It has been a long while since a major pianist planned to play Beethoven 32 Sonatas in Paris – I remember the series of concerts given by Alfred Brendel and Maurizio Pollini in Pleyel, but that was in the 90s!
The 2nd concert played by Barenboim at the Philharmonie covered a large scope, with 4 Sonatas from different periods. Some artists prefer to play the works chronologically, others prefer to select pieces as they see fit, and both choices have their charm.
The Philharmonie de Paris wished to celebrate Ivry Gitlis. The evening mixed music and some talks with the old master. I should immediately mention that if he is old of age (96), Gitlis is young at heart and full of wit.
After a brief introduction, the 1st part of the evening was dedicated to music, mainly classical, with a long list of friends or former pupils queuing to play. Some of them said a few words to the audience or more privately just to Ivry, and one even wrote some sort of a poem.
Last concert of the year, after having doubted I would manage to go, up to almost the last day…
Maestro Helmuth Rilling, one among the most renowned Bach specialists, was conducting 3 works of the Cantor, at 2 successive evenings in Baden-Württemberg, The 2nd evening took place at the Schönblick Christliches Gästezentrum Württemberg in Schwäbisch Gmünd.
He was conducting the Bach Ensemble Helmuth Rilling, the Purcell Choir Budapest, which had been prepared by György Vashegyi– who was playing the organ in the continuo – and soloists Julia Sophie Wagner (soprano), Ingeborg Danz (alto), Lothar Odinius (tenor), Michael Nagy (baritone).
Evgeni Koroliov and Grigory Sokolov: 2 Russian titanic pianists to perfectly finish the year!
Koroliov, an outstanding Bach performer, programmed the Goldberg Variations at the Maison de la Radio. He recorded the work 2 decades ago, and has played it many times (I heard at least 2 concert broadcasts on the radio, and there is also a DVD from 2008) but not in Paris as far as I know.
The 1st time I saw him in the concert hall was at the TCE for an exceptional Art of the Fugue, and he has graced us with remarkable concerts each and every time ever since, including another all Bach recital on a Sunday morning, something like 5 years ago which was as close to perfection as you can get.
György Ligeti said of Koroliov’s Bach: « … but if I am to be allowed only one musical work on my desert island, then I should choose Koroliov’s Bach, because forsaken, starving and dying of thirst, I would listen to it right up to my last breath ».
The Belcea Quartet, one of the world leading string quartets, was at the TCE to play last Sunday morning.
They had chosen 2 late works – by Bartók and Mendelssohn – which share several characteristics:
– they are both their Quartet No. 6
– they are both the last quartet they composed, even though the composers had plans for a #7
– they both relate to loss: the imminent loss of his mother and his homeland for Bartók, who could not stand the idea of his country being an ally of Nazi Germany and felt that war was unavoidable ; the loss of his sister Fanny for Mendelssohn – she was very supportive of her brother and a highly gifted pianist and composer in her own right.
French pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet was playing Haydn and Debussy at the Auditorium du Louvre.
Bavouzet was trained by no less than Pierre Sancan, Paul Badura-Skoda, Nikita Magaloff and György Sándor, and worked with Pierre Boulez, Valeri Gergiev, Neeme Järvi, Ingo Metzmacher and Andris Nelsons, among others. One of Bavouzet first major concerts in Paris was planned with the great Georg Solti, to play Bartók, but the old maestro died shortly before.
Though Bavouzet has a large repertoire – which includes contemporary music – he is particularly noted in Ravel, Debussy and Haydn.
The 3 musicians had chosen 3 works of very different tone and mood.
They opened with Beethoven’s Kakadu Variations, a piece which is not so common in the concert hall, then moved to Dmitri Shostakovich’s Trio No. 2. Violinist Jean-Marc Phillips-Varjabédian briefly introduced the work with a few keys for a better understanding. These had been transmitted to the Trio by Rostislav Dubinsky, the first primarius in the Borodin Quartet, and mostly related to World War II and to the gulag. The Trio’s performance was breathtaking, in particular the 3rd movement.
Fazıl Say gave an all Beethoven recital at the TCE, with Sonatas spanning over 2 decades and a half.
He opened with the famous Sonata No. 8, “Pathétique“ from 1798. Say is a pianist and a composer, which gives a very interesting view of Beethoven’s work.
As a matter of fact, I had the same impression the 1st time I heard Say play the German master – and it was the same with Russian pianist Andrei Korobeinikov who is also a composer.
A few days ago, David Fray and his former professor Jacques Rouvier, along with 2 other pianists, Emmanuel Christien and Audrey Vigoureux, were performing Bach Concertos for 2, 3 or 4 keyboards (on modern piano) at the TCE.
The concert program was indeed similar to their latest recording, with the same soloists and – small – orchestra, the string ensemble from the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, one of French leading orchestras. I had decided not to listen to the CD beforehand, not to “spoil” the evening. But Fray’s recordings of Bach talk for themselves and I was pretty sure I would not be disappointed.
Soviet Union was undoubtedly the land which “produced” the largest number of first importance female pianists: Maria Yudina, Tatiana Nikolayeva, Viktoria Postnikova, Elisabeth Leonskaja, Eliso Virsaladze, Ludmila Berlinskaja to name but a few.
Leonskaja was in recital at the TCE in a program that was supposed to be Schubert only, but she had planned some surprises.
The first piece was Sonata No. 3 D. 459: it was a chance to hear such a great performer in one of the early sonatas which are far too neglected today.
She then addressed the audience explaining that she would play Arnold Schoenberg’s 6 Little Piano Pieces Op.19, and what a performance that was!