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Nowadays, I marvel at how established performers cope with the responsibilities of carving out their own concert careers together with the constant involvement in all younger generation students with the same desires and opportunities literally spilling from their minds and fingertips. Careful planning beforehand finds the extra hours required to balance out celebrity appearances with the ongoing teaching curriculum.
Many years back, Artur Rubinstein's friendship and musical support of Villa Lobos led to the latter's Lo Prole di Bebe ('The Baby's Family') becoming known in performance. Nelson Friere and others like Monteiro followed suit to spread their own gospel to promote Brazil's most important composers with their compositions entering the European scene on a constant basis. The reverse is also true, and the finest of Brazil's hardworking student output carry off top prizes in Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, Liszt and Schumann. Monteiro himself has achieved the highest honours already -- between 1989 and 1992 in Cologne, Dublin and Santander, again with the Carlo Gomes Music Prize, Brasil in 2004/5. May 2007 saw his performance in the Great Hall of the Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow, but I was more eager to compare my own checklist for the evening's remarkable Appassionata Sonata interpretation, which ten years earlier led to him being chosen Best Interpreter of Beethoven. The constant gear shifts of the opening Allegro assai movement, each one subtly punctuated without disrupting the poetic-dramatic pulse, a central middle movement full of mounting moderati with singing surges of passion, and a totally exuberant, stunning Finale coupling sustained tensions with great endeavours, kept under strict control with complete clarity and sustained virtuosity until the closing chords. Remarkable.
Copyright © 29 March 2008
Bill Newman, London UK