Friday, 18 November 2016

A HUSUM DIARY 2016 / Days Three & Four

Sunday (21 August)

Recital 5: Johann Blanchard (4.30 pm)

One cannot pretend that the six numbers from Georges Bizet's Bilder vom Rhein (Rhenish Pictures) can match anything from Carmen or The Pearl Fishers, but there is a simple Schumannesque and Mendelssohnian charm which the young French-German pianist captures. Cecile Chaminade is the only woman composer represented in this festival, and Blanchard has become a sort of specialist of her music. Should a woman's music be any different from a man's? At any rate, Blanchard displayed both the sensitivity and virtuoso to handle the dark smouldering Tristesse and Automne (her most famous work bar none, an etude even when one least expects it) and the more mundane Allegro Appassionata from the Sonata in C minor, which showed that a woman can spin notes as much as a man.

There were two short pieces by the French-Romanian Georges Boskoff: Vers l'inaccessible builds up to a high decibel climax without the nuclear fission of Scriabin's Vers la flamme, and the Chopinesque charms of Valse Romantique continues to delight. Blanchard's two encores could not have been more different, Brazilian Fructuoso Vianna's Valsa No.4 for the sweet-toothed and the recently-departed Einojuhani Rautavaara's rumbling Etude No.4 that gave the recital a loud end.

Recital 6: Artem Yasynskyy (8 pm)

The young Ukrainian truly took the rarities dictum to heart in his very varied programme. One would not have expected piano works from the first two composers, Jehan Alain and Benjamin Britten. Both showed they were well-attuned to the idioms, especially the French organist-composer who was killed by the Nazis while defending his homeland during the Second World War. One truly does not miss the organ in the pieces of his Volume 3 for piano, which included an impressionistic Ballade and Taras Bulba with its Bartok-like violence. Britten, who escaped part of the war in USA, served the instrument well in his wonderfully evocative Holiday Diary, by no means a children's work.

Out of the ordinary was a work by Gerard Pesson which involved the sounds of repeated sliding the fingers on the keyboard (glissandi without actually hitting the strings) and thumping the keyboard lid of the Steinway, a percussive dance of ivory and wood with string notes added into the fray. His programme was completed with Joseph Hofmann's Mazurka and Character Sketches, the most famous of which is the last, Kaleidoskop, a favourite of Cherkassky's. Did one expect 5 encores from this true keyboard explorer? For the record, these include two Satie pieces (Je te veux and Gnossienne No.1) , two Scarlatti sonatas and his own take on Chopin's Black Key Etude with its quite charming graffiti.  

Jesper Buhl, owner of Danacord,
provides a little piece of showbiz post-concert.

A spot of sightseeing: on a sand dune
near List, in the North Sea island of Sylt. 

Monday (22 August)

Recital 7: Joseph Moog (7.30 pm)

Young pianist Joseph Moog has become a celebrity of sorts, like a cross between a German Benjamin Grosvenor and the young Van Cliburn. He has a stature that makes him stand out, and that is even before he touches the piano  His programme began with Haydn's Fantasia in C major, which came across as somewhat hectic but not without the humour. Frederic Rzewski's iconic The People United Will Never Be Defeated! is over an hour long, but we get the theme and Moog's own cadenza, which uses an inversion of the theme and builds it up in a fugal manner. It is in effect an extended variation with a fair share of Busoni-isms before a grand apotheosis and the simple restatement before closing. 

This is in the same spirit as the notorious Hexameron, a combo-work by six pianist-composers namely Chopin, Thalberg, Czerny, Pixis, Herz and Liszt, and mostly Liszt who added an introduction, bridging passages between the variations and a gand finale. Moog played the hell out of the Steinway in this totally vulgar work, and its a wonder that it remains standing after all that pounding.

Max Reger's Traume am Kamin (Dreams by the Hearth), comprising 12 pieces, is virtually unknown, because its by Reger. What if one said these were newly discovered pieces by Brahms, which a number resemble? What about the etude-like piece in D minor which look forward to the young Prokofiev? Finally the last piece is an unabashed tribute to Chopin's Berceuse down to many fine details. Does that make you want to try it out? Petrucci Library, here I come! 

The formal programme ended with Godowsky's Symphonic Metamorphosis on Johann Strauss' Die Fledermaus, another barnstormer to test the Steinway's sturdiness. There were four encores, a Trenet-Weissenberg transcription April in Paris, a Rachmaninov Etude-tableau (Op.33 No.8),  Moog's own outlandish transcription of Gershwin's S'Wonderful and the Scarlatti-Tausig Pastorale (based on the Sonata K.9). Have we found ourselves a new Marc-Andre Hamelin?

Satoru and I weren't the only Asian visitors at the festival.
Lin Peiping (mugging here with Joseph Moog) and
her mother came all the way from Taipei, Taiwan.

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