Home sweet Home -Emanuel Rimoldi and the Manchester Camerata

Home sweet Home Emanuel Rimoldi with the Camerata
“Home sweet Home”
Emanuel Rimoldi with members of the Manchester Camerata .Rachmaninov Trio Elegiaque,Cello sonata 2nd movement Schumann Quintet ,Ysaye Obsessions,Wolf Italian Serenade.
A new venture ,the idea of Geoffrey Shindler ,chairman of the Manchester Camerata, who wanted to invite some of the finest young pianists from the Keyboard Trust stable to perform with some of the exceptionally fine musicians that make the Camerata one of the most sought after chamber ensembles in Europe.
Initiated last november with Alexander Ullman (winner of the Liszt /Bartok International Piano Competition at only twenty and now five years later fast making a name for himself as an unusually musical virtuoso) at the revolutionised Whitworth gallery whose innovative director has just been appointed director of Tate Britain.
Last night was the turn of Emanuel Rimoldi.
Winner of the Tromso “Top of the World” and Manhattan “Pogorelich” International Competitions who was invited to play the Schumann Quintet,Rachmaninov Trio Elegiaque and the slow movement of the Cello sonata .
Together with the Italian Serenade by Wolf for string quartet, a solo violin sonata by Ysaye and a short arrangement of one of Jimmy Hendrix’s best known songs for violin and cello it made for a very stimulating and varied evening.
It was in fact the musicians from the Camerata themselves that had chosen the programme.
These superb musicians were Caroline Pether and Rakhi Singh,violins,Ulrich Eichenauer,viola and Hannah Roberts cello.
In any combinations these were extraordinary musicians that had passed three days together with Emanuel Rimoldi preparing this programme together.
A great warmth and friendship had been born on “wings of song” and it was this that was felt and transmitted in this intimate four hundred seat theatre in the recently opened arts centre called” Home”.
Opened only eighteen months ago on a site that was once the gas works and tanning factory it has already attracted over a million visitors of people from all walks of life searching for a “Home”.
For that is the name it has been christened.
A “Home” that Manchester under its enlightened young Mayor has created an Arts Centre where people can enjoy cinema ,theatre and mix socially.
Now it was being used for the first time for classical music.
A concert grand in pride of place on stage in this subdued atmosphere .
Every member of the audience near the stage such is the construction of this intimate space.With two galleries and seating in reds,blues and beige that gives a great feeling of warmth.
A theatre acoustic but remarkably good for chamber music or recitals and a large appreciative audience that were taken by surprise by this sudden gift of music.
A lady in the scramble at the bar in the interval exclaimed that she had had such a hard day at the office but she had not expected to be so uplifted by what she was experiencing this evening for the first time .
With a theme of “Darkness and Light” a brief explanation of the life and suffering of the composers by and actor over the loudspeakers in the half light led to an even greater understanding of what was about to be performed.
Occasionally also introduced by the performers too it led to an atmosphere of complete audience participation and self awareness which for many was their first experience of “serious” music .
Bringing music to the people is what Simon Rattle did too in Birmingham and what has been happening in Venezuela with “The Experiment” of Abrau that Abbado discovered and brought to our attention with such enormous success.
Here in Manchester The Times has described the Camerata as “probably Britain’s most adventurous orchestra”.
They have hit the nail on the head at last.
Here we were experiencing tonight just that.
With an enthusiastic and dedicated young team led by Bob Riley and Sam Morgan the Camerata are taking music to the people and creating a new audience that has perhaps never fully understood or had the opportunity or wish to experience what they thought was probably not for them.
Of course the music making was on an extraordinary level .
It was Bob Riley that in the interval was taken by surprise too and had to express how overcome he was by the sublime beauty of the music making in the hands of Emanuel with these players.
The sound of the piano so tender and yet so alive like quick silver that reached into the very depths of every member of an audience who listened with rapt attention.
The early Trio Elegiaque that opened the programme, after the speaker had told us of the depression that Rachmaninov had suffered and that his music reflects this love and sorrow.It was so poignant with it’s subdued string opening in which the sounds of the piano appear so crystalline clear but so expressive and projected so beautifully by Emanuel Rimoldi.
Emanuel who had written the programme notes too had pointed out that in the score the opening has the indication “Lento Lugubre” and finishes with a “Funeral March” and has an illusion of death much as the Trio Elegiac of Tchaikowsky.
Followed by the short Italian Serenade for string quartet so ably introduced from the stage by Caroline Pether who went on with her colleagues to give a superb performance of this short sunny peace.
We passed from darkness to light indeed.
Back to the Russian gloom with the sublime slow movement of the Rachmaninov cello sonata .
Hannah Roberts gave a heartfelt performance from memory in almost total darkness ,the only light being that of the music on the the piano.
Emanuel was inspired by Hannah to create the most sublime sounds that had moved Bob so much that he had so poignantly described to me in his enthusiasm during the interval.
And a lighthearted piece by Jimmy Hendrix brought us back into the light again.Expertly played by Caroline Pether and Hannah Roberts .
After the interval with some very interesting comments from the people now feeling totally part of this new experience a single light for the Ysaye’s solo violin sonata “Obsessions” so expertly performed by Rakhi Singh.
The Dies Irae and hints of Bach very much in theme on this moving occasion.
And finally all the musicians together for Schumann’s Quintet.
A monument of the Chamber music repertoire by a composer who suffered from mental illness all his life .Something that gave birth to his duel personality of Floristan and Eusebius .
Some superb ensemble playing from this group that after only three days had become one. The throbbing passion of the viola answered by the passionate reply from the pianists left hand .The etherial passages in the slow movement so poignantly played by the violins who allowed the music to breathe and live with remarkable unanimity.
“Lets love it a bit more” suggested an enthusiastic and inspired Caroline in the rehearsal at the “con anima” indication in the last movement .
It was exactly this love and understanding that united these young brilliant musicians that together were able to enter into the hearts of all that were present.
Music, you see, enters where words are just not enough.
As the programme states the Camerata in not about learning music- it’s about using music to enable people to make positive changes in their own lives.
It was like an end of term party in the foyer afterwards with these musicians excitedly exchanging addresses with their newly found colleagues who were all imbued with the same passionate devotion to sharing their musical conversations with each other .
Final concert in this short experimental series is on 2nd May in Manchester Cathedral with Iyad Sughayer playing in Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time .
Haydn’s Seven last words of Christ on the Cross will bring this magnificent adventure to a moving conclusion

The Generosity of Mitsuko Uchida

The generosity of Mitsuko Uchida
Mitsuko Uchida at the Royal Festival Hall tonight.
Nice to have Mitsuko Uchida back again after having to cancel her recital last April due to a recurring health problem. A very full hall showed with what esteem this great artist is held .
Beginning with the little “Sonata facile” by Mozart in C K.545 she immediately showed all the exquisite musicianship for which she is renowned. Played with beautiful almost music box tone and shaped in a way that allowed the music to speak in a totally simple and immediate way.
It was Schnabel who declared Mozart too easy for children but too difficult for adults but Mitsuko found the ideal path between simplicity and her ability to imbue the seemingly childlike melodies with such meaning as a singer would do in the sublime perfection of Mozart operas. Her exquisite sense of balance allowed the pure beauty of the slow movement to sing out and totally captivate her audience.The last movement was thrown off with a charm and childlike simplicity that was disarming.
Kreisleriana that followed was played with all the passion and colours that these multifaceted fantasies require. The first one shaped almost like waves of sound but unlike Trifonov the other day held together and given a great sense of line and direction .The beautiful middle section was allowed to sing in a simple way with a subtle sense of rubato one was not even aware of .
The second and fourth,of course ,were just made for an artist of this stature and they received some beautifully shaped real legato playing .The fifth instead of sounding like an etude as it can in lesser hands was played as great blocks of sound erupting with great rhythmic impetus .The final fantasy was played with an almost feline grace that I would have preferred (as Trifonov showed us the other day ) more attention to the deep syncopated bass notes which gave a much more meaningful structure to this rather elusive ending.However a notable performance of a very problematic piece that can all too often seem a series of Fantasies instead of a whole .
After the interval just one work of Schumann:the great C major Fantasie dedicated to Liszt (Liszt in return dedicated his B minor Sonata to Schumann) Here it was unfortunately obvious the muscular problems that have obviously bewitched this great artist. The sense of balance was lost in her attempt to find larger sonorities.
Exaggeratedly distorted climaxes and drawn out ritardandi led to a rather uneven performance . Could it be that this very generous and sincere artist in not wanting to let her public down again took on a too long and arduous a programme. The second movement strangely was the most successful musically although even here there was too much pedal and rather muddy splashing that one would not have normally expected. The great climaxes in the final movement – a great outpouring of love for Clara – Schumann’s future wife- sounded very angular and laboured.The final chords were almost inaudible as were the final chords in the first movement. A great artist in difficulty who had given her best in the first half and the very appreciative audience greeted even this Fantasy with the warmth and generosity with which Mitsuko has always shared her music making.
Flowers and an ovation for this much loved artist brought her back with a page of music in her hand that she placed in the piano and did not even glance at. She proceeded to offer as an encore an atonal piece of nonsense that consisted of a very slow almost inaudible downward scale in which every so often a rocket would explode. Mercifully short and presented like a naughty girl teasing her audience we much look forward to hearing her again when she is full recovered .