Roni's Journal

Tuesday, 14 March 2006


On 19 Feb I was in a free-entrance concert in the Conservatoire of Tchaikovsky. Students of Tatyana Dobrovolskaya (one of the piano teachers there) were playing.

Even though, they played pieces by the standard (here) set of composers, i.e. Bach, Chopin, Schumann, Liszt, Rachmaninoff, the pieces weren't the usual showpieces, and it made the listening more interesting. Because, when one listens to a piece one has heard so many times, it is difficult to judge without prejudice, and without comparison to the stereotype performances, unless it is something extraordinary.

I liked the most the performance of one of Liszt's etudes.

On 22 Feb I went to another such concert. This time it was dedicated to earlier composers (Baroque and Classical), and among others, the following pieces made an impression: Mozart's C minor sonata (although played without the Fantasia), Chopin's Op. 28 preludes (only selected nine were played), Bach (played on a clavecin) - French suite No. 6, Toccata d-moll (913), Fantasia and fugue a-moll (904), Marin Marais - Les folies for clavecin and viola da gamba, Haydn's Variations in F-dur (HVII:6) played terribly on a hammerklaiver, and a few songs by Beethoven.

Also, a few contemporary pieces were inserted in between. How out of place!

One of the performers, Maria Uspenskaya, was exceptional, and I think her name will be heard more around the world in the coming years. She is very musical and her performance leaves behind an unforgettable experience. She played Chopin, the French suite by Bach and Beethoven.

On 25 Feb I listened to "Moscow Baroque", an ensemble that plays on baroque instruments. Three concerti by Vivaldi, a symphony by Pergolesi were played, and the two main pieces were by Pergolesi: cantata 'Orfeo', and the popular intermezzo 'La serva padrona'.

It wasn't bad, but it wasn't anything special, although the Bass singer was quite artistic. The soprano, Karina Debord from France was ok. Supposedly, she has been studying baroque music for 10 years, but I didn't feel that in her singing.

On 27 Feb, in the large concert hall of the Conservatoire, Elisso Virsaladze (piano) and Natalia Gutman (cello) gave a concert: Beethoven - 12 variations on themes by Mozart (op. 66), Grieg's a-moll sonata, and then Rachmaninoff's g-moll sonata.

It's a pity that the players have to play more than they want to prepare for. The Rachmaninoff sonata was very well performed, and it is an amazing piece. But the other two pieces weren't played what I would call up to standard, unfortunately.

The most amazing concert was on 2 March! I have never seen such young kids play so perfectly, so musically, genuinely! It was a Mozart evening. Several sonatas KK. 6 (piano, flute, cello), 15 (violin, piano), 19d (piano 4-hands) were performed - all by children aged 10-14. No single mistake, and everything - so musical, so dynamic, perfect! It was just amazing, and such an inspiration to my daughter (whom I took along with me). After the interval, several songs were performed, by more mature performers, and - funny - but it wasn't as perfect as were the little kids. All the performers were from Spivakov's fund. It is great to see such work being done. And it is great to see that young musicians are taught well.

The last concert I've been to was on 4 March. Olga Martynova and Olga Grechko performed 8 songs by Mozart and 8 songs by Haydn. Martynova is a harpsichord player, and unfortunately her playing on the hammerklavier was very harpsichord-ish. For example, the time delays on the first beats of 16th notes, which are the usual expression tool on harpsichord isn't needed on a hammerklavier, which has new tools, namely piano and forte, and obviously it doesn't sound in place. Another example is the arpeggiato of all chords, which also is usual on a harpsichord, but on a hammerklavier sounds out of place. A questions arises - was it worth playing the hammerklavier at all, why not play the harpsichord if it is all the same to her?!

But Grechko, the soprano, was very good, and overall, I enjoyed the concert.

My wife and I saw the most amazing figure skating performance on 7 March, which we went to (while the kids stayed with the visiting grandmother). Evgeny Pluschenko is absolutely fantastic! It was breathtaking.

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