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For many reasons, this was a very special performance. When Tchaikovsky wrote it, he dedicated it to his teacher, Nikolai Rubenstein. This year marks the tenth anniversary of the passing of the great Russian pianist, Sviatoslav Richter, who was one of Ms Leonskaja's teachers. And, then, just a few months ago, we lost the great Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich.

Of course, great musicians of any nationality can play music of any other nationality with great passion and emotion, but there is an added quality of an undefinable something present when Russian musicians play Russian music. Maybe it's just simply 'soul'. I've experienced this too many times to doubt it. And this was no exception.

It was beautiful playing throughout, infused with absolute authority and confidence. Being able to watch and listen to these veterans was a special joy, especially the enchanting little waltz, a dialogue between the violin and cello, and a fragmented mazurka for the piano. Regardless, it was all performed with a delicate ferocity, not soon to be forgotten by anyone fortunate enough to have heard it.

The late night concert was another unusual venture: the Lyric Suite of Alban Berg, featuring Mary Hegarty, soprano, with the Cuarteto Casals. The work was considered by many to be of an operatic nature, but until 1977, there was no indication that the composer agreed with that idea. Composed in 1925-26, his original score was mis-placed and only unearthed some fifty years later. It seems that the composer had a mad infatuation with Hanna Fuchs, and she with him, resulting in his incorporating many ciphers about their love for each other into the score. The last movement was a setting of Baudelaire's De Produndis.

It was certainly an emotionally-charged work to begin with, and the performance completely matched the demands. The quartet and Ms Hegarty were totally involved in unveiling the secrets contained within the sometimes spare, sometimes lushly written piece.

Guy, guardian of the candles at Bantry House. Photo © 2007 Kelly Ferjutz
Guy, guardian of the candles at Bantry House. Photo © 2007 Kelly Ferjutz

One of the first things I noticed when entering the room for the evening concert was that between the two performances, the small remnants of burnt candles had all been replaced with new ones. Thanks to Guy, the guardian of the candles and the chandelier for making another late night concert that extra bit special.

Continue to day eight >>

Copyright © 7 July 2007 Kelly Ferjutz, Bantry, Ireland



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