blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Scandinavian swirls

These Music and Beyond reports are out of chronological order. I'll now describe last Thursday's noon event, a piano recital at the National Gallery.

Once again, as in the Mosolov concert, this was a combination of music with visual art, but this time round I was less antagonistic towards the idea of combining the two. On this occasion, the art on projected onto the screen was an animated display of semi-abstract paintings by Dagmar Glemme, a Swedish painter who incorporates Chagall-like, surrealist elements into her work (birds, fishes, waves and other scenic touches, suns and moons, human heads) as well as cliffs that look like keyboards (in one case) and clippings of sheet music. I couldn't tell whether the latter are glued in as a collage or whether she paints the notes, staves and such herself. I'd have to study the originals. Each piece or section of music played by the pianist, Carl Petersson, was accompanied by a different painting, chosen for relevance to that piece. Chopin's Grande valse brillante, for example, was illustrated on the screen by a painting that featured lots of Ms Glemme's blue swirls, mirroring the swirling sounds we were hearing from the piano.

Each painting in the show was displayed piecemeal, as it were, in animation, during the piano playing, small details that only fused together as the whole, motionless picture during the final bars. Playing a piece of music to the finish, to coincide with the final image on screen, must have taken plenty of rehearsing. The pianist told us, for example, that he he'd had to speed up his performance of the Liszt piece (mentioned below) to a faster tempo than ususal, to make it fit.

This cleverly prepared recital-cum-art-show was quite an education. Mr. Petersson clearly likes to teach, and as had happened at his Godowsky recital, he had something to tell us about each item on the programme. Arriving a few minutes late, I missed his introduction to the Scarlatti sonata at the beginning but heard the rest. Central to the programme was Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite, familiar of course to most audiences; what I hadn't realised was that it was originally composed for the piano, not as an orchestral work. (I have the piano music at home and have since got it out to have a go myself.) The pianist's comment about In the Hall of the Mountain King was that this part of the Peer Gynt story is not to be taken literally; it is more in the nature of a "drugged dream." Makes me think a lot of the rest of the drama might be only in Peer's head, too. I hadn't considered that.

We listened to one of Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsodies after hearing that Liszt had been the long haired rock star of his day with women fainting as he appeared on stage, etc. (I knew this); then came an introduction to a less famous composer, Per Nørgård, whom Mr. Petersson referred to, even so, as The Most Important Living Scandinavian Composer, who has just been awarded the Siemens prize: "the Nobel Prize of music". He had written the piano sonata we were hearing at the age of 16, in 1949. The last item on the programme was called "Walking", by Lars Bisgaard, another Dane, who had dedicated it to our pianist, apparently. I'm sure he must have felt very proud of that. It is an "appreciation of nature", a "spiritual, minimalist" work.

No comments: