Friday, July 23, 2010

Chopin: Proms Gallery & Maria Joao Pires

The Cockroach Catcher and his family have over the years made regular visits to the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall.

We find with young children it was best to be in the Gallery. We would bring a mat and picnic food and it was just wonderful. Also the Gallery tickets were very reasonable.

Then for a while we were fortunate enough to have box seats. Something strange was noticed. The sound was not as good as the Gallery. So at one of the concerts I went up to the Gallery after the interval. What a difference: the Gallery was much better!!!

I could imagine how wonderful Wednesday’s Chopin would have been up in the Gallery.
 Chopin in Mallorca©2010 Am Ang Zhang
Well the review was one of the best I have seen of the Proms in recent times:

Proms 2010: Prom 7: Maria João Pires, review

……..That unexpected intimacy accounts for some of the intensity of Maria Joao Pires’s recital of Chopin Nocturnes on Wednesday. But it would have counted for nothing without her special poetry. She’s a tiny, almost bird-like figure, and she seemed even smaller in that huge space, which was packed with more people than I’ve ever seen for a late-night Prom. It must be daunting for a pianist, but Pires seemed perfectly at ease, as if she was playing for a few friends at home.

That gives her performances an air of total sincerity. Usually in Chopin performance you can tell that expressivity is being mingled with sheer sensuous pleasure in playing the piano, and a relish for the delicious sparkly sounds that result…………..But there is something compelling about a pianist who just doesn’t care about those things. Pires wants to get at the poetic heart of the music, and here she did that time after time.

Delicate but never fey, Pires's E flat major Nocturne (Opus 9, No 2) is a gentle waltz between ex-lovers, its shivering trills explicitly sexual, the F major (Opus 15, No 1) a wistful orchestral sketch. The second Nocturne from the same set has a troubled, furtive quality, while the third vacillates between girlish fantasy and subdued melancholy. In Opus 27, her C sharp minor Nocturne acquired Beethovenian tartness, the D flat major, honeyed warmth. Opus 62 and 72 demand a more extrovert approach, yet here too the bel canto ornamentation was understated, while the Lento con gran espressione became a miniature Requiem. Elegantly shaped and articulated, with the most distinctive response to the colours of individual keys, this was a revelatory, intimate reading.

A fitting tribute to the 200th Anniversary of Chopin’s birth.

For a few more days you can listen to the BBC>>>>

Maria Joao PiresShe was born in Lisbon in 1944. She made her first public performance at the age of seven with Mozart’s Piano Concertos in Oporto, Portugal. At the age of nine she received Portugal’s highest award for young musicians. From 1953 until 1960 she studied at the Lisbon Conservatory with Professor Campos Coelho and took courses in composition, theory, and history of music with Francine Benoit.          DGG

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