Vieni,vedi,vinci……….Martha Argerich brings her Christmas Carol to the Eternal City
“Music does not stand alone ,but is always with people.”
It is with the 20th anniversary concert in Rome that Martha Argerich,Antonio Pappano ,Mischa Maisky and friends showed us the true meaning of this phrase in celebration of the Meeting Point in Beppu in Japan.
The MUSIC FESTIVAL Argerich’s Meeting Point in Beppu (Beppu Argerich Music Festival), under General Director Martha Argerich and General Producer Kyoko Ito, continues as the core event of the Argerich Arts Foundation, promoting the following three objectives:
“It is not only a sincere hope but also an obligation for us to create a society where children, the driving force of the 21st century, can grow up with rich spirits. An important aim of this Music Festival is to foster young people through music by providing children with opportunities to come in contact with high-quality music and by giving learning opportunities to young musicians.
We aim to create a “Meeting Point” where Martha Argerich and musicians from Asia, as well as from around the world, can join together to make this festival the core of music culture in the region by fostering young music lovers in Asia. We create a meeting point (Argerich’s Meeting Point) for people in Asia and around the world through classical music.The Beppu Argerich Music Festival aims to be a heartwarming “hand-made music festival” created together with the local people. Believing in the power of music, we will continue to create a richer social environment and send out unique music culture to the world from Oita Prefecture, and especially the hot spring resort of Beppu.”
And so it was at the end of a wonderful festive occasion that our host at the Parco della Musica, Sir Antonio Pappano or Tony as he is affectionately known stepped forward from his fellow colleagues to share some words of wisdom with “his” Rome public.
Reminding us of the remarkable activity that for twenty years Martha Argerich has created to bring music to the people.
With such modesty and self sacrifice,just as the missionaries had done 460 years ago.
She has been continuing this tradition of bringing classical music to the young.
Reminding us too that he had been three times to make and share music with them – the first time before his hair had not yet changed colour!
It was evident too that Martha, the undoubted star that she has become,is one of a group of musicians that with complete dedication bring their music to the people.
Even looking over her shoulder to make sure that she was never alone on the stage and waiting at the end to thank all her wonderful colleagues and also the public that had filled every seat behind the stage too
And so it was an evening of music making amongst friends.
From the opening with a sonata for two violins by Leclair.
And what violins!
Two Stradivari one of which the famous “Lady Tennant”of 1699.
In the hands of Kyoko Takezawa it immediately became part of her body moving with cat like attention as she followed her colleague Yasushi Toyoshima.
The same total partecipation that we have noted so well with Julia Fischer many times in the same hall.
The Allegro and Presto played with such character and rhythmic energy and the sublime Andante grazioso on two such superb Stradivari could only have been of the composers dreams.
Violins in fact that Leclair might well have known as they were made during his lifetime (1697-1764)
The appearance of Martha Argerich and Mischa Maisky created even more magic.
And it was magical indeed their performance of the Fantasiestucke by Schumann.
Having played many time together Mischa Maisky was always at the ready for the impetuosity of his partner.
Martha Argerich was ready too to catch every star that was thrown in her direction from the most fantasioso of cellists.
Two great personalities recreating Schumann’s sublime romantic utterances.
A sense of elasticity in the melodic line that was so perfectly matched by each of the players.
A true lesson of how much heard masterpieces can sound new and freshly recreated in the hands of great artists.
Some wonderfully subtle interweaving and the sudden appearance of a deep bass note thrown into the arena from the piano at just the right moment was indeed breathtaking.
The last “Rasch,mit Feuer” was like a red rag to the bull and Martha launched into it knowing that her partner would always be ready for her scintillating temperament.
There followed the Shostakovich Sonata for cello and piano.
Written in 1934 it is both lyrical with tempestuous outbursts that at 28 had already become part of the personality that we came to know under the repression of the regime.
Infact the sonata op 40 was written just prior to the censure by the Soviet authorities with his opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk that was considered too bougeois and decadent.
He had also fallen in love with a young student.
So there is a great mixture of feelings in his only cello sonata written for his great friend Viktor Kubatsky
The opening arpeggios appeared so magically on the piano and was matched by the sublime melody on the cello.
A wonderfully soulful Largo where the piano provided a dark backdrop to the cello’s rhapsodic vocal theme.
The final Allegro played with an infectious rythmic energy erupting into a tumultuous cadenza on the piano that was thrown off with all the scintillating prowess for which our “tiger of the keys” is renowned.
Mischa Maisky even more fantasioso than Martha in this work and it was she who tried to keep an even keel and sense of architectural shape that Mischa Maisky with all his passion and temperament was in danger of loosing.
After the interval a real celebration of this happy event with Happy Birthday variations for string quartet by Peter Heidrich.
The cat like Yasushi was here matched by the even more attentive cellist Diego Romano.
It was a real lesson to watch his expression as he was so attentive and ready to adapt to every subtle sense of subtle shaping from his colleagues.
The scene was now set for the main work of the evening that saw Sir Antonio Pappano united with Martha Argerich and members of the S.Cecilia Orchestra as they were on their recently recorded performance for Warner Classics.
Joined by our two Japanese friends whose impersonation of the characters with long ears brought the house down in this Zoological Fantasy .
A work which Saint Saens had such fun writing he even put aside his third symphony (Organ Symphony with which this work is coupled in the Warner CD ).
Written in 1886 and performed in many private households including that of Pauline Viardot in the presence of Franz Liszt who had asked to hear it.
Saint Saens did not allow it to be published in his lifetime though as he thought it would detract from his “ serious” compositions!
It was published in 1922 a year after his death.
Each of the eleven “animals” has a chance to shine.
The superb double bass of Antonio Sciancalepore as the elephant or the magnificent birds that Andrea Oliva allowed to ring around this vast auditiorium with such artistry as displayed also in the most beautiful of aquariums.
The obstinate call of the cuckoo in the depths of the woods so amusingly impersonated by the clarinet of Stefano Novelli.
The pianistic gymnastics of the two Kangeroos gave us no idea of the extreme difficulty that two beginners were struggling with in the “pianist.”
The pianistic gymnastics in the Finale showed us just what virtuosity is.
Martha bounding up and down the keyboard with “Tony” very close on her heels!
The fossils as impersonated by the percussionists Edoardo Giachino and Andrea Santarsiere where the xylophone evoked the image of skeletons playing card games- their bones clacking together on the beat!
In the scintillating finale we are given a short taste of each “ animal” .But not before the sublime beauty of the best known of the animals-the swan.
Allowed to glide so magically in the hands of Mischa Maisky with the gentle water so beautifully evoked by our two master pianists.
An ovation from a packed auditorium and a quick word together and the repeat of the Finale where all the animals were allowed to shine once more before the backstage celebrations for this unique event
Another Carnival by two young pianists in Manchester recently for the Keyboard Charitable Trust of which Sir Antony Pappano is honorary patron