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A singing instrument

MARTINO TIRIMO discusses the piano and its music with BILL NEWMAN


The centenary of Schubert's birth prompted critics to voice their opinions on how to interpret his music. Cyprus-born Martino Tirimo proved himself to be a master interpreter of Schubert at London's Wigmore Hall, following this up later with more Schubert at the same venue, and a complete Sonata cycle for EMI's Eminence label.

One London critic complained to me about Tirimo's lack of rhythm in a particular place in the B major sonata's first movement at one of the live events.

'I would like to inform him that here there is a rare indication by Schubert: sempre ritardando', Tirimo replies, 'and obviously one doesn't play slower for about twenty bars or so. In this particular instance it infers a form of rubato or freedom in which to relish his key changes'. Highlighting the contrasting moods -- like Wilhelm Kempff, when he lent into the phrase metre to extract poetic meaning.

'In order to truly appreciate Kempff in recital one had to attend several. There would be a lot of mediocre playing, then, suddenly, there would be one sonata or movement that was out of this world. He was generally a freer player than me, but if he was alive today I am not so sure that he would play quite so freely! He grew up in a totally different environment, and there were other idols that perhaps were freer than himself, but in this sonata he was at his best -- a natural interpretation.'

The same critic was much happier with Schubert's A minor Sonata in the second half of Tirimo's programme. 'You know, the mark of a good critic is going to a concert with an open mind, and really being enthusiastic about and in love with music. It must be very difficult when you go day after day, but how many go with an open mind without prejudices?'

This also happens in other ways: when a pianist has played a series of concerts, or won the Gramophone Award, prejudices are dropped and the critics will praise irrespectively. Isn't this where criticism falls down? 'I couldn't agree more. Your view is very refreshing'.

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Copyright © 22 December 2002 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK


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