A memorable occasion
MARTINO TIRIMO at London's Wigmore Hall on 3 November 2002, prefaced by other thoughts from BILL NEWMAN
The international concert scene is literally bursting with pianists of
all kinds and of varying degrees of musical excellence. Many of them -- relying
on sound, sometimes stunning techniques -- venture forth in solo programmes
that contain similar musical fare by composers such as Mozart, Beethoven,
Schubert, Chopin, Schumann, Brahms and Rachmaninov. Endeavouring to conquer
audiences with their sonic brilliance and effortless expertise, they hope
to find a place among the élite.
Some find themselves included in one of the schemes that support the
continuing promotion of young artists. Others, less ambitious in their aims,
become more cautious in grasping the musical message behind the composer's
printed score -- that indefinable process of continuous learning that comes
with experience, practice, background studies, consistent hard grind and
a vigorous open mind. They seize every opportunity to display their latest
thoughts and passions before small audiences with an appreciable knowledge
of the music.
Artists who 'have made it', and of course enjoy the attendant support
of larger capacity audiences who see (and mostly hear) them on a regular
basis, no longer have the problem of over-projecting their images on listeners.
Today, chosen performers within a wide age range -- glamorous young prodigies
and global travelling prize winners through to the maturer masters and older
celebrities of international acclaim -- can enjoy the additional advantages
of commercial recording, television and live radio coverage, with interviews
spotlighting lifestyles, professional commitments, and personal insights
ad nauseam. The hype and euphoria -- always part and parcel of the
arts world -- is enjoying its highest peak yet.
Unfortunately, all this has little to do with actual musical interpretation.
While it may ensure full houses for more than a few, those artists more
seriously intent on placing the composer and his score above themselves
whenever and wherever they make music, still appear on their own particular
wavelength. We know, for instance, of Sviatoslav Richter playing in his
surrounding cocoon, unaware of listeners and even of the class of instrument
beneath his fingertips. Back in the 1920s Wilhelm Backhaus performed annually
at London's old Aeolian Hall to sparse audiences who must have been aware
of his non-assuming keyboard skills in the most fiendishly difficult music
of Liszt, Moszkowski and Dohnanyi.
Copyright © 3 January 2003
Bill Newman, Edgware, UK