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<<  -- 3 --  Tess Crebbin    FIFTH GEAR


The concert with Young-Chang Cho, another Pergamenschikow-associate, and Frans Helmerson, takes place at precisely the same time, location and date, two years after Pergamenschikow performed there with his new piano partner Lars Vogt in 2002. It is a steep act to follow, especially since most audience members are very much aware that Pergamenschikow, who died in April this year, was still scheduled to appear at Kronberg in 2004 and would have played this concert. So the atmosphere in the sold-out church, with tickets going easily for their 45 euro price-tag, is one of challenging anticipation, something like: 'Think you can do it? Show us!'

Pavel Gililov and Young-Chang Cho fooling around on stage during the applause. Photo © 2004 Andreas Malkmus
Pavel Gililov and Young-Chang Cho fooling around on stage during the applause. Photo © 2004 Andreas Malkmus

Gililov, tired from his travels but happy for the chance to rise of the occasion, spends his afternoon with a final practice at the Kronberg Academy headquarters, flooding the hallways with Schumann's Fantasy Pieces Op 73. He's an exceptional concert pianist for sure, but the question is whether he can pull it off, later that evening, in partnership with Helmerson and Chang Cho. Both cellists have been busy with jury duties and, combining this circumstance with Gililov's recent Japan trip, there was not much time for the three musicians to rehearse together for their concert.

'Fifteen minutes here or there is all we had, in addition to the final rehearsal just before the concert,' Helmerson explains during a post-concert dinner at the small town's only and excellent Portugese restaurant that prides itself on serving whole squid in its own ink, a Portuguese speciality appreciated by the more adventurous gourmets like Gililov.

Of course, opening with Schumann's Op 73, Helmerson and Gililov did not make it easy on themselves. Schumann was not a fan of chamber music at the best of times. To make matters worse, he originally wrote the work for piano and clarinet, giving special emphasis to the lavish piano part. What to do? Helmerson reacts by letting the soloist out and producing a very bright, clear sound but one does not quite get the impression of listening to two musicians who are perfectly attuned to one another, more that of two soloists doing their stuff, with the cello frequently dominating the piano and 'shifting gears' all too rapidly at times. Helmerson himself is partial to the analogy of the car, having once told an interviewer that attending a master class with Rostropovitch made him discover and engage his fifth gear. 'Until then,' Helmerson related, 'I was driving a car that I thought had only four gears.'

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Copyright © 8 September 2004 Tess Crebbin, Kronberg, Germany


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