Elisabeth Leonskaja plays Schubert at the TCE

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!

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Jethro Tull, 50th anniversary in Paris

Jethro Tull, with its leader and only permanent member, Ian Anderson, were celebrating the 50 years of the band in Paris, at the Salle Pleyel.

Jethro Tull’s music, which has been classified as blues rock, progressive rock, folk rock, hard rock and electronic rock, is nonetheless easy to identify with Anderson’s distinctive flute playing and singing.

It was my first live experience with them – watching videos of concerts surely does not count. Ian Anderson’s energy on stage is still there, even though he is now 71.

In between some songs, the concert included short videos of interviews of some previous band members, friends or famous fans (Jeffrey Hammond, Mick Abrahams, Tony Iommi, Claude Nobs…) talking about the band, their favourite song or some anecdote. Anderson also introduced some songs and the different videos, with a great sense of humour.

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The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Myung-whun Chung plays Brahms & Beethoven

Myung-whun Chung was back in Paris to conduct the famous Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam. The great Greek violinist Leonidas Kavakos, one of today’s finest virtuoso, had to cancel almost at the last minute, and was replaced by Isabelle Faust.

The concert began with Brahms’ Violin Concerto. The German violinist was impeccable – it’s never easy to fill in for another artist on such short notice, and the piece is bristled with difficulties – and the orchestra was at par. Even the 3rd movement, which I basically like less, was quite enjoyable.

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The Kronberg Academy at the Louvre Auditorium

The Louvre was hosting several concerts of the Kronberg Academy this week. The Kronberg Academy is an institution which aims to support highly gifted young violinists, violists and cellists.

Music luminaries such as Mstislav Rostropovich, Christian Tetzlaff, Nobuko Imai, Frans Helmerson, Gary Hoffman, Gidon Kremer, Yuri Bashmet, Tabea Zimmermann and Marta Casals Istomin are or have been involved with the Academy, as teachers or/and members of its artistic council.

Saturday‘s concert, which was broadcast live on the French radio, was the last one of the series, with professors Mihaela Martin (violin) and Frans Helmerson (cello), and 5 students: Fumika Mohri and Marc Bouchkov (violin), Timothy Ridout and Adrien Boisseau (viola), Bruno Philippe (cello).

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Maurizio Pollini and his beloved Chopin and Debussy

The legendary Italian pianist Maurizio Pollini was giving a recital in a packed Philharmonie de Paris. Pollini had to rest for a full month after he fell and had to cancel several dates (Aix…).

Fortunately, his Parisian rendez-vous did take place and I managed to find an almost last minute ticket – the concert was sold out since Summer 2016!

The 1st part of the evening was dedicated to Chopin, the 2nd to Debussy ; these are 2 composers he often chooses to “mix” in his recitals, and they usually work very well together!

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David Fray plays Chopin and Schubert

David Fray, who has just recorded a Chopin album, was in concert at the TCE.

The 1st half was dedicated to the Polish composer, with different pieces: 3 of his wonderful Nocturnes (op 9 No.2 and the splendid op 48 No.1 & 2), Mazurka op 63 No.3, Impromptu op 51 No.3, Waltz op 69 No.1, and a most remarkable Polonaise-Fantaisie. If the pianist seemed to have some sort of a cold, his playing was exquisite and warm!

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András Schiff, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe in Bach, Bartók and Brahms

The distinguished pianist (and conductor) András Schiff was in concert at the Paris Philharmonie with the excellent Chamber Orchestra of Europe.

1st composer in the programme was his beloved Bach, with the 2 Ricercars of the Musical Offering, a masterpiece which is scandalously absent of French concert halls. He chose to play the Ricercar a 3 on the piano (solo), and the Ricercar a 6 was performed by 6 string players (one for each voice): 2 violins, 2 violas, 2 cellos. What a great introduction!

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Eliahu Inbal, the OPRF and singers Dietrich Henschel and Ekaterina Gubanova

Maestro Eliahu Inbal was back at the Philharmonie de Paris with the OPRF, accompanied this time by singers Dietrich Henschel and Ekaterina Gubanova.

The concert began with 10 lieder from Gustav Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn. Contrary to Mahler’s other main vocal works, they do not form a cycle but are a collection performers can choose from.

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Bartók Quartets by the Diotima Quartet

At the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, the Diotima Quartet took up a challenge which is some kind of an achievement: play all 6 quartets written by Bartók in the same evening!

It is common to play these very demanding works over 2 or even 3 evenings, when played along with another composer, allowing to alternate (the Alban Berg Quartet had chosen Mozart at the TCE some years ago).

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Ivo Pogorelich playing in Salle Gaveau

The legendary Ivo Pogorelich was playing in Salle Gaveau. I remember the physical impact the Croatian pianist had on the audience – including myself – the first 2 times I saw him, about 2 decades ago. I’ve had the privilege to see many extraordinary pianists over the years – Brendel, Perahia, Lupu, Zimerman, Koroliov, Pollini, Pires, Schiff, Barenboim, Fleisher, Kocsis, Kovacevich, Istomin, Sokolov, Lugansky to name but a few – but the only one who had a similar impact on me was the great Richter.

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