A real joyful encounter with Paul Badura Skoda tonight in St James`s Paddington . As Bryce Morrison said in his programme notes Badura Skoda, like his teacher Edwin Fisher, is from the school where the piano prefers to be played rather than hit,coaxed rather than bullied into life,the block buster world of the ultra virtuoso,alien territory.
And so it was this evening where many of the details and note picking accuracy were instead replaced by an immediate simple musicality that allowed the music to speak for itself .
An eventful evening in many ways where one of the public was taken ill and unknown to the artist ,as to most of the audience lost in the world of sublime world of Schuberts four Impromptus op 90
An ambulance was called and it all looked so hopeless,until during the G flat Impromptu the miracle occured and the man who had slithered under his pew was resucitated by the immediate help offered from St Marys nearby …….I like to think that Badura Skoda’s Schubert had much to do with it too.
Not satisfied with offering a large programme of Mozart D minor Fantasy,Haydn C minor Sonata ,Schubert Four Impromptus and Beethoven’s last sonata .
After an interval, that the pianist had to pass on foot with the public, as in the confusion his green room had been locked and people were more intent on their Champagne that what our 88 year artist was doing!.
However after the interval Badura Skoda moved his stool nearer to the large public that had gathered to hear this legendary musician ,as he wanted to explain the piece by Frank Martin ,that had been dedicated to him , by the relatively unknown Swiss composer.
Charming very amusing and informative ” chat” about the Fantasy on Flamenco Rhythms . The clear lines of op.111 after made us realised how privileged we were to hear this musician from another age .
A beautiful little piece for glass harmonica by Mozart ( played with unbelievable cristalline sound on this “Boston” piano) was the perfect encore for a memorable evening
The age of the complete Viennese musician whose only preoccupation was to be the direct go between,between the composer and the audience.
I well remember when Paul played for us at the Ghione Theatre in Rome and during the rehearsal he had the whole piano works in his lap . When I found him he explained that there were some notes that needed injecting with a liquid he had been given by Bob Glazebrook at Steinways. Rather alarmed I immediately rang Glazebrook in London who reassured me that the bottle contained water as they could not allow Maestro Badura Skoda to ruin all the pianos in Europe!
And Perlemuter telling me of this jury member at the Casagrande competition in Terni, a small industrial town created by Mussolini outside Rome, who jumped down from his post to tune the piano when it became unbearably out of tune.
Wonderful to see him in such good form and know that the great Viennese school is alive and well in his hands and being shared with the numerous young musicians who flock to him for his invaluable advice and comradship.
Carlo Grante in particular often passes days comparing scores and playing the numerous antique instruments that make up the Badura Skoda household in Vienna.