Opera Barga

Thanks to Christopher Axworthy

"Directed by Jan Latham- Koenig who admitted at the rehearsal that it was more difficult to get six pianists to play perfectly together than it was an orchestra of a hundred musicians!
Jan I have known since our student days in London.
We pianists were in awe of of he who who could sit down and play “ by heart” any of the Wagner operas. Jan Latham- Koenig rehearsing Serghio Cafaro’s arrangement for six pianos of Ravel’s Bolero
He won the Royal Overseas League piano competition but then went on to take the world by storm as a conductor.
He recently brought his New Moscow Opera company to the Puccini Festival.A post in Moscow, he tells me, he has held for the past ten years.
He has just conducted a new CD too that will shortly be issued of the Mendelssohn concerto for violin and piano with of course the Mendelssohn expert ‘sans pareil’ Roberto Prosedda !
I last heard him conduct all the Beethoven Piano Concertos with Evgeny Kissin and the S.Cecilia Orchestra in Rome.
(Kissin and I are fellow trustees of the Keyboard Charitable Trust of which I am co artistic director.Roberto was much helped by the KCT at the beginning of his career and he  will now present, at the end of september, the KCT at his Cremona Expo with the founders John and Noretta Conci Leech together with a closing  recital by the  Busoni winner Ivan Krpan representing the KCT /Busoni Career Development Prizewinner ). An Allegro of great rhythmic drive in which each piano in turn was allowed to be the solist with a great sense of balance between the six black beasts shining so magnificently under the subtle atmospheric lighting in the Loggia.
Some beautiful sounds in the Largo after the dramatic opening flourishes.A beautiful shimmering liquid sound was created in which Bach’s modulations were allowed to captivate us in this pastoral atmosphere that had been created by six pianists listening so attentively and sensitively to each other. t was Jan in the rehearsal that had with just one word changed the final Allegro from a battle ground to a beautiful rhythmic dance.
Music is made of the song and the dance but the piano is basically a percussion intrument where hammers hit the strings.
It is good to be reminded, as Jan did, that Bach wrote for instruments that were plucked not hit.
It made all the difference and brought this opening concerto to a magnificent close. At the rehearsal Jan had asked how long the performance had lasted …………..I got rather a frosty look when I replied 16 minutes too long!
It was infact 18 minutes and conducted with great conviction.
Performed by the six pianists perfectly syncronised as they played the same notes over and over again ad libitum ( Jan’s).
The public at the concert after the first ten minutes started to look rather alarmed as they realised like this they might “miss their last buses home!”
They need not have worried as a charming young percussion player appeared on the scene and started to intone, almost inaudibly at first, the famous rhythm of Ravel’s Bolero. As Jan had pointed out in the rehearsal : play as quietly as you can only allowing the famous theme to emerge on each piano in turn as this most famous of crescendi (together with those of Rossini) was allowed to build up naturally to it’s final explosive cadence.
A superb performance of this transcription by Roberto Prosseda’s esteemed teacher Serghio Cafaro.
And it was Roberto as artistic director of Piano Barga who suggested that each of the six pianists should offer a short solo piece as an encore.
The conductor too would play- but last!
What could be shorter than the superb performance that Roberto offered of Chopin’s Minute Waltz.Massimo Salotti offered a very atmospheric Armenian piece. It was followed with a beautiful account of the slow movement of Mozart’s Sonata for two pianos in D major played by husband and wife team Lisitsa- Kuznetsoff.
Valentina Lisitsa then offered Ravel’s beautiful water nymph Ondine from Gaspard de la Nuit.
Sarah Giannetti a scintillating Moment Musicaux op 16 n.4 by Rachmaninov.
Gile Bae gave us a Toccata by Bach and she will play the complete Goldberg Variations this evening.
That left only our conductor to play in his inimitable way ” Les Biches” by Poulenc.
His performance of Poulenc “Dialogues des Carmelites” at Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires has passed into leggend.
What an evening!
No thought of missing our last buses home when there is such magic in the air."

Complete Article Here