Saturday – Inspired by Music and Popular Pianists

Posted by Liz

Another interesting conceptual concert, this time exploring the links between music and visual art. Each piece had a brief explanation by either Julian Armour and/or the artist concerned. Julian compared today’s concept of new artworks with selected musical works with last year’s Music of Colin Mack concert, where Mack had written new pieces inspired by selected paintings in the National Gallery of Canada.

Overall the concept was well-executed, though I felt that Pachelbel’s Canon was slightly anticlimactic as a closing piece. For me, the performance (second of the festival and with the same musicians) of Rachmaninoff’s Trio élégiaque No. 1 accompanied by a new painting by Natasha Turovsky was the best- if I recall from her introduction, it forms part of a new ‘tears collection’. The image seemed to bring out the theme of grief and sharing a loss in Rachmaninoff’s composition to make the performance even more engrossing than Thursday night’s rendition. My other favourite performance was nearer the beginning, with Kimball Sykes, Julian Armour and Andrew Tunis performing Cable’s The Petty Harbour Bait Skiff with visual accompaniment by Philip Craig. Both the music and the picture were very atmospheric and immediately brought to mind images of the Eastern Avalon coastline.

Donna Brown‘s performance of Le temps des lilas (accompanying picture ‘In The Time of Roses and Lilacs’ by Barbara Gamble) was probably the crowd favourite, as well as Villa-Lobos’ O canto do cisne negro with an incredible watercolour by Sheryl Luxenburg entitled ‘Floating’.

Later, my pick of the evening’s 4 8pm concerts went to Menahem Pressler and the Jupiter Quartet. With a temporary lineup change to include Jonathan Vinocour, the Jupiters once again impressed with their open, lively playing in the String Quartet in D major, Op 44 No 1 by Mendelssohn. I particularly enjoyed the 3rd movement.

Menahem Pressler was clearly the star of the night. Loud applause greeted his wonderful performance of Debussy’s Estampes and the first encore, which puzzled quite a few concertgoers but I believe to be Chopin’s Mazurka in A minor – Op 17 No 4 (anyone who thinks it was a different Mazurka, please leave a comment).

An interesting second half especially for a non-Mozart lover like me. The Jupiter Quartet, bassist Jeremy McCoy and Pressler performed the sextet arrangement of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 17 in G, K453. The more intimate arrangement was superbly played with the Jupiters’ exuberance adding to the enjoyment. I found the 2nd movement (at least in this arrangement) to be less Mozartean in its sound and therefore more appealing – after the energetic allegro, it felt like a deflation and something of a meandering soliloquy.

Another loud round of applause was greeted by a second encore from Pressler, this time Chopin’s Nocturne in C sharp min Op Posth.

After such a good performance, sadly only a small number remained for Stéphane Lemelin‘s second evening of Fauré Nocturnes. Sat waiting to enter, I was chatting to a few patrons who were of the opinion that at least one of these concerts should have been earlier in the evening. However a performance of nocturnes later in the evening is also interesting. This concert was much more the length that I would anticipate from an 11pm show, rather than Thursday’s late night epic. Lemelin was joined onstage by Alain Doom, narrating fitting French poems (English translation on screens either side of the stage). Certainly an interesting concept and Lemelin’s fluid playing was quite captivating, especially in Nocturne No 2 in B major, Op 33.

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1 Comment

Filed under 2012 Festival

One response to “Saturday – Inspired by Music and Popular Pianists

  1. You may have missed what could be the most moving experience of the whole Festival. The pianist Zhu Xiao-Mei interpreting the Goldberg Variations. Absolutely stunning!
    As for the late night concerts, it is the wait that is too long. The evening concert ends at 10 and you have a full hour wait before the next concert. As much as I would have wanted to stay, I just gave up.

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