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 10, 2018

The pianist is just as important

The programme for yesterday morning's concert (in the Music and Beyond Festival) was headed

Yolanda Bruno

and indeed she was well worth advertising. However, I'd have preferred to see both names

Yolanda Bruno and Isabelle David

at the top of the page, because the piano accompanist seemed to be an equal at this event. The two young women became friends at McGill University's music school and have often performed together since.

The concert began with Alla Fantasia, a piece for solo violin composed in 18th century London by an musician from Naples, Nicola Matteis, a contemporary of Corelli. Yolanda plays an instrument that was made in in 1700.

The rest was more modern. Alexina Louie is a Canadian composer whose Beyond Time is a piece in three movements for violin and piano, paradoxically "capturing a moment that lasts for ever", although what kind of moment was not specified. It began with some high harmonics on the violin which were repeated later. Some sections sounded rather frantic, so perhaps the composer was struggling to capture or recapture the experience she had in mind, but there were also some beautifully rendered glissandi on both instruments that suggested a more harmonious mood.

The most weighty piece on the programme was George Enescu's Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 3 in A minor, Op. 25. Here is an old recording --- with Enescu himself playing the violin part! --- that shows its complexity:

Apparently Enescu's first violin teacher, in Romania, could not read music; as young child he therefore learned to play the folk music of his country by imitation. The music we heard obviously still had folk elements in it, but also shades of French impressionist music and what sounded to me like wailing Arabic song with quarter tones, in the second movement. We were forewarned that this section would sound like a storm ... with a rainbow at the end. I couldn't really identify the rainbow but the repeated high B-natural on the piano at the beginning of this movement (andante sostenuto e misterioso) did sound like oncoming rain. The pace accelerated in the gathering storm and before long the pianist was using the whole piano.

"Challenging!" I wrote in the margin.

The last movement was folk-dance-like again.

We had 10 minutes to go before the hour was up, and the young women finished their bravura show with something more familiar, the six Romanian Folk Dances by Bela Bartok, which they played with great verve. I remember seeing Bartok's bust in a park in Timișoara dedicated to famous people from Romania, although he is usually identified as Hungarian. I have just discovered from the Wikipedia that
...The original name for the piece was titled Romanian Folk Dances from Hungary (Magyarországi román népi táncok) but was later changed by Bartók when Romania annexed Transylvania in 1918-1920.
So that perhaps explains it.

(David Oistrakh playing in this recording.)

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