Pablo Rossi and friends with The Tree of Life at the Brazilian Embassy in the beautiful ex Cunard Hall in Trafalgar Square .
A full house for the world premiere of ‘Abaporu’ Concertante for piano and strings by Joao Guilherme Ripper.Works by Villa Lobos and ending with Schubert’s ‘almighty’ Wanderer Fantasy !
Superb performances and nice to see our little ‘Pablo’ coming of age from the feet upwards as he takes his place so honourably on the world stage.
Works by Villa Lobos and Schubert completed the programme which is a reflection on the relation between nature and music.’Abaporu’ written for Pablo Rossi and commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is a work full of aristocratic nobility in which the piano has the voice of authority aided and abetted by the string quintet.
A group of superb young musicians assembled by Can Arisoy who after only a few hours rehearsal had conquered it’s complex musical language ready to give the ‘world premiere’ with it dedicatee at the helm.The authority and aristocratic nobility Pablo gave to this work was a reminder of Rubinstein’s magnetism and personality.
It was Rubinstein who on his triumphant South American tours in the 1920’s encountered Villa Lobos whose works he became a lifelong advocate .In 1923 he bought him to Paris to play to the musical elite that was in Paris between the wars.A group of musicians was assembled in Rubinstein’s hotel to ravish and seduce the musical world with the highly original sounds of far off Brazil.
Today Pablo was content to play just one of the pieces that Rubinstein was sure to have played.’Saudades das Selvas Brasileiras’- Memories of Brazilian Forests was one of the branches that Pablo offered with his playing of insinuating persuasive charm.A sense of balance that allowed the melodic lines to intertwine in a such and enticingly amorous way.
A much later work ‘Forest of the Amazon’ is a song cycle taken from his Symphonic Poem and was sung so eloquently by the mezzo soprano Marina Melaranci.Her beautiful voice soared into the rarified air and was a refreshing breath of fresh air after the dynamic urgency and declamations of ‘Abaporu’.The voice and piano in perfect harmony as they revealed the subtle beauty and charm of these four evocative songs.Even more memorable was the encore that Marina was invited to offer on behalf of all the musicians that had taken part.Her voice ravished and seduced as Bachianas Brasileiras n. 5 by Villa Lobos was allowed to float into the highly charged air and bring such bewitchingly subtle emotions after the breathtaking virtuosity of Schubert’s monumental -‘ almighty’ Wanderer Fantasy.
Wonderful to see ‘our’ little Pablo who had been chosen at 16 to play for Noretta and John Leech in Steinway Hall in London when he became part of the family of the Keyboard Trust.Advised and nurtured by them,this highly talented young teenager was taken under the wing of the great pianist and teacher Eliso Virsaladze who in seven years of intensive study turned a talented young pianist into an artist ready to grace the world stage.It was a joy to see this now established artist sitting low at the keyboard with his hands like eagles ready to pounce on its pray.His long fingers and noticeable arch of the hand extracting ravishing sounds with such sensitivity and intelligence from a black box of hammers and strings.
A musicality that like Rubinstein goes beyond the note picking impotent accuracy that is so prevalent in our day of instant perfection.A musicality that goes to the very soul of the music and can communicate with spontaneity and personality the very meaning behind the music’s creation.’Je joue,je sens,je transmets’ is the title of an article written some years about Shura Cherkassky.Shura who would often be astonished by the efficiency of young musicians who he would be glad to listen to in concert but who so often he would gently remark ….’but I don’t think they listen to themselves!’Not only listen but also feel – many pianists before the public …too many ……do not really love the piano ……and quite often seem to hate it as they assault the great concert pianos that are built these days to withstand even a tank!All this to say that Pablo is from the ‘old school’ and it was refreshing to watch him throw his hands onto the keys with a ‘jeux perlé’,that was like brushing dust off the keys,in the variations on Schubert’s Wanderer which is the second movement of the fantasy.Nobility and fearless abandon brought this masterpiece vividly to life.’Almighty’ obviously translated from Brazilian in the publicity but described well a work that was to so profoundly influence Liszt.Schubert’s creation of a new form with the transformation of themes was a work that was to influence composers long after Schubert’s all too short existence on this earth.Schubert had been lent to us for only 31 years but his influence on the world was not only his poetic vision and seemingly endless outpouring of melodic invention but also his sense of architectural shape and structure.It was to influence Liszt and his son in law Richard Wagner in creating revolutionary new art forms.
The transcriptions by Liszt of two songs by Schubert were indeed recreations by a magician of the piano.Liszt could make the piano speak more eloquently than the human voice with his total mastery of the ‘modern’ piano.The pedal being the very soul,with fingers that could delve deep into the keys and extract sounds of eloquence and meaning.Pablo did just that with the first song from Schubert’s last great ‘Swan Song’ cycle .’Love’s message’ was played with heartrending beauty and a refined sense of balance that made this ‘Boston’ sound as though nurtured in Berlin or Hamburg.’Erlkonig’ burst onto the scene with demonic insistence and the story that Pablo told with just ten fingers and two (almost respectably clad ) feet was terrifying as this tone poem was unraveled with all the pianistic magic that only great artists can provide.
FOREST OF THE AMAZON is a symphonic poem based on texts of Dora Vasconcellos. It had started out as music for a film of W. H. Hudson’s Green Mansions (with Anthony Perkins, and Audrey Hepburn as the bird-woman Rima), but with typical high-handedness the film producers had jettisoned most of the score in favour of another by Bronislau Kaper. Not surprisingly, Villa-Lobos was furious and decided to re-use and recast his music, transferring sections and adding a brief overture and four new songs to Portuguese texts. The work became an extended symphonic poem, or rather, a multi-section rhapsody, which breathes a pantheistic doctrine of Nature, universal love and extinction. It tells the story of Rima the bird-girl and such narrative afforded the composer an opportunity to indulge in many different creative selves. In the complete cycle there are distinct episodes with melodies as simple and lovely as any of his previous works, as well as passages of tempestuous excitement or angular metric irregularity. We have Villa-Lobos the primitivist, the descriptivist, the folklorist, the romanticist and the Stravinskyan modernist. Later on,there was an short version made from only the solo voice parts, that become a much performed cycle for voice and piano.
Schubert/Liszt 2 songs (Liebesbotschaft and Erlkonig). Liebesbotschaft (Message of love, the singer invites a stream to convey a message to his beloved.) is the first lied from Schwanengesang a collection of songs written at the end of his life and published posthumously. –
Franz Liszt explained what moved him to his intense preoccupation with Franz Schubert’s lieder between the years of 1833 and 1845 during his 1838 visit in Vienna: “I heard in the salons, with vivid pleasure and sentimentality bringing tears to my eyes, an artistic friend, the Baron von Schönstein, present Schubert’s lieder. The French translation renders only a very incomplete sense of how this mostly-very-lovely poetry connects to the music of Schubert, the most poetic musician ever to live. The German language is so admirable in the area of sentimentality, perhaps only a German is capable of comprehending the naiveté and fantastic aspects of so many of these compositions, their capricious appeal, their melancholy letting-go.”
Murmuring brook, so silver and bright,do you hasten, so lively and swift, to my beloved? Ah, sweet brook, be my messenger.Bring her greetings from her distant lover.All the flowers, tended in her garden,which she wears so charmingly on her breast, and her roses with their crimson glow:refresh them, brooklet, with your cooling waters.When on your banks she inclines her head lost in dreams, thinking of me,comfort my sweetheart with a kindly glance, for her beloved will return soon.When the sun sinks in a red flush,lull my sweetheart to sleep.With soft murmurings bring her sweet repose, and whisper dreams of love.
“Erlkönig“, op 1 D 328, was composed in 1815,which sets Goethe’s poem.The singer takes the role of four characters — the narrator, a father, his small son, and the titular “Erlking”, a supernatural creature who pursues the boy — each of whom exhibit different tcharacteristics. A technically challenging piece for both performers and accompanists, “Erlkönig” has been popular and acclaimed since its premiere in 1821, and has been described as one of the “commanding compositions of the century”.
Who rides, so late, through night and wind?
It is a father with his child.
He has the boy well in his arm
He holds him safely, he keeps him warm. “My son, why do you hide your face in fear?”
“Father, do you not see the Erlking?
The Erlking with crown and tail?”
“My son, it is a streak of fog.” You dear child, come, go with me!
Very lovely games I’ll play with you;
Some colorful flowers are on the beach,
My mother has some golden robes.” My father, my father, and do you not hear
What Erlking quietly promises me?”
“Be calm, stay calm, my child;
The wind is rustling through dry leaves.”
“Do you, fine boy, want to go with me?
My daughters shall wait on you finely;
My daughters lead the nightly dance,
And rock and dance and sing you to sleep,
They rock and dance and sing you to sleep.” “My father, my father, and don’t you see there
Erlking’s daughters in the gloomy place?”
“My son, my son, I see it clearly:
There shimmer the old willows so grey.” I love you, your beautiful form excites me;
And if you’re not willing, then I will use force.”
“My father, my father, he’s touching me now!
Erlking has done me harm!” It horrifies the father, he swiftly rides on,
He holds the groaning child in his arms,
Reaches the farm with great difficulty;
In his arms, the child was dead.
The Fantasie in C major, Op. 15 ( D.760), popularly known as the Wanderer Fantasy, is a four-movement fantasy for solo piano composed by Schubert in 1822 when only 25 in a life that was tragically cut short by the age of 31.It is widely considered his most technically demanding composition for the piano and Schubert himself said “the devil may play it,” in reference to his own inability to do so properly.The whole work is based on one single basic motif from which all themes are developed. This motif is distilled from the theme of the second movement, which is a sequence of variations on a melody taken from the lied “Der Wanderer”, which Schubert wrote in 1816. It is from this that the work’s popular name is derived.The four movements are played without a break. After the first movement Allegro con fuoco ma non troppo in C major and the second movement Adagio (which begins in C-sharp minor and ends in E major), follow a scherzo presto in A-flat major and the technically transcendental finale, which starts in fugato returning to the key of C major and becomes more and more virtuosic as it moves toward its thunderous conclusion.Liszt was fascinated by the Wanderer Fantasy, transcribing it for piano and orchestra (S.366) and two pianos (S.653). He additionally edited the original score and added some various interpretations in ossia and made a complete rearrangement of the final movement (S.565a).I remember a recent lesson I had listened to of Elisso Virsaladze in which I was struck by the vehemence of the Wanderer Fantasy and the ragged corners that we are more used to in a Beethoven almost twice Schubert’s age .It made me wonder about the maturity of the 25 year old Schubert and could he have had a premonition that his life was to be curtailed only six years later.We are used to the mellifluous Schubert of rounded corners and seemless streams of melodic invention.But surely in the final three sonatas written in the last months of his life the A major and C minor start with a call to arms and only in the last B flat sonata do we arrive at the peace and tranquility that Beethoven was to find too in his last sonata.But the deep rumblings in the bass in Schubert’s last sonata give food for thought that his life was not all sweetness and light.I remember Richter’s long tribulation in the recording studio to put on record as near definitive version as possible of the Wanderer Fantasy with the help of the pianist and musicologist Paul Badura Skoda.
It was exactly like a tornado with which Pablo presented the opening flourishes of this remarkable work .It was played with the authority and breathless urgency that Richter and now Trifonov had unleashed on an unsuspecting public.This was a full symphony orchestra not a chamber orchestra but one that was capable of moments of excitement and urgency but also moments of lyricism and delicacy.The contrasts that Pablo found kept us on the edge of our seats as the underlying rhythmic current flowed from the source to the mouth of this great stream of sounds.Not a Schubert for the weak hearted but a Schubert of a man that had known great tenderness but also great suffering.There was a technical prowess that seemed to have no limitations as his body movements followed the great streams of sound that poured out of this little Boston with the same dynamic energy and richness as the greatest of concert grands.
The natural movements that followed the contours of the music allowed him to seek out sounds without any ungrateful hardness even in the most challenging passages that abound in a work that the composer himself said : ‘May the devil play it ‘.The fullness of rich sound in the solemn Adagio – The Wanderer – was remarkable for its sonority.I even found it a little too important a statement but was then led by Pablo to the magic of the variations where streams of golden sounds just poured like water over the keys leading to a climax worthy of the mightiest of Beethoven only to disappear in a series of vibrations all so similarly found in late Beethoven.The scherzo ,presto,was played with a clarity and sense of dance that created just the contrast and lyrical interlude before the tumultuous final explosion in preparation for the Allegro fugato.He embarked on the Allegro with an urgency almost in two instead of four.But we need not have worried as Pablo is also a great virtuoso as he fearlessly led us to the tumultuous conclusion with no sign of collision or mishap.A remarkably exciting conclusion to a superb performance.
Pablo Rossi takes London by storm