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Saturday, October 1, 2022

two pianos, four hands and a concert between friends

Martha Argerich and Armenian-American pianist Sergei Babayan They walked out onto the stage hand in hand and he kissed her forehead. The affective connection between the two was immediately perceived at the fifth concert of the Argerich Festival at the Teatro Colón and was projected in the music.

Each sat on a piano: Martha, with the tail of her piano to the left; Babayan’s to the right, and forward. The arrangement favored a stereo sound and enhanced the sound effects that the pianist created in each of his vivid transcriptions of Sergei Prokofiev’s orchestral music.

Except the Sonata by Mozart for two pianos, the rest of the program was made up of transcriptions by the Russian composer, a genre that had its peak in the 19th century but has managed to survive today.

The piano duo between Martha Argerich and Sergei Babayan.  Photo Arnaldo Colombaroli/Colón Theater

The piano duo between Martha Argerich and Sergei Babayan. Photo Arnaldo Colombaroli/Colón Theater

Babayan’s style

Armenian-American pianist goes beyond the recreation of the musical content of the original workestablishes a more than interesting dialogue of music on music: a reconstruction in piano terms of Prokofiev’s orchestral music that recreates a thick sound, takes advantage of the theatricality of certain instrumental passages and allows the piano to appropriate the sounds of an orchestra.

Babayan’s musical fantasy has the language of piano idiosyncrasy, his superlative, but above all, is inspired by the resources that piano magician Argerich can provide: variety of tones-colors and massive effects, very wide dynamic ranges, a powerful stroke but with a light and flexible touch.

The night began without delay with the powerful chords of the Prologue to Romeo and Juliet, Op. 64, Suite in twelve movements. The pianist’s transcript preserves some of the movements Prokofiev arranged in his Op. 75, but does not follow the order of the full scorenor of the orchestral suites or solo piano suites that the Russian composer created later.

An aerial shot of a piano duet between Martha Argerich and Sergei Babayan.  Photo Arnaldo Colombaroli/Colón Theater

An aerial shot of a piano duet between Martha Argerich and Sergei Babayan. Photo Arnaldo Colombaroli/Colón Theater

Babayan’s twelve-movement set has own dramatic structurewith an interesting expansion of the sound palette for two pianos.

In the Foreword and the Tybalt’s deathfinal number of the work, lThe performance emphasized the ferocity of the music. But there was also the most exquisite contrast in the delicate passages of the enchanting Gavotte either morning serenade, which sounded subtle and charming. The articulations couldn’t have been more synchronous and crisp.

Intense and moving sounded the farewell of lovers, Romeo and Juliet before leaving, the emotional climax of the Suite.

Synergy and naturalness between two virtuosos

Not since the duet with Nelson Freire has such an intense synergy been heard between Argerich and another pianist. Everything flows between them with amazing naturalness.

After a long interval – it took time to adjust Babayan’s piano which sounded out of tune, particularly in the high register, but managed to improve a bit after technical intervention – the duo returned to the stage and played, maintaining the same positions in the pianos, the Sonata K448 from Mozart.

Without the help of sight, hard to tell which pianist was playing whichthe exchange was so fluid between the two, with such an even balance and equilibrium, as if it were an intimate conversation between friends.

Martha Argerich, the notable Argentine pianist.  Photo Arnaldo Colombaroli/Colón Theater

Martha Argerich, the notable Argentine pianist. Photo Arnaldo Colombaroli/Colón Theater

The duo changed positions and Argerich took the first part in the incidental music for Hamlet Y Eugene Onegin, the queen of spades and the opera War and peaceall written by Prokofiev in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

The pianist achieved in his vibrant transcription of the father’s ghost of Hamlet a disturbing thick sonority that gave the sombre tone of the work (the page turner brought his own tension to the work by turning the pages at the wrong time).

Sergei Babayan is part of the Argerich Festival.  Photo Arnaldo Colombaroli/Colón Theater

Sergei Babayan is part of the Argerich Festival. Photo Arnaldo Colombaroli/Colón Theater

In the rhythms of the various dance movements that complete the program –Mazurka Y Polka of the incidental music of Eugene Onegin, the Polonaise of the queen of spades or Waltz No. 2 from Pushkin’s Two Waltzes—the duet’s rhythmic drive at times maintained a floating tempo with an extraordinary swing.

the waltz of War and peace it sounded awesome like the haunting idea fixe (fixed idea) of the queen of spades. The particular connection between the two was from end to end throughout the concert.

After thunderous applause and cheers, as if the duo hadn’t given it their all, he returned with the Barcarolle from Rachmaninov’s Suite No. 1 Op. 15, and continued to make magic.

File

Argerich Festival: Piano Duo

Qualification: Excellent

interpreters: Martha Argerich and Sergei Babayan Repertoire: Selection of works by Sergei Prokofiev (transcriptions by Sergei Babayan) and Sonata for two pianos in D major, K488 from Mozart Theater: Columbus, Tuesday August 16

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Reference from clarin www.clarin.com

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