Piano Sonatas by Prokofiev (Shanghai Music Publishing House). In 2022-23, Boris Berman is performing and teaching in Austria, Belgium, Canada, England, France, Italy, Portugal, Scotland, Spain, and the USA.

His other CD just available of Brahms and he was able to offer a sample as an encore to his magnificent Silvestrov performances.A piece only recently discovered of Brahms -‘Albumblatt’ using the same melody as the Horn Trio

Boris being taken to a brief lunch before introducing his book in the Italian translation which in turn was followed by another performance in honour of Valentin Silvestrov on the occasion of his being awarded the Cremona Musica Award (composition).We bumped into each other in the ‘gents’ and Boris as always very spiritedly quipped:‘Chris but we always meet in the most important places ‘.

Roberto Prosseda introducing the new Italian translation of the book by Boris Berman

It was the same dry intelligent humour that he regaled us with in the presentation of his book that Roberto Prosseda – a former student of Boris at the Como Academy- was responsible to bringing to his Italian students.

Boris Berman’s very simple reasoning for the need to write a book.It was simply that he found himself repeating the same things to his students over and over again.It was easier to write certain principles down so that they could then read and discover certain things in private so in the lessons they could move on to higher plains.So many things are made to sound so simple coming from this master.Carry the sound in your head that you find in your practice room and try to find the same sound on the concert platform where you have to adapt to a piano and acoustics etc that can be completely different.Repeating exactly what Carpenter had said the day before that there is no such thing as absolute truth in music.A fascinating discussion from one of the great performing teachers of our day.

Apologising for missing Luca Ciammarughi’s presentation of his new book ‘Non tocchiamo questo tasto’.A musician I greatly admire and I will certainly look forward to reading his latest pubblication

Luca Ciammarughi after presenting his new book

He obviously forgave me as he gave me his new CD.

Fascinating as ever the sleeve notes of this real thinking musician

On the way to the award ceremony concert of Valentin Silvestrov I could not help but be drawn to the name of Accardo playing in the Steinway Gallery of Passadori.I had just time to see these two young ladies and listen to their beautiful fresh and youthful performance of Beethoven’s ‘Spring’ Sonata .Irene Accardo’s solo performance of Chopin I was sorry to miss but I will look out for this very talented daughter of one of the great violinists of our time.

Sofia Catalano,violin and Irene Accardo,Piano.

And so to the presentation of the award to the illustrious Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov.

The award ceremony of Cremona Musica to Valentin Silvestrov

Followed by a short concert .The absolute stillness and tranquility of magic sounds from Maya Oganyan where peace and tranquility reign in ‘The Messenger’ of 1996.The same atmosphere that Giovanni Gnocchi brought with the nobility and weight of a true master to the ‘Postludium’ of 1982.Alessandro Stella bought such sublime colours to the ‘4 Bagatelles’ op 220 .Boris Berman played beautifully the Kitsch Music of 1977 where he read from the score that the music should be played as if a memory.I was sorry to miss Nurit Stark with the five pieces for violin of 2004 but I had to rush to catch up with the recital of Shunta Morimoto.

Superb performances from this seventeen year old Japanese artist.Having created an enormous following at the age of only eleven when his first performances from the Van Cliburn competition started to appear on internet platforms .Many performances have since followed including a Rachmaninov 3rd Piano concerto at the age of 15 from Tokyo.More recently his triumph at the Hastings International Competition will give him the opportunity to make his London debut next year playing Beethoven 4 with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.Studying with William Naboré at the International Piano Academy Lake Como he leaves his show pieces to study the great classics of the piano repertoire.And so it was that Shunta played the 4th Partita by Bach and the Etudes Symphoniques by Schumann.The surprise especially for me was of the encore of the 4th Nocturne by Fauré.It was here that the heavens opened and the glorious sounds and streams of radiant light illuminated this Yamaha concert grand and kept us riveted to our seats with the ravishing beauty and subtle aristocratic poise of this young artist .The Bach Partita had been scrupulous in its attention to detail but it was the absolute clarity and the dynamic contrasts that were so remarkable.Keeping the style and shaping the long lines with the subtle inflections of a singer but with an underlying rhythmic energy that created an architectural shape from the beginning to the end.The Schumann was played with sumptuous sound and a technical mastery that allowed the poetic content to shine through even amongst the most transcendental difficulties.The little posthumous studies were beautifully integrated into the whole and gave an oasis of peace and calm amongst the more passionate of the eleven original studies.

Shunta with Elia Cecino ,Premio Venezia,who gave a recital in Cremona last year.
The class of Maddalena de Facci the remarkable teacher of young musicians who she brought to spend the day following the musical events at the Cremona Musica.
Elia is also studying with Boris Berman in Stradella and Eliso Virsaladze in Fiesole

And so the second day was drawing to a close with a visit to the Violin Museum to hear a concert in the very heart of the greatest of violins.

Celebrating the Polish Music Heritage with the winner of the Wieniawski 2006 International Violin Competition playing violin show pieces by Wieniawski.Agata Szymczewska and her brother Wojviech Szymczewski gave scintillating performances ending with the well known Polonaise de concert op 4 n.1-A perfect duo partnership allowed them to play so idiomatically the lesser known Mazurkas of this Polish virtuoso violinist, composer and pedagogue who is regarded amongst the greatest violinists in history.When his engagement to Isabella Hampton was opposed by her parents, Wieniawski wrote the Légende Op. 17 that opened the concert tonight and it is this work that helped her parents change their mind, and the couple married in 1860.

Agata playing a Gagliano violin of 1755 on loan from her mentor Anne Sophie Mutter

The second half of the concert was dedicated to Chopin with Martin Garcia Garcia winner of the Cleveland Competition in 2021 and also a top prize winner a few weeks later in the Chopin Competition in Warsaw.He chose three of the most mellifluous preludes from op 28 and the third sonata in B minor op 58.Playing of great authority and fluidity helped by the resonant acoustic of this extraordinary hall and the sumptuous instrument provided by Fazioli.It was in the Mazurka encore played with great character and style that one realised that we were in the company of a born Chopin player.

Martin Garcia Garcia

This extraordinary hall entering as if entering into the very heart of a violin.

Batuhan Merictan a young Turkish musician and music magazine correspondent

Since 1976, the Fondazione Museo del Violino Antonio Stradivari – formerly the Ente Triennale – has been protecting and promoting the value of classic and contemporary violin making in Cremona, through competitions, exhibitions, conferences, publications, congresses and concerts.
The unique capacity to make bowed string instruments of refined workmanship is at the heart of the city’s identity. An identity that has followed the tradition of fine artisanal excellence, dating back to the late Renaissance and early centuries of the modern age, and reached us today intact.
The constant engagement with research and the rediscovery of the great craftsmen of the past and their work is translated into the management and organization of the Museo del Violino at an everyday level and, every year in the autumn, into the preparation of exhibitions of historical violin making able to catalyse international attention thanks to their scientific importance and new content.

Valentina Lo Surdo with Virginia Villa ,general manager and director of this extraordinary ‘living’ museum

The heirs of the great maestros are the artisans of today. Since 1976, the foundation has organized the “Antonio Stradivari” International Triennial Competition, often known as the Olympics of Violin Making, a prestigious opportunity for the world’s best instrument makers to compare their work.
Since 2009, the foundation has also promoted the “friends of Stradivari” project, an international network linking all those who own, study, use or simply love instruments from Cremona’s classic violin-making tradition.

The musicians

The Cremona Musica Award for communication goes to the Chopin Institute Artur Sklener, Presidente dello Chopin Institute, e Aleksander Laskowski, direttore della comunicazione del Premio Chopin

The Chopin Institute has been awarded the prestigious Cremona Musica Award for the communication and outreach of the 18th International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw.

The jury appreciated the Chopin Institute for “setting new standards in communication with an exceptional quality of streaming and an innovative approach to disseminating information about classical music, the Chopin Competition and it’s participants. It allowed millions of people to share the joy of Chopin’s music and thus created a very special atmosphere and energy of the event.” The jury also appreciated “the empathy and humanity with which the Chopin Competition was organized.”
The award was presented at a gala concert in Museo del Violino in Cremona on Saturday, September 24th, which featured Martín García García, a laureate of the 2021 edition of the Chopin Competition.

Valentina with Aleksander Laskowski

“We are very happy that our communication efforts have been noticed. It is a great honour to receive this award in the place where the heart of the violin is beating for the whole world – said Artur Szklener, the director of Warsaw’s Chopin Institute at the award ceremony – Our mission is not only to find the best interpreters of Chopin’s music but to open as many hearts as we can and share great music with them. We are proud that tens of thousands came to Warsaw to follow the Chopin Competition live and that millions worldwide followed it online. We strongly believe that only working together the classical musical community will be able to make this world a better place for music and simply for all of us, humans”.

Aleksander Laskowski with Daniel Goldstein pianist of the Fundacion El Sonido y el Tiempo Internacional Argentina/Italia/USA.
Unfortunately I was already on the plane back home when Daniel Goldstein was playing but we did have time to reminisce about his teacher our dearest friend much missed by many ,Fausto Zadra
I was sorry to miss Fabrizio von Arx’s Stradivarius 1720 ‘The Angel’ but as I arrived late he was leaving early running with such joy to try the violins at the museo del violino

And so to the final day with a very interesting discussion ‘Roundtable New Teaching resources for musicians.’

A very interesting discussion from the psychology of digital platforms ,through the possibility of teaching on line only if you know the student personally beforehand and Ben Laude’s Tone base archive of masterclasses available on line.Jed Distler joining in the debate from the confines of his hotel room and added his own fascinating ideas.It was however the discussion between teacher and pupil William Naboré ( of the International Piano Academy Lake Como) and ex student Roberto Prosseda that was most stimulating and was carried over later into the presentation of the CD box of Naboré. Really a testimony of a life in music and I think as far as we will ever get with an autobiography as this octogenarian is still far too dedicated to the future than waste time on the past !

And so to the final recital in the Fazioli Piano Festival before the final event for me with the Naboré CD presentation,covering for an indisposed Jed Distler.As Berman had said we meet in all the most important places as we did with Martin who together with Shunta we were preparing for the long haul of Rachmaninov’s First Sonata.

Martin waiting to go on stage

I was only able to hear the two Moments Musicaux and the first movement of the Sonata .They preceded the sonata whose sombre menacing opening entered on their whispered murmured intimacy.Sumptuous sounds and glistening streams of golden sounds.The deep throbbing heartbeat passionately intoned with ravishing sounds.I only wish I could have stayed to give him the ovation that he so richly deserved.The first sonata has always been the poor relation to the second.Horowitz launched the second in his Indian summer and it has since been overplayed by pianists ever since.The first appeared with John Ogdon’s recording when he won the Tchaikowsky Competition with Vladimir Ashkenazy.It was never really included in recitals until the recent Tchaikowsky winner Alexandre Kantarow included it in his sensational streamed performance in an empty Philharmonie de Paris. Martin told me in our unexpected pre concert meeting that now it is the stable diet of all aspiring pianists in New York.Kantarow may have created miracles and they say they do not occur twice but today from what I was able to hear Martin Garcia Garcia proved them wrong.A young man headed for the heights and the great concert halls of the world .

No more than a passing glimpse of Ilaria Cavalleri who was selected to play recently in London for the Keyboard Trust
Fun and games presenting the autobiographical CD box set of William Grant Naboré

And so to catch the plane back to reality…….-little did I know that in the taxi to Linate there would be with me Valentin Silvestrov and family …..just another of those surprise encounters that make Cremona Musica in the hands of Roberto Prosseda a unique world wide link

Maestro Silvestrov with daughter and niece with Roberto Prosseda and Alessandro Stella ……….

Parting is such sweet sorry ……… let’s just say arrivederci to tomorrow !

Dear Mr Christopher Axworthy,
Apologize for my late reply but right after my arrival in Poland I got sick and now it’s the 3rd day I try to recover from this awful illness which makes me feel so weak…

Thank you so much for your review. I’m deeply touched by your words which so accurately describe your feelings…it’s always so precious for an artist to receive such a good review and to be appreciated by critics… relationships between crtiscs and artists are not always happy as you know perhaps…:)
Apologize that I didn’t recognize you from the first sight in Cremona but once you’d written your name on the card I immediately realized who I was talking to…I’m sorry for my ignorance!
I hope we will meet each other soon and again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for words which mean so much to me and influenced me in such a positive way!
If I may say…your writing is so fresh and there is so much admiration and respect for the world, art and for people…there is no poison in your words as I very often find in art critiscs…

My warmest regards from Warszawa,

Una risposta a "Cremona the city of dreams – a global network where dreams become reality"


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